Lately it is not only economists who are sending messages to the Hungarian government; even St. Stephen got into the act with Tibor Navracsics as his medium.
What message did Hungary’s first king send this time? He warned Viktor Orbán that Hungary had better not to look around for friends in the East. No good will come of it. His interpreter, Tibor Navracsics, deputy prime minister, delivered the saintly king’s message in Veszpém which in early Hungarian history was the city of the queen. According to Navracsics, Saint Stephen’s greatness was due not so much to his founding of a state but to “his brave decision to tie Hungary’s future to western Christendom and culture.”
“Many people told our first king that it would be better to turn toward the East because great opportunities await us there, but he knew that our future lies with western Christianity. King Stephen opted for Western Europe.”
“Later in history there were several such moments when decisions concerning Hungary’s orientation had to be made. At the time of the Tatar invasion there may have been people who told Béla IV that the might of the East is irresistible. But he didn’t listen to them. During the Turkish occupation there were many people who felt that some kind of understanding with the Ottoman Empire was essential. The West is in decline, the future belongs to the East. Yet, all important Hungarian kings without any hesitation always opted for the western Christian world…. This is the heritage of St. Stephen.”
Well, I don’t know about St. Stephen’s messages in general but one thing is sure: it is Tibor Navracsics who is sending the message to Viktor Orbán, telling him through the not so saintly King Stephen that he is wrong when he buries the West and wants to set the sails of Hungary’s ship toward the East. This is a pretty clear message and indicates that there might be a few people within Fidesz and the government who don’t agree with the direction Viktor Orbán is leading the country.
Admittedly, there are very few signs of discontent, and even Navracsics’s complaints had to be hidden under the coronation mantle of King Stephen. Moreover, one doesn’t know whether the prime minister’s attention was even called to this particular news item. It is possible that his servile staff wouldn’t dare to mention it to him.
Some of my readers might think that I’m exaggerating when I suppose such fear in the prime minister’s office. But a few days ago an interesting and, I’m afraid, typical story came to light. The Pannon Philharmonic of Pécs was preparing a program that included a Kodály piece based on an Endre Ady poem entitled “The peacock flew onto the roof of the county hall.” The director of the Philharmonic forbade the performance of this particular piece because the mayor might get offended. After all, his family name is Páva, which means “peacock.” Zsolt Páva, the mayor, knew nothing about either the original or the changed program. It says a lot about the atmosphere of fear and servility that reign in Hungary in official circles.
St. Stephen is not satisfied with sending messages; he is now also in the credit card business. Csaba Böjte, a Franciscan monk from Déva, Romania, came up with a St. Stephen Plan which would involve issuing a Saint Stephen credit card. People who use the card would get 5% off the purchase price of items bought. Three percent would go into a St. Stephen Fund that would completely revamp the countryside as well as the cities of the Carpathian Basin–not just Hungary but the entire former Greater Hungary. Two percent would stay in the pocket of the cardholder. According to the good monk it would be a great deal all around. It would generate more sales for store owners who accept the St. Stephen card, it would save money for the cardholders, and it would make the Carpathian Basin a “fairyland” (tündérkert).
From the money collected the organizers would buy gardening equipment, and thousands and thousands of unemployed people would work to make a beautiful garden out of the country. There would be flowers not only in front of the houses but also along the highways. And naturally everything would be spic and span in the cities as well. Houses that are crumbling would be taken down while those that can be salvaged would be rebuilt. All this with the help of St. Stephen.
If this sounds utopian and unrealistic to you, it sure doesn’t to Csaba Hende, minister of defense. According to him “the St. Stephen Plan is an opportunity for the advancement of the country.” In fact, the Hungarians of today are continuing the work of St. Stephen. That is, according to Hende.
There are some people in Hungary who are sick and tired of all these messages from long dead rulers and politicians. As Péter Föld S. said in his blog, “Saint Stephen did not send any message to us. He died a long time ago and he doesn’t even know we exist. He was a man, a Hungarian king. He lived as well as he could. He ate, drank, and loved. And of course ruled. He enacted laws as is expected from a ruler. And what should be expected of us in the twenty-first century is that we shouldn’t say idiotic things on our national holidays.” Admittedly, politicians all over the world do this, but I don’t think that too many French politicians would come up with messages from Clovis the First. Or that the English would be expecting advice from King Egbert. Well, that is another world. Hungary got stuck on St. Stephen, especially once a right-wing government came into power.
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By the way, if you don’t hear from me for awhile, it’s not that St. Stephen has stopped whispering into my ear. As a result of hurricane Irene, slowly making its way toward Connecticut, the power company is anticipating extensive outages, many lasting for several days. And as the company prioritizes the restoration of electricity, Hungarian Spectrum doesn’t quite rank up there with local hospitals and businesses.