The Land of Two Peace Marches

March 15: Hungary’s national holiday commemorating the outbreak of the 1848 revolution against Habsburg rule.

Always a lot of street politics on this date, especially this year with the general election just over three weeks away.

Orange Files covered simultaneous events in Budapest on this day: the Civil Cooperation Forum (CÖF)–organized pro–Orbán government Peace March (Békemenet) and the Hungarian Two-Tailed Dog Party (Kétfarkú Kutya Párt, or MKKP)–organized anti–Orbán government Peace March.

It was the seventh Peace March that the government-organized non-governmental organization CÖF has organized since 2012.

It was the first Peace March that the extra-parliamentary joke party MKKP has organized.

The official and unofficial slogans, respectively, of the Civil Cooperation Forum’s Peace March: “The Homeland Before All Else!” (A Haza Minden Előtt!); and “Hungary Protects Europe!” (in English).

The official and unofficial slogans, respectively, of the Hungarian Two-Tailed Dog Party’s Peace March: “The Banner Before All Else!” (A Molinó Minden Előtt!) and “Let Hungary Be the Land of Two Peace Marches!” (Legyen Magyarország a Két Békemenet Országa!).

Below are some of the photographs that Orange Files and his assistant (wife) took at the CÖF and MKKP Peace Marches held on March 15, 2018.  Many tens of thousands of demonstrators participated in the Civil Cooperation Forum Peace March. Around 10,000 people participated in the Hungarian Two-Tailed Dog Party Peace March.

Click on any photo to see gallery view.

See all photographs from seventh Civil Cooperation Forum Peace March.

See all photographs from the Hungarian Two-Tailed Dog Party Peace March. Most of the photographs of the MKKP Peace March focus on signs that display absurd or punny Hungarian-language text or refer to current scandals involving Fidesz and Christian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP) officials and their family members.

Below are two short videos taken at the dual Peace Marches in Budapest. The video on the top shows the CÖF Peace March proceeding past a stage on which an opposition group placed loudspeakers playing Stalinist-era communist anthems. The video on the bottom shows the MKKP Peace March proceeding with communist anthems of the same type playing from a loudspeaker on an accompanying truck. Both refer to the playing of such anthems at May Day parades during the communist era in Hungary. The communist anthem played at the CÖF Peace March was a serious reference to the communist-like authoritarianism of the Orbán government and the Fidesz-KDNP alliance. The communist anthem played at the MKKP Peace March was an absurd reference to the restoration of authoritarian government in Hungary two decades after the fall of communism.

 

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Orbán Gov’t and Party Campaign Signs

Above are Orange Files photos of the two main 2018 election campaign signs (click to enlarge) of the Viktor Orbán–led government of Hungary and Fidesz political party. They currently appear in large number on billboards, advertising columns and bus-stop shelters throughout Budapest (and presumably all of Hungary).

The sign at left is that of the government of Hungary. It reads:

The UN wants us to continuously receive immigrants.

———HUNGARY DECIDES, NOT THE UN!

The sign at right is that of the Fidesz party. It shows Hungarian-American investor and philanthropist György/George Soros flanked by the four main opposition candidates for prime minister (from left to right: Bernadett Szél of Politics Can Be Different; Ferenc Gyurcsány of the Democratic Coalition; Gábor Vona of Jobbik; and Gergely Karácsony of the Hungarian Socialist Party and Dialogue for Hungary). It reads:

TOGETHER THEY WOULD DISMANTLE THE BORDER BARRIER

The Orbán government sign refers to the proposed “Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration” that the United Nations published in February 2018 (see document).

Minister of External Economy and Foreign Affairs Péter Szijjártó announced on March 1, 2018, that the Orbán government rejects the basic premise of the proposed UN compact, which according to Szijjártó is that “migration is a good thing and unstoppable” (source in English).

In his annual “State of the Nation” address on February 18, 2018, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in reference to the UN compact, specifically to the statement in it that “Migration has been part of the human experience throughout history, and we recognize that it can be a source of prosperity, innovation and sustainable development in our globalized world” (source in English):

This is obviously utter nonsense. It’s incomprehensible why they would think us to be such raving lunatics as to accept this and then implement it. We must bluntly state that Hungary is not a country of deranged people. We understand that George Soros’s organizations have not only installed themselves in Brussels and Budapest, but also in New York, at the UN. We understand that they are spending incalculable sums of money on pushing through acceptance for migration at a global level.

The Fidesz sign refers to the so-called “Soros Plan” pertaining to the 2015 European migration crisis (see National Consultation on the Soros Plan). According to a post regarding the sign published on the official Fidesz Facebook site (source in Hungarian):

For the opposition leaders, Soros’s will is the most important. They are prepared to implement the Soros Plan: they would dismantle the border barrier and settle immigrants [in Hungary]. Therefore, although they appear to be hopelessly feeble, they are nevertheless dangerous.

In fact, neither George Soros nor any of the four prime ministerial candidates shown on the sign, nor the five parties they represent advocate dismantling Hungary’s southern border barrier (source in Hungarian).

Both signs correspond to the single-theme campaign platform of the Orbán government and Fidesz for the April 8, 2018, general election. Prime Minister Orbán concisely described this platform during a March 1, 2018, television interview (source in Hungarian):

Hungary stands before two paths from which it can choose: either there will be a national government and then we won’t be a country of immigration; or György Soros’s people will form a government and then Hungary will become a country of immigration.

Update: two weeks before the general election, the Orbán government and Fidesz replaced the above campaign signs with those shown below. On the left is the government sign, which displays a stop sign superimposed on a dense column of migrants. On the right is the Fidesz sign, which displays the same five people as the party’s previous sign next to text reading “Let’s Stop Soros’s Candidates!

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From the Archives: The Phony Realist

The author: István Bibó.

The author.

Hungarian lawyer and political scientist István Bibó published a book in 1946 entitled The Misery of Small Eastern European States (A kelet-európai kisállamok nyomorúsága) in which he employed psychoanalytical precepts to determine the cause of “the adulteration and corruption of democracy in its most diverse forms” in the states of central and eastern Europe, specifically Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary.

Bibó’s diagnosis: political hysteria stemming from unresolved historical traumas—in the case of Poland, partition of the Russian-Prussian-Austrian partition of the country beginning in 1772; in the case of Czechoslovakia, the German-Hungarian partition of the country in 1938–1939; and in the case of Hungary, defeat in the 1848–1849 revolution against Habsburg rule and partition of the country’s Dual Monarchy-era territory via the 1920 Treaty of Trianon.

Bibó determined in The Misery of Small Eastern European States that Hungary’s defeat in the 1848–1849 revolution had had two primary effects: first, it prompted Hungarians to conclude that “Europe had abandoned Hungary in its fight for independence”; and second, it initiated “the developmental path that distanced Hungary from democratic ideals, because following the 1848–49 catastrophe the fear took root in Hungarians that assumption of all the consequences of democracy would lead to the secession of nationality-inhabited regions [of the country].”

With regard to the Treaty of Trianon, Bibó asserted that the “Hungarian political perspective attributed the partition of Hungary to mere brute force and the hypocrisy of the victors and was unable to distinguish between the detachment of nonHungarian-language territories that were ready for separation and the groundless and unjustified detachment of Hungarian-language territories. As a consequence, it [the Hungarian political perspective] could not abandon the illusion of historical greater Hungary and became increasingly convinced that Europe owes it for a great injustice.”

Bibó maintained that the partitions of Poland and Czechoslovakia had engendered the same attitude of skepticism toward Europe and democracy among the Polish and Czechs and Slovaks and prompted the leaders of those countries to conduct the forced expulsion of Germans and Hungarians following the Second World War.

Existential Fear for the Survival of the Community 

Bibó wrote in The Misery of Small Eastern European States that these historical traumas had produced existential fear for the survival of the national community in Hungary and other states of the region:

This situation gives rise to the most characteristic trait of the imbalanced central and eastern European mentality: existential fear for the survival of the community. . . . For a western European, the talk of statesmen from any small, eastern European nation referring to the “death of the nation” or the “destruction of the nation” represents empty phraseology: a western European can imagine extermination, subjugation or slow assimilation, though the notion of total political “destruction” is for them nothing more than a bombastic image, whereas for eastern European nations it is a palpable reality.  

Anti-Democratic Nationalism 

Bibó believed that existential fear for the survival of the community inhibited the development of democracy in the countries of east-central Europe:

Existential fear for the survival of the community was the decisive factor that rendered the status of democracy and democratic development unstable in these countries. . . . these nations experienced historical situations which appeared to confirm that the collapse of the oppressive political and social powers of the past and the adoption of democracy along with its ultimate consequences expose the national community to heavy risks, even catastrophe. This shock gives birth to the most hideous monster of modern European political development: anti-democratic nationalism. 

Distortion of Democracy 

In addition to inciting anti-democratic nationalism, Bibó contended in The Misery of Small Eastern European States that existential fear for the survival of the community inhibited and distorted democratic development in the following ways:

It is not possible to take advantage of the benefits of democracy in this state of convulsive fear which believes that the advance of freedom threatens the national cause. To become a democrat above all entails the absence of fear: fear of other opinions, of other languages, of other races, of revolution, of conspiracy, of the unknown evil intentions of the adversary, of enemy propaganda, of contempt and all other imaginary dangers that become real dangers if we fear them. . . . In the midst of this fear and continual feeling of threat, that which in true democracies gains recognition only in the hour of true danger, becomes standard procedure: the restriction of liberties, censorship, the search for enemy “stooges” and “traitors,” the imposition of order or the appearance of order and national unity to the detriment of liberty. The distortion and corruption of democracy has appeared in diverse forms through the use of methods varying from the most subtle and often unconscious to the most crude: the manipulation of universal suffrage against democratic development, the system of coalitions and compromises founded on unhealthy and ambiguous terms, electoral systems or abuses serving to either inhibit or distort the healthy formation of collective will, putsches and transitory dictatorships.

The Phony Realist 

Bibó concluded that this syndrome of trauma, fear and hysteria generated a unique type of national leader in the states of central and eastern Europe:

In the course of this development, political figures of a unique type became characteristic of political life in central and eastern Europe: the phony realist. This type of political figure, which either descended into politics from an aristocratic environment or rose into it on the wings of representative government and democratic forces, was characterized by both unquestionable talent as well as a certain cunning and a certain aggression that made him perfectly suitable to become the administrator and repository of the distortion of democracy, of anti-democratic government flowing within the boundaries of democratic form or of some other kind of aggressive political forgery.

Revival of Political Hysteria 

The prototype: Viktor Orbán.

The prototype.

Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary suffered the further historical trauma of communist dictatorship and Soviet military intervention in the four decades following István Bibó’s publication of The Misery of Small Eastern European States. These countries, Czechoslovakia in the form of post-dissolution Czech Republic and Slovakia, all began the process of healing their historical wounds through integration with western Europe and adoption of liberal democracy following the collapse of communism in 1989.

Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia continue to travel down this uneven road toward political, social and economic integration with western Europe, whereas in Hungary a highly competent political leader—one who conforms perfectly to Bibó’s “phony realist” prototype—has either consciously or instinctively revived Hungarian historical trauma and its attendant political hysteria in order to regain and consolidate his personal power within a hybrid authoritarian-democratic state modeled on Putin’s Russia and Chávez’s Venezuela.

Orange Files translated all quotes from The Misery of Small Eastern European States that appear in this post, which was published on April 27, 2014—thus before the government of Poland began to pursue illiberal policies similar to those of the Orbán government. 

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Scenes from the Jobbik Demonstration

Arriving to Heroes’ Square on a rainy winter night: about 2,000 people, many of the same bad faces (rossz arcok) as at Jobbik demonstrations in the old days, though with the baddest faces now gone; the same old party flags with the double cross emerging from some kind of red-lidded green eyeball, though the neo-Hungarist Árpád-striped flags that used to be so many now nowhere to be seen; national rock thundering from amplifiers on the speaker’s platform, though no longer the bellicose Kárpátia mantras, but something milder, less aggressive, less threatening.

Very few cops in sight, though just 50 yards from Fidesz party headquarters, unlike the old days when there were hundreds in full riot gear.

This is the new Jobbik, the “people’s party.”

But what is really new here is the presence of the liberal opposition: around 100 people affiliated with Momentum, Together (Együtt) and allegedly Politics Can Be Different (LMP) as well, though saw no sign of the latter party. They stand in back, away from the dense crowd gathered around the platform, holding Hungarian and European Union flags as a couple of unknown Jobbik speakers cough and stutter through speeches about the wrongdoings of the State Audit Office (see Legislative Amendments on Outdoor Political Advertising) .

The opposition news website 444.hu is here doing interviews and one of the people in the liberal group, a balding man in his 40s, tells the reporter with a quiver of antipathy in his voice: “I am the person at whom this crowd used to shout dirty Jew and scumbag liberal. The difference between the two [the liberals and the Jobbik supporters] is that we stand up for them, though they don’t stand up for us.”

The journalist Róbert Puzsér stands to the microphone, steadies himself with arms extended to the lectern, and begins to speak in his somewhat enervated voice. He is unaffiliated with Jobbik and can therefore talk with his customary explicitness about the party’s transformation:

I look out at the participants in this demonstration and it makes me think of the joke about the Gypsy, the rabbi and the skinhead who get together in order to save the rule of law. This coalition is surreal. Ágnes Heller, the Marxist prophetess. Árpád Schilling, the apostle of me-too and feminist ideology. The liberal icon György Konrád. The Ron Werber-led LMP. The Momentum [party] that is campaigning with its Orbán look-alike president. The Outlaw Army [Betyársereg] founder now playing border-castle captain, László Toroczkai, and all the other Jobbik politicians who not long ago were still reviling Jews and Gypsies and rhapsodizing about Putin, though who feeling Orbán’s whip on their backs have learned to like democracy. And, moreover, [Jobbik President] Gábor Vona, who used to serve the causes of racism, militarism and Horthy nostalgia with precisely the same enthusiasm and determination as he now plays the role of the angel of democracy . . .

And now Vona. The same old vehemence, though with Viktor Orbán in the role of enemy-from-within: “Like a low-down, worthless, sneaky thief he slips into our gardens at night and steals our inner freedom.”  The leader of Jobbik acclaims the new coalition that he hopes will one day make him the leader of Hungary: “I think that today is not merely an episode, I think that today is not a simple protest against some unlawful procedure. I believe that here today many different kinds of people have taken a historic step toward a just, honorable and free Hungary, toward a twenty-first century Hungary.”

The speech over, the crowd disperses. Walking down Andrássy Avenue next to former LMP leader András Schiffer the dampness on the sidewalks has assumed an icy sheen. A few stray snowflakes fall to the ground.

Click on any photo to see gallery view.

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The Empire Strikes Back

Terry Black's Facebook profile photo.

Terry Black (Facebook profile photo).

On November 10, 2016, the Andy Vajna-owned, pro-government TV2 television station broadcast a report entitled “Gábor Vona’s Secret Life” [Vona Gábor titkos élete] in which transgender performer and former gay adult-film actor Terry Black (Mihály Rácz) alleged that he had seen the president of the radical-nationalist Jobbik party engaging in homosexual acts at gatherings of Hungarian intellectuals in the early 2000s (source A and B in Hungarian).

The pro-government commercial media, including Origo.hu, PestiSrácok.hu, ripost.hu and the Árpád Habony-operated lokál.hu, carried the TV2 report, which was broadcast just two days after Jobbik National Assembly representatives had followed through with their threat not to support the government-sponsored proposed amendment to the Fundamental Law that would have prevented the European Union from resettling Middle Eastern and African refugees in Hungary if government “residency-bonds” were not first eliminated (see Updated: Amendments to the Fundamental Law and The Hungarian Investment Immigration Program).

See entire post.

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Birds of a Feather (2)

orbantrumpPrime Minister Viktor Orbán enthusiastically welcomed the election of Donald Trump to serve as the next president of the United States. Below are five statements that Prime Minister Orbán made regarding Trump’s November 8 election victory.

“Congratulations. What a great news. Democracy is still alive.” November 9, 2016 (source in English).

“What has happened is that reality has broken through the ideology. We are moving back to reality, which means [respecting] the views of real people and what they think, how they approach these questions – not to educate them, but accept them as they are, because they are the basis of democracy.” November 9, 2016 (source in English).

“It’s not my idea. It’s not an élite-launched political movement. It’s going on in the minds of the people, because they don’t like what we’re living in now—that kind of liberal non-democracy system.” November 9, 2016 (source in English).

“Now this [escape from ideological captivity] has happened in the United States and this gives the rest of the Western world the opportunity to break away from ideologies, from political correctness and the captivity of ways of thinking and speaking that have distanced themselves from the truth and finally we are returning to the ground of realities.” November 9, 2016 (source in Hungarian).

“The world will be a better place with the new American president, we have a good chance of this.” November 11, 2016 (source in Hungarian).

See Birds of a Feather (1).

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The Demise of People’s Freedom

Final issue of Népszabadság (photo: mandiner.hu).

Final issue of Népszabadság (photo: mandiner.hu).

On October 8, 2016, Mediaworks Hungary, the owner of the influential opposition print and online newspaper Népszabadság (People[‘s] Freedom), announced unexpectedly that it had suspended publication of the newspaper effective immediately.

The Vienna Capital Partners-owned Mediaworks Hungary attributed the decision to discontinue publication of the newspaper to the fact that “The circulation of Népszabadság has fallen 74 percent over the past ten years, that is, by over 100,000 copies [per day]. As a consequence, the newspaper has generated losses of more than five billion forints since 2007 and has likewise accrued significant losses this year” (source in Hungarian).

However, referring to the previously rumored attempt of pro-government business interests close to oligarch Lőrinc Mészáros (source in Hungarian) to acquire Mediaworks Hungary, the editors of Népszabadság published the following post on the newspaper’s Facebook page after receiving notification via motorcycle courier that they had been “exempted from their obligation to perform work” for the newspaper (source in Hungarian):

Dear Followers! The editors of Népszabadság learned at the same time as the general public that the newspaper has been shut down with immediate effect. Our first thought is that this is a putsch. We will be in contact soon.

See entire post.

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