Some common themes in Hungarian nationalist ideology

My interest in the latest examples of nationalist ideology began with an interview Viktor Orbán gave to Új Ember, a Catholic weekly. I will not have time here to analyze all my related sources in depth, so I will merely quote without much explanation some of the themes that emerged in this interview. I find them rather frightening.

According to Orbán “the lack of religiosity and the scientific worldview shepherds the natural order of faith, religion and creation toward a godless cosmos.” But Hungary “is moving in the opposite direction. We have a different notion of the civilization and culture of Europe.” So, if we take Orbán seriously, Hungary is moving away from a scientific view of the world and espousing a world whose functioning is based exclusively on faith. Back to the Middle Ages.

The question is whether one country, meaning Hungary, can escape “the influence of an intellectual pursuit which is secular and anti-family and which considers the existence of nation states to be no longer relevant.” This secular Europe is in decline, and most of the European politicians and thinkers hold different views from his own and the country he represents. He and Hungary are marching in a direction that, if I understand Orbán correctly, will show the rest of Europe the right way to renewal. So, Hungary is leading the way.

Christian europe
The numerous comments that followed the report on this interview in Népszabadság are almost uniformly negative. A few months ago there were a lot of pro-Fidesz comments even in Népszabadság, but by now most people think that Orbán has lost his mind. Demokratikus Koalíció issued a statement that also emphasized the muddled thinking of the prime minister but added that Orbán’s ideas stem from his lack of understanding of history and social developments. He espouses a misleading, fundamentalist worldview. DK considers the interview an attack on “the noblest traditions of European culture, the spirit of the Enlightenment, rationality, cultural diversity, and the freedom of daily life.” Orbán’s emphasis on Hungary’s separate road toward a renewed Europe against antagonistic foreign forces only strengthens Hungarians’ feelings of being besieged.

How do these ideas that Orbán has been advocating for some time get translated by his “subjects”? Antal Kiss, one of Pál Schmitt’s trusted advisers in the Office of the President, wrote an article in which he insisted that Schmitt had never plagiarized. The former president is the victim of evil forces that planned his “political murder.” And who is behind this political assassination? “Dark foreign forces who are laughing loudly at the tragedy of the Hungarians.” These forces united to turn Hungarian against Hungarian. “The goal has remained the same in the last ninety years, sixty years, twenty years, ten years or two years.” And this goal is that Hungarians lose their far-sightedness and their capability to resist. The goal is to reduce their numbers. Hungarians, by the design of these foreign forces, “must stop being Hungarians who populate the whole Carpathian Basin…. After the satanic murder of Pál Schmitt by the media one can only hope for God’s mercy.”

Who is this Antal Kiss? He used to work for Viktor Orbán’s “cabinet office” even after Orbán lost the elections in 2002. He was one of the organizers of a “roadshow” called “The High Street of History” in 2004 staged by Fidesz’s civic circles and dreamed up by Viktor Orbán. The far-right Magyar Demokrata was also involved. So, it looks as if Antal Kiss “was assigned” by the prime minister to serve Schmitt after he became president of the Hungarian Republic.

Antal Kiss is a representative of the far right within Fidesz. I found that he published an article praising Dr. Lajos Papp in Barikád, the official paper of Jobbik.  For anyone interested in this particular nut, I wrote a post about him some time back. Kiss quotes András Csókay, a professor at Semmelweis, who claims that Schmitt is innocent of plagiarism. Csókay publishes in Magyar Hírlap, another far-right publication.

And now let’s move on to Echo TV, which is owned by Gábor Széles, a wealthy businessman. (He is also the owner of Magyar Hírlap.) There is a program on Echo TV called “World Panorama” under the direction of Ferenc Szaniszló, whose ideas on world affairs and on Hungarian history are truly frightening. His misleading nonsense seems to be popular in certain circles, and one can easily see after watching a couple of Szaniszló’s shows how all the historical nonsense that we encounter on the far right is being propagated on Echo TV. I wrote a Hungarian-language article in Galamus about Szaniszló, who has had a rather checkered career.

Today Szaniszló had a guest, Zsuzsa Bunyevácz, a right-radical “writer” who publishes in Magyar Jelen, a bi-weekly published by a Canadian group that was described to me as an outright Nazi propaganda rag. Bunyevácz’s ideas reflect the Hungarian persecution complex in certain circles, including the above mentioned Antal Kiss. According to her, “the roots of the struggle against Hungarians go back thousands of years.” When the Hungarians arrived in the Carpathian Basin “they upset the European balance of power.” An especially important consideration is “our language.” More and more linguists are certain that “language determines our way of thinking.” The Hungarian language follows an entirely different logic from those languages belonging to the Indo-European language family and thus Hungarians think differently.

Here I would like to remind everybody how often Viktor Orbán talks about the peculiar Hungarian way of thinking. Who influenced whom in this case is hard to say, but according to Bunyevácz “Europe simply didn’t know what to do with this new kind of thinking.” Just to give you an idea of her linguistic prowess, according to Bunyevácz the fact that in Hungarian there is no distinction between “him and her” means that “for the Hungarian people there is only one thing that is important, the Creator before whom all are equal.”

What else is unique in Hungarian existence? That the Hungarians are prepared “to conduct a flourishing self-sustenance and their progress doesn’t depend on fleecing others.” Again, it is worth recalling Orbán’s repeated self-illusory vision of economic independence.

As far as Bunyevácz is concerned, “the duty of Hungarians is to bring back the true radiance of real Christianity to Europe. Mankind is in the darkest phase of history and in the coming new age it will be necessary to possess the kind of outlook that is already enjoyed by the Hungarians.”

Yes, we are back at Viktor Orbán’s vision of Europe where the rest of the continent will learn from Christian Hungary. Hungary will save the old continent and lead the rest of Europe to everlasting happiness and prosperity. All in the name of religion. Is Fidesz that different from the far right? I for one don’t think so.

33 comments

  1. The Christian bubble is going to burst very soon. I don’t know how long this spiritually born-again-christian nation is willing to finance the rise of Christianity in Europe. I mean how long this “you’re poor because you fight for the christian values” feces tauri will work? There will be a huge reckoning if Orban keeps playing the Christian values card – when this backfires it will result in a big spiritual decline. This man is moron.
    Another thing about how pathetic populist this guys is. In the interview he said Hungary’s biggest problem is the indebtedness. The he went: “the 90% of the *personal* taxes go to finance the interest of the sovereign debt”. Yes, but the income side (I’m not sure about the exact numbers) of the budget is 6-7 times of the personal taxes. What kind of stupid sh*t is this? This primitive mini Goebbels is trying to suggest the average Joe the he is working to finance foreigners.

  2. Hmmm, Christ distinguished between “him and her”. So does God the Father. Of course they were both Jews, so what do they know (other than their expertise on running international power grab operations)?
    Bunyevacz and Orban may actually be right– the Hungarians may in fact be quite unique- as, unlike Hungary,the rest of the world has come to the conclusion that there really is a difference between a penis and a vagina.
    Maybe they are right, perhaps the rest of the world cannot understand the Hungarians, after all.
    However, as an outsider looking in, I am beginning to formulate a theory on why the Hungarian population is shrinking so quickly.
    ohhhh… nevermind, Darwin beat me to it….

  3. THis whole thing would be actually really funny, if it would not come wit the full support vice versa of Hungary’s Prime Minister. It is like reading some Kafka or Orkeny novel. I feel like Hungary is becoming a sect. All who lives and believes in the sect they are totally committed, and cannot see the outside world, their own awkwardness, and the absurdity of their faith. It is like Jonestown. Bunyevácz and Orban is right, Hungary is special as never in history such fraud was able to take place with a whole country taken for a ride. For goodness sake, they are comparing the cheating, liar shame Schmitt to Jesus. How low a country can go?

  4. O.V. does a tiny bit of plain speech and probably he can be challenged on this.Is Hungary today a fully christian state and if not, how many basic laws need to be enacted to get there. The outlawing of abortion is at least until now too much for FIDESZ.

  5. OT I am happy to report that Olympic Committee and the foreign press finally took notice about the fraud Schmitt is committing for years (and I keep writing about). Philp Hersh a very prominent sport journalist is asking again for Schmitt’s resignation form the International Olympic Committee, stating that Schmitt done more harm for the Olympic games than any doper.
    Chicago Tribune, April 5, 2012 Philip Hersh (Hersh has a very impressive resume.)
    “Not only did Schmitt copy substantial portions of his graduate thesis, both verbatim and in synthesis, from sources he did not properly credit, the two-time Olympic fencing champion has exaggerated the importance of the degree he received on his IOC and European Parliament biographies.
    In both biographies, he lists the degree as a Ph.D. or doctor of philosophy.
    According to the Hungarian Accreditation Committee, the graduate degree Schmitt received in 1992 is a “Dr. Univ,” (university doctor), which represents a significantly lower level of academic expertise than a Ph.D. It essentially is equivalent to a master’s degree.
    In an email, HAC president Ervin Balazs explained the difference:
    “The requirements for a Ph.D. are more demanding than those used for a Dr. Univ. Between 1984-93, Dr. Univ. was formally a `university scientific degree’ but it was not respected by the academic community as a scientific degree. The `real’ scientific degrees until 1993 were the CSC and DSC (see below) awarded on national level by the committee of scientific qualifications. You could not be promoted to senior positions in research jobs or at universities with Dr. Univ. but only with CSC and DSC.
    “According to the official translation guidelines of the Ministry of National Resources (NEFMI) being responsible for higher education, the 1983-93 university doctor degree is to be indicated in English as `Dr. Univ.’ The post-1993 doctoral degree can be indicated as “Ph.D.'”
    Those who received doctor of university degrees prior to 1993 had the opportunity until 1997 to have the degree converted to a Ph.D. Hungarian news reports have said Schmitt never asked for that conversion.
    “As far as we know, Mr. Schmitt did not ask for this,” Balazs wrote.
    Emails seeking comment from Schmitt were not answered.”
    Read the rest of the article here: http://tinyurl.com/bwveu4w
    One more thing from Hersh that is actually fits here perfect:
    “An old Latin epigram asks, “Who will guard the guards themselves?” It expresses the feeling that at some level, we must trust authority if organizations are to function.
    Pal Schmitt has violated that trust as much as a doper.”

  6. I am sorry I just cannot take the idea seriously that Orbán is trying to move Hungary away from a scientific view of the world and espousing a world whose functioning is based exclusively on faith and to have epidemics of cholera, the lurgi and other horrors . He the great Viktator wishes Europe to return to the past.
    Unfortunately the government of the U.K. has just repealed a large number of old laws. These include:-
    The Glasgow and Gorbals Two Pennies Scots Act (1799)
    The Forgery of Foreign Bills Act 1803,
    The charity of Sir Richard Whittington was founded in 1424
    The Llanfyllin and Llangynog Railway Act 1873
    The Justices of the Peace Act 1361
    And horror of horrors.
    The French Protestant Episcopal Church of the Savoy Act 1925.
    I hope that this is not all too much for the Viktator and Antal Kiss who will regard these “dark foreign forces” that will try to stop Hungary from saving the old continent and lead the rest of Europe to everlasting happiness and prosperity.

  7. @ Some1, Schmitt is gone and I’m sure the IOC will do the right thing but the question still remains, who watches the watchers?

  8. @Some1: You write “For goodness sake, they are comparing the cheating, liar shame Schmitt to Jesus. How low a country can go?”
    My understanding is that the duty of every Christian is to compare herself or himself to the Saviour because one’s life as a Christian is to be modelled through the imitatio Christi — always remembering (Romans / Romaiakhoz 3:23) “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God / Mert mindnyajan vetkeztek, es szukolkodnek az Isten dicsosege nelkul.”
    Only through such comparisons, after all, can the extent of our failure to live as He would have done be sensed.
    Belated wishes for a joyous Easter to all.

  9. @ Wondercat; I wish you also a wonderful Easter weekend, but please be careful to abuse the bible for Fidesz’ sake.
    Remember what the bible tells about the Pharisees and False Prophets…
    “Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”, Matthew 15:14
    If the Fidesz top, themselves ignorant and blind, will lead the ignorant Fidesz freaks, they will weep the country and people to ruin.
    “Alas, for the blind teachers, who not only destroy their own souls, but those also of their flocks!”
    Those who are led are not compelled to follow such people. They are of course free in choosing leaders as Orban, but they are answerable for being led to ruin.

  10. @Steve — point taken. My post was tongue-in-cheek in part; necessary for us to model ourselves on the Christ-like; remarkable bad form for someone to compare a mere human, even a President of Hungary, to the Christ. And just as bad form for the person compared not loudly and publicly to repudiate it.

  11. @Wondercat, I did not mean that they compare Schmitt’s fallibility (to put it nicely) to Jesus’s greatness. What I mean that in fact they thing Schmitt is the second coming of jesus. They think that his unjust suffering is equatable of Jesus’ suffering and those who put Schmitt on the “cross” ar the direct reincarnations of the Evil, and I am not making this up.
    “”Do not spread false reports. Do not help a wicked man by being a malicious witness.”
    Happy Passover!

  12. ‘More and more linguists are certain that “language determines our way of thinking.” The Hungarian language follows an entirely different logic from those languages belonging to the Indo-European language family and thus Hungarians think differently.’
    I am grateful to Eva to have reported this point again. I also believe that the language plays a role. But not in a linguistic sense. Although I had always thought – as a bilingual speaker – that language indeed shapes ideas and opinions, I was told by linguists that this is unlikely to be related to the grammar or the “logic” of a language. The most basic ideas can be expressed in all languages. The grammar of the language is not responsible for the ideas conveyed in that language. If you wish to express some thought, language will accommodate to that. Hence the fact that people that use a common language may also share some ideas and ways of thought is not related to the language but their community. And in that I believe that the Hungarian language plays a role, because this makes Hungarians “unique” in Europe. To infer from this to be specific also in other areas is perhaps natural – but not true. For that Hungary looks too much like a European country (at least so far, might be that soon we will be able to visit an open air museum of the Middle Ages). And also, too obviously, Hungarians do not look like Asians (if I am not mistaken in the tentative location of Etelköz…).

  13. @Kirsten:
    Language has very little role in what’s going on in Hungary, if any. It is only used as a justification by the right for Hungarian “uniqueness”. If Hungarian language wouldn’t be that different; they’d would use some other argument why Hungarians are “unique”.
    If your argument holds, than the Finns and the Estonians would have very similar issues with the Hungarians. Do they?
    Even is language plays some role in shaping Hungarian thinking and attitude, it is only one such factor, and most likely not the most important one either. How about having hundreds of years of history of losing wars, or not having any properly working democracy for an extended period of time till the 1990s… those probably have a lot stronger influence on Hungarian thinking and attitudes (passivity, fatalism, dark humor, cynicism) today than language.
    The connection hypothesized between language and thought in linguistics is called the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis, and is HIGHLY debated among linguists: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linguistic_relativity.

  14. An, please read my entire post. There is no difference to what you wrote, really.

  15. @Kirsten
    Sorry, yes, you are right, I wasn’t reading carefully (and probably was reacting to an earlier discussion on this blog about language). So I guess we agree on this one 🙂

  16. @Ann “having hundreds of years of history of losing wars, or not having any properly working democracy for an extended period of time”
    Exactly! But we still didn’t explain why were we an the constant losing streak. Is it because the 7 tribes picked the worst spot in Europe? The middle. We became a truck stop for all the thugs in the past millennium. It’s like setting up your dinner table in the middle of a 4 lane intersection.

  17. There is no doubt that there are forces determined to make Europe secular and atheist. It seems that Western Europe has lost the battle. These forces will face tougher opposition from Central and Eastern European countries that have face these people before.

  18. @Laci I lived in a few countries and I’m pretty convinced that Hungarians are less spiritual then other nations. This crusade is in my opinion is superficial and is promoted only by the present government.
    By the way secular (as separation of state and church) and atheism are not the same. Nobody promotes atheism on the state level – OK, except N. Korea and Cuba.

  19. @Laci-Nazi:
    Yes, we know who you are …
    just like the man you admire:
    “Nigel Farage is an extremely intelligent man that knows what he is talking about.”(from Laci’s link)
    I’ve read many things about Farage – but never before that He’s “extremely intelligent” – very funny!

  20. Magda Auth reading the news …
    She was drunk or high that’s for sure. Seemed to be in high spirits definitely not “ill” 🙂
    The English speaking readers don’t understand the news she is reading. It’s a 90 seconds list of prominent Christian pastors giving masses in different places. Almost like a traffic report. That’s the *news* in the Hungarian Royal radio.

  21. Mutt Damon: ” =She was drunk or high that’s for sure.”
    That is also my impression. By the way, this is not the first time that she doesn’t quite behave as a radio announcer should.
    When years ago György Bolgár left Magyar Rádió after reading this piece of news she added: At last!

  22. Mutt Damon: “It’s a 90 seconds list of prominent Christian pastors giving masses in different places.”
    Like a laundry list. When she got to the Lutheran bishop who officiated at the Deák tér church, she added: “Where else?”
    That’s the most famous Lutheran church in whole of Hungary and it is expected that it will be the place where the head of the Lutheran church speaks on such occasion.

  23. Whoooh, don’t know what happened but someone slammed down the HUF by more than 1HUF in a single trade!!! Downward pressure all day as I thought it might hit the 298 stop loss level.

  24. “Just to give you an idea of her linguistic prowess, according to Bunyevácz the fact that in Hungarian there is no distinction between “him and her” means that “for the Hungarian people there is only one thing that is important, the Creator before whom all are equal.””
    I assume she refers to the Christian Creator. I also assume that when the Hungarians converted to Christianity the language was modified to comply with this requirement of the uniqueness of the Hungarian thinking…

  25. Eva:”Mutt Damon: ” =She was drunk or high that’s for sure.”
    That is also my impression. By the way, this is not the first time that she doesn’t quite behave as a radio announcer should.”
    It is also possible that she simply lost her mind (although she does sound drunk). It would not be the only example in the present Hungarian hierarchy.

  26. To LwiH, it recovered somewhat but my feeling is that soon enough there will be real trouble with the forint. Soon enough it will be obvious that Orbán is trying to fool the market by dragging out the negotiations with the IMF.

  27. GDF: “when the Hungarians converted to Christianity the language was modified to comply with this requirement of the uniqueness of the Hungarian thinking…” Good one.

  28. @Eva, I think it’s pretty obvious to every right now that OV is playing for time hoping things get better.
    Also odd thing but my recent visits to ATMs produced bills so fresh and crisp that I was concerned the ink hadn’t had time to dry. If the gov prints more money EC will demand higher cash reserves and does anyone know what the reporting requirements are?

  29. @ Csaba K. Zoltani: “For a different point of view”
    Pathetic article that misses some of the key points of the problems even Hungarians having with the government, like Orban lied to the people to get elected (by his own admission), and then implemented measures that he promised not to implement.
    The article conveniently misses some humanitarian (gypsies, homeless) and equality (non-married couples benefits, gay and lesbian rights) concerns, and that is just the beginning.
    THe writer also do not agree with the Venice commission but leaves out all the other significant organizations who have a problem. Ms Hosso is hysterical in her defense, throwing everything in the mix she can come up with. (Hungarian anthem story… that applies for every single country not only to HUngary.)
    For that matter it looks like a PR article from the desk of the Fidesz or from the company Fidesz hired from London for PR jobs.
    The lesson to be learned from Ms Hosso is that every country in the world should play for their own tune with disregard of any common rules. Her next article will be titled “Hungary, the Land of the Lord of the Flies, and why the word does mind.”

  30. From the article:
    “The European Handball Federation wants to fine a Hungarian team because its fans sing the Hungarian national anthem before a game.”
    Here you have it folks. The different Hungarians.

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