The State of Affairs in November 2015

I am trying to fight against it, but it seems I just have to start every post with a bit of a disclaimer about why I am a horrible blogger. This time, I will make it a whole post.

I started Congress of Baboons to give a highly sarcastic picture of Hungarian politics to people who aren’t necessary Hungarians themselves. I wanted it to be informative, non-partisan and amusing. It is not that easy to balance these three aspects.

I could have drifted towards the informative side, but there are other resources for that, like the brilliant Hungarian Spectrum and I have no wish to compete with them, not that I ever could with my laziness.

The non-partisan thing is of a different matter. I don’t have any allegiances towards any of the political parties in Hungary, as none of them come even close to representing my views. The issue here is that the political spectrum does not exist any more. FIDESZ, even if it lacks an absolute majority in parliament, holds absolute power over the country. The opposition is nowhere to be seen, even Jobbik has been sidelined by the forceful post-fascism of the Orbán Government. MSZP, in its confusion, has basically started to support FIDESZ in its treatment of refugees, and I can’t even remember what the other parties are called. They are gone.

In such an atmosphere, how can one remain non-partisan? I don’t want to write yet another FIDESZ-bashing whine central, because, frankly, the topic is boring as fuck. Yes, we know that they are terrible, it is pretty damn obvious to anyone who is capable of complex thought. They just tried to sneak through a law that would have allowed the secret service to force news organisations to hire their agents. This failed, because unlike most MPs, some journalist actually read the proposed text and now they’ll have to remove it. I am sure they could pass it if they wanted, but since the media is either on their side, or too gutless to actually try to influence public opinion, it really does not matter at all.

And amusing? I can joke around all day, but that doesn’t provide substance.

So here we are, in 2015, and I am not really sure what to write about. So I’ll do a sweeping overview, in bullet points:

  • The refugee crisis has been diverted towards less functional states. The government openly declared that brown people are not welcome in Europe, because they might change our Christian culture. This, of course, ignores some facts, like how there are currently more refugees in the city of Istanbul than in the EU or that even the whole population of Syria moving over wouldn’t really change the demographics of the Union in any meaningful way. But one shouldn’t let facts get in the way of some good old-fashioned racism. The fences have been built, the thousands of helpless people are diverted further along the borders of the Union, with winter fast approaching. Meanwhile, the EU as an organisation might start working on the Latvian translation of the first preliminary proposals for conducting a study on the viability of setting up a small test-run of the quota system by mid-2018.
  • It has become clear that outside pressure will not be a factor in Hungarian politics. The EU and the US might make some snide remarks, but as long as international debt obligations are not in danger, Fortress Europe is maintained and there are no attempts to upset any of the Core-dictated other status quos (stati quo? statae quo? I don’t speak any Latin), or start housing Russian or ISIS forces on Hungarian soil, nothing will happen. Stop waiting for it.
  • On the other hand, the international cabal of Jewish lizard people are also highly unlikely to pounce upon poor little Hungary in order to steal its fertile soils and clear waters. Not that we won’t hear about them every day, increasingly from Government sources.
  • State funds are being diverted towards shady sources at an ever-increasing pace. Basically, there is now an established pseudo-feudal network of clients that effectively control most of the country, including its agriculture, culture culture, gambling, you name it.
  • Hungarian society has been more or less tamed. While it has always been as rebellious as a moderately used straw mattress, it remains remarkably content. The vassals are of course happy, the bourgeoisie is content with a favourable income tax and being supplied with ample opportunities for consumption and the poor are either dependent on the vassals for their survival (you just have to fall out of their good graces once, and even your wage slavery is gone and you can join the criminalised sub-underclass). It is all bread and circus, or the threat of taking away what little bread and circus is left.
  • Public services are collapsing. There is a chronic shortage of workforce practically everywhere. Education is in complete ruins, so is healthcare. The lack of funding for public transportation even made the rabid thug István Tarlós, the mayor of Budapest critical of the Government. Everything is still chugging along, but the wheels can come off at any minute.
  • At one point, the above two issues will have a major clash. We shall see what will happen then, but I really don’t have high hopes. Still, this is the only hope one can have, because the country has had enough of attempts by “Parties of Moderate Progress Within the Bounds of the Law”.
  • At least this is not Putin’s Russia or Erdogan’s Turkey. Many bad things can be said about the Government of Hungary, but at least it isn’t violent or murderous.

This should be it for now. I would love to see some comments on how y’all see the current state of affairs.

I promise I’ll try to write soon.

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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.