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.

 

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Stand Up, Prisoners of Centralisation

The Hungarian educational system is a bloody farce, and it has been that way for decades now. It has long been suffering from the usual ills of the field: outdated and ever-expanding curricula that is subject to constant changes, low wages, excessive working hours and an aging workforce. These are the results of chronic underfunding, weak trade unions and the the Hungarian pathological fear of political action.

Hardly anyone wants to become a teacher and who can blame them? Who would want to work 32 hours (officially) and about a dozen more (at home) per week for ridiculous pay, in crumbling institutions that don’t even have money for toilet paper, surrounded by burnt-out colleagues who are considered dour even by Hungarian standards (the average Hungarian is about as cheerful as the death of Bambi’s mother), who can’t even be bothered to update their class outlines from 30 years ago.

The FIDESZ government, to their credit, has tried to change this situation. This is the most positive thing anyone could say about their attempts.

The grand idea was that all the problems would be solved by centralisation. By bringing the day-to-day operation of schools under the control of a bureaucratic monster called KLIK that would dwarf the kaijus of Pacific Rim, they could cut costs and exert the kind of manual control that gives Viktor Orban a hardon. Did the chalk run out? Call KLIK. Measuring the performance of teachers? Call KLIK. Paying the janitor? KLIK. Approving schoolbooks? KLIK. KLIK. KLIK. KLIK.

The reform had other bold ideas. Principals would have to be appointed by the Ministry (which led to some non-loyalists miraculously losing their jobs to more ideologically compatible candidates, even if the process was handled illegally. If the government does it it’s not illegal. If anyone insists, they’ll just change the law). Everyday PE classes were implemented, even though no schools had appropriate facilities The result? Theoretical PE classes with written tests. That’ll make the little fuckers move. Religious education was also made compulsory, and godless savages were given a choice to send their kids to Ethics classes, where they’d be taught the right kind of ethics (= conservative religious education with less overt references to God)

The implementation of this plan was handed over to a ministry run by a Calvinist pastor and a Secretary of State who was most famous for her unintentional but strikingly authentic Dolores Umbridge cosplay. They appointed a rural vice-principal as the director of KLIK and the dream team was complete. Three years later, none of this

Not surprisingly, this was an unmitigated disasters. Schools were not resupplied with chalk. Teachers had to add hours of self-evaluative paperwork to their already impossible and unbearable work schedule. Janitors got paid a few weeks late. Horrifyingly bad, often factually incorrect and sometimes overtly racist and propagandistic schoolbooks were approved, which didn’t even arrive to the schools in time. The already cracking educational system started to completely fall apart. The performance and knowledge of Hungarian students kept sliding down the drain and I predict that very soon even Taliban-run madrasas will provide better education, because at least they teach a foreign language and the students leave with a thorough understanding of at least one book.

The situation is now so dire that the teachers actually started organising. I know it sounds crazy in the country where the university teachers and managers gleefully worked against the student protests, but it is happening. It started from a secondary school in Miskolc, the fourth largest city in Hungary (this is almost miraculous, not only political action, but one that is not started in the capital) and has gained the approval of hundreds of schools and thousands, if not tens of thousands of teachers. They are planning a protest on Saturday, we shall see how it will go. I am not holding my breath, I have been disappointed too often.

The government’s response was the usual. At first, they ignored the requests and continued parroting that everything was perfectly fine. Then they called a roundtable discussion, but only included their own loyalists, even if they had nothing to do with the matter. Later, they declared that the current hollow shell occupying the Secretary of State for Education post will be replaced with another hollow shell. They even went so far as to saying that KLIK, which they were praising until the last moment, will be disbanded. We have currently reached the highest known stage of government reaction: Viktor Orban has declared that the teachers must be following orders ‘from the outside’, because it makes no sense for them to protest.

What happens now could be exciting. A miners’ group has already declared that they’ll join the protest and railway workers are also preparing for an unrelated strike. I will not make predictions, but this could be a hopeful moment.

And then on Saturday, there’ll be hours and hours of boring speeches under EU flags, after which everyone will peacefully go home…

I sincerely hope that this time, I won’t be right.

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.

Asylum

“And now the cynical ones say that it all ends the same in the long run
Try telling that to the desperate father who just squeezed the life from his only son
And how it’s only voices in your head and dreams you never dreamt
Try telling him the subtle difference between justice and contempt
Try telling me she isn’t angry with this pitiful discontent
When they flaunt it in your face as you line up for punishment
And then expect you to say thank you straighten up, look proud and pleased
Because you’ve only got the symptoms, you haven’t got the whole disease
Just like a schoolboy, whose head’s like a tin-can
Filled up with dreams then poured down the drain
Try telling that to the boys on both sides, being blown to bits or beaten and maimed
Who takes all the glory and none of the shame”

Elvis Costello – Tramp The Dirt Down

As I write, thousands highly civilised human beings are lying on rags in a pedestrian underpass, trying to get some rest. TIt is a very mixed bunch, a classless society of former doctors, students, teachers, shopkeepers and assholish teenagers who happen to have wound up in the newly renovated labyrinthine underground space near Keleti railway station that made little to no sense up to this point in time, but now it provides shelter for the masses huddled around a transportation hub that provides no transport for them.

Their country, a nation of about 22 million people just ceased to exist. Let that sink in for a while. Imagine if Romania just vanished. Wouldn’t that be weird? I mean, Syria is still there on the maps that are beamed into billions of homes every day in newscasts, you can find it on Google Maps or Wikipedia, but for all intents and purposes, it is as gone as Alderaan. Roughly a third of its population, maybe more, has been internally displaced and millions were forced to leave the country altogether. Its cities are ruined to an extent that hasn’t been seen around these parts since the Second World War. Marauding gangs of mass murderers are fighting for the last scraps of land in a dystopian reality that isn’t that far away. Once the war is over, there might once again be a functional state at the same location, but for now, there is nothing. The people, the best minds off a generation will be far away across the world or under the earth.

This evening I came home from the makeshift refugee camp, dropped my stuff, opened my fridge, got my bottle of chilled water and some fresh fruits and had a bit of a meal for myself. None of these activities would be alien to these folks, but they don’t have homes, fridges or stuff any more. These people are us, Europeans. Well, technically the are not, but let’s not get nitpicky.  They are our grandparents who survived the 1940s, spread all over the continents and the world to escape the horrors of their homelands. This experience should not be alien to any European who ever had talks with older family members. Yet, Europe is acting as if this was something new and unusual.

These people walked, sailed and swam through thousands of kilometres, with little to no help, through summers and winters, rain and scorching heat to get to the gates of Europe, a land of plenty, a land of human rights, a civilized land. Had they been rich Westerners with soft drink logos on their shirts, they’d get at least a TV show deal out of their grand adventure from East to West. They could talk about local foods, the landscapes, the parties, the blisters on their foot and the time when they had to get new shoes Fedexed in. But these people, the refugees (not migrants!) see the gates shutting in front of their eyes. Before they can enter, before they can receive any official aid, they have to be processed like complex carbohydrates.

Something went really wrong somewhere. The European Union has always been a bureucratic mess. We all heard stories of regulations governing the curvature of cucumbers and the holes in the cheese. It was still a beautiful mess, founded on the principles of diversity, liberty and justice. But somewhere along the line, amidst the piles and piles of papers, someone could have realised that maybe filling out the proper forms should not be the first priority while other peoples’ daughters are giving birth on the side of the road and other peoples’ sons are willingly submit themselves to be packed into minivans like sardines, hoping that there might be an off chance of them not suffocating in the darkness. Paperwork can wait, paperwork could wait.

Of course, this all has a purpose, for the so-called leaders of Europe, a bunch of wealthy psychopaths so far removed from reality that they can almost hold the hands of the gods they are invoking. I’ve seen the fat frog Viktor Orbán croaking from a podium about the need to protect Europe from the people who need Europe’s protection. I’ve seen him having a penis contest with Donald Tusk over the appropriate Christian attitude. I’ve seen Angela Merkel insisting that the proper procedures should be followed and I’ve seen David Cameron whining from the other side of the continent about how he and his country simply cannot do even a fraction of what the great and powerful nation of Lebanon is contributing. And let’s not even mention the great princes of the Gulf States, with their gold-plated supercars who seem to have forgotten about the whole Ummah thing (unless of course it’s about bankrolling ISIS), or the United States, which seems to be rather OK with keeping that Ocean between itself and the shit it stirred.

These people, all of them, are the scum of the Earth, the lowliest parasites who would sell their own mothers for a half percent gain at the polls. These mighty people are now holding emergency sessions, meetings, press conferences and briefings so that they can skirt around actually doing something. They act out deluded power fantasies, fancying themselves the Defenders of Christian Europe, the Great Humanitarians or the Sole Voice of Reason, strutting around like disgusting, old peacocks in designer suits, too deluded by their own power to actually stand the fuck up and use that power to help the people begging at their doorsteps.

In Europe we have the money, we have the space, we have the means to provide asylum to these tortured people from not that far away. We can do this. The best proof is the outstanding reaction of the populations, who acted faster than their leaders and are pouring tonnes and tonnes of food, blankets, tents, diapers and other everyday items into self-organised collection points, from which they are distributed in an efficient and organised fashion. It is wonderful to see how ordinary people of the Age of Austerity are using their meagre wealth to fuel and run a gigantic logistical operation because there is no-one else to do it and because they are decent fucking human beings. These people are the pride of Europe. These people are the true leaders and these people are the ones who proved that the European Union has failed. It failed its people, whom it should be representing, it failed the refugees whom it should be protecting and it failed its ideals that it should not be forgetting.

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.

Now don’t be hasty, Master Meriadoc

As you may or may not have heard, FIDESZ just lost its 2/3 majority in Parliament, thanks to the by-election that was held in Veszprem, a smallish city a bit North of Lake Balaton. The election was called because Tibor Navracsics, the local MP and FIDESZ veteran left to live the glamorous life of an MEP, leaving his seat empty. In the end, the election went to the independent Zoltan Kesz, a former teacher of the English language and one-time FIDESZ member, whose candidacy was supported by the Grand Coalition (MSZP/DK/Egyutt/MoMa/Liberals).

Veszprem was known to be e FIDESZ stronghold (most rural cities, or cities, or rural communities are. Or most other communities, for that matter, if we look at the recent national election results), and this loss is seen as a watershed event. I doubt it, but I tend to doubt things. The Grand Coalition spending half their time celebrating their grand victory (in an election where the candidate made sure not to appear anywhere near the pathetic losers supporting him. A wise decision) and fighting LMP. The latter is always amusing to watch, who doesn’t like mud-wrestling midgets? The last claim was that the LMP head was seen in a restaurant with FIDESZ campaign staff, to which the accused replied along the lines of “No, that restaurant was just cheap and I saw no FIDESZ there and I will sue every last one of youse trolls”. Measured words from a great statesman. LMP is often accused of being a FIDESZ satellite. Even if that is true, I kinda find it weird to concentrate such energies on the equivalent of Sputnik 1, a tiny little machine whose sole activity is to ping from now and again, while an Imperial-Class Star Destroyer is orbiting the planet. Well, at least one cannot blame the Grand Coalition for punching above their weight.

Talking about weight, here is why i doubt that this is, yet again a first nail in FIDESZ government’s coffin, a “sign that Hungary does not tolerate a one-party system” or any of the other triumphant slogans that were trumpeted all over the opposition media. Everyone knows that the government is unpopular. In the 2014 elections, they  received 44.54% of the votes of 61.73% of the eligible population. The super-majority was due to some creative electoral legislation and especially due to a complete no-show from the opposition. This is why I am not enthusiastic. Barring a miracle (I mean barring the doors of the parliament and setting the whole thing on fire), FIDESZ will be in power for a good few years now. They have already settled in and passed all the legislation that required a super-majority. They just won’t feel the need to pass any legislation that would require the majority that they lost yesterday. It’s not that they will be writing an even more retrograde constitution anytime soon, not that it is possible unless they just want to adopt the Bible as the fundamental law of the land. Oh shit… I should not give them ideas, these morons might actually do such a thing… Forget what I just wrote. Please.

What does this mean for the fall of the Orban Regime? Give me a break. The opposition is even more hopeless than a year ago. They are completely incapable of gaining any media attention, and failed at even attempting to capitalise on the numerous scandals the government got itself into. Their voices are simply inaudible. And this will not change with overhauls like what DK did recently, unveiling a cbeebies-esque new image, by a guitar-playing and ever more irrelevant Gyurcsany. No-one is going to buy this shit. No-one.

Yes, FIDESZ might lose the next election. What then? The more and more likely Nazi government would not be an improvement (well, the quick depopulation would make the country a perfect place for a grand-scale Pleistocene rewilding project, which would be cooler than cool) and the Grand Coalition couldn’t even beat the Jewish Transgender Cartoonists for Pig Farmers in an Islamic State general election.

The first nail in the government’s coffin will be the emergence of a new opposition force, which will need to be opposed to not only FIDESZ, but all the other current players. Until this happens, I’ll keep my party hats and fireworks in storage.

But I’ve must have said this a lot.

A Tale of Two Protests

Keyboard Thrower

Hmm, this was interesting. In the last post, I mentioned that two protests were organised for last week. The first, on October 23 was meant to give voice to a general anti-establishment sentiment and intended to draw in the people who are more aligned to NGOs than to political parties. The second was about the mind-numbingly idiotic internet tax the Government is implementing so that, as it was revealed recently, they can finance a wage hike for the police and the armed forces.

The first one, which I did not attend, seemed like a regular liberal snoozefest, (I am always uncomfortable when I have to use terms like right, left and liberal in a Hungarian context, due to their fuzzy definitions and confusing layers of meaning) with a few talking heads giving speeches to a crowd of a few hundred like-minded people. The event failed to gain any attention whatsoever, but it was important to at least try to mobilise the voters who are sick and tired of the political establishment. After all, most Hungarians have simply stopped participating in elections and it is a fairly safe guess that this is caused by the terrible options presented to them.

The second one, on the other hand, was rather fascinating. The turnout was massive, about 8-10000 people, I popped down to have a look after the march started towards Heroes’ Square. The original plan was to ask protesters to bring obsolete IT equipment that would be deposited in front of the FIDESZ offices. It was a fun idea, but then the organisers decided to throw it out the window (lol) because it would count as littering, which is a felony, and Hungarian protest organisers have this perverse desire to be proper at all times. So there were loads of people with keyboards and even CRT monitors milling around. This will be important later.

The protesters were a mixed bunch, with the usual angry pensioners and alternative twentysomethings mixed with more average folk, families, well-dressed yuppies and even a few nazi here and there. There was a demonstration by football ultras earlier during the day and apparently a few of them joined the protest, though I really did not see any signs of them, and they are not the most discreet of all people. There was a moderate amount of chanting, some with troubling nationalist undertones, which are, unfortunately, a staple of Hungarian protest culture. There were EU flags as well, which betrayed the charmingly naive notion that many anti-government Hungarians have about the EU and the West as a whole as a positive, benevolent power.

The crowd stopped at Heroes’ Square, where everyone was asked to lift their phones in the air so that the drone could take a nice picture that can be used for bragging later. Then the organisers, after a brief speech and a little bit more shouting closed the protest by asking the assembled people to sing the National Anthem (Hungarians, why do you have to make everything nationalistic? The people on the other side of the debate are as much Hungarians as you are, this exclusion bullshit is really tiring. Especially if your campaign invokes the European Union, the epitome of (however failed) internationalist idealism in the 21st century.) and then peacefully disperse. Many people did not agree with the peacefully disperse bit and thought that, well, we were supposed to go to the FIDESZ headquarters, so we should go there no matter what the organisers say.

While most of the protesters went home, a crowd of about 2-3000 people stayed and surrounded the nearby party offices, that are located in a slightly dilapidated former villa just off the square. For a while, the people were just shouting at the empty building (which I found a rather amusing performative reimagining of Hungarian politics), but then someone threw a mouse at the blinds. slowly the pace picked up and the building was pelted with all kinds of IT equipment, from laptops to modems, but mostly keyboards. Hence the illustration.

There still was no notable police presence, at least not from my vantage point, which I found weird and troubling. As two of the blinds slowly crumbled under the hail of obsolete technology. At one point, a guy jumped up the balcony, tore off the blinds and kicked in the window. Then he stopped and got back into the crowd. Despite all the anger, the crowd never turned into a mob. Most of the damage was done by a few individuals, with vocal support from the rest. The building was never stormed and this timidity was another interesting bit of the events that I can’t really explain.

After a while the police showed up and slowly and steadily, without any violence, regained control over the street. The protest quietly dwindled away.

The reactions were disappointingly predictable. FIDESZ condemned the vandalism and claimed that they are open to discussion (HAHAHAHAHAHAHA) the pro-government press went into attack mode against the protest and the US Government as well, just for the hell of it. The opposition media declared a revolution, that this will break the back of FIDESZ and so on and so on. Yeah, sure. The opposition condemned the vandalism and said something not even they cared about. Former PM and monomaniacal madman Ferenc Gyurcsany tried to latch his failing party onto the protest, but it seems that he failed to poop into the punch bowl this time.

Myself, I will wait it out. There will be another anti-tax protest today. If that manages to draw the same or larger crowds, or causes more of a ruckus, I might start to believe that this could be a timid beginning of something.

Call me cynical, but I have no expectations about this place or its inhabitants.

Ooh, and, just to add to the Hungarian Political Zombie Outbreak, aka the Walking Dead Who Are Not Actually Dead But Everyone Wishes They Were Actually Dead and Gone Forever, disgraced former mayor Gabor Demszky made an appearance and sadly managed to sneak into a few photos in an attempt to fuck everything up once again. For those unfamiliar with him, he was a completely useless mayor who lead Budapest into ever deeper decay for over a decade while his closest associates and underlings stole everything. He is the kind of guy who, if the smiling MSZP official stole the chair from under him, just stayed there trying to maintain a sitting position while awkwardly clawing at the desk.

 

SCANDAL

Hahaa, now that’s a way to start a post. Two major scandals have erupted in Hungary over the course of the last week or so. While I am, as usual, highly sceptical of the outcome, anything that breaks the ice around the government is a welcome development.

The first one started when, as per usual practice, a government mouthpiece newspaper published, based on (intentionally) leaked information, an aggressive attack piece claiming that as a response to an upcoming tax inspection of US-owned firms, the vengeful United States has banned certain Hungarians from entering the country. Because amidst the crisis in Ukraine and Iraq/Syria, the ebola pandemic and an ever-growing rabble of insane Republicans, the Obama administration will surely find time to mildly irritate a completely insignificant country on the very edge of the EU periphery.

But never mind. After the news broke and the opposition media went apeshit thinking that the long-awaited western redemption of the nation was at hand, that the same super-involved Obama administration has finally delivered a crushing blow to Orban’s fledgling evil empire, the government went on the defensive in the only way that they know: by claiming that the US Government has no idea what it is talking about, that they have yet to present any evidence and that this was a US attempt to protect their corporations from tax inspection. Then the US Embassy confirmed that a number of Hungarians were indeed on a travel ban list, due serous corruption allegations and that the relevant Hungarian authorities, the same that were screaming that there was no evidence, were extensively informed beforehand.

Now this scandal has died down, like all of them do and the newly appointed Foreign Minister, Mr Szijjarto, whose main claim to fame so far is a number of embarrassing photos from amateur football matches and a luxurious, tasteless villa that his parents bought for him (and whose utility costs are too high for him to afford from his declared income) is already in the United States to mount a charm offensive, where he won’t even meet the Secretary of State.

The list of people banned from entering the US has not been made public, but the rumors include two prominent figures: Habony Arpad, the mysterious high-ranking advisor of Mr Orban who once brutally beat a pensioner who dared to walk across the street in front of his luxury SUV and the head of the Tax Authorities. One of the reasons why, apart from gloating, this scandal will go nowhere is that the people rumored to be implicated all have a relatively low profile and are widely despised by the populace. No-one will turn against FIDESZ because someone they already hate did something shifty.

The other scandal is also very typical of the Hungarian state of affairs. Turns out that the new tax regulation contains a teeny-tiny addition that would introduce an internet tax. According to the proposed legislation, after every gigabyte of data, HUF 150.00 would have to be paid as a tax.

The extent to which this is completely out of line with the 21st century is astonishing, and I do not think that it needs to be explained why taxing the internet, especially based on gigabytes (a laughably small unit of measurement in the days of HD streaming) is borderline luddism. I don’t see any point in saying why an idiotic thing is idiotic, so I will not do that.

I find it highly entertaining to read the angry comments on Facebook, talking about the revolution that this will cause. How the small, internet-using minority is completely up in arms about the prospect that downloading an 1080p HDrip of the latest Game of Thrones episode would cost so much money (in fact, the twin bastions of nihilistic internet-savvy media, index.hu and 444 have already calculated the cost of online activities, with a special attention paid to illegal downloads). If this will be truly the cause of a popular movement, I will eat my shoe right after I finished laughing for about five straight days. Internet-using Hungarians in general feel entitled to their right to illegally download content from the internet (which is not helped by the fact that reasonably priced, true on-demand access to media is virtually impossible in Hungary), so this really ticked them off. Out of all the rights and liberties, this is the one they hold dear. Sweet Baby Jesus on a pogo stick, I can’t believe this country wasn’t created in a 18th century pamphlet of corrosive societal satire.

A protest has already been organised (it will be on Sunday evening, of all times), and over 10.000 people claimed to attend. Just to add a bit of perspective, Budapest Pride, protest against blatant, institutionalised discriminination and hate had 3000ish confirmed attendees. The main protest against the constitutional amendments that curtailed basic liberties and eradicated the system of checks and balances had 2500. The student protests sparked by the disastrous educational reforms had 2600 confirmed attendees.

The much more serious, Democracia Real Ya-esque anti-establishment protest tomorrow also has around 2400 confirmed attendees.

I will be very curious about where these two events will go. Please come along to both, if you can. Never waste the opportunity of a good protest.

Oh, I forgot about the oppostion reactions to these scandals. It wasn’t hard. At this point, even a half-decent press conference seems to be too much to expect from this bunch. I braved insanity and looked at the MSZP website just now, where one of the leading items is an attempt to grill the deputy speaker over perfectly reasonable comments made by an Iranian government official at an embassy reception in Tehran where both of them were in attendance. The Iranian chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee said that the USA and its regional allies bear the responsibility for fucking up the Middle-East and for the emergence of terrorism as a global threat. How scandalous, a reasonable assessment! This will surely be that one nicked scale on the dragon’s belly where the brave Socialist politician will deal the killing blow using his arrow forged by the dwarven masters of old.

Fucking idots.

Same Old, Same Old

Well, well. I haven’t written in a while, because I am lazy. I know I should but I have quite a few things going on at the moment. A quick recap since the last post: FIDESZ won two elections with a landslide, which only surprised people who did not look at the opposition. The Grand Coalition, as it could be expected, failed miserably. They didn’t even try again at the EP elections, where MSZP suffered a humiliating defeat and the other parties hopefully reached the equally humiliating conclusion that they were tricked by a shambling corpse. MSZP dominates the opposition in parliament (kinda like how Moldova dominates Europe between Ukraine and Romania), even though at the EP elections, it was clear that it doesn’t actually have more support than Egyutt or DK, who now must feel particularly stupid.

Jobbik reached its zenith by coming in second at the Ep elections, but this really doesn’t mean much. If I manage to get to the Nazis article I’ve been planning for a while, I’ll explain what I mean. In short, they will never achieve any real power. Also, amusingly, their main financier was outed as an alleged Russian Agent. The party has taken a strong pro-Putin turn lately. I guess the fences surrounding the Soviet WWII Memorial were removed knowing that the nazis wouldn’t bite the hand that feeds them.

LMP has gotten into parliament. Full stop.

FIDESZ has so far been true to its own campaign promise and it is continuing its arrogant steamrolling of everything and anything. What I find interesting is what makes waves and what doesn’t. This year, there were two and a half major scandals around the party. The half one happened when the media got wind that Antal Rogan, the mayor of District V and notorious bonvivant lied in his income statement. Specifically, it seems that his flat magically grew in size. This case went absolutely nowhere, partially becasue some higher-ups in MSZP were markedly against pressing the matter. Knowing Hungarian politics, they probably made a deal with FIDESZ to ensure that they wouldn’t be destroyed. (Despite all the posturing, the big parties can be quite cordial with each other, if it benefits them. During the previous government, a FIDESZ-MSZP coalition voted to ban press from most of the parliament, after some journalists caught MPs smoking in non-smoking areas on hidden cameras). Anyway, the case of Rogan’s Magical House will never be solved.

The first main scandal was the memorial to the Nazi occupation of Hungary, that horrendous pseudo-romantic piece of shit that I already wrote about in an earlier post. Despite protests from multiple organisations and foreign Governments, they just started building it. The reaction was furious, especially from the MSZP/DK-aligned pensioners who include a number of Holocaust-survivors. The  bulding site was vandalised every day for about a week, but the direct action stopped when police was sent to guard the area. Now there is a standoff between a varying number of police and protesters. The quite cool makeshift memorial, made up of stones, photographs and documents was rebuilt across from the building site and things seem rather calm at the moment, but I guess after the construction finishes, there will be quite a few random acts of violence against the statue. The issue is that the matter received a disproportionate amount of attention. Yes, it is a horrible and offensive piece of crap, but then again, it is just a bloody statue. It won’t really hurt anyone and it won’t make matters worse. It will not allow Viktor Orban to pull a Dark Willow and try to destroy the world by funneling magical essences through the central effigy.  But it is really convenient for both sides. FIDESZ can divert attention from its truly henious acts and the “Democratic Opposition” can mobilise against something that wouldn’t be as divisve as real issues, like refugee or Roma rights, for example.

The second one just started, and it could get juicy. Emphasis on “could” because it won’t. After a series of articles were published by the news portal Origo showing that the Minister of Douchebaggery (actually he has a not much less ridiculous title, the Minister Responsible for the Prime Minister’s Office, or at least this will be his role in the new government, not sure how things are at the moment), Janos Lazar participated in luxurious “missions” (aka. vacations) on taxpayer money. As a result of the articles, Lazar had to back down and pay back 2 million HUF (about 8900 USD) and I’m sure he got pissed. He’s like that. A few years ago, he sued a commenter who said that it’s a shame that he wasn’t the person who died in a car crash involving his convoy. The media, even the servile right-wing media erupted in outrage and a protest was organised for yesterday where about 1500-2000 people showed up, which is basically the number that the semi-dormant protest movement can mobilise.

Oh, also, the same Minister has launched a major attack against NGOs recently. This is not a Putin-esque complete crackdown, it is just that a financial regulating body was let loose to pester them while Lazar is trying to claim that Norway is attempting to meddle in Hungarian affairs because non-government-aligned NGOs can also receive money if their applications are decided favourably by the fund. There is some backlash against this as well, but there is no sign of it gaining momentum. People will grumble and then move on when there is something else to grumble about.

The scary thing is that there is a complete stalemate, or rather an equilibrium. The government, I think, is really not committed to destroying democracy on an ideological level. They don’t have ideology apart from their aspirations to live like the late 19th-early 20th century landed gentry: wealthy, outwardly pious, insular and openly (even theatrically) nationalistic. They attack anything and anyone that they perceive as an attack against their privileges and lifestyle but they want no more and no less. Meanwhile, the opposition is still completely devoid of ideas. When FIDESZ throws them a bone, they chew on it for a while, but they are incapable of taking the initiative in anything. MSZP is only active because it still has a little bit of momentum left and DK is surviving due to the bizarre personality cult of Ferenc Gyurcsany. Egyutt, which never had any basis in reality to begin with has completely lost its way after even they realised that Gordon Bajnai is not exactly the super-intelligent technocrat genious, just an awkward accountant. And LMP, well, they exist somewhere. And everyone is happy. FIDESZ has what it wants and its mere existence provides enough fuel for the continued activities of all the others. Of course, for example DK would like to be in charge, but they still have the next best thing. And it’s not like they can lose any more voters.

And this, in short, is why the one group that is well outside this game is so popular. The one that pursues its own agenda instead of jumping from outrage to outrage, the one that organises even when the elections aren’t a week away, the one that can’t give two shits about what FIDES or MSZP or anyone else is doing, the one that is interested in changing the status quo. And that group are the nazis.

We are still fucked.

Yay, campaign!!

I am still alive. Honestly, I had a bunch of ideas, started a number of posts but they never went anywhere. Until now, hopefully.

So, where are we and what are the baboons doing? It is just about two weeks until the election, and we are in the middle of the weirdest political campaign I have ever seen in my life. Hungary has a strange system to begin with, where the official campaign only lasts a month or so, but whatt is happening now is much more peculiar.

FIDESZ modified campaign regulations and exploited all the loopholes to completely dominate the scenery. Its main tactic is to use its almost complete control of the Hungarian media and advertising companies to spam the country with posters and it has muldiplied its outreach by using proxy organisations that can mount campaigns that are not restricted by the regulations that govern how a party can campaign. The biggest of these is  CÖF (Civilian Unity Movement), a group of pro-FIDESZ journalists and automatons that organises the irregularly occurring “Peace Marches”, during which tens of thousands of well-coordinated pensioners stroll through Budapest to express their undying, religious devotion to Viktor Orbán and his government. But, the interesting thing is that none of these posters actually say too much. CÖF had/had a campaign featuring personal attacks on the Grand Coalition, but Fidesz has been content with merely flooding the streets with the faces of its candidates. The most brazen of these features the Beloved Leader himself, with a caring, fatherly smile, looking down at his people, with the slogan “The Prime Minister of Hungary”. They don’t even feel the need to make an attempt. Although, a former MSZP scapegoat jailed for some petty fraud (to protect the bigger fish from persecution) did release a damning book just now, through a FIDESZ-affiliated publishing house, detailing the corruptness of MSZP, but frankly, everyone knows that MSZP is corrupt to the bone and this will matter little in the long run.

And what is the Grand Coalition doing? You guessed it, also nothing. After spending much of the past year destroying or swallowing all the upcoming political formations (and incorporating the conservative, Thatcherite austerity wizard Lajos Bokros into their little group of unsavoury former bigshots who no-one wanted to see again) and most of the past months squabbling over who will run for what office (and realising a month before the election that they shouldn’t use their original name, because another party has had it since 2006), they have settled into sitting around quietly. I haven’t heard a single statement from PM-hopeful Mesterházy in a long-long time. He did release a brief stab at the governemnt about its delayed response to the Crimean crisis, but that was basically it. The Coalition, which won’t even have a united election night event, has been unable to win over any new voters in a long time, at least according to the most recent polls and I have the feeling MSZP is content with the destruction of all other non-nazi opposition parties and has hunkered down to survive the election in order to remain the cancerous growth that is destroying any chance of having a decent left-wing in this country. Oh, and on their poster, they managed to use the same hackneyed19th century patriotic slogan “Talpra Magyar” (“Arise, Hungarians”) as the nazis. Because no-one has invented any new political phrases in the past 170 years…

(As a sidenote, I have to quote my sister who once said that the first step into making Hungarian politics better would be to ban all 19th century rhetorics from the Parliament. I could not agree more.)

Talking about the nazis, Jobbik has been running an interesting and active campaign. They have been doing their best to appear cuddly to the outside world, while continuing with their nazi bullshit when they think no-one is looking. Gábor Vona, their lead guy has appeared in the company of adorable puppies on Facebook and is trying his best to look like a charmless Colin Farrel on the election posters. All their communication is positive (as opposed to the Grand Coalition, whose ads feature despearate and hopeless people being desperate and hopeless), all their slogans are about success, action, justice, solutions, with just subconscious indications of their Christian-Nationalistic aims: a cross and a map of Greater Hungary in the background of the family scene, transparent traditional floral patterns on the posters, etc. I have been saying for a long time, that even if they are nazi thugs, they know what they are doing and are very good at outreach and communication. No surprise that their popularity is higher than ever. This does not make them less evil. Just recently, a group of far right thugs affiliated with Jobbik (and also with FIDESZ, as they were the same bunch that tried to disrupt the university occupation last year) made an attempt to disrupt a release party for a bunch of harmless hipster T-shirts that feature national icons in unconventional ways. They failed miserably, but this just shows that “smoother words, nicer suits, don’t be fooled, they’re still wearing jackboots”.

And what about LMP? The good news is that they haven’t split in a good while now and have been consolidating themselves as the non-MSZP, non-nazi opposition, having a strong and constant media and public presence. The bad news is that I don’t have much mroe to say about them. I am still unsure how much they know about what they want to do besides their broad slogans about “fighting corruption” and “green politics”. But I have to admit that I they have been growing on me, much like back hair. But this is mostly due to the lack of options.

4K, the other party I’ve been following has imploded. they failed to collect enough signatures and will only have a handful of candidates running for positions. Their campaign was not helped by the ridiculous gimmick of having their pretty blonde female spokesperson post a picture on facebook, her naked torso covered by a placard saying “3000 more signatures until Sunday and I’ll throw away the placard”. Not even the self-aware nods towards sexism were enough to chase the sour taste from my mouth. I still like these folks, but placing attention on weed (their previous media stunt was a rather misguided “weed is not a drug” campaign for legalisation) and boobs might not have been the best idea ever. See you guys in the coming decade.

So, what will happen? FIDESZ is bound to win the election, with the active collaboration of MSZP. I hope that during the next election, there will be a left-wing opposition formation, something that Milla could have morphed into if it decided not to sell out whose first priority will be to viciously and brutally attack MSZP and completely destroy it. Afterwards, we can talk about getting this place out of the Central Asian personal cult hell FIDESZ has installed. If the Russians don’t decide to annex the whole former Eastern Bloc by that time.

Oh, as a side-note: Fuck you Vladimir Putin, fuck you with a corroded rail spike.

Side-note number II: you can follow the blog on Facebook, at https://www.facebook.com/baboonshungary I should have advertised this before… oops