Today I would like to summarize two articles on Viktor Orbán and his political strategy. One was written in July 2012 and appeared in Élet és Irodalom, unfortunately available only to subscribers. The author, András Bruck, spent the bulk of his lengthy article on the psychology of Viktor Orbán and came to the conclusion that “he betrayed not only his own past but also that of his parents.” Bruck fears “that for this betrayal, for his own conflict ridden soul, we, the whole country, are paying dearly.”
While Bruck tries to discover the inner workings of Orbán’s psyche, Kristóf Varga, a political analyst and a psychologist, attempts to interpret the psyche of the Hungarian people. He comes to the conclusion that Viktor Orbán found the key to the wishes and desires of Hungarians. His policies that on the surface make no sense in fact speak to the “anxiety” of Hungarian society, a state that was induced by the uncertainties of life after 1990.
For Bruck it is Viktor Orbán’s insatiable appetite for power that moves him. Orbán realized that he can establish absolute power, even a dictatorship, only if he turns segments of society against each other. Earlier he concentrated on the dividing line between the left and the right, but by now he is turning judges against judges, teachers against children, children against their parents. This way, claims Bruck, society’s connecting fabric will be completely destroyed and the road will be open to a dictatorship.
Varga is also aware of Orbán’s pathological attitude toward power, but he puts the emphasis on Orbán’s recognition of society’s expectations. Many Hungarians live in a state of constant anxiety because of the uncertainties of the world that followed what was a secure life in the Kádár regime. In 1989-1990 came capitalism, democracy, and globalization, all at once. This new world was about individual responsibility, competition, and the well deserved results of competition. The Hungarian people were not ready for such a leap. Their answer was to escape from reality.
Many of us are prone to think when we encounter true believers that these people are under some kind of a spell. That their sense of reality is warped by some magic propaganda whose secret is known only to the leader of Fidesz and his small coterie. But, continues Varga, magic propaganda potions are only temporary. A smaller paycheck will not look bigger for long. The success of Fidesz, he argues, lies in “the presentation and transmission of a behavior that helps the people cope with the anxiety that has been gripping a large segment of Hungarian society in the last twenty years.”
Post-1990 Hungarian politics discovered how to handle that anxiety. The strategy was “the establishment of a soft democracy.” You may recall that the later Kádár years are often described as “soft dictatorship,” which meant a regime that made life even in a one-party dictatorship bearable. Politicians realized that a rapid move to full-fledged “hard democracy” with its emphasis on individual responsibility, competition, and globalization might lead to social instability. Moreover, the immediate introduction of “hard democracy” would have endangered the position of the intellectual and political elite.
All parties adjusted their policies to this reality, but it was Fidesz that perfected the strategy of “soft democracy” by creating a closed community and offering membership in that community to all. The leadership of that community denied the necessity of competition, globalization, even the rule of law. They aroused a fury against the Hungarian reality, resulting in their landslide victory in 2010.
The reason for the hatred of the Gyurcsány era was Ferenc Gyurcsány’s insistence on precisely those “virtues” a large number of Hungarians were reluctant to embrace: individual responsibility, global integration, the necessity of competition, and meritocracy. He escalated tensions even as he was unable to carry out the necessary reforms that would have established a “hard democracy.” Fidesz, on the other hand, promised a world without tensions and thus without anxiety.
Orbán is trying to shield Hungarians from competition and globalization by turning against the very institutions that provide the critical ingredients of modern global capitalism. As Varga puts it, like Jim Jones who took his followers to the jungles of Guyana, “Orbán took his own people to the forest of HirTV, EchoTV, Magyar Nemzet, Magyar Hírlap, Heti Válasz, Helyi Téma, M1, M2, Duna TV, Kossuth and Petőfi Radios, MTI, Láncrádió, media outlets that hermetically seal off anything that might remind his followers of the threatening outside world.” Here Orbán and his closest associates are building a world that doesn’t exist while their followers are desperately trying to believe that the picture they receive from above is both real and promising.
The relationship of the individual to a therapeutic community is always irrational. Its members often support the cause even if it means going against their own interests. Also, the cult of personality is such that the individual follower can readily explain the inconsistencies that can be uncovered daily in the leader’s announcements. Moreover, the Fidesz true believers have no difficult reconciling their own tax evasion with their complaints about the rich who put their money in Swiss banks. They can easily vote against a 300 forint co-pay and at the same time give thousands to doctors in white envelopes.
“The anxiety-ridden people were not shocked–or more properly frightened–because Gyurcsány lied in his speech at Őszöd but because he admitted his lie.” The mutual lying–between the politicians and the people–was something they were used to and therefore were comfortable with. New rules totally alien to them were unacceptable.
Varga is optimistic that sooner or later the true believers will recognize that hiding in a forest that takes them away from the real world is no solution. First of all, Hungary cannot be hermetically closed off from the outside world and therefore even if Orbán has ideas about introducing a full-fledged dictatorship, it cannot be realized. Second, sooner or later the economic problems will be too daunting to paper over with communication tricks. And third, the anxiety that Orbán’s strategy was supposed to alleviate is in fact greater today than ever. The presumed remedy has failed.
Bruck, on the other hand, calls the present system a “pre-classic dictatorship.” He is certain that if it depended on Viktor Orbán he would introduce a full-fledged one. For such a move Orbán would have to take Hungary out of the European Union. Bruck thinks that this is not an impossible proposition. He predicted last summer that Orbán was preparing the ground for such a move.
Well, here I really can’t agree with Bruck. Yes, Viktor Orbán would love to get out of the uncomfortable embrace of the European Union, but after failing in his attempt to get financial backing from the East he cannot. Since Bruck’s article was written, we have seen a desperate effort to secure cohesion funds and other subsidies from the EU without which the Hungarian economy would collapse.
So, all in all, if Varga’s prediction about the disillusionment of the faithful if true and if I’m right that Orbán, whether he likes it or not, can’t jettison Hungary’s EU membership, I think we’ll see a growing weakening of the Orbán regime. It is up to the opposition forces to take advantage of this development.
Unfortunately Orban has exactly compensated his declining electoral power with an equal compensating State power.
He may not achieve a 2/3rds majority next time, but it doesn’t matter – he just needs a simple majority of those who bother to vote.
And all of us on here have discussed the timorousness of the average Hungarian – and their predilection for doing anything but vote.
We can but hope that Orban, “……..like Jim Jones who took his followers to the jungles of Guyana” will command his followers to self-destruct and forcefully administer poison to the Fideszbikkers as his paranoia increases.
I doubt if it will be before Spring 2014 though.
In his new electoral system,
Orban needs only 23% of the vote inside Hungary to continue to govern.
Add another 10% from Romania, and he has a blocking 1/3 minority together with the officials he appointed for 9-12 years.
I think Varga is a bit inventing the hot water here. Anxiety and confusion is always a fertile ground for populism – it’s not a Hungarian phenomenon. Giving the people simple answers to the problems. That’s the key. Do not fuss about complicated facts and economic theories to choose from. Put a spell on them and when they follow, seize the power. When they wake up from the sleepwalking they will wake up in chains. Classic recipe.
I don’t think Orban the 5th will take this to the next level. They are cowards and lazy to harden and maintain a real dictatorship.
The frustration of course will boil over. The average Hunky will realize that the Fidesz didn’t bring in the Canaan. They will vote back “the other side”. This definitely will happen – if not in 2014 then four years later. The question is what will happen then? The problems cannot be fixed in 4 years and the Hungarian society is unable to think long term. It would require commitment and sacrifice to turn the economy around. In a short time they will start sucking in again the Fidesz propaganda and the downward spiral will continue.
I tried to pull up the Bruck article but I couldn’t find anything in English. Also I couldn’t figure out which Varga article you were referring to. Could you post a citation for the Varga article so I can read it?
Vargas’ explanation seemed to ring a bell or two for me. Orban has definitely found out how to ‘play’ on the Hungarian psyche–and consistency and logic be damned. The implications of that are dour: I myself have mentioned in the past that Hungarians may have been proud of how they ‘played’ the communists and Russians, but the trickery, duplicity, and stab-your-neighbour-in-the-back style would come with a steep price down the road. Well now they’re discovering it.
And yes, the realities of Gyurcsany (or Bajnai) are resisted when the populace are given the fantasy options of Matolcsy and Orban.
The cure for all these ills will not be easy. But for sure,
reverberating talk along the line of “ask not what your country can do for you…” must be attempted so that people will open their eyes and see that the coming payola–to pensioners, teachers, doctors etcetera–which Orban is surely planning, will for once be
resisted and rejected.
For me the strangest point is:
I don’t really know anyone in Hungary who is a Fidesz fan or at least I don’t know anyone who admits it …
As I just wrote in the other thread I also believe that the EU will not “allow” a real dictatorship in Hungary and even with the quasi monopoly of Fidesz in the media reports from other countries will be available (not to mention the plethora of US films and tv series which are so popular here) so people will know that there is life outside Hungary – and it may be a better life …
So the pressure will mount and what will be the government’s reaction ?
The Nazis started a war in that situation, the Communist in East Germany built a wall – but Hungary can’t isolate itself …
As someone (this has been attributed tomany people, from Mark Twain to Einstein …) wrote once:
Predictions are difficult – especially if they concern the future!
Waddaya mean ‘not allow a dictatorship’?
There ALREADY is a dictatorship: Orban decides EVERYTHING.
LAWS and INSTITUTIONS have ZERO RELEVANCE at present.
Don’t Hungarians use the Internet? Hungary isn’t China (yet), where the state censors access to inconvenient web sites that might offer an alternative view. But so far, Hungary does not practice that, and Hungarians are free to read the NY Times or Hungarian Spectrum or watch the BBC and much, much more. If someone wants to get their view of the world only from the local Hungarian media, that is their choice, and from the way the younger people here especially have adopted Western culture, it seems that many are not relying solely on what they watch on local TV. If I wanted to be really cynical, I’d say that a major problem in Hungary is that so many of its really smart, really ambitious people leave the country as fast as they can because of the lack of any opportunity here.
Mark in CA, no, this is not the USA. Only about 60-70% of voters use internet with varying regularity. Pensioners (the biggest and most active single age group) and, generally people over 55, rarely, if ever use it, especially in the country side. The 60-70% has been stagnating for years. People who cant feffectively read or write (functional illiteracy) and have no money in small villages will not make use of the internet.
Budapest is in better shape in this respect, but internet is not an everyday routine for a lot of people. This is a poor Easterm European country, mind you. People watch TV and listed to (the main state channel) Kossuth Radio (or other, commercial radios where the news section is edited by Fidesz supporters, they have to accept employees loyal to Fidesz, otherwise they don’t get the frequency in the first place or get problems soon with the media authority, it is better to make some compromises).
Also people don’t speak English (or other foreign languages, and interestingly may firends who speak English or German don’t use it to read German books for example), but don’t thinks that Chinese are in a better situation, they don’t sepak English either, even if their internet wasn’t a big intranet, they could not effectively reach more independent media.
Also people can have the internet but if they use it for microblogging on tumblr or downloading music, or facebooking it does not help much. Governments are just happy to allow people having cheap fun on the net, until they actually want to gather in the real world (note that for March 15, the Hungarian national holiday, the government practically already took over all the major squares, leaving no physical space for any anti-government demaonstartion).
Pendu, I understand what you are saying and agree with most of it, although my girlfriend’s almost 80-year-old father uses the Internet avidly. It’s not unlike in the U.S., where the coasts and the heartland are almost like two different countries. But I disagree with you about the Chinese, at least those in the emerging middle class there, who mostly do speak English and send their kids to school in Australia, the U.S. and elsewhere. We just hosted one such student who served as an English-speaking intern at our Hungarian bilingual Montessori kindergarten here, just outside Budapest. Still, I’m left feeling that a lot of the smart, ambitious people who could make a difference in Hungary have left the echo chamber for greener pastures. It’s also too bad the Hungary’s education minister seems to feel that learning a second language is not important for young children.
The Hungarian society and entrepreneurs were the best prepared for globalisation in the whole region as the Iron Curtain fell. It was after all Hungary, which in 1968 introduced a ‘new economic mechanism’ under the guidance of Rezső Nyers. It had partially liberalised the economy, while maintaining a one-party rule.
Few people know in Hungary or in the world that the Chinese communists copied the Hungarian model in 1978, when they opened up to the world. The Chinese communist party newspaper, the Zhemnin Zsüpao, had praised Hungary for its economic-political system at that time.
After the change of regime it has turned out that, the biggest enemy of the people is its own political class. Not the first time in Hungarian history, I shall add. The new political class and their oligarchs have been looting the country and have officially siphoned off USD 242 billion (!) from the country to off-shore accounts in the last 30 years.
Hungary has become a banana republic with an unaccountable political class – in the middle of Europe. This is the reason why the majority of voters are frustrated and ‘undecided’ and the majority of youngsters simply want to leave this country. They know very well what they are doing…
Just to show you that there is enough information available in/about Hungary. My wife’s young ones regularly click here for news
http://www.reddit.com/search?q=fidesz or similar topics
This must be the one in Magyar Narancs, December 20th double edition.
Unfortunately, this article is available only in the print version. Excellent article!
Sorry, the Varga Kristóf article is already available online.
This Kristóf Varga article is very important as it is not written in psychological jargon and is really based on „low level”, but important insights, not on contested psychological concepts. It’s main insight should however be emphasised. Because of capitalism, because capitalism is what we are talking about here really, a lot of people feel anxiety (as opposed to a carefree feeling of security with optimism about the future, as was the case in the eighties). But it is not a feeling like depression, that at one moment I feel happy and then later I am depressed; anxiety is much more fundamental, it is really part of our very being and existence, lurking below the surface. Therefore it is much more difficult to take note of our anxiety either by outsiders or by ourselves. In addition, most people (especially the less educated, who are anyway less able to cope with capitalism) in Hungary are not equipped, are not taught to handle either anxiety or the causes of anxiety (ie. how to thrive in an ever changing environment, where output, efficiency, skills are constantly put to the test, can’t cope with failure, don’t know networking as opposed to cronism, lifelong learning etc. [It is for the gender studies why women are so much more successful, have more degrees, cope with adverse events better, take care of their bodies better as men generally and live longer – you don’t see many women homeless either]. I am not saying that all Fidesz supporters are like that, but many are, and use Fidesz and Fidesz supported ideas as a quasi-religion, to live in a bearable universe.
Fidesz and Jobbik were very successful in creating lasting real and virtual communities (and their doing everyting to support those communities and dismantle others) and therein lies their success, you just don’t feel that togetherness, that connectedness at MSZP or LMP. People are not rational automatons as many scholar would like to see them (ie. rational choice theory; if not for other reasons than because empirically it is better to do research with such assumptions), but complex beings. I also think Mr. Varga is right when he writes that you need to understand and look them with sympathy, these Fidesz voters, because they suffer, like many voters of Jobbik, who are really sending a desperate cry from the unlivable small villages and are not not militant fascist (there are those as well, unfortunately). Until intellectuals dismiss Fidesz voters are crazy, deluded people, the left will no be able to govern for long and estiblish itself. Even here at this blog, with a lot of educated people, commenters are just awed by Obama’s charisma, which is also not a rational impulse, but an irrational, gut reaction, like when we hear or see a great actor. Many Fidesz voters are like that, only their ears are tuned to a different music.
“Hungarians are free to read the NY Times or Hungarian Spectrum or watch the BBC”
Unfortunately they will get pretty much the Orbanist line from the last-mentioned institution, Nick Fidesz Thorpe is not a man for presenting true pictures from his present domicile.
I have used the example before that if Orban was to announce that he had arranged for a space-ship to land on Hosok Tere at 3 o’clock and that it would be giving out 1,000 HUF notes to anyone there to meet it, then there would be sheep (and not only Fidesz-baaing ones) starting to queue from 9 in the morning.
Those capable of critical and independent thought are either keeping their heads down or are leaving the country in ever-increasing numbers. In any other EU country (with poss exception of Romania) both Orban and Matolcsy would have been laughed off the political stage years ago- in Hungary they are more than likely to win the next lesson and that is because they understand completely the character of a large segnment of the elctorate.
“Unfortunately they will get pretty much the Orbanist line from the last-mentioned institution, Nick Fidesz Thorpe is not a man for presenting true pictures from his present domicile.”
Unfortunately, very true. They have woken up a little recently and had the odd good piece by other journalists, but most of their everyday reporting is from Thorpe. I have written to them several times about this, but to no avail.
“Don’t Hungarians use the Internet?”
Nowhere near as much as in the ‘west’, and those who do, usually don’t speak English and just read the same stuff that they see on TV or read in the papers.
Internet access on it’s own isn’t enough, you still need the people to want to use it to find things out. By and large, Hungarians aren’t interested in finding things out, especially the older ones, they are content to dwell in their own little world of Hungarian superiority and anti-Hungarian treachery. And they have been taught by Fidesz-Jobbik that foreigners lie and are only out to destroy Hungary (or, in the the case of the ‘World-Wide Jewish Conspiracy’, to buy it up).
Hungary looks like a fairly normal European country on the surface, but underneath it is a mass of paranoia, insecurity, distrust, ignorance and myth. And Orbán has spent the last 12 years playing on those fears and insecurities and feeding off the myths and ignorance.
“For me the strangest point is:
I don’t really know anyone in Hungary who is a Fidesz fan or at least I don’t know anyone who admits it …”
Wolfi – that’s because you live in Hévíz! Out in the Fidesz-Jobbik East you will find plenty. Almost everyone I know is not only Fidesz, but rabidly so, and the few who have lost faith have turned to Jobbik.
I do know some people I suspect are not Fidesz, but none of them will discuss politics these days. Out East there are basically two type of people politically – those who support Fidesz-Jobbik, and those who keep their opinions to themselves.
Három. A szorongó ember, bár agresszívnek és ellenségesnek tűnik, segítségre szorul. Az ellenséges fellépés vele szemben hatástalan, hiszen nem a szorongás okaira, hanem a tüneteire irányul. A Fidesz vezérkara ezért minden eddiginél durvábban fog fellépni az ellenzékkel szemben, abban bízva, hogy hasonlóan agresszív választ provokál, amivel egyben tarthatja szavazóbázisát. De ezt a kesztyűt nem szabad felvenni. Nelson Mandela azt mondta az apartheid-korszakot lezáró választások előtt: “A bátor emberek nem félnek a megbocsátástól a béke kedvéért.”
Eva and my good friends are invited to read this paragraph, the last one in the Kristof Varga Magyar Narancs publication.
The anxiety is high among the Hungarians. It is the best policy to approach the Orban faithful with a brave smile, with love and patience.They have been fed lies by Orban, dressed in loving patriotic colors.
It will need a long therapy to cure them.
Impatience will lead nowhere.
Even Hévíz has a Fidesz mayor now (elected about two years ago). I’ve met him once, when a friend got Hungarian citizenship – he may be not as sharp as the last (Jewish) one, but he’s ok, has been trying to revive the Sármellék airport eg and brought a lot of Russian and Ukrainian tourists …
But still I don’t know who voted for him, I had heard nothing really bad about the old one.
PS and OT:
Of course nobody here likes those Russians – but they’ve got the money, even if their behaviour is abominable. I could tell you stories …
I gave the link to the Kristóf Varga article in Magyar Narancs. I also mentioned that the Bruck article available only for subscribers.
Well to put a spin on Varga’s theory, here is a little story from the Kepviselo Funky (Representative Funky) blog about the “caring” government.
Somebody wrote a shopping list on the back of an unopened envelop of one of those mindless government questionnaires the Orban keeps sending out to ask his subject’s opinion. Professor Balogh wrote about them a while back.
So the guy went to the TESCO with the shopping list on the unopened envelope and like most of … he lost it.
But luckily the employees of the TESCO found it and sent it to the mayor’s office (!) like it was some valuable lost-and-found item. There it was registered and sent back with an official looking letter (signed, dated, registered, stamped) to our happy citizen. Life is good. Big Brother takes care of you.
So if you have other plans with the letters from Orban … well make sure you flush.
I just wanted to say, Petkin – I found your above contribution on the ‘Hungarian psyche’ compelling and interesting – Thank you.
I understand more!
CharlieH: Thanks, but I think the psyche is quite universal, I might add, though others may learn to cope with capitalism better, especially in Western-Europe with its huge social transfers and much better education (and perhaps politicians don’t want to use certain methods in the West, whereas in Hungary, politicians are completely unscrupulous).
There is another thing we have to add talking about the Fidesz religion. That is the seemingly incurable allergy to knowledge. The relentless resistance to facts and information.
Most of them didn’t have a brush with even the very basics of economics and have absolutely no desire to learn anything. Just look at the peace marchers. “We despise you for loaning us money … now give us more money” or “Bajnai the goose farmer murderer”.
This sheer stupidity cannot be derived only from anxiety related to the M word.
Let me quote David Letterman (again) to describe the Hungarian psyche: “I would do anything to look like Brad Pitt. Except diet and exercise …”
Mutt, please, I ask you to be understanding. A religion is by definition not something rational that is susceptible to outside persuasion. Plus, although I like your rationality, no person is completely consistent and rational, all people have their contradictions.
People need to have a – to them, not to you – a consistent world view and this is what Fidesz provides — at least for many.
This disposition what you discribe as sheer stupidity is exactly and directly derived from a very deep drive to avoid facing “reality” (which is also a kind of generalised, very fundamental fear, which is in itself more like anxiety I think) at any costs, as such facing would cause many people to collapse.
They would have to realise very unfortunate facts, about their ability, skills (or lack thereof) of coping with life’s everday problems. It is not so easy, to say the least, to wake up and realise that your are 55, have no marketable skills, not just a good university degree (pehaps updated with a moe recenet masters) or language ability, but neither soft skills such as negoatiation skills, time management etc., that you have perhaps 15 years left under the current statistics and it still matters which kind of milk you buy, because you have no savings and been accepting (untaxed) money straight into your pocket so your pension will be minuscule.
Life has not been kind to many (and this is not the occasion to argue who is at fault) and they need to believe and so choose Fidesz because they can be part of a bigger project (“the national, independent Hungary which survived for a thousand years”) and feel just a tiny bit power by just belonging to this community.
Can MSZP or Bajnai or LMP give this feeling of belonging? I doubt.
Also, remember that communism was also the most powerful when crowds were true believers (not all of course, but a critical mass was truly deluded), as if part of a dream. This is natural, but these days the right can better provide that dream world.
Nicely done, Petkin.
But there’s a simple solution: teach your children and grand-children what it takes to be a good MAN or WOMAN, and not a good HUNGARIAN.
The first is subject to international, historic, standards;
the second is subject to the whims of a political party.
My wife would agree with you (and she speaks Russian, so she knows what they are saying as well!). But it wasn’t too long ago that people were saying much the same thing about English tourists (and perhaps even Germans too?). It seems you have to get used to being a tourist.
Petőfi, yep, things are now solved, ‘cos we know the simple solution :- ). Sorry. I, of course, agree with many of the commenters, but politics and life is a bit more difficult, it seems to me. It is very tempting to give simple and good-soundig answers and solutions. I know people have to learn that there is no free lunch, they have to educate themselves, prepare that they might lose their jobs etc. Simple messages, all true. But if it was so simple. People don’t want to hear it, just can’t force themselves, lack the dicipline, the motivation, the push, the energy and you know this, because you have seen it. The blog as a genre gives us an illusion that there is a quick and smart answer to everything, but there is not and we should generally refrain from giving short solutions. You know as well as I do, that the concept of a “nation” is a much richer (with all its – party made up – history, with all the romanticism, the heroes) and a more exclusive category than the more universal and so more blurred gender category, it is so much more tempting for people to define themselves as a member of a nation than to define themselves only as man (which is a default situation for most men, so it’s a kind of doxa after Bordieu, you don’t even realise its characteristics) or women. (Not that people would not learn eventually how to become men or women, but it is a different kind of socialisation i think). Anyway, I don’t want to be the annoying smartass that I am, but if we dig a bit deeper we might find a better way to improve Hungary. Függöny.
Thank you for entering this discussion – I think you’re very welcome here.
Yes, life isn’t that simple – but many people (not only in Hungary) are looking for simple solutions. So in a way Hungary’s current problems are still a consequence of those “good times” under Kadar when life seemed simple – do I see this correctly ?
My wife grew up and worked for many years in a mayor’s office (it was called differently) in Kadar times and she tells me similar stories – but she gave her children a better education!
Even tough people in East Germany were in a much better situation after 1989 compared to Hungary, many also had problems adopting to the new system of capitalism/democracy/whatever you call it. It takes a long time and a lot of effort by parents/schools/politicians …
I grew up in West Germany after WW2 (having been born in 1943) and I also had the impression that many of our teachers and politicians were still living in a kind of Nazi world!
I suppose I meant a simple ‘first’ step. The problem is complex and we, on this blog, have tended to give
the average citizen a pass as to what’s wrong with the country. The complex and most difficult thing is for the average joe to realize that his thinking and preconceptions have to change. Most troubling to me is the awesome (as in ‘huge’) selfishness of the common Hungarian outlook. I”m reminded by what a friend and neighbor–a committed Fideszer–once said to me on hearing one of my endless complaints of lawlessness and corruption: “what,” she said, ” do you care? Just live your daily life and forget about it!”
But my follow-up received no reply: “But what about the kids and the kind of world they will live in?”
I wish they read your posts.
Let’s assume they do. Then what are their options? Can you have non-believers convince a religious Christian to give up faith? Not likely. More likely you can convert people. So one’s religion can be changed with another religion.
So what faith? See, the problem is not Bajnai’s inability to provide a sense of unity. It’s just all the buzzwords are taken and only blood, sweat and tears are ahead. Now how does he sell this to the Hunkies?
Apropos buzzwords. The MSZP is now apologizing for opposing the citizenship of the Hungarians living in the neighboring countries. How will this work out?
Very “deep” article. Many Thanks, Eva.
One may add that the odd revival of the hard-type (1930s-like) ethnic-nationalism (which we have witnessed in Hungary during the last 10 years) can also bee seen as an anxiety-reduction device. As an attempt to take refuge in the safety of the “tribe”, of the “imagined community/family” which is the nation. Nationalism also rejects in-group competition and individualism, it is a kind of collectivism (it also tends to get aggressive toward other groups/nations).
However, I do not agree with Eva’s final disagreement with Bruck.
If that’s what drives the average-Janos these days then, as Bruck says, the next logical step is the strong/authoritarian/charismatic Leader with whom everybody can mentally identify and, this way, calm-down their anxieties. People may be ready to sacrifice a lot (i.e. take a lot of abuse from the leader) to preserve their “safety”.
The Opposition will have to tune their (counter-manipulative ?) message.
Like stressing the “safety-net” function of the EU membership/solidarity, or mentioning heroic figures of the Hungarian history who braved (alone) the dangers and succeeded.
We have been born into a cave.Let us not stay there any more.
Find the exit.
In the cave, the unscrupulous orban can rule. Kristóf Varga is an enlightened psychologist. It is good to read his words. He is honest, like my other great discovery, Janos Gyurgyak.
The problem is the massive crowd of immoral children of the old regimes, from Horthy to Kadar, and the faithful members of the main churches.
That crowd has accepted their lovable Orban. They need his generous love.
The other crowd must find its voices, and throw out our disgraceful orbans, vonas and the rest.
Dear Éva, thank you for promoting this most interesting analysis and your excellent précis. It gels with so much that I have seen, heard and experienced here over the last 20 years; and the insights are, unusually, as relevant to the future as they are to the past. Please do continue all that you do.
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