András Inotai: “Spiritual genocide is taking place here”

“They are creating hateful people and at the same time creating four million seriously deprived, poor people. . . . Inciting hatred within the population awakens the basest of human-animal instincts.” – András Inotai, former director of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences World Economic Research Institute

This is a partial translation of an interview with András Inotai, former director of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences World Economic Research Institute, published by the online daily zoom.hu on January 2, 2018 under the title: “András Inotai: Itt szellemi népirtás folyik.”

My heartfelt thanks to Budapest Beacon for allowing me to use their translation, which is republished here with some minor changes. The original Hungarian is somewhat longer. For those who can handle the language, it is worth looking at.

Source: zoom.hu / Photo Balázs Ivándi-Szabó

When we discussed meeting up, you commented that you had something to say because you were not too happy about the direction of the world and Hungary. What did you have in mind?

We are moving faster and faster towards globalization that strengthens and deepens mutual dependencies with steps that are increasingly difficult to understand or follow. This is not new. It is not possible to reverse this trend. These changes have winners and of course losers. At the same time, it is necessary to differentiate among the losers. There are absolute and relative losers. Looking at developments in Hungary after the system change and especially after 2010, I would consider myself and a significant part of the population to be relative losers.

Like many others, I do not sit in Lőrinc Mészáros’ place, and am not a Fidesz oligarch. Just as earlier I did not belong to MSZP or SZDSZ circles. So I live, I am okay materially, but spiritually more and more depressed.

It is important not to discount the rather wide circle of relative losers, whose motivation is as spiritual as material. Why? Because the class of relative losers includes those who voted for Brexit in a country that is one of the biggest winners from globalization. Especially financially. This by itself is a total absurdity. This class placed Donald Trump in the President’s seat in the United States, which for decades has been the motor of globalization and unequivocally its biggest winner, as it continues to be.

However, both the Americans and the English fell asleep over the past decade and a half. A significant part of the British believe that England is still a world power. They do not take into account that the world was fundamentally reordered over the past decades. The competitive Europeans showed up, both inside and outside the EU, as well as the Chinese, Indians, South Koreans, Mexicans, and Brazilians. A typical lower-middle class family living in the English countryside thinks that its country produces a significant part of the world output. Of course in 1948 this was indeed 12 percent, but today it’s two percent. In the case of the United States many believe that the country can do whatever it wants.

However, the connection between politics, society, and the economy has reached a point where nobody can say they are independent. This means that nobody can decide exclusively about themselves. For this reason nobody can take a maximal decision, only optimal, which means the best balance of advantages and disadvantages. This is a totally simple connection, although many people cannot see it. They are the ones who get it in the face and believe the nonsense that we are independent, proud, and strong. In their circles, however, frustration and anger is only getting stronger.

In this situation is it not a logical, indeed an expected, decision on the part of certain countries to raise the walls surrounding them in order to defend themselves?

You can call for an end of globalization. You can call for us to protect Hungarian sugar and milk. Let’s protect the Hungarian money market. So be it! We don’t need foreign banks! Statements of this nature have been frequently made at the highest levels. “Thanks” to this kind of thinking, today the local banking system is more than 50 percent in Hungarian hands. And what happens if the Hungarian bank collapses? We should finally acknowledge that foreign-owned financial institutions undertook recapitalization in the billions of euros in order to remain here during the 2008 economic crisis. If a Hungarian credit institution implodes, who is going to recapitalize it? The Hungarian taxpayers, if they want their deposits to be secure.

These corrupt deals that are taking place in the banking system are characteristic of the “growth” of wealth of an unprecedentedly selfish new oligarchy. We are very close to a banking system in which one or more Hungarian entities may collapse, or in which a single one may trigger a chain reaction.

The situation cannot be all that serious.

You are very much mistaken! People are stupid to allow this to happen. This is the product of the spiritual genocide that has taken place in Hungary over the past years, which the Hague court should address were it authorized to do so, as the crime is similar to physical genocide. The spiritual infection is active in the case of migration, Soros, EU opposition, as well as passive in that official “national” propaganda has become an organic part of government. The latest obvious example of this is that we now commemorate the anniversary of virtually everything. They reassessed the 1956 revolution within the framework of a year-long 60th anniversary “commemoration.” Here was the Saint László commemorative year even though they do not know precisely when he was born, but the official propaganda proclaimed it a celebratory year. By contrast, I do not know who took note of the fact that last year was the 150th anniversary of the Compromise of 1867 between Austria and Hungary, about which there was hardly any mention. Even though we could draw conclusions from its results, dilemmas, and consequences. Hungary managed, under the wise leadership of Ferenc Deák, to launch half a century of modernization despite the ever-opposing incendiary Lajos Kossuth, agitating against that Compromise from abroad. Because it is indisputable that the Compromise strengthened the nation and its future and served the country’s long-term interests. This can be demonstrated through an examination of history. It was the kind of a step of which there is no sign today. Meanwhile EU membership and EU money offer a unique historical opportunity, or would have, to prepare for the 21st century.

The first half of your answer was perhaps worded too strongly.

No! A hopelessly dramatic situation has come about! That is my considered opinion! Look what is happening with human capital, which is critical to sustainable competitiveness and the foundation for the balanced growth of society. This can be observed across three areas: education, research and development, and health care. These are the foundation stones. All three have been deliberately destroyed in recent years.

Related to this is the nature and extent of social polarization, the likes of which has never happened in the European Union. Moreover, I am a beneficiary of these, but I do not at all wish to be! Here are some examples so you can better understand what I am talking about. The flat tax in and of itself is brutally antisocial. Today I pay far less in taxes than before the introduction of the new tax rate, but I would be able to live quite well with the previous high tax burden as well. At the same time, others, for whom changes brought additional financial burden, are left struggling even as the budget has suffered a very significant loss of revenue which, among other things, could have been spent on education, social services, and health care.

The other is the pension system. I do not need that 1.8 or 2 percent which the current Hungarian pension system automatically assures everyone uniformly. I would gladly give that money to those who need more in order to live a life worthy of a citizen of the European Union.

The governing party’s behavior is unbelievably cynical and anti-social. And yet, people tolerate it.

Maybe that’s because people hear from the government what they want them to hear . . . 

Excuse me! I need to return to human capital. One must also have an innovative society, which is characteristic of the Scandinavian countries. Innovation is the defining element, the key, to successful and sustainable development in the 21st century. This is necessary to remain competitive, especially in small countries which are integrated into the world economy. The fundamental question is how capable society is to hold its own in the accelerated 21st century. From this point of view, Hungary is not only deeply in the negative range, but the government’s deliberate and irresponsible measures and propaganda destroys–in fact has already destroyed in many fields—the pillars of adaptation.

The innovative society is open, not closed. It shows solidarity, not hate. It is cooperative, not artificially polarized, fragmented. It is oriented towards the future and is not always escaping into the “glorious past.” It is prepared for changes, challenges, and actively adapts instead of continuously living in a state of anxiety, fear, insecurity, and artificially created crises in which it consumes increasingly limited physical, material, and intellectual reserves. Here I note that a natural part of globalization is polarization, but apart from Hungary there is not a single government that would deliberately strengthen this through its actions. Even crisis-hit countries with very limited resources try to contain that trend. Here, they add another shovelful.

They are creating hateful people and at the same time creating four million seriously deprived, poor people.

Is this really the goal? Because if so, then something has gone terribly astray. The self-proclaimed populist, Christian conservative government is sending the message that four million Hungarians should perish — please, forgive me — and we will defend six million. Is this the great national idea? Because if I put together the government’s numerous political elements, that is what I see. This is more than irresponsible, it is the murder of a nation.

Is the situation really this bleak?

Unfortunately, I must continue. There are still two elements necessary for lasting competitiveness. One is that society cannot maintain competitiveness without a certain degree of cohesion and solidarity. If this falls below a critical level, then we can see international examples of slowing and eventual cessation of capital infusion. Not only foreign but Hungarian capital would do the same, and in part already has. Who wants to keep their money in a country where there is continuous societal tension, where mutual distrust is artificially created, where there is insufficient skilled labor capable of thought due to poor education and health care? The second element is the effectiveness of the government sector. This is not only eradicated by an unprecedented degree of corruption comparable to an African dictatorship but also by the “results” of the “overgrown” public sector of the past few years. In contrast to the 2010 government program which, correctly, promised a modest but effective government sector, today 24 percent of those employed full time are tied either directly or indirectly to the state sector. What else needs to be said?

Maybe this is our historical fate. We hate each other and we have to live with that fact. At the beginning of the 2000s I asked a very respected figure of the national intelligentsia whether the system change couldn’t have been done better. We stood at the 0 km mark, with all its problems and possibilities, but within just ten years’ time many already feel that this isn’t the horse we wanted. Even then it looked as if everything went wrong already. His answer was “no.” This is who we are, forever pulling apart and hating each other and those who are better off. 

I am not a social psychologist. However, speaking on the basis of historical experience, the Hungarians are, in fact, not a cohesive society. I don’t want to say we are unique in this respect and that this is only characteristic of our national spirit, and that there aren’t other examples of this phenomenon. This wouldn’t be such a big problem. The problem is that in the developed world nobody deliberately conditions society to hate or to incite against various supposed or actual enemies. Among those sitting in the current government nobody looks a little further. Let’s take the current migrant question. If I conduct a campaign of hate now, does anyone know what the consequence of this might be in the future? It’s certain that in time the subject of our hatred changes, but the hatred remains. I am not saying that there isn’t a migration problem. There is and it isn’t small. We must deal with this issue. However, the situation should not be blown out of proportion and least of all should it be the subject of a hate campaign. The inconceivable xenophobic mood is due to this. For the sake of illustration. One million people from the Middle East and Africa arrived in Europe with its population of 510 million. That is 0.2 percent of the population of Europe. If we cannot absorb and integrate this, then there are big problems. Of this, less than 1,300 would have come to Hungary, a country whose survival for the past 1200 years has been due to repeated spontaneous immigration or deliberate settlement projects throughout the 18th century.

The problem of the refugees must be handled, but many countries, Hungary included, say the problems must be remedied where they originate . . . 

I completely agree with this, and the European Union even developed a plan for this. As I see it, even if the plan works, and the member states uniformly support the recommendations and the actions, even then there could be serious disagreements because the migration pressure will not go away. There will not be a perfect solution. But it is exactly for this reason that cooperation is so important. Joint thinking and action weaken or undermine unilateral steps. And inciting hatred within the population means awakening the basest of human-animal instincts.

January 22, 2018
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Member

A thoroughly accurate analysis. Thank you.

Michael Kaplan
Guest

I agree with Gulya Bognor, a sport on analysis. I especially applaud the use of the term spiritual genocide as Hungarians attack each other in the worst possible terms with little regard for the consequences. Sadly, even some readers draw the wrong conclusions in racing to denounce other Hungarians. One statistic alone gets at the rot being sold the Hungarian people e.g. 24 per cent work for the public sector. This in itself would not necessarily be bad if the there was actual value added to the economy by such a large per cent, but Hungary is far from Sweden or even France as we all know. Spirituality is of course not the same as religion, but it does imply a higher form of thinking and behaving. In this sense, Hungary is-sadly-bankrupt. (I don’t ignore the spiritual condition of the UK or USA as Mr. Inotai correctly high lighted.)

Andy
Guest

A++++++++++++ opinion piece.

The perspective on the current Hungarian Situation is 1000% RIGHT ON

Istvan
Guest
I was disturbed by the interview with András Inotai. He states that in relationship to globalization there are winners and losers. He argues that among the losers there are absolute and relative losers. Then he writes “Looking at developments in Hungary after the system change and especially after 2010, I would consider myself and a significant part of the population to be relative losers.” If Inotai is a relative loser, a man who worked at the World Bank, who has held numerous prestigious academic positions, who speaks and reads with fluency English, German, Spanish, and of course Hungarian – then there can’t be many winners in Hungary at all in the globalization game, or really since transition from communism. Clearly characters like Lőrinc Mészáros discussed yesterday by Eva or Lajos Simicska who are fundamentally economic parasites or as Inotai writes must be members of the “unprecedentedly selfish new” Hungarian oligarchy, are not really economic winners in globalization because they are truly not productive. Are the absolute losers in Hungary the poor of Ózd who must beg for waste disposal operations run by Mészáros? Given Inotai’s age and my on age reading this piece was like listening to Gloomy Sunday preparing… Read more »
wrfree
Guest

Re: ‘not productive’

Their love-hate relationship to capitalism appears to hold them back. Many times bitten many times shy. So what’s seen in one respect is poor productivity. On the other well it’s a rip off free-for-all. Full speed ahead let me get mine. The extremes seem to be the result.

They want a cap/socialistic soufflé. But the eggs they seem to scramble to get it usually are the wrong kind and the mix is inedible.

Alex Knisely
Guest

Remarkable. Thank you, Prof Balogh, for giving us access to this analysis.

Guest

My wife says similar things – though of course not as clear, eloquent and wise …
Hungary going down the drain – is there any chance at all that this can be reversed?

Member

“Have you ever found in history one single example of a Nation throughly Corrupted — that was afterwards restored to Virtue — and without Virtue, there can be no political Liberty.”
John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, 1819

dos929
Guest

… a 100% correct analysis of the Hungarian scene…

Guest

Not too much OT:
A really disturbing example from the USA:
A New Reality? The Far Right’s Use of Cyberharassment against Academics. A firsthand account by a targeted faculty member.
By Joshua A. Cuevas
https://www.aaup.org/article/new-reality-far-rights-use-cyberharassment-against-academics#.Wmbq2DcxnIX
A lot of time invested – reminds me of some of our trolls here!

Ferenc
Guest

THANK YOU, Eva, Budapest Beacon, zoom and most of all ANDRÁS INOTAI for so very true words!!

Guest

Totally OT but funny in a way:
Fidesz had high hopes on Austria’s new conservative government being sympathetic towards them, but what happened:

Austria is going to court because of Paks2 …
https://www.euractiv.com/section/competition/news/austria-to-sue-eu-over-paks-2-nuclear-plant-commission-says-see-you-in-court/
What’s especially funny Austria is sueing the EU for allowing Hungary to do Paks2!:
Austria said on Monday (22 January) it planned to sue the European Commission for allowing Hungary to expand its Paks nuclear power plant, saying it did not view atomic energy as the way to combat climate change or as being in the common European interest.

Ferenc
Guest

Referenda and Nuclear Power Plants – A Historical Overview
https://web.archive.org/web/20130103213358/http://archive.greenpeace.org/comms/no.nukes/react02b.html
Unfortunately all “old news”, search for recent info https://www.google.com/search?q=nuclear+power+plant+referenda (nothing new about AU, nor it’s current government)

Ferenc
Guest

Heard the news yesterday, but don’t know what to think about it really.
Is the Austrian government really against nuclear plants?
If yes (which I don’t know), it’s OK what they’re trying to do.
If not (which I also don’t know), then this could be a trick from OV&Co through Kurz to block possibilities for opposition in Hungary.
So comments from people really knowing AU government’s position in this are welcome.

Marty
Guest

Freedom House just a few days ago declared that Hungary is free similarly to New Zeeland, Switzerland, Germany, Norway, Sweden.

I don’t get this criticism from Mr. Inotai.

If FH – which is a liberal NGO if ever there was one – says Hungary is free then who is Inotai to say otherwise?

Even liberals say Hungary is free. Of course some intellectuals like Inotai like to complain, but that’s normal, we expect that.

But the pros like FH or the EU all say that basically Hungary is OK, the elections will be free, freedom reigns. So what’s the problem?

petofi
Guest

Marty—Troll, Troll, Troll…

`56
Guest

Petofi, I am reading Marty carefully, and find him intelligent, witty, and very fair. Just my opinion.

petofi
Guest

One of my early filters for trolldom is the multiplicity of their comments–in other words, is the commenter trying to hijack the blog?

Marty
Guest

yes, that’s a danger. but remember that lawyers are insufferable, know-it-all smartasses. it’s probably true in my case as well.

Ferenc
Guest

I can only understand repeated ‘complaining’ about the rating of Hungary (“free” acc.Freedom in the World), if one has a double agenda (i.e.trying to discredit the report and diverting from subject of post and/or other comments).
Of course my understanding may be caused by my owm limitations.

I repeat an earlier comment by me:
In the “Freedom in the World” report – https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/freedom-world-2018
Hungary is rated as “Free” with a score of 72 (the highest “Partly Free” is Seychelles with 71). To bring the still “Free” rating in perspective, more free than Hungary are rated (in order):
Botswana / Serbia / Peru / Guyana / Tonga / Senegal / Namibia / Jamaica / India / Suriname / South Africa / Brazil / Israel / Samoa / before we reach the next EU country being Bulgaria (score: 80)
…nice list… to be under…

PS: score for V4 countries over the years at https://infogram.com/a9e81653-ce16-4c6c-9478-910aede3a896

Marty
Guest
FH’s power lies in publicity and PR, and only in those. Nobody cares about the numbers or methodology (who reads the fine print in the Terms and Conditions?). It’s a question of branding. Did FH brand Hungary as free or not? Yes, it did, so the conversation ends here for most people. Hungary is in the same category as Switzerland, thank you very much. Given the inherently subjective nature of assigning points to extremely varied political conditions assigning Hungary 72 instead of 71 points was a conscious political decision from the part of FH. They basically decided (this means the Hungarian contributors and whoever approved the rating) we don’t want conflicts with Orban, let’s appease him before the elections, Hungary is part of the EU (plausible deniability), we don’t need problems with his propaganda machinery and intelligence services (who are keeping important international NGOs under surveillance). But this is exactly what Orban and Putin hates about liberals. Liberals – who could’ve at least once speak truth to power – abandoned the Hungarian liberal voters (whereas Orban never abandons any of his underlings just as Putin is loyal to people like Assad) and allowed Orban to prop up his image. Rest… Read more »
Member

“Rest assured Orban will cite FH in the coming months when he gets the stamp of approval of his rigged election. ”

You also seem to be doing your best to keep mentioning it here, even when it is not relevant to the post in hand.

If one were cynical, one would see the shady hand of sophisticated “psychology-based influence techniques” in a lot of your postings, for example:

1. Disruption of the debate with irrelevant comments
2. Constant denigration of democracy (and those who still believe in it- those fabled “latte drinking liberals)) under the guise of an anti regime viewpoint
3. The building up of the invincible image of the regime and its individuals (*smart lawyers*, “country boys who know what’s what… running rings round the EU/Budapest liberals etc, etc)
4. The connecting of Orban’s image to those other “strong” dictators Putyin, Erdogan
5. The use of various “handles” to express nearly identical viewpoints
6.Never once do you promote an optimistic viewpoint- every opposition campaign (eg the Olympic campaign is doomed to failure, according to you.
7. If we believe your every post, Orban;s Reich will live for a 1000 years.

Also your “office hours” seems strangely restricted in terms of when you post.

Marty
Guest
1. I totally believe in democracy. That said, we must realize that defenders of democracy must toughen up, otherwise they will be mowed down by people like Orban, Putin, Erdogan. Impotent liberals apparently are unable to defend democracy. It’s a political science axiom that democracies are inherently weak and tend to degenerate into autocracies just like they did in Greece or Rome. The Hungarian founding fathers of 1990 were naïve and we suffer because of their failures. MSZP/SZDSZ could’ve entrenched liberal democracy in 1994-1998 but due to their corrupt, childish bickering Orban was free to take over in 2010. 2. Autocracies are getting more and more invincible because surveillance and control are getting better, more sophisticated, the police is getting more armed, people are unable to organize together. Do you think the 1917 revolution would be physically possible in today’s Russia or China? Or the US? So yes, autocracies are much more resilient and stronger than we were taught 25 years ago and it applies to Orban’s regime too. 3. The Western media tend to mention Orban together with Putin and Erdogan all the time (in the same sentence). I do too. 4. I’m not optimistic at all. This is… Read more »
Ferenc
Guest

Again you prove facts don’t matter for your talking/writing.
In the totalisation acc.”Freedom in the World” report are rated “Free” with total scores lower than Hungary:
El Salvador – 70 / Tunisia – 70 / Timor-Leste – 69
(as earlier mentioned: the highest “Partly Free” is Seychelles with 71)

And giving points or any other rating may be subjective, credibility comes with reducing the subjectivity by applying as much as possible objective qualifications.
Therefore I consider the development over some years of every rating to be best fact for judgment, well check the infogram I mentioned in earlier comment, smashing for OV&Co!!

PS: as you still don’t agree with FH’s rating, best you write comments directly to FH, volunteer to work for future reports and STOP your comments about FH here

Ferenc
Guest

“Even the term “NGO” is so full of venom in Hungary”
If you don’t agree with that venom, DO your utmost best against it. (instead of following OV&Co’s venom)
Support, make attractive, popularize etc. NGOs! Clarify to people what NGOs are really doing for them!!

Marty
Guest

Ferenc, as it happens I am familiar to a certain extent with how these reports get prepared. The people involved are smart and know their assigned country well.

But my distinct feeling was that the human elements such as avoidance of perceived conflicts by any means etc. do play a role.

Even the term “NGO” is so full of venom in Hungary that even the best Hungarian experts (sometimes people you and I know from the media) are reluctant to give their names to such reports (whether the report is prepared by FH or TI or whoever).

Which is why I suspect that this decision to keep Hungary in the free category but with the lowest possible score was a political one. A downgrade of an EU member state when even Islamic Tunesia is called free would’ve created media conflicts which FH wanted to avoid. Only they know why.

Sure, if the anti-Soros law gets enacted Hungary must get out of the free category but that will happen in 2019, after the upcoming – rigged – elections.

Marty
Guest

Sarcasm from my part of course.

Inotai is right but I think he also starts from the assumption that voters are like students in a debating society who accept that the best rational argument will win and will convince voters.

Voters (who are uneducated) are humans foremost with all their limitations, anxieties, feelings, aspirations, pride, hopes etc.

Politicians must address these human elements – voters will never just vote for “what’s best for them”, they are not rational.

The Left seems to be perennially unable to address the human, irrational part of the human personality.

They only address the rational part and then always get surprised that people vote for a party or politicians that f***s them.

Jean P
Guest

Andras Inotai describes in full the Fidesz made misery in Hungary without mincing his words. I hope he will go on and suggest an explanation why the Fidesz government is devastating the country as described. Is it all done to secure the availability of cheap labor for German factories in Hungary?

Ferenc
Guest

OV&Co lost again in court!!
This time at European Court of Human Rights and against the “Two-Tailed Dog Party” about their 2016 Referendum campaign: Vote Invalid! HAJRA
http://www.atv.hu/belfold/20180123-az-emberi-jogok-europai-birosaga-elmarasztalta-magyarorszagot

wrfree
Guest

Mr. Inotai presents his prescriptive piece as a doctor who can see the many life-threatening ailments of the entity that is ill. But looking on the scene it’s almost out of the question that stubborn habits could be changed or taking its medicine can bring about somewhat of a cure. Par for the course if the entity has a death-wish.

It’s evident Mr. Inotai is not enamored of the current political, economic, social and spiritual stewardship of the country. The generation he sees in action is greatly remiss in its responsibilities and from his analysis is correct. An interesting question I think brings up the previous ones.

When generations come off the stage new actors appear. They experience learning through those who went before. But if this ‘lost’ generation continues on though there won’t be much to hold off the ‘deliberate’ destruction of a 1000+ year old nation. So much for passing on its best stewards. How they can do that considering what they have now has to be a conundrum.

petofi
Guest

Inotai–Finally, a Hungarian who sees clearly, without the encumbrances of hubris and faux nationalism.

wrfree
Guest

Re: the ‘system change’ and the vicious hatreds

The country’s apparent curse…
‘Nothing is more wonderful than the art of being free, but nothing is harder to learn how to use than freedom’.

And one of the reasons why sets of ‘friends cannot be friends’ in a more and more imperious Magyarorszag…
‘In politics shared hatreds are almost always the basis of friendships’.

the French observer with piercing eyes on a fledgling America.. de Toqueville .

So far the ‘experiment’ is still running. And the ‘rough spots’ always trying to get sorted out. What’s ahead surely will be a challenge… again. Looks like that’s it from now on…. again again and again.. always keeping an eye on the meaning of that ‘freedom’. We should hope it never gets exhausted.

Guest

And the beat goes on:
Hungary has dropped 11 positions from 41st to 52nd in the Global Talent Competitiveness Index, a ranking of 119 countries based on the efficiency of nurturing and keeping talented employees.
… behind countries such as Kazakhstan, Jordan or Bulgaria.

http://www.portfolio.hu/en/economy/hungary-slips-to-52nd-in-global-talent-index.35291.html
Of course you don’t need educated employees to raise pigs for Orbán …

petofi
Guest

How much talent does it take to catch a pig in the slop?