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.

A Few More Words on the “Refugee Crisis”

Firstly, here’s a public service announcement: Since I am about as bad at regular blogging as your average Hungarian opposition politician is at even perceiving opportunities for efffectively countering the government, I will try out a new plan. I’ll concentrate on regularly updating the Facebook page of this blog and keep up with the occasional longer articles. In case you are interested, you can find the page at the following link

Voilá

And now, just to be a complete hypocrite, I will now write another post about the Refugee Crisis, because I feel that there is still not enough sources that explain what the hell is going on in an intelligent way.

As you, my dear readers might have realised, the swathe of land that stretches from Western Sahara to the Tribally Administered Regions of Pakistan has been a fan that was not just hit, but so thoroughly inundated with shit that it now  bears a striking resemblance to Tony Abbott’s brain. It isn’t really easy to attribute blame or establish a causality of events that led to what is  happening now. The War on Terror definitely did not help (unless you are Osama Bin Laden circa 10 September 2001, in which case you’d be overjoyed to see how Neoconservative stupidity paved the way of establishing fundamentalist caliphate in the heart of the Middle East), nor did the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Saudi and Pakistani secret services working together to create the Taliban, using the money of a United States that couldn’t give two fucks about what was happening, as long as the Soviet troops kept on dying. Generally speaking, I have no idea who thought that propping up the theocratic Saudi Arabia would be a good idea and they wouldn’t use their safety to spread their own dangerous version of Islam around the world. Then again, maybe the breaking up of the Ottoman Empire and the subsequent wave of colonisation did not help either.

Of course, I do not mean to be partial. No-one forced the mass murdering dictators that popped up after decolonisation to become mass murderers and the jihadis are beyond basic human sanity. There are plenty of locals at fault here as well.

Anyways. Here we are, on 14 September 2015, with a gigantic mess on our hands. Afghanistan is still a failed state, now with tens of thousands of former NATO contractors having been left there to be hunted down and massacred, who would rather stay alive and flee for safety. The only word that can describe Syria is “tragedy”. Assadist forces are fighting the Non-Radical Free Syrian Army with the help of Hizbullah, which is sometimes bombed by Israel even though it is also fighting against ISIS and the post-Al Queda Al Nusra Front, who are fighting the Kurds, who are being viciously assaulted by Turkey (which might cause itself to slide into civil strife), who, along with Saudi Arabia are most probably helping ISIS. Meanwhile, the NATO-trained and armed Iraqi army just packed up and went home.

Millions of Syrian refugees have fled to other parts of their country and about three and a half million are in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. They live in gigantic camps that are kinda run by UNHCR. There is one big issue here: the UNHCR has completely ran out of money. As a UN organisation, it relies on the funds donated by member states, who couldn’t be arsed to contribute enough. Therefore, the refugees, to whom these countries cannot provide even medium-term safety decided that they had to do something.

This is where the EU comes in, it being one of the richest supranational entities in the world. These people, thought that maybe these rich, civilised nations that are always banging on about human rights and such would be able to provide them with asylum. They are kinda right, the EU is able to shelter a lot of refugees. If Lebanon is chugging along with on third over one third of its population being refugees, then the EU should be able to house even the whole population of Syria (theoretically, I might add), which would add a whopping 4% to the total EU population of 507 million.

But the EU does not want refugees. It is in the middle of a partially self-made crisis (which would be worth another full post) and just like any time of economic downturn, it brought the most reprehensible political forces out of the dank subterranean caverns they inhabit. These Nigel Farages and Orban Viktors are very good at making their voices heard, even if they don’t reflect the voices of the populations they claim to represent. But they are not the main issue. The EU Establishment, with Germany at the helm, is fiercely protective of a deeply flawed regulation that is at the heart of the issue: it is called Dublin III.

I am yet to find any explanation about why this horrendous piece of legislation deserves any protection. IT was basically created to make asylum claims clean-cut: you have to request asylum in the state where you entered the EU. Now let’s look at the map. Where are the rich nations? North-Northwest. Where are the poor ones? The South-South-East. If a horrific civil war broke out in Iceland or Greenland, the refugees piling onto boats would have very good chances of finding safe refuge. Coincidentally, Iceland, Canada or Franz Josef Land aren’t exactly at risk of protracted warfare. Which means that should war break out in the South-East, an area known to be, khm, somewhat unstable, nations like Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary or Italy should house all the refugees. What an unfortunate coincidence!

Yeah, right.

None of the South-Eastern nations are really capable of providing asylum to any significant amount of people. They are ravaged by austerity and other forms of capitalist exploitation, their political classes are corrupt and often malicious and their infrastructure is sub-par to say the least. The refugees are simply not granted the rights enshrined by the UN Refugee Convention and no reasonable observer would say that these places are safe for large numbers of refugees.

So, just to recap: We have Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, which are full and where the local governments and the UNHCR are overwhelmed. We have the EU periphery and the Balkan States, which are incapable and unwilling to provide asylum and there is the EU Core that acts welcoming, but is only waiting for its chance to push all the folks back to the periphery. It is worth noting that while Germany seems all cutesy, it is still insisting on Dublin and has a rather bad record of actually granting asylum. Yeah, they’ll welcome the people who make it across their borders (while preparing the paperwork to push them back), but they are also insisting on the periphery governments to stop such things from ever happening.

(But what about the rich Saudi Arabia, why can’t they host refugees? Yeah. Because moving from the pretty laissez-faire, cosmopolitan Syria to the theocratic hellholes where they view non-locals as slaves is  an option. Or, as an Afghan refugee, crossing Syria-Islamic State-Iraq is even a possibility. Next please.)

Therefore, FIDESZ is actually right when they claim that they are doing things by the EU book. They are just doing the dirty work of Germany. Not that anyone asked them to make it extra filthy, with the state railways literally scamming refugees by selling expensive tickets to trains that will never take them, with makeshift refugee camps and with the border fence that can only stop local wildlife but not a human being with at least one functioning arm. If  a refugee wants to cross a border, then the border will be crossed, no matter how much of the meagre and useless Hungarian police and the even more ridiculously tiny army will want to stop them. Most of the Syrian refugees who made it this far are probably smarter and better educated than the average Hungarian policemen after all. Plus, they kinda want to survive.

And now we get to the other stumbling block. Unless they have a visa, no refugees can enter the EU legally. There is no way for them to do so. They can’t exactly pop in the consulate in Damascus, all them explosions and bullets are way too inconvenient and no airline would take them, as, due to another wonderful piece of EU legislation, the same airline would have to cover for their return ticket should they be refused entry. Therefore, the EU has created a gigantic industry of people smugglers and caused tens of thousands of deaths simply because they conveniently forgot about the fact that refugees should be allowed to enter safe countries. even without papers. Currently in Hungary, we have a situation where an organised syndicate of people smugglers are operating literally metres from the largest concentration of policemen since time immemorial. Sadly, taking refugees, whose “illegal” entry should not be considered illegal as per the aforementioned UN convention into custody is more important than stopping actual crimes.

Then, there are voices sounding the alarm over the death of Christian Europe and an invasion by brown people who will bring Sharia and ban bacon. I think I can fairly confidently state that these voices are stupid and no cultured person should even bother replying to such nonsense. Europe is not Christian and even the whole population of Syria wouldn’t make a dent on continental demographics.

So, how to solve the crisis? It is actually not that hard:

  • Calm the fuck down
  • Repeal Dublin and start an aggressive political campaign to convince people that the EU is not only capable, but is obligated to host refugees, whose numbers are relatively small and who can be settled throughout the Union, granted that they have to be treated fairly in all member states.
  • Create means for refugees to reach the EU safely. Establish processing centres in international air- and seaports and provide transportation. The refugees would actually pay for it most of the times anyway, so it isn’t that much of an investment. This would end people smuggling.
  • Ignore the Orbáns, the Le Pens and the rest of the xenophobes. They are an issue the EU has to deal with another time. People’s lives are at stake here.
  • Try to come up with a well thought-out diplomatic solution to the crises, involving almost everyone around. Yes, even Putin and Assad.
  • Do not bomb anyone.
  • Seriously, not a single bomb.

Of course, this will no happen. Instead, Germany has now decided that, after eliminating the concept of solidarity from EU common practice through its horrendous treatment of Greece, it will also fuck up one of the main pillars of the Union, the elimination of borders. Other nations are already following suit, and the asshats like Viktor Orbán can feel vindicated and will just be emboldened by such acts. The political forces (the masses, to be honest) on the side of international law and the refugees are providing huge amounts of material and financial aid, but haven’t yet grasped the fact that it is policy that needs to change and that no amount of shoes or sandwiches will solve the causes of the crisis. At least in Hungary, the political opposition is too deeply invested in its unquestioning pro-EU stance to be able to say anything relevant on the matter. I suppose this is true for most of Europe. This is what happens when you only have Liberals to oppose Right-wing policies.

At least now we have a Corbyn on the horizon to show them what real opposition looks like. Reason thunders in its volcano.

A Bit about the Hungarian Media

Yesterday, I was shown the cover of the new Heti Válasz, a horrendous right-wing propaganda weekly. The person showing it to me was bemused by the fact that it featured a collage of three faces: Pablo Iglesias Turrión, Alexis Tsipras and Viktor Orban, with a caption: “The Daredevils of Europe”. This image was, of course, implying that these are the three brave politicians who stand up to Brussels, and the International Capitalist Pigdogs in general. Of course, I am sure that the accompanying editorial failed to mention that FIDESZ is an authoritarian bunch of ultraconservative footpads and the other two parties are democratic, socialist and open formations that are fighting against exactly the kind of politics FIDESZ represents. (Though I heard that Podemos is kinda problematic, but I’ve been lazy to look into the matter)

I could have easily dismissed this cover as yet another example of ridiculous propaganda, and taken as an example of the ever greater depths the right-wing media descends into. I actually did so yesterday. Then I came home, opened 444 (an alternative, progressive  online portal) and realised that they are making the EXACT SAME COMPARISON, but from a different angle. They use the rhetorics of the FIDESZ government, eg. “freedom fight”, “unorthodox methods”, etc. to ridicule  SYRIZA and their struggle against the murderous nonsense of austerity.

This is just an example of how utterly messed-up the Hungarian media is. It is the elephant in the room that few talk about, simply because elephants don’t like to talk about themselves. They prefer to chew and shit and break some stuff now and again. Also, they can’t talk.

Anyway. here’s a quick rundown of the key players: There is the state media, which is basically a government mouthpiece, and has been one for ages. It does not even try to fake a sense of independence, just tows the party line, regardless of the actual party. One of the two commercial TV stations mostly ignores politics (their news programmes are usually about rural murders and kittens) and the other, RTL Klub used to be the same but then switched to poking the FIDESZ with a stick, but just because of a tax dispute. There are rumours that the dispute has been settled and they’ll go back to business.

The print media is equally hopeless. Hardly anyone reads newspapers any more (apart from the tabloids, whose tits and celebs content has no bearing on the country), and with good reason. These papers are extremely insular (Népszabadság, the leading opposition daily has a single page for foreign affairs, where they publish fluffed-up  reports from news agencies. Trust me, it would be worse if they tried to write about, let’s say ISIS, as they can’t tell the difference between Salafism and Political Islam and they are too lazy to actually read things not written by their friends) and dominated by uncritical intellectuals who only put on pants and leave their homes to bore people to death at protests, but whose words are seen as divine revelation to those who already share all their views.

Then there is the electronic media. Here, the alternative opposition and the nazis are dominant. The latter were, as usual, the only political group smart enough to realise that the internet is useful, and built up a major portal whose name I won’t utter and a strong base of people who will gladly fill comment sections with vile hate speech. The alternative opposition is centered around index and 444, who are closely related to each other. The former is becoming more and more  boring and it proudly hosts some of the most vile misogyny in the history of the nation. The latter is a gawkerised hellhole, which mostly scavenges foreign media outlets, from Buzzfeed to the New Yorker and rephrases their articles into flashy quotes.  Their opinion pieces are a continuation of the great anti-intellectual traditions of the print media, just with younger writers, one of whom, for instance, had the gall to publish a winding, multi-page prognosis about how Hungary will become like Latin-America, based on his personal, no doubt very deep understanding of said continent he acquired on his holiday road trip. These portals are also highly opinionated and view anything and everything with the condescending glint of the 29 year-old hipster who is too cool to stand for anything, (Also, don’t get me started on any news outlet that spreads the gospel of free market capitalism. Unless it is the Economist, which is evil, but a kind of respectable evil, due to the intellect and professionalism of its writers, their critical attitude and ability to reconsider erroneous judgements.)

What is missing from any of these? Actual journalism. People with a certain awareness of the surrounding world going out into the open, finding stories, then researching and writing them. Even basic fact-finding is missing from most news reports, especially when it comes to foreign affairs, as all the journalists do is look at news agency reports and then just translate anything they find interesting, without even thinking about what they are writing. They can’t even be arsed to instill a slight sense of doubt about breaking news, and present every single bit of information as fact. I was following the live feed of 444 about the recent terror attacks in Paris and I really began to question my hobby, as the experience was excruciatingly painful. But if this brings the clicks, then what can they do?

So, basically, we have people talking out of the government’s ass, talking about other people’s asses and talking out of their own asses. The national media is intent on suppressing change, because that serves the government’s purposes. The international media conglomerates that run the commercial television channels are simply not interested in change, because they just want to enjoy the status quo. The warring sides of the newspapers have no time for new ideas or any ideas for that matter, they are too busy building fortifications of empty rhetoric. 444 and the rest of the alternatives laugh at the idea of change and the fascists are fighting for a horrific change, but change nonetheless.

And once again, the fascists are winning.

I am getting tired to reaching this conclusion, but I have to keep doing it, because the fascists are actually winning in Hungary, while everyone is too busy being distracted by nonsense.