Nationalism with a Smiley Face

Nationalism with a Smiley FaceJune 4 is the Day of National Cohesion (Nemzeti Összetartozás Napja) in Hungary commemorating the 1920 signing of the Treaty of Trianon, which redrew the borders of the collapsed Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in such a way as to leave millions of Hungarians living as minorities in the newly established states of Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia and the expanded state of Romania. The FideszChristian Democratic People’s Party-controlled National Assembly passed the law establishing the Day of National Cohesion as one of six National Remembrance Days celebrated in Hungary soon after the party came to power in 2010. 

The Ministry of Justice and Public Administration commissioned a song, called Peach Tree, for this year’s Day of National Cohesion. The ministry has suggested that all Hungarians sing the song at six o’clock on the evening of June 4. This is an Orange Files translation of the lyrics (video of original in Hungarian):

I dreamt of a peach tree,

under which everyone is dancing.

I stood with you in a giant circle,

in the soft grass on a dewy meadow.

Our hands come together, our feet step upon one another [sic!],

the light of happiness shines in our eyes.

I dreamt of a peach tree,

under which everyone is dancing.

I stood with you in a giant circle,

in the soft grass on a dewy meadow.

Come stand in the circle, you too!

Dance, as your blood impels you,

feel the heart of the earth beat with you,

because we are all one!

The peach is ripening, the blessed fruit of the earth.

The official video shows happy school children singing this ditty emphasizing the borderless unity of Hungarians throughout the Carpathian Basin. It suggests no aspiration to reincorporate the territories lost in 1920 into Hungary or hostility against the neighboring countries serving as home to 2.5 million Hungarians.

Orbán vs. Horthy 

nemnemsohaThose who think that the authoritarian democracy Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has built in Hungary is modeled directly upon that of Regent Miklós Horthy, who led the country as head of state from 1920 until 1944, should consider the vast disparity between the concept of peaceful national cohesion reflected in Peach Tree and the open and aggressive irredentism of the Horthy régime. The motto of the Horthy era was the title of József Attila’s irredentist poem “No, no, never!” (Nem, nem, soha!) (video recital in Hungarian) and its “national prayer” the “Hungarian Creed” (Magyar Hiszekegy), which children recited at the beginning of school each day:  

I believe in one God, 

I believe in one Fatherland: 

I believe in a divine eternal justice, 

I believe in Hungary’s resurrection! 

Amen. 

The Orbán government is clearly not pursuing revisionist policies or trying to revive the aggressive revisionism that drove Horthy into the arms of Hitler. The prime minister is, at the end of the day, a pragmatist. He knows very well that the notion of Greater Hungary in the 21st century is an anachronism, a pipe dream harbored only among the followers of Jobbik and non-parliamentary radical right-wing groups such as 64 Counties (Hatvannégy Vármegye).  

Horthy-era postcard showing children reciting the Hungarian I Believe in One.

Horthy-era postcard showing children reciting the Hungarian I Believe in One.

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