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.