Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s March 15 Speech

March 15 is a day of particular importance in Hungary. It is  when politicians make speeches under the guise of commemorating the 1848 revolution, for whatever purpose they might see fit. Of the three big national holidays, this is probably the worst. August 20 at least has (mediocre) fireworks and October 23 is probably too cold and wet for major speeches and it generally goes by without much potential harm to one’s sanity.

The main event this year was the second Teachers’ Protest, which drew large crowds to Kossuth Square and ended with a threat of a one-hour strike in case the Prime Minister and the President fail to apologise for the way education is and was handled by the government. That’ll teach them, a full hour of striking! If I were the Prime Minister, I would have just apologised and took the wind right out of their sails. But not Mr Orban, noooo. His only reaction was that he found it all very funny.

The second most important event was a speech by the Prime Minister himself. It was delivered in front of a remarkably small group of loyalist pensioners and Polish far-right lunatics, with another group of dissident pensioners doing their best to make as much noise as they could. I tell you, it is REALLY hard to tell the two groups apart if you don’t speak the language. The speech was astonishing. Originally, I was about to publish a translated version here, with my annotations, but I got slightly nauseous and decided that basically anything was a better use of my time than to give that much attention to this text.

Fortunately, Hungary Today has made a full English translation (thanks!), which I will be using now, to show some of the juiciest bits. I would recommend that you read through the whole thing, it is one of the few texts that really need no explanation.

Well, let’s begin:

Just as then in the decisive battles of the Freedom Fight, now also Hungarian hearts are cheered by the fact that we have with us a Polish legion. I welcome the spirited successors of General Bem: we  welcome the sons of the Polish nation. As always throughout our shared thousand-year history, now, too, we are standing by you in the battle you are fighting for your country’s freedom and independence.

A few notes here: General Bem was a true internationalist (this will be important later), fighting in three different conflicts in three distinct European nations (Poland, Hungary and Portugal), without much sense of national pride. He was also a refugee who settled in the Ottoman Empire who converted to Islam and became the governor of Aleppo. It is rather amusing to form an alliance with other anti-refugee, Islamophobic groups under the aegis of a Muslim refugee.

Furthermore, I have doubts over the notion that Hungary and Poland always fought side by side for freedom and independence. Three words: Second World War. One of the major characteristics of this speech is casual forgetfulness regarding this particular minor squabble.

Yes, we Hungarians have two revolutionary traditions: one leads from 1848, through 1956 and the fall of communism, all the way to the Fundamental Law and the current constitutional order; the bloodline of the other tradition leads from Jacobin European ancestors, through 1919, to communism after World War II and the Soviet era in Hungary.

It is cute that he elevates his deeply flawed, ridiculously worded and hopefully completely insignificant Fundamental Law with actual historic events.

Also, he once again forgets about the Second World War. This dualistic view of history is fascinating. In his world, an anglophile nationalistic revolution led by the urban liberal intelligentsia against foreign domination, an anti-Stalinist, but still very much autonomist/socialist uprising and the introduction of a deeply Christian conservative constitution and the following Putinisation of Hungary are diametrically opposed to revolutionary republicanism and socialism. But let’s not try to get between a politician and his history.

Modern European history has preserved both Hungarian revolutions among the glorious memories of the world: two blazing stars, two national uprisings bursting forth in 1848 and 1956 from Hungarian aspirations and Hungarian interests. Glory to the heroes, honour to the brave. Chroniclers have also recorded the revolution of 1918–19, but the memories of that period are not preserved on the pages of glory; indeed, not only are those memories written on different pages, but they appear in a different volume altogether. The 1918–19 revolution can be found in the volume devoted to Bolshevik anti-Hungarian subversions launched in the service of foreign interests and foreign ambitions; it features under the heading “appalling examples of intellectual and political degeneracy”.

Fuck that, let’s get right in between. These appalling examples of intellectual and political degeneracy established, for the first time in history, an independent Hungarian republic. They codified freedom of speech and assembly, separated church and state and provided free education and language rights to minorities. Of course, these are all things Mr Orban despises. He probably also bears a grudge for the revolutionaries having killed Istvan Tisza, the former Prime Minister, who was a strong supporter of the Austrian aggression against Serbia that started WWI, the privileges of the landed gentry and an opponent of minority rights and extending suffrage. The ridiculously ugly statue of Tisza was one of the first things that were rebuilt on Kossuth Square by the current government.

Of course, the two revolutions of 1918-19 were major clusterfucks. Especially the second one, which thought that mass killings of dissidents and violent disruptions of religious services were good for popularity (they weren’t) and that attacking Romania right after World War I would be a good idea (it wasn’t).

Also, 21st century historians don’t really think about the ‘glorious’ quality of events, just like how paleontologists don’t really discuss the ‘awesomeness’ of extinct animals. We, as a species, have been kinda over that for a good while now.

Today, as then, the heartbeat of this revolutionary tradition moves and guides the nation’s political, economic and spiritual life: equality before the law, responsible government, a national bank, the sharing of burdens, respect for human dignity and the unification of the nation. Today, as then, the ideals of ’48 and ’56 are the pulse driving the life force of the nation, and the intellectual and spiritual blood flow of the Hungarian people. Let us give thanks that this may be so, let us give thanks that finally the Lord of History has led us onto this path. Soli Deo gloria!

Under the rule of Mr Orban, of course, there is less and less equality before the law (for instance, there is currently a dude in a wheelchair and a blind old lady on trial for attacking the Hungarian police at a border crossing. Both refugees, of course.), an irresponsible government and national bank (thanks to almost approved legislation, the latter will be able to make “public funds lose their public nature”), the burdens are not shared equally (especially not by Mr Orban’s friend, a billionaire handyman turned, well, liege lord) and the respect of human dignity does not extend to women, refugees, minorities, the poor or even counter-protesters, as we’ll see later:

Not even the uplifting mood of a celebration day can let us forget that the tradition of 1919, too, is still with us – though fortunately its pulse is just a faint flicker. Yet at times it can make quite a noise. But without a host animal, its days are numbered. It is in need of another delivery of aid from abroad in the form of a major intellectual and political infusion; unless it receives this, then after its leaves and branches have withered, its roots will also dry up in the Hungarian motherland’s soil, which is hostile to internationalism. And this is all well and good.

The ‘making noise’ bit shows that this was a direct reference to the counter-protesters who, in a Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines-esque fashion, were called parasites by their Prime Minister.

Europe is not free, because freedom begins with speaking the truth. In Europe today it is forbidden to speak the truth. A muzzle is a muzzle – even if it is made of silk. It is forbidden to say that today we are not witnessing the arrival of refugees, but a Europe being threatened by mass migration. It is forbidden to say that tens of millions are ready to set out in our direction. It is forbidden to say that immigration brings crime and terrorism to our countries. It is forbidden to say that the masses of people coming from different civilisations pose a threat to our way of life, our culture, our customs, and our Christian traditions. It is forbidden to say that, instead of integrating, those who arrived here earlier have built a world of their own, with their own laws and ideals, which is forcing apart the thousand-year-old structure of Europe. It is forbidden to say that this is not accidental and not a chain of unintentional consequences, but a planned, orchestrated campaign, a mass of people directed towards us. It is forbidden to say that in Brussels they are constructing schemes to transport foreigners here as quickly as possible and to settle them here among us. It is forbidden to say that the purpose of settling these people here is to redraw the religious and cultural map of Europe and to reconfigure its ethnic foundations, thereby eliminating nation states, which are the last obstacle to the international movement. It is forbidden to say that Brussels is stealthily devouring ever more slices of our national sovereignty, and that in Brussels today many are working on a plan for a United States of Europe, for which no one has ever given authorisation.

It is so forbidden to say these lunacies, that he has been parroting them for about a year now. He has been really feeling the consequences. I can almost see some low-level Latvian bureaucrat in the bowels of the European Commission furiously typing away at the second draft of a proposal to discuss whether the gross human rights violations of Hungary should be discussed over the water cooler, for the duraton of maximum two sentences, by air-conditioning maintenance staff.

Also, notice the conspiracy theory in the background. It is not clear whether this planned overtake of Europe is orchestrated by the EU or someone else. Maybe Sauron? Maybe Chayim Sauronstein? We might never find out. I do hope so.

Europe is a community of Christian, free and independent nations; it is the equality of men and women, fair competition and solidarity, pride and humility, justice and mercy.

Umm. In the European Union, there are exactly four Christian countries with established religion (UK (though there are few people who would call the C of E a religion. It is more like a local library that you joined once for some strange reason you can’t remember but can’t even find from across the street), Denmark, Greece and Malta) and roughly half of EU citizens don’t believe in any god whatsoever. So let’s drop the superstitions, shall we?

Also, it is funny to see someone championing he equality of men and women who is also a staunch opponent of gender equality and marriage equality, whose government does not include any women, whose Speaker of the House stated that the “highest level of self-fulfillment for our daughters is when they give birth to our grandchildren”, establishing the paternal ownership of daughters and the societal role of women as child factories in one short sentence. And let’s not even mention LGBTQ+ rights.

We shall not allow it to force upon us the bitter fruit of its cosmopolitan immigration policy. We shall not import to Hungary crime, terrorism, homophobia and synagogue-burning anti-Semitism. There shall be no urban districts beyond the reach of the law, there shall be no mass disorder or immigrant riots here, and there shall be no gangs hunting down our women and daughters.

Says the man who just welcomed Polish far-right protesters at his own rally. Also, we should keep in mind that these momentous changes (especially homophobia and anti-Semitism, two concepts that are TOTALLY alien to Hungarians) would be brought on by the settlement of about 1500 refugees. Apparently, these refugees would work under the principles of homeopathy.

Of course I don’t have to spell out that none of these issues are caused by refugees, but finding the real answers would make for very bad race-baiting.

In 1848 it was written in the book of fate that nothing could be done against the Habsburg Empire. If then we had resigned ourselves to that outcome, our fate would have been sealed and the German sea would have swallowed up the Hungarians. In 1956 it was written in the book of fate that we were to remain an occupied and sovietised country until patriotism was extinguished in the very last Hungarian. If then we had resigned ourselves to that outcome, our fate would have been sealed, and the Soviet sea would have swallowed up the Hungarians.

This is just funny. He seems to have forgotten that both revolutions failed and Hungary remained a part of Austria until 1918 and deep within the Soviet sphere of influence until 1989.

These were just some choice bits that provoked some snarky thoughts in me that I thought I’d share here. Once again, I really recommend that you read the whole speech. It is an important document, a clear sign of how Mr Orban thinks, how he talks to the people who already support him.

In it, Mr Orban asserted the characteristics of Hungarians and that this and the cultural and ethnic purity of Hungary should be defended against foreign attempts at diluting it. He calls to arms against the European Union, against internationalism and using excessively hostile terms, attempts to excise social democratic, socialist, egalitarian and secular movements from Hungarian history. He asserts that the favoured nationalistic revolutions, which led to his power, were directed by the hand of God (therefore, I suppose, his power is also the result of Divine Intervention).

So, racist and racialist, agitating against international conspiracies and sub-human masses of ‘foreign’ people hell-bent on destroying the city on the hill he built with the grace of God, attempting to mobilise the people against for a struggle against these foreign threats. Also, aggressively anti-socialist, anti-republican and willing to manipulate ancient and modern history to serve his ideological purposes.

This really reminds me of a certain, wholly discredited set of ideologies that came to fruition exactly in the period Mr Orban forgot about. They had it really going between 1918 and 1945, but then their bastions lost the Second World War.

The same ideologies whose ardent supporters are being rehabilitated by the current Government of Hungary, that is attempting to erect statues of people who supported and/or co-authored the “Jewish Laws”. Whose historicising kitsch architecture is being reconstructed piece by piece, using astronomical amounts of public, mostly EU money.

I will give you a hint: Not the Sumerians. That would be BCE.

 

A Brief Outline of Hungarian Political Parties

It can take quite a while to begin to understand how political parties work in Hungary. I can’t say that I have achieved this level of expertise, but I’ve seen them frolicking around for a long enough time that I can kinda guess what their game is. In this post, I will present a general description of the main parties so that you, kind reader, won’t be completely lost in the future.

But first, some terminology. Hungary has left- and right-wing parties, but the only way to actually split the parties into the two groups is to look at their attitudes towards nationalism: left-wing parties don’t know how to deal with it, so when it come sup, their only response is awkward silence, while their right-wing counterparts can’t shut up about it for five bleedin’ seconds. In any other way, the two sides both exhibit a chaotic mixture of political and economic ideas, where Anarcho-Stalinism and Occultist Nazism could easily go hand in hand in the same press release. As long as the pensioners are happy. Sidenote: pensioners are the largest and most active voting demographic. They are the ones at whom the campaigns are aimed, the ones at the protests and the ones hurling antisemitic abuse and eggs at Budapest Pride. 

So, here’s the list.

MSZMP: Let’s start with the basics. The Hungarian Socialist Workers Party came to power in 1956, during the post-revolution facelift that was aimed at making the Marxist-Leninist dictatorship cuddlier so that the people may not attempt to hang anyone associated with it on the nearest lamppost as soon as physically possible. Its emblematic General Secretary, János Kádár ruled the country until 1988 in a similar fashion, creating a semblance of wealth and trying not to seem too oppressive. I’m not saying he wasn’t a nasty fellow, but he was no ruthless ‘feed your uncle to the dogs’ crazyperson by any means. His longest-lasting achievement was levelling  every state-controllable aspect of life in Hungary, from cuisine to pop music, to the lowest tier of mediocrity. After the change of regime, the more cunning MSZMP members formed MSZP, the social democratic successor party (aka. Bozo the Kleptocratic Clown and his Merry Bunch of Pathetic Losers), the slower ones became christian democrats (aka. the Catholic Taliban). The party is now defunct and Kádár’s skull was dug up and stolen by some fellow.

MSZP: One of the dominant political parties of the post-dictatorship era. Founded by former state party members, but on democratic principles. It started out as a more or less social democratic formation and have been steadily moving towards populistic neoliberalism ever since. After a strong ten years, they have now managed to completely destroy themselves, mostly thanks to a cuckoolander Prime Minister, Ferenc Gyurcsány, who just did now know when to call it quits. The riots would have been a useful hint.  At the moment it is still the strongest faction on the left, no thanks to their PM candidate, who might  as well be a drawing that kinda resembles a person. They achieved this status simply on the merit that they are not FIDESZ. Not that they didn’t try to steal everything as well, but they were just too stupid and clumsy to succeed.

SZDSZ: The now defunct liberal party, famous for being socially liberal in word only and not even trying to pass any progressive legislation through during their two terms in power as MSZP’s lapdogs. Then, it became a proper neoliberal party led by a dude who had a helicopter (this was his only memorable trait) and promptly disappeared. Now some of its members are reappearing to take votes away from opposition formations.

FIDESZ: The other main player, or, to tell the truth, THE main player in Hungarian politics. Led by a ‘definitely not autocratic, just fond of having everyone do what he likes’ Prime Minister and a gang of lapdogs of different shapes and sizes, this nationalistic, theocratic bunch of grumpy men actually started as a progressive, democratic and anti-clerical party, but then they realised that it won’t get them elected. Plus, did I mention the leader Viktor Orbán really likes playing with giant, inflatable copies of Earth in his study? Well, that helped a lot. Since they were elected in 2010, in the “Ballot Revolution” (their terminology), they have aggressively reshaped the country so that it resembles an ultra-nationalistic version of the old Marxist-Leninist regime, invading every public institution and making us all look really bad in the process. Their name means Coalition of Young Democrats, but they are not a Coalition, definitely not Young and most certainly not Democrats. The sheer amount of certifiably insane characters surrounding this party is astounding.

KDNP: This Christian Democratic party, the previously mentioned Catholic Taliban, is the liver-eating twin conjoined brother of FIDESZ. The two have been in permanent alliance for many years now, which is good for the Taliban because they get into parliament (Hungary isn’t particularly religious and this bunch would get at best fifteen votes altogether) and even into juicy positions and FIDESZ can actually have someone else do the dirty work. This party is lead by an avid killer of defenceless animals and populated by the most zealous supporters of the old regime, who 25 years ago suddenly realised that they have been confusing Stalin and Jesus all along, and they actually meant to worship the latter. Their stars include Rózsa Hoffmann, the Umbridgesque Minister of Education who managed to transform the whole educational system of the country into something that is so backwards and inefficient that 19th century Caucasian mountain communities would have rejected it on principle, and those were the folks who thought that an escaped Sub-Saharan slave was Bigfoot.

Együtt 2014: After the crazy Prime Minister destroyed the political left with the drive and efficiency of a three year-old tearing up a roll of toilet paper, a quiet, neoliberal mini-oligarch called Gordon Bajnai became the Prime Minister for a year. Since he managed not the burn the whole gorram place to the ground, people, mostly him, think that he knows something and should be given a second chance. He formed the coalition on the ashes of a promising anti-establishment protest movement that he hijacked (effectively chasing away all its supporters). After he ran that ship onto the rocks, he gathered a few backstabbing career politicians from other parties and some old folks no-one wants to see ever again in order to form a grand coalition. This Robert Walpole then managed to get himself outmanoeuvred and outclassed in every way by the completely weightless and pathetic MSZP. He can be found standing quietly in the corner, artfully blending into the grey tapestry.

Jobbik: The nazis everyone loves to talk about. Just don’t call them nazis, because they get upset and might even cry. I have to give it to them, they are by far the smartest politicians of the whole bunch. They might be completely repulsive, but they know how to handle the media in the 21st century and they are the only ones who have been seriously campaigning and organising amongst young people. I still don’t get it why everyone is surprised that they are so popular with young folk, as they are the only ones talking to them. Too bad they are talking about the evil Joos and Roma and Slovaks and whatnot. Though they like Arabs as long as they are far away. Their supporters are like wee little jackbooted fairies, who can miraculously turn any online discussion into antisemitic hate speech with two well-placed comments. They are also notable for the sheer amount of party members who previously achieved worldwide fame thanks to the kosher bareback  scat porn movies they starred in. While the Taliban and FIDESZ are mostly Catholic, the nazis have significant support in the Reformed church.

LMP: Politics Can Be Different. A party that always sounded promising, but has a tendency of splitting up every five seconds. While they are really good at performance art, no-one know what they actually stand for. Difference, I suppose. Some of its members have been known to utter phrases that could resemble political thought.

DK: After the crazy Prime Minister managed to get himself chased out of MSZP, which is a great achievement for any politician, he formed this bunch. Despite their fanatical following of elderly pensioners who would probably die for their beloved leader if needed, the party only exists to troll other opposition political parties. Not even Gyurcsány can think that he could be re-elected. Or does he? DUN DUN DUN…

4K: These young folks are the closest Hungary has to a proper left-wing party. They are under-financed and under-manned, but within a few years, when all the other opposition parties managed to destroy each other, they could theoretically become an interesting faction. We shall wait and see.

This should be what I could whip up. Now that this is out of the way, we can have fun!