Attack on the United States and friendship with “tolerant” Russia

Don’t think that the Hungarian government’s attack on the incoming American ambassador is independent of the Hungarian-Russian deal on the Paks power plant. Oh no, both have a great deal to do with the Hungarian government’s continuing war of independence. The newest ally in this fight is the “tolerant” and democratic Russia under Vladimir Putin. At least this is what András Bencsik, one of the organizers of the Peace Marches that demonstrated against the European Union, thinks.

If you think that I’m joking, you are wrong. Serious efforts are being made by Fidesz-Jobbik supporters  to recreate the old Soviet/Russian friendship from which twenty-three years ago Hungarians were happy to escape. The Fidesz-Jobbik label is not a mistake on my part. I consider Zsolt Bayer, András Bencsik, Gábor Széles and others involved in the Peace March movement outright anti-Semite neo-Nazis. And yes, they are supporters of the present government. The two are not mutually exclusive alternatives.

It all started with the letter addressed to Colleen Bell, the U.S. ambassador designate, who was accused by Gergely Gulyás, an influential member of Fidesz and an MP, of representing the interests of the Hungarian opposition. She was told in no uncertain terms that the Hungarian people will not stand for the tutelage of a foreign power. There is even talk of dragging the new ambassador before a parliamentary committee investigating American illegal spying on Hungarian politicians, including perhaps Viktor Orbán.

Of course, we all know that Gergely Gulyás would never dare to make such a frontal attack on the United States on his own. There is no question in my mind that a vicious anti-American propaganda is under way which might be connected to the forthcoming election as well as the possible domestic opposition to the Russian-Hungarian deal on Paks. In any case, the innocent victim of the political and diplomatic game will be Colleen Bell, who has not the foggiest idea what is waiting for her. I suspect she will soon be sorry that she ever had ambassadorial ambitions.

As soon as Gulyás set the tone, everybody on the right felt free to join the offensive. Even our “moderate” János Martonyi decided to line up and move Hungary’s attack against the United States abroad. He gave an interview to the Budapest correspondent of The Wall Street Journal in which he “urged the incoming U.S. ambassador to Budapest to stay independent in her judgment after Colleen Bradley Bell voiced concerns about the state of checks and balances in Hungary and independence of some of the country’s institutions.”

Naturally, Martonyi is more diplomatic than the far-right-wing Fidesz supporters like András Bencsik who feel just as comfortable in Jobbik’s Hungarian Guard as in Fidesz (and earlier, in the case of Bencsik, in communist circles). Bencsik is a man of action. This morning he wrote a short piece on Facebook in which he announced his plans to organize another Peace March, not surprisingly a week before the election, on March 29. Of course, one goal is to fire up the core Fidesz electorate. But it will be a demonstration against the United States “which takes up the role of the Soviet Union. It doesn’t send ambassadors but arrogant regional governors, instructors, commissars to the subjugated country whose job is to relay tidbits of the ideas of the enslaved people to the heart of the empire. Their job is to force these primitive people to lead a prescribed life: ‘checks and balances and marijuana.'” The last refers to President Obama’s views on the legalization of marijuana. “In comparison Russia is the home of tolerance.”

Bencsik in this Facebook note interprets “checks and balances” as some kind of geopolitical balance that was, for example, practiced by the princes of Transylvania who maneuvered  between the Ottoman and the Habsburg Empires. With closer relations with Russia, Bencsik argues, Hungary can have a larger role to play in foreign affairs and will thus receive greater independence. Of course, not everybody will be happy with this new Russian-Hungarian friendship, just as Izsák Schulhof mourned the departure of the Turks from Buda. What? Who is this Schulhof? Bencsik, an anti-Semite, naturally found his anti-Hungarian Jew who allegedly mourned the departure of the escaping Turks from Buda in 1686. As usual, the story is not accurate. A friend of mine sent me a link to a letter of a historian of the Budapest Historical Museum which sets the story straight. It seems that these anti-Semites manage to find some usually untrue story to depict Jews as historically against the Hungarian nation. The implication of Bencsik’s reference to Schulhof is that only Jews complain about the foreign policy of Viktor Orbán which otherwise gives greater leeway for diplomatic maneuvering and therefore is beneficial to Hungary.

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Some Hungarian weeklies had fantastic covers depicting this new love affair between Viktor Orbán and Vladimir Putin. András Bencsik’s Magyar Demokrata, on the other hand, decided to feature the new “museum quarter” in the heart of Budapest.

Heti Válasz opted for word play on “pax vobiscum” from the Catholic mass,  meaning “peace be with you,” while Figyelő talked about “atomic power.” HVG reminded its readers of the “Eastern bloc.” I especially like Magyar Narancs’s “The country is on Putin’s hook.” The pictures appeared on 444.hu.

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72 comments

  1. Marcel Dé,

    all the right wing parties in the interwar period were economically (nazional)socialists, no wonder that they were so popular. People were poor (the country of 3 million beggars) and operating, competitive enterprises were in the hands of a relatively small circle, it was the most natural thing for the majority to attempt to obtain that wealth under whatever color.

    Note also that one of the reasons why MSZP/Együtt accepted finally Gyurcsany was the latter’s activist network. While it is probably impressive considering that DK is a very recent phenomenon, it is loughable compared to Fidesz’ machinery. Any second rate local Fidesz politicians can come up with many times more enthusiastic drones for a campaign/townhall meeting compared to what Gyurcsany can, which is still probably way more than what Mesterhazy (as party chief) can muster. Apart from everything else (media, election system rigging etc.), this point underscores how hopeless the united left’s situation is. MSZP believes it should be an erstwhile rival to the Fidesz juggernaut and then they have to seriously rely on the assistance of a party that polls 5-8% at best and was established two years ago.

    Fidesz has some plans on which it always executes. One is that they try to create a community out of every political opportunity and then they try to own (and nurture) that community (eg. local football and sports clubs, a new association for theatre managers, another association for young agricultural entrepreneurs, you name it). Neither MSZP nor Együtt or DK could get the endorsement of any, repeat any, more or less nationally known civil organizations.

    Laszlo Köver had a point today when he said the left ‘hates the communities’. The left does not of course hate them, lefties are just unable (incompetent) to do anything with communities. Why? Because people do not want to associate with hopeless looking people (aka loser types), and especially with people who themselves are not proud of themselves and the left has never been proud and confident since perhaps 2006. Rene Girard’s theory on mimesis is fully applicable to politics. Now that the elections are starting to be about the machineries get the things really scary.

  2. I agree with comments from several people that there is a deep anti-capitalist strain in the Jobbik and the far right in Hungary. We can also see this interestingly right now in the Ukraine too. Pravy Sekto is a leading force in current demonstrations. Andriy Tarasenko, one of Pravy Sektor’s co-ordinators is quoted as saying “For us, Europe is not an issue, in fact joining with Europe would be the death of Ukraine. Europe means the death of the nation state and the death of Christianity. We want a Ukraine for Ukrainians, run by Ukrainians, and not serving the interests of others.”

    One very big reason for this is how badly working people with non-university educations have fared under market economies in numerous Central European nations. As long as the Hungarian opposition effectively allies it’s self with the EU and international capital this will provide a huge political edge for the right-wing. Orban is smart, he plays to this anti-capitalism and also is paying down debt largely according to IMF dictates. Hungarian socialists need to re-discover some of their roots that go back to before 1917 and the rise of Leninism. Propagandizing around statements about the decline of democracy while based on objective facts does not its self constitute a political platform that can win over a majority of the Hungarian electorate right now.

  3. Joe Simony alway :
    There is anti-Americanism everywhere is Europe, indeed in the world. OV is making some political hay out of it.

    Maybe, but it’s not every national leader who starts big ”Peace March” about it.

    I’m no psychologist, but it seems to me that whenever there’s a ”Peace March”, it’s appears that these are a response to something that Orban Viktor feels personally threatened by. The very first one was a reaction to massive anti-government demonstrations taking place at the same time as, and just around the corner from Orban’s own rather small little gatherings. More recent ones have been a reaction to (in my opinion), well-deserved criticism from abroad.

    Now, Orban may well be feeling he’s painted himself into a very awkward corner with this Paks/Russia affair, and needs to do something big and public to try and dig himself out of it (as well as reminding the domestic audience who’s ostensibly in control).

    Whatever the reason, these marches are a dismal waste of public money.

  4. @Istvan: A leftist anti-capitalist message is practically impossible in Eastern Europe right now… only after 25 years of the fall of Communism. It takes time while the population will believe any such anti-capitalist message coming from the left … the memories are too recent about what that can turn into. Capitalism came as a shock in Eastern Europe, and many people are disappointed, as it failed to bring the prosperity and the western- style welfare state many were envisioning. But it is still too soon for people to believe any typical leftist, working class message coming from the left. They simply lost credibility with what Communism turned into. So it is the right that starts to represent and exploit these sentiments. Your Ukrainian example sounds like a right winger, too.

    In Hungary LMP tried to be a green/left party with an anti-capitalist undertone… didn’t work. They only gathered marginal support, and finally fell apart.

    It will take time while Hungarians realize that just because a business is Hungarian owned, it still won’t have its workers’ best interest at heart. It is still out there to make profit. (In fact, the large international companies tend to treat their workers in Hungary better, just because they import western norms to the workplace.). So if Hungarians want better political representation for the average working guy, they should look to the left, not to the right.

  5. An :
    So if Hungarians want better political representation for the average working guy, they should look to the left, not to the right.

    In Hungary there is no need for them to look any further, neither to right not to the left.
    Fidesz is offering them the best of what both sides have to offer : national-socialism (with a bit of anti-semitism to spice up the menu).You get a nationalistic country, even nationalistic in the ethnic-racial (magyar) sense, and an economy which where it is not plainly owned by the state (socialism) it is indirectly controlled by it (through crony-capitalism).

    This combination of a very nationalistic polity whose economy is (at least partly) privately owned by its members but where the State decides what is produced is the very definition of the fascist state (no metaphor, literally).

  6. @fanciedscientist: yes, if they want the worst combination of the two, fidesz it is. they will soon see that the state in this system is there to rob the people blind to strengthen the elite (a certain, politically loyal elite)…you can continue this only for so long with a nationalistic sauce, but sooner or later people will see fidesz for what it is

  7. @fanciedsciences: last October in Parliament, deputy PM Navracsics had already said roughly the same thing.

    http://www.kormany.hu/en/ministry-of-public-administration-and-justice/news/deputy-prime-minister-tibor-navracsics-the-state-of-hungary-was-responsible-for-the-holocaust

    So now we have two seemingly competing stories, one in the Constitution / the projected memorial saying “Hungary lost its sovereignty on March 15., 1944” and another one saying the Hungarian State and State institutions were (also) responsible for acts that took place after that date. I put ‘also’ beetween brackets, for neither Navracsis last Fall nor Körösi yesterday did mention anything happening before March 1944…

  8. Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10) :
    So now we have two seemingly competing stories…..

    I guess that Orban got under pressure these day.He got few calls from US and Germany.

    “A planned statue in Budapest’s Szabadsag Square will not be part of the Holocaust 70th anniversary memorial year events but will stand as a memento of Hungary losing its sovereignty after the occupation by German troops, Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjen said on Friday”.

    http://www.politics.hu/20140124/deputy-pm-german-occupation-memorial-memento-to-hungary-losing-sovereignty/

  9. fanciedsciences :
    Hungary has for the first time in the United Nations taken responsibility for the role it played during the Holocaust, and apologised, Hungary’s UN ambassador Csaba Korosi said on Thursday local time.
    http://www.politics.hu/20140124/hungary-apologizes-for-role-in-holocaust-at-un-says-ambassador/

    That’s entirely unncecessary. The Hungarian government officially apologised 20 years ago. Not in the UN but I don’t think the location matters that much.

  10. Tyrker :

    That’s entirely unncecessary. The Hungarian government officially apologised 20 years ago. Not in the UN but I don’t think the location matters that much.

    (obviously) this is related to the present “occupation monument” scandal, it was necessary to repeat as a “damage control” measure

  11. Mr. Paul :

    Eva S. Balogh :
    Marijuana. It wasn’t I who mentioned it but Bencsik. Here his intention is to blacken the name of the American president as a man who promotes illicit drugs. Another attack on the United States.

    Yes what I was trying to say that it was really bizzare “in the link” of which I meant that Bencsik facebook that you linked. (First I didn’t find it but then I found it while typing) It jumps out of the Bencsik text immediately, a really strange addition. It is completely disconnected from the rest of the Bencsik text.

    Somehow its quite funny to hog on the grass, while you hardly find a 100% sober person there even in daytime, but even in the Hungarian Parliament…
    Remember, Terike hasn’t smoked weed, neither her loving spouse – well, I don’t know about the blind komondor, but still.
    In a country where you’re allowed to brew your own “pálinka” mentioning one of the mildest mind altering substances as the source of all the bad things, at least point to a questionable judgement.

  12. Did anyone met with this little gem, I guess it is all over the press in Hungary:

    http://www.origo.hu/itthon/20140124-mesterhazy-attilanak-szolo-nyilt-levelet-tett-kozze-a-magyar-polgari-egyuttmukodes-egyesulet.html?sec-1

    Paid by the organisers of the Peace March (CÖF) and signed by “prominent” right wing personalities, they ask (?) Chairman Mesterházy of MSZP to separate from Gyurcsány, because he is an amoral man, and anyway he ordered to shot at the “people”, and all that.

    What a bunch of stupid morons!
    Why?

    Because who ever listen to Bencsik and Co. will never ever vote for Gyurcsány anyway, at the first.
    Secondly, who were hesitating so far, if Gyurcsány should be in the gathering of the opposition at all, get the reinforcement: look, they so scared of him, that they even appeal to Mesterházy to leave him out, so we need him, if nothing else as a scarecrow, but we need him bad.

    So, ladies and gentlemen, the shining stars of the Peace March did it again!
    Made fools of themselves and even paid for it, to you to know!

    We should start to collect them some more money, and they will take care of the advertising needs of the opposition, happily ever after.
    Oh, my….

  13. Hungary for the millionth time tells in the UN (which is a large group of useless and wasteful bunch of people) the opposite, what it is teaching to its citizens. Honest people do not erect a Horthy statue, and a memorial for the German occupation, to commemorate the Holocaust!

  14. Istvan, right, it is true that all the supposedly liberals (ie. opposition to the authoritarian government) in Russia and in fact in China are very nationalistic/anti-American (I am less familiar with Ukraine but the country is very much under the same or similar control as Russia is), but don’t forget that in Ukraine as well as in Russia, opposition groups are specifically created and managed by the state to give an appearance, semblance of democracy and to control dissidents and divide them. This is a tactic known from the Okhrana times and has been much refined. All the current parties in the Russian parliament are controlled by Putin for example, their ‘competition’ during elections is a real show. I actually wonder if the Russians support Jobbik’s election by supplying adviseres? I would certainly be curious about their advisors.

  15. Ovidiu: case closed, Mazsihisz can now support the official Holocaust-year, statue will stand.

    It will stand forever because no opposition government or municipality, should they ever come to power, will dare to take it away. They will be so afraid to be liked, to look centrist, compromising.

    There was no way Orban would back down from building its own world — it rhymes with the lies in the preamble of the basic law, but that is what Fidesz is building.

    There was gonna be some smart solution, now there is.

  16. Tappanch, try not to rely on foreign smartasses (and if they are local Hungarians they have been purchased and infiltrated, after all they are foreign agents in the view of the Fidesz professionals), they have zero idea about what is going on in Hungary.

    They fly in on business class, look at the translated version of the statutes, have dinners at Costes with some ‘dissidents’ and then they will eventually say, well, the laws are actually similar to those in the UK or Germany, so everything is fine. The EU also rubber-stamped the changes, there is nothing special here. Meanwhile Mr. Martonyi and Mr. Balogh were actually pretty nice, they are not anti-semites, so that is good. Take away some points due to lack of consistently in the laws, too many contradictory applications. There you go.

    This result shows how clueless the foreign NGOs are about any country. Can you seriously believe that they have the foggiest of clues about Afganistan or Ukraine or Egypt, if they understand Hungary that much, when the case is so crystal clear?

  17. Yaerd :
    Ovidiu: case closed, Mazsihisz can now support the official Holocaust-year, statue will stand.

    Maybe, we haven’t heard yet from Mazsihisz.But if, as you suggest, they will now go along in exchange of this contrived apology at UN (?!) and a formal exclusion from a list of events then Orban has won.Not as much as he hoped but enough to qualify as a victory.
    The monument laying there big in the center of Budapest is a mega-statement which will be broadcast “loudly” every day from now on.

    Orban doesn’t seem to care, he is satisfied with his petty nationalism.In itself such an attitude is a provincial/parochial one, and one detrimental to Hungary.
    It is also not surprising.Cynically, one can say that Orban merely continues the Hungarian political “tradition” of ineptness in matters of foreign-policy.

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