Them Refugees Again

What happened in Paris on Friday was absolutely horrific, a crime against humanity, civilisation and practically everything even half-decent that our species represents. No doubt, it will be followed by an “appropriate” response, some curbing of civil rights and some bombs lobbed at the general direction of the Daesh. I would be interested to see if there is anyone who genuinely thinks that this is the right way to go. We have been fighting the War on Terror for 14 years now, by eroding the basic liberties of our populace and bombing shit out of at least a dozen countries and as far as I can see, Salafi-takfiri terrorism has just become immeasurably more popular and powerful. One would think that fighting a war for such long time and seeing your enemy grow stronger would make some folks look for fresh ideas instead of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Protip: are you sure, I mean REALLY sure that Saudi Arabia is a reliable ally that should be showered with weapons and money? Or Turkey? Or the other Gulf States? I mean, we have concrete evidence that they are directly aiding the Daesh, but hey, a friend of a mortal enemy is our closest ally, or so the saying goes.

Though I get it, France was hit hard and now Hollande must pull out his John Thomas and show the world that he is a manly man and he can squirt a steady stream of smart bombs right out of his testicles that will cover the lands between the Mediterranean to Zagros Mountains in mansplosions. I don’t support it, but I understand the basal urges that, for some reason, still dominate political thought, even though certain tropical bird species have managed to evolve more sophisticated displays of dominance. But who are the leaders of the free world to compete against bower birds, they build stuff, that is so girly.

Anyways. This horrific act of terrorism was a very good opportunity for certain leaders of the East-Western World to jump on their hobbyhorse and start spouting their usual anti-refugee hate speech. In case you haven’t been listening to the news in the past months, the refugee crisis still haven’t been resolved. France says that they are completely saturated and can’t take more people, Australia claims that they have no racial problems and they don’t mean to create one, The UK says that accepting refugees might lead to acts of violence against them, Brazil only wants to accept Christians and there is a general fear that the refugees might spread Bolshevik ideas among the populace.

Pardon, wait a minute, I skipped a few decades. Sorry. The above issues were all raised (apart from the Bolshevik one, which was just part of common discourse at the time) at the Evian Conference of 1938, when the West was debating what to do with all the Jewish refugees fleeing from Nazi persecution. My bad.

Contemporary politicians are basically saying exactly the same fucking things. I kid you not.

So, it can be said that if you had better things to do than to follow news recently, you haven’t missed a thing.

As a response to the Paris attacks, Mr Orban, the wise leader of the great state of Hungary decided that soldiers and assault-rifle clad police officers should patrol Budapest, because there was a real danger of a terrorist incident. This was, of course, pure theatre. Then, today, he decided to go on the most poisonous tirade heard so far.

He emphasised the possibility of terrorists entering the EU amongst the refugees (as if they really couldn’t enter in about every other possible way imaginable, and I haven’t even mentioned the fact that most of the perpetrators were Europeans so they didn’t exactly had to enter the Union) and said that implanting people from countries against which we are fighting a war (I don’t recall being at war with Syria) is daft. He railed against the “suicidal drives of the intelligentsia” and constantly referred to the refugee crisis as a “mass migration”, a word that invokes images of the barbarian invasion of Rome. (I hope no-one mentioned to him that the Magyars also arrived as part of a mass migration). He said that immigration increases crime, leads to thefts and rapes and destroys cultures and traditions [citation needed]. All he needed was  “Would somebody please think of the children” at the end of his speech.

But this are pretty standard lies, just more plainly spoken and concentrated as before. The interesting thing was what happened afterwards. The opposition parties did not even attempt to challenge the dominating discourse. They just tried to chip away at the edges of this ridiculous edifice. LMP said that Diverting the problem was not a solution, Jobbik and KDNP, being fascists, supported the government, and MSZP tried to feebly suggest that we should only blame the terrorists for acts of terror and from this mediocre start, switched to the absolute lunacy of calling for a united European army, intelligence service and border control force.

And that was it, basically. In the Hungarian parliament, there isn’t a single power that dares to actually oppose the government in any substantial way. No-one tried to deconstruct the childish hate speech of the Prime MInister, to use actual facts and statistics to refute his clearly made-up statements and attack his ethno-nationalistic notions of the state, peoples and culture of Hungary.No-one tried to paint refugees as actual people and instead they were making suggestions on how to solve a terrorism problem that Hungary does not have at all. It is not the task of Hungarian opposition MPs to solve the refugee crisis, the war on terror and to make hamburgers fall from the sky to feed the poor. They are given a prime target in the person of a transparently bigoted, corrupt government and it seems that they have no idea what to do with a target. “It is round and has a flat face, maybe it is a table? Or you could try sitting on it. What do you think, would it float? Hmm, I tried throwing it, but it didn’t fly too far. And what are these colourful circles? Dunno, I licked them and they don’t taste nice.”

Argh.

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The Day of Grumpiness and Boredom

As the continuation of the protests against the (now abandoned) internet tax, a mass demonstration was held at Kossuth ter, in front of the Parliament on Monday. The event was named “The Day Of Public Outrage” by its organisers, as a reference to the general discontent felt by anti-government folk over the horrendous policies of the current government.

There were some troubling signs right from the beginning. Hungarian protest organisers, maybe fuelled by an ingrained, subconscious attachment to the mythology of 1848, think that excessive amount of public oration is a good thing and no demonstrations can take place without speeches. On Monday, there were no less than six speakers, whose cause was not helped by the awkward titles they gave to their speeches, eg. “I am Nothing”, “I am Angry” and “We have grown up”. But hey, who was I to know in advance, they could have had six little MLKs lined up and ready to stoke up the flames.

I arrived near the starting time, when people were already gathering. The crowd was more mixed than before, at the anti-tax protests, with a higher number of older participants. There were a bunch of EU flags (damn, I really should write that bit about why I found this naive adoration of a deeply flawed and harmful organisation troubling), and, fortunately, relatively few Hungarian ones. I even spotted some teenagers with an anarcho-syndicalist flag, which was rather refreshing.

Then the speeches started. I do hate being right all the time. They were horrendous. The PA system wasn’t really well thought-out and the sound bounced all over the square, creating a garbled cacophony that served no cause whatsoever. The six speeches went on for a whole hour, chasing away a significant number of people. Generally speaking, one would think that a demonstration is about the crowd demonstrating its common beliefs and shared goals and taking action to achieve its goals. Putting a bunch of individuals on a stage to project their personal opinions over thousands of people is not what mass demonstrations should be about. Talk for 15 minutes (Lincoln could summarise the American Civil War in ten sentences, expressing disdain for shitty and harmful policies really shouldn’t take a whole hour), fire up the crowd then hand out the torches and pitchforks and let the masses do the rest.

Instead, the masses were treated to an hour of tedium, then were told to go home. A few people, maybe two thousand or so, stayed and continued chanting. A vanguard of pensioners even broke through the barricades surrounding the stage and tried to enter the parliament, but were stopped by police. Thus started a few hours of mild scuffles, when a small portion of the already diminished crowd tried to force its way through lines of massed riot police. It is fascinating how the most furious and active participants of a supposedly “outraged” crowd didn’t even resort to actual violence. After a while, as the police grew more numerous and the number of protesters dwindled, the event just ended.

When it comes to protests, Hungary is sadly not Burkina Faso, nor is it Mexico or Greece. People here don’t know how to protest and have no concept of how direct action works. This is especially true of the organisers of public demonstrations, to whom the excessive babbling is the protest, after which they bugger off and disappear off the screen, when the real protest should be starting. If they actually want to achieve something with these protests (though, knowing the alternatives, the removal of the current government, however delightful, could turn out to be a complete clusterfuck), they have to re-think their methods. No government was ever stopped by people listening to awful speeches and then going home. There is a need for direct action that actually disrupts the normal functioning of the state apparatus.

I am not against such demonstrations, don’t get me wrong. I would ask every single person who reads this to attend as many protests as they are able, no matter how badly organised they are or how pointless this all might seem. I firmly believe that direct action is the single most democratic act any citizen can perform, much more so than even participating in elections.

But, and this is a big but, if the current movement does not reform itself, preferably from the bottom up, if it fails to transcend the liberal desires for being proper, well-behaved and generally unobtrusive, it will dwindle away and die just like the ones that came before it. There are promising signs. The crowds are big, the anger is building up and there is more disdain for the police than before (also, people are less afraid of the piggies). I do hope that they’ll succeed. And after that, what happens, happens.