The State of Affairs in November 2015

I am trying to fight against it, but it seems I just have to start every post with a bit of a disclaimer about why I am a horrible blogger. This time, I will make it a whole post.

I started Congress of Baboons to give a highly sarcastic picture of Hungarian politics to people who aren’t necessary Hungarians themselves. I wanted it to be informative, non-partisan and amusing. It is not that easy to balance these three aspects.

I could have drifted towards the informative side, but there are other resources for that, like the brilliant Hungarian Spectrum and I have no wish to compete with them, not that I ever could with my laziness.

The non-partisan thing is of a different matter. I don’t have any allegiances towards any of the political parties in Hungary, as none of them come even close to representing my views. The issue here is that the political spectrum does not exist any more. FIDESZ, even if it lacks an absolute majority in parliament, holds absolute power over the country. The opposition is nowhere to be seen, even Jobbik has been sidelined by the forceful post-fascism of the Orbán Government. MSZP, in its confusion, has basically started to support FIDESZ in its treatment of refugees, and I can’t even remember what the other parties are called. They are gone.

In such an atmosphere, how can one remain non-partisan? I don’t want to write yet another FIDESZ-bashing whine central, because, frankly, the topic is boring as fuck. Yes, we know that they are terrible, it is pretty damn obvious to anyone who is capable of complex thought. They just tried to sneak through a law that would have allowed the secret service to force news organisations to hire their agents. This failed, because unlike most MPs, some journalist actually read the proposed text and now they’ll have to remove it. I am sure they could pass it if they wanted, but since the media is either on their side, or too gutless to actually try to influence public opinion, it really does not matter at all.

And amusing? I can joke around all day, but that doesn’t provide substance.

So here we are, in 2015, and I am not really sure what to write about. So I’ll do a sweeping overview, in bullet points:

  • The refugee crisis has been diverted towards less functional states. The government openly declared that brown people are not welcome in Europe, because they might change our Christian culture. This, of course, ignores some facts, like how there are currently more refugees in the city of Istanbul than in the EU or that even the whole population of Syria moving over wouldn’t really change the demographics of the Union in any meaningful way. But one shouldn’t let facts get in the way of some good old-fashioned racism. The fences have been built, the thousands of helpless people are diverted further along the borders of the Union, with winter fast approaching. Meanwhile, the EU as an organisation might start working on the Latvian translation of the first preliminary proposals for conducting a study on the viability of setting up a small test-run of the quota system by mid-2018.
  • It has become clear that outside pressure will not be a factor in Hungarian politics. The EU and the US might make some snide remarks, but as long as international debt obligations are not in danger, Fortress Europe is maintained and there are no attempts to upset any of the Core-dictated other status quos (stati quo? statae quo? I don’t speak any Latin), or start housing Russian or ISIS forces on Hungarian soil, nothing will happen. Stop waiting for it.
  • On the other hand, the international cabal of Jewish lizard people are also highly unlikely to pounce upon poor little Hungary in order to steal its fertile soils and clear waters. Not that we won’t hear about them every day, increasingly from Government sources.
  • State funds are being diverted towards shady sources at an ever-increasing pace. Basically, there is now an established pseudo-feudal network of clients that effectively control most of the country, including its agriculture, culture culture, gambling, you name it.
  • Hungarian society has been more or less tamed. While it has always been as rebellious as a moderately used straw mattress, it remains remarkably content. The vassals are of course happy, the bourgeoisie is content with a favourable income tax and being supplied with ample opportunities for consumption and the poor are either dependent on the vassals for their survival (you just have to fall out of their good graces once, and even your wage slavery is gone and you can join the criminalised sub-underclass). It is all bread and circus, or the threat of taking away what little bread and circus is left.
  • Public services are collapsing. There is a chronic shortage of workforce practically everywhere. Education is in complete ruins, so is healthcare. The lack of funding for public transportation even made the rabid thug István Tarlós, the mayor of Budapest critical of the Government. Everything is still chugging along, but the wheels can come off at any minute.
  • At one point, the above two issues will have a major clash. We shall see what will happen then, but I really don’t have high hopes. Still, this is the only hope one can have, because the country has had enough of attempts by “Parties of Moderate Progress Within the Bounds of the Law”.
  • At least this is not Putin’s Russia or Erdogan’s Turkey. Many bad things can be said about the Government of Hungary, but at least it isn’t violent or murderous.

This should be it for now. I would love to see some comments on how y’all see the current state of affairs.

I promise I’ll try to write soon.

When the Hate Keeps Piling On

These pesky FIDESZ folks, they just can’t give up. I would really like to write about anything but the government, but every other party seems to have vanished off the face of the earth. I have to admit that Egyutt pops up now and again for yet another piece of performance art politics, but I think even they are tired of that shit by now.

FIDESZ is really no fun. They aren’t particularly imaginative and their brand of 19th century rural backwater conservatism is, frankly, tedious as fuck. For instance, there are still echoes of that masterful display of bigotry by Mr Orban I wrote about last time. Klara Ungar, the out lesbian leader of an irrelevant liberal party, as a response to the PM’s remarks, decided to make an attempt at gay-shaming some FIDESZ bigwigs. Don’t ask me what she was thinking, I do not know or understand. One of the “accused” was Mate Kocsis, the mayor of the VIII district, who gained national fame by spearheading the criminalisation of homelessness and who continued his streak of brilliance with his novel approach to tackling drug use, which can be summed up as “Let ’em all get AIDS”. His witty retort was “I am no faggot“, along with a suggestion that Pride should be moved to the parking lot of a wholesale market at the edge of the city. Another ignorant bully, Istvan Tarlos, jumped into the fray and declared that homosexuality is unnatural and he would also like to ban Pride, because its provocative nature does not fit the historical city centre.

I personally am very happy that these fine gentlemen, who no doubt spent countless hours studying zoology, psychology evolutionary biology, anthropology and gender studies and who most definitely aren’t living examples of the Dunning-Kruger Effect, feel such discomfort at the thought that the arc of the moral universe is bending far away from them, and that in their own lifetimes, they will see their whole hate-filled little world crumble into dust.

And it isn’t all over. Not content with casual homophobia, the government decided to go against another target: refugees. This would have been a perfect occasion to call for a revolution against the European Union, which seems to have decided that the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees does not exist and that one of the most prosperous financial entities in the known Universe simply cannot cope with a fraction of the number of refugees that nations like Lebanon or Pakistan are housing.

Well, it has to be said that it is a bit hard to cope with refugees if, as per the Dublin Agreement, the poorest nations in the Union should be the ones caring for the refugees while the rich, relatively unaffected core are content with whining against their legal obligations to assist people fleeing from hellish conflicts that are, at least partially fuelled by the aforementioned core nations.

I would have been the first person to congratulate Orban Viktor if he stood up and denounced the “only good brown person is the one floating face-down in the Mediterranean” policy, but unfortunately, that did not happen. Instead, the Government started a national consultation.

What is that, you ask? A national consultation is basically an unregulated referendum. The government prints out and mails a questionnaire, which they will evaluate. The best thing about it is that the only authority overseeing the process is the Government itself. If they want to use leading questions, they are free to do so. In fact, the questions were as leading as a badly trained seeing eye golden retriever that spotted an overturned food truck. The results aren’t monitored either, so the government can just declare whatever result they wish.

But it gets way better. Yesterday, an anonymous informant working in a copy shop sent a picture to Index, which was a propaganda poster ordered by the Government. It said, in Hungarian:

If you come to Hungary, you can’t take the jobs from Hungarians

At first, I was sceptical, but then the Government confirmed that yes, this is their work and are proud of it. There will be others as well: “If you come to Hungary, you have to respect our culture” and “If you come to Hungary, you have to respect our laws”. Of course, none of these are in Pashto, Arabic or Tigrinya, hence one can easily guess that the target audience might not be the refugees themselves. Or maybe the marketing company, which is no doubt owned by a friend or relative of a FIDESZ just can’t give two shits as long as the money is flowing.

The campaign is a bit weird in its obfuscating simplicity. It can’t be an effort to turn public opinion against migrants, because Hungarians already despise them. It can’t be aimed at the refugees because they can’t understand a word of it. Itis most probably a show of force, a demonstration of the government’s position, even if it should be pretty damn obvious by now.

And this is the shit I have to deal with. Reflecting on the opinions of gobshites and publicity campaigns on the intellectual level of South Park’s Skeeter:

This is below my level. This is below Hungary’s level. It is even below the level of them arthropods sifting through the muck of brackish puddles. My kingdom for a post-kindergarten political discourse.

A Bad Case of ‘Foot in Mouth Syndrome’

I am not dead yet!

I haven’t been writing much, because I haven’t really found anything to write about. I have always taken comedy rather seriously, and I can’t make myself write when I would just be repeating myself. Things are happening, but nothing interesting. A corruption scandal here and there, by-elections, quibbles and other events of no consequence whatsoever. I went to a nurses’ protest a few days back and heard passionate speeches, made to a crowd that was way too small, with lots of shouts of “enough” and “we’re not gonna take it any more”, which sounded just as toothless as the Twisted Sister song. I left when one of the speakers demanded that people give the optional 1% tax donation to the healthcare workers. Now that is a revolution right there. I really hope they know it deep down that appealing for charity is not quite the right way to pressure a government.

Anyways, this is not what I wanted to talk about. Mr Orbán, the ever-more right wing Prime Minister just had a wonderful little public appearance in Debrecen, the second largest city in Hungary and the centre of the impoverished Eastern frontier. He went there for a little propaganda event, to sign an “agreement of cooperation” with the local mayor to develop the city by throwing gazillion Forints at projects that he hopes would keep the city’s voters on his side, at least until the government finally manages to produce a scandal about which Hungarians will finally give a flying fuck.

Debrecen, also hosts one of the main refugee camps in Hungary, and a particularly horrendous one, where thousands of desperate human beings linger for years without hope of legal recognition or treatment worthy of human beings. FIDESZ has been conducting a major hate speech campaign against refugees in migrants in general, in line with the general position of the European Union, which, in order to weasel out of obligations established in a number of UN conventions, decided that there are just way too many refugees and they should be either drowned or kept far away. This is a reasonable request, as a supernational entity,which is one of the biggest economies in the world, with about 500 million inhabitants, cannot be expected to cope with the current amount of asylum seekers. I mean, in 2014, less than half as many people sought asylum in this prosperous, first-world conglomerate as the there are Syrian refugees in Lebanon, an excessively fucked-up nation of 4,4 million people. THE HORROR!

Mr Orbán declared that he wants to close the camp down and send everyone home.  This merely goes against the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, Article 33(1), which prohibits the exact same action, but it’s not like he even gives a damn. I don’t think anyone should believe that he will actually do this blatantly illegal and immoral act, he just needs it to farm more “anti-EU freedom fight” sympathy among the unwashed masses that make up the Hungarian electorate. (Not that a healthy anti-EU freedom fight is a bad thing per se. But let us not kid ourselves, a team composed of the brightest minds of the Orbán government could not spell “exploitative relationship between the EU core and the periphery” if their lives depended on it)

The real gem came later, though, when an Index.hu reporter asked him about the International Day Against Homophobia. I will translate the exchange in full, so that you can savour every last bit of this proud example of bigoted small-mindedness.

-(index) As today is the International Day Against Homophobia, politicians worldwide, including conservatives declared: “Respect to the Gays” and the Government did not make a statement concerning this subject, therefore my question would be that as Prime Minister, what message would you have for the homophobes, and what actions will the Government take to ensure that in Hungary, non-heterosexual couples could hold hands publicly without fear

(wait for it, it is going to be epic)

– (Orbán, visibly annoyed) This is a question which makes one want to joke around, but I would spare us from anything of the sort. So… I would suggest that anyone, who makes public statements about this matter… to do this with reasonable care. Hungary is a serious country. It is fundamentally based on traditional values. Hungary is a tolerant nation. Tolerance does not mean that we would legislate slants of life different from our own as equal. We differentiate between them. Tolerance means patience, tolerance means an ability to coexist, this is the basis of the Hungarian Constitution, it clearly differentiates between a marital relationship between a man and a woman and other, different forms of cohabitation. We are going to keep this. By the way, I am grateful for the Hungarian community of homosexuals that they are not exhibiting the provocative behaviour against which numerous European nations are struggling, and which only results in the exact opposite outcome that they want to achieve. I believe that in Hungary, even though the Constitution clearly differentiates between marriage and other forms of cohabitation, the people with lifestyles different from our own outlook on life are safe, they are given the respect of basic human dignity that they deserve, and I believe that, if I am seeing the commuters of Budapest correctly, foreigners don’t feel that in this respect, Budapest would be a dangerous city. This means that this is good, this is how we can live together. If we steer this system towards any direction, even if we make more stringent regulations or the community of homosexuals start being more provocative, I think that the current peaceful, calm equilibrium will be no more. No-one would benefit from this. Everyone benefits from being able to coexist. I believe that as we are now, we can live together.

Crazy nastyass Orbán don’t care. The reason why I highlighted this astonishingly homophobic tirade, apart from it being a perfect cocktail which mixes the best forms of hate, othering, petite-bourgeois crudeness, ignorance and a sense of superiority, is the honesty. This topic does not come up in Hungarian political discourse too often, and therefore I am sure there was no prepared answer to give. Orbán gave us his opinion, which would have been laughed out of North Carolina, and that is pretty damn pathetic.

All I hope is that the “homosexual community” will break this horrible equilibrium and Orbán will see his precious dream of an oppressive and regressive Hungary crumble in front of his eyes and he will die a broken old man. I’d like to live long enough to savour that when they finally put him in the ground, I’ll stand on his grave and tramp the dirt down.

Now everyone go and watch Pride. It is a gorgeous, wonderful piece of cinema and a perfect palate-clenser after all this hate.