Budapest Beacon’s interview with Eva S. Balogh

At the end of October I posted two interviews that the Budapest Beacon‘s Benjamin Novak conducted with Charles Gati and Miklós Haraszti. During the Budapest Beacon‘s staff visit to the United States, they also talked to me. We decided that the conversation would be conducted in Hungarian, to which English subtitles would subsequently be added. Now that the subtitling of that part of the interview which dealt with the history of Hungarian Spectrum is finished, here it is for everybody to see.


  1. Sigh. Havelaar. Best wishes and thanks Eva. Every morning I start my day looking up your blog. It is very important.

  2. Thanks for all you do, Eva. Hungarian Spectrum is an extraordinary accomplishment and a shining light into the increasing gloom of this country’s agonizing passage.

  3. Nagyon jo, a befejezes kulonosen frappans, de az egesz tortenet a magyar tortenelem fontos kis resze.


  4. Thank you. What was the name of your ‘forradalmi ujsag’ in ’56? Did any copies of it survive?

  5. Thanks, Eva!

    And of course: Thanks too to the people at Budapest Beacon for their efforts!

    PS and totally OT:

    What do you use that sewing machine for?

  6. @lumpy Lang, Október huszonharmadika. It was Miklós Gimes’s publication. Stenciled. An excellent book about Gimes is Révész Sándor, Egyetlen élet. In that book Révész did a good job about the story of this publication. Yes, some copies survived as far as I know.

    @Wolfi. The sewing machine. It is not used for much.

  7. I REALLY enjoyed your interview very much. Congratulations. You can count me in among those who have breakfast in your company, though sometimes I read you very late at night. Eight out of ten times, I also put your contributions on FB. Thank you for your work.

    Michael Shafir

  8. Now, this was a very onesided interview by the Budapest Beacon. The questions were ‘soft balls’, the answers were very misleading. .The HS’s sole preoccupation is Orban, an almost pathological fix by Eva on OV. Hardly a Spectrum.

  9. Along with all the others, I thank you and Budapest Beacon for this video. It clearly shows the energetic, lively and very engaged mistress of this blog! I also repost it on my FB page.
    With much gratitude.

  10. Thank you so much for this interview. You probably don’t know how much you mean for many of your readers. For me it is the daily encounter with reason in a confusing hungarian world. I don’t know how you do this day after day; you have to have some super genes and a lot of tenacity!
    I am so happy that you don’t do much sewing, thank you Wolfi for asking, seeing those sewing machines gave me an inferiority complex;-) “Where does she get the time?”
    Thank you again, dear Eva, for all you do for Hungary, may your work be blessed. With real admiration . . .

  11. I published some time ago and for a year weekly column in one Slovak newspaper, so I have to say that I really admire how you can keep your level, it must have been bloody work to write all this comments and as a regular reader I really appreciate your humanism and focus on the context and historical perspective. As a Marxist I can not agree with the way how you personify social processes and put your analyses in black and white context:) good luck and many more year!

  12. I very much enjoyed this and I appreciate the amount of work which is put into the writing of the articles. I will also take on board the point about “civilized” debate as there are times when I (or more often my partner’) think my use of certain terms when describing the regime has been inappropriate!

    I do despair sometimes about the level of apathy in Hungary, I genuinely believe we are a long way off a “tipping point” but Orban and his apologists on here seriously overestimate the genuine esteem in which he is held in by the population at large. He stays in power because the economist opportunists still believe he can deliver, the minute the oligarchs see him as a threat to their earning power, then he is toast. If (when?) he falls, it will be when he has believed in his own invincibility one time too many.

    The only thing which I think could improve Hungarian Spectrum is that it would be interesting to see more intellectual conservatives participating in the comments more. As my Hungarian improves, I am finding that there are some articles and comments on the likes of Mandiner which are a light universe away from the sheep-like adoration apparent in the mainstream pro-regime media.

  13. Dear Eva,

    I, too, follow your blog regularly. It is part of my search for what really counts at the moment, and I feel it often helps me. When a country is in such turmoil internationally as Hungary is now, criticism is direly needed and for me you are an inspiration, too, in many ways.

    At the risk of taking too much liberty, though, I would suggest more stress on culture and economics, as I also feel that your focus on politics is rather heavy at the moment.
    I say this because I know how difficult it is to let your criticism be heard, and land. In our contacts with friends in Hungary (respectable citizens and Fidesz supporters) we find that criticism only has a chance of landing when people hear other things from you, too, especially if you do not live in the country (we are Dutch and live in Hungary only a few months per year at the most – it’s visiting more than living, really)

    I am sure you will keep up your work and I hope my suggestion will reinforce the wight of it.

    Jan Hink

  14. Thank you Eva for everything!!!! I am so proud to be “member” of this blog for the last 5 or 6 years. I love so many of the regular commenters here. It is always such an eye-opener to come here. Thanks for all your work, and thank you for all who always come back to comment.

  15. I love the way you describe website where hungarians hate every other hungarians!:-) as a foreigner, when I mention that, people don’t always believe me:-) you website itself might be the reason why the Dear Leader wants to tax internet:-) Thank you for it!

  16. Congratulations for hungarian spectrum, which I read every day. I just don´t know how you hear Magyar Radió on the internet, I don´t manage that since last december. I cannot post a witty comment, but please continue with your blog.

  17. D7 Democrat:

    There are no Western-style conservative people in Hungary. This is a myth. Merkel or Cameron’s party is much more (even unbearably so for most) liberal, progressive, fair, pragmatist, capitalist than the dreaded SZDSZ ever was. The Republican party exists on a different planet entirely, the only common ground of Fidesz and the GOP was their hatred of post)communists, but now that Orban is best friends with Putin, I don’t know how this could be reconciled.The divide is not between conservatives and liberals.

    There are either people who support Orban’s (or Jobbik’s) quest against modernity and capitalism and there are his opponents who either do not vote, or vote for the divided opposition.

    Most fideszniks and most people in fact deeply fear the West and anything that comes from the West, however conservative, is immediately labeled “liberal” which is itself just a code for the quintessentially bad and foreign (aka the Jew). The West ruthlessly forces people to face their own inadequacy in this “new” world and naturally people don’t like that.

    People only associate capitalism, stress, unbearable competition, for Hungarians forever unattainable standards in everything, foreign bosses, foreign owned shops, gay rights, immigrants, letting islamic (brown looking) people into Europe, GMO etc. , in other words the collapse of their former or imagined world with the West. People also associate wealth with the West, but this is a truly ambivalent envy-hate relationship. It’s not the Western democratic, enlightement values which are admired but the fact that a German blue collar worker can afford an new Audi every 4-5 years.

    There are only Orban voter people at who are really just upset for Orban not at Orban. They want a somewhat more reasonable Orban, but just so he could remain in power. There’s a bit of a concern now that perhaps Orban lost his mojo (that he’s a dictator and autocrat is absolutely not part of any discourse on the right, he’s only unpopular with the West because he’s not as good at manipulating it as they believed) if you think that this is now a topic, this sole concern and worry, then I think this is nothing. I just don’t see any fundamentally critical approach on the right, anywhere. Orban is their true love, especially for the young Mandiner generation. When someones mourns a love it’s not about facing the fact that our object of love was not the real one, but about facing our own “stupidity” that we fell for him/her in the first place. This is an almost impossible task for this generation to realize that they were duped. Their identity builder was the hatred of Gyurcsany (the postcommunists and liberals) and the adoration of O, but they are out of ideas now. They got older, but they didn’t become any wiser. I have serious doubts about whether this Mandiner generation really has the intellectual power people attribute to them.

    By the way, many thanks for the blog, Eva.

  18. It’s very interesting to see and hear the person behind the blog I’ve been reading for a long while now, and to hear about how it originated.

    I was particularly interested in your account of the inception of the blog, and how the realisation that you were (at the time) uninformed about what was really going on here was what spurred you on to find out more and write about it. In some ways what you said about Hungary being very obscure to people outside the country at that time, with little good information available, is still true today; for brevity’s sake I’m not going to try to even open the can of worms which is the question whether this cause or consequence of other matters…

    But it’s inspiring to me, who started reading the blog in a similar position to you starting it – as a “beginner” – to hear this.

    I second D7 Democrat’s wish for more intelligent opposing views, though this blog may not be the place for them – where are they, in English? On that subject, interesting to hear that the “bolondház” tone of most Hungarian on-line political discussions is not a new phenomenon!

    Thank you for the constant flow of interesting articles!

  19. Tappanach, regard the deposit insurance monies, do you know whether this money has been applied (as deposit insurance) or otherwise spent by the agency, or has it been spent elsewhere altogether?

  20. Dear Eva, the Hungarian Spectrum archives are a true treasure to me – a very useful source of information. Your blog brings the Hungarian past alive, offers clues to the current concerns and covers the complexity of the way Hungary is moving forward (or should I say backward).
    Sincere gratitude and thanks for your enormous efforts.

  21. Dear Eva, I’ve learnt so much from you in the last six years. Reading your blog (and the comments) helped me to finally form my own opinion about the Orban Government and I sincerely thank you for opening my eyes. Wishing you all the very best for the future and apart from reading the views of the “other side”, I also look forward to the Hungarian Spectrum every morning.

  22. The laws of Fidesz (excerpts)

    “First Law.
    Every measure the government takes can be explained by a combination of

    gratuitous malice and

    There are no exceptions.
    If you can’t tell which, bet on theft.”

    “Fifth Law (the Law of Omerta).
    The three pillars of Fidesz governance are the

    Bolshevik-style exercise of power,
    Mafia-style conduct of business and
    incompetent public administration. ”

  23. It was a real treat to watch this (on the 97th anniversary of the Nagy Oktoberi Szovjet Forradalom ;-).

    Thanks a lot!

  24. Like many others here I really enjoyed this interview. Thank you for making it available, especially with English subtitles. I am sure that when future historians come to write the history of Hungary in the early part of the 21st century they will consult The Hungarian Spectrum to understand what went on.

    I was interested to hear your views on Orbán and whether it was a “decent” person back in 1988-89 compared to today. In my view has a moral weakness that has been exposed and strengthened by the corrupting nature of power. We all know Lord Acton’s dictum on this topic but never has it so clearly demonstrated in the case of Orbán. He is utterly corrupt – and I just don’t mean in a personal wealth sense but also in the sense he is destroying Hungary and all the things I am sure he once held dear.

  25. Proposal to be considered by a future government: Give Eva Balogh the Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Stephen of Hungary.

  26. I must be one of the oldest, that is to say the longest standing followers of the blog, since I was also one of the previous discussion group. And followed actively its progress. That was a very impressive progress indeed.
    I congratulate you on the interview, but even more, I thank you for keeping alive the spirit of intelligence and sober judgement. In Hungary there is ever less of both, so they must be imported. And it is imported from the Hungarian Spectrum, thanks to you, the best possible source.

  27. I also want to thank you for your blog which I read everyday. I also appreciate, as you say in the interview, that people who comment here do it in a civilised and constructive way, something many other sites about Hungary truly lack. Thank you again!

  28. Long ago, on a flight from Wash.D.C. to Europe, I sat beside a polish journalist. She had just
    attended one of the workshops organized by, I think, Brookings Inst. and financed by the US
    gov.for young “liberated” intellectuals. She told me there had been a hungarian in her group
    by the name of Orban. Since I knew the name, I asked about him. I don’t remember the whole
    report, but the gist stayed with me: He was highly intelligent. And he hardly ever attended
    regular activities, except when there were people of importance to meet.. – During his 1st
    government I got to see/meet him at the Embassy reception. MAja

  29. bumburnyak,
    It depends on our definition of “conservative”.

    In Hungary a conservative is essentially an anti-Semitic, racist, homophobic who sees no problem with the State controlling every aspect of the citizens’ life.

    Mine has a UK-bias, ie as limited state-control as possible, leave the market to decide what survives what is successful.

    These people do exist in Hungary, I wouldn’t claim that there is very many of them but they do exist, I know this because I have personally spoken and debated with them!

    I think you are harsh on some of the Mandiner crew- they are not all poodles.

  30. Thank you to let us in Eva!
    In my opinion you’ve done more for Hungarian democracy than a whole party – any party for that matter! Being a true HUMAN and a true Hungarian – in this order – is a rare commodity, and you have them both!
    Wish you many more thousands of articles – for all of the bright minded Hungarians sake!

  31. @Brian:

    Why do you trolls always link to the craziest of the crazy ones?

    I’ve commented on Ulfkotte before (maybe on – he became a Muslim once and now calls himself a reborn Christian …
    And his books are published by Kopp Verlag which is an (in)famous company publishing conspiracy theories and Neo-Nazi books. It’s resident not too far from where we live in Germany and in a way it’s funny how Kopp regularly appears in the local press … (sorry, available only in German or French)

    The typical misinformation by Ulfkotte and the other loonies:
    “Im Frühling 2011 verbreitete dort z.B. Udo Ulfkotte die These, dass die EHEC-Epidemie von orientalischen Erntehelfern ausgelöst worden sei, die gezielt ihre Fäkalien in Kontakt mit den geernteten Lebensmitteln bringen würden, um auf diese Weise einen „Fäkalien-Dschihad“ gegen die deutsche Verbraucher zu führen. Gerhard Wisnewski äußerte hingegen Überlegungen, ob Barack Obama homosexuell und seine Frau Michelle in Wahrheit transsexuell sei.”
    Sometimes it can be amusing to read that kind of trash – but in the long run …

  32. Eva – I enjoyed listening to the interview, great to hear some of the background to the blog.
    I am a long time reader of the blog, and first time commenter.
    Your blogging stamina is amazing.
    Thank you.
    P. O’Fee

  33. A good idea to let us see and hear from the person behind the blog. I can now tell my Herefordshire friend that you are definitely not American, or Canadian! I guess he thinks that anyone who writes so elegantly in English can’t be Hungarian! Of course, he doesn’t meet many Hungarians, other than teachers in Bács-Kiskun, so he only knows Hunglish-speaking orangists! Do you really think Orbán is a proto-Hitler? I would rather liken him to a younger Horthy Miklós, having recently read Domokós Szent-Iványi’s memoirs.

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