Hungary and Europe through Russian eyes

Today let’s look at some Russian responses to Viktor Orbán’s policies as well as Russian analyses of U.S.-Hungarian and U.S.-EU relations. It was about a month ago that Vladimir Putin profusely praised Orbán’s Hungary as Russia’s best friend and ally in Europe. A few days ago Hungary again came up on a Russian State Television program called “Bремя покажет” (Time will tell) when a political scientist, Yuri Solozobov, an associate of the National Strategy Institute of the Russian Federation, explained to his audience that, instead of employing sanctions against the European Union, Russia should use some of its member countries to loosen the unity of the Union. After all, Russia already has allies in Eastern Europe: Hungary and Serbia. If there is no consensus regarding sanctions against Russia, the entire anti-Russian policy of the West will collapse. The video below is a three-minute segment on Hungary with English subtitles.

Solozobov is not the only Russian political scientist who contemplates using Hungary as a tool in Russian diplomacy. Pravda interviewed two other political analysts in the aftermath of Viktor Orbán’s announcement that “a new era has started when the United States not only interferes but takes an active part in internal politics in central European countries,” adding that this was “due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and the free trade talks under way between the European Union and the U.S.” Finalizing the free trade agreement, officially called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), has been dragging on for a very long time and the issues are too complex to discuss here, but promoters claim that it would promote economic growth. Opponents in Europe insist that it would benefit only American corporations and would cause harm to the environment by adopting less stringent measures than those currently in force in Europe. Just the other day farmers and trade unions demonstrated in Brussels against the treaty.

The first political scientist to comment on Hungary’s economic and political dependence on the United States and the European Union was Vladimir Bruter, an expert from the International Institute of Humanitarian and Political Studies. He has written several studies for an English-language publication available online called Russia in Global Affairs, a quarterly produced with the participation of the American journal Foreign Affairs. In Bruter’s estimation Hungary depends on the U.S. both economically and politically, and the U.S. “has effective tools to create a conflict within a country that may result in [the] overthrow of power at the U.S.’s bidding.” Bruter is against the adoption of the free trade agreement because in his opinion it will merely serve U.S. interests. If adopted, “the actual independence of the European economy will simply cease to exist.” And this is especially dangerous for small countries like Hungary. American policy is “unacceptable for Central Europe.”

The other analyst who was questioned on Hungary was Aleksey Drynochkin, lead research scientist at the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences. He stressed that American political pressure on Hungary has been relentless. First, there were the accusations of a lack of democracy, now it is “corruption.” Surely, this is a cover story just as Viktor Orbán said. Drynochkin agrees with Orbán: the demonstrations are also the work of the United States. And he foresees the possibility that “some technical regulations on [the] operation of nuclear stations within the European Union may be toughened,” presumably undermining the enlargement of the Paks nuclear power plant by the Russian firm Rossatom.

As for the free trade agreement, according to Drynochkin “in terms of a bare economic theory, this project is likely to have no problems.” But there is a political aspect to it, and  it “is possible that [the] Americans are pursuing their own goal–to completely finish off Europe,” I guess economically. But what the U.S. would achieve by “finishing off Europe” remains a mystery. In his opinion, in political terms the European Union will be less and less independent and “will be more and more the conductor of some foreign actions and intentions.” What Drynochkin and other Russian analysts fail to see is that it was Russian aggression against Ukraine that brought the European Union and the United States closer together. Moreover, it is possible that Vladimir Putin’s belligerence will be the catalyst for a speedier adoption of the EU-U.S. free trade agreement.

But Russian strategists are correct: trying to undermine the cohesion of the European Union is a great deal less costly and risky than settling for a long trade war and a series of sanctions. Trying to torpedo the free-trade agreement is also in Russia’s interest. But why does Hungary support the Russian position in these matters? What does Hungary gain from standing by Russia? I find the Hungarian government’s position hard to explain.

And why does the editorial board of Magyar Nemzet believe it necessary to turn up the volume, accusing the United States of creating a Hungarian Maidan in Budapest? The title itself is outrageous: “Kievan scenario with Western producer?” Or why does Zsolt Bayer, a friend of Viktor Orbán and the owner of the #5 Fidesz membership card, write about “the many American scoundrels (gazember)” who are responsible for the Maidan uprising?  He says that the Americans achieved what they wanted. They will privatize the gas pipelines and will take over the rich land of the country. In brief, they will exploit Ukraine.

Hungary has a bad track record when it comes to picking sides in conflicts. And such governmental decisions have always come at a high cost to the country. “This time is different,” governments say, but it’s almost never different.

101 comments

  1. @Voice of russia: Yeah, Russia doesn’t spy on its allies, and their humanitarian record with North Caucasians is stellar.

    What is ‘lobby ally’? At first I thought you meant ‘Lobby Alley’, and that it was a nickname for K Street in Washington.

    PS: It seems the quality of trolls is getting lower every day. I almost miss Louis Kovach, at times.

  2. @voice of treason

    You mean we should pay attention to such details too before we make up our minds that how many percent it may worth and to whom, “CIA listening in on the private mobile conversations” versus having KGB plant in their government?

    “Or about lobby ally” versus a whole government has been bought off?

    “Or Guantanamo Bay” – what we know on the open of versus facilities of similar purpose i Siberia what we don’t?

    So, what happens, in your opinion, if we will compare and calculate all these values and coming to light grey versus dark grey?

    Say, the Russians “only” 78% bad, while the US “only” 65% good?

    What difference would it make, according your “reasoning”?

  3. The KGB is getting desperate, sending trolls en masse …
    Their primitive anti-Americanism is astounding – if they had read more here, they’d know that the people on this site are not blind fans of Bush or Obama – and there are differences in opinion too.
    Re Hungarians and Russia:
    We visited our neighbours over Xmas and even these villagers (not real intellectuals, but also not stupid) were not really happy with the way Fidesz is governing – too much friendship with Russia doesn’t go down well with them!
    A bit OT:

    All of them had heard/read about those Fidesz mafiosi like Lázár etc flaunting their ill earned millions and were really angry …

  4. Paul from Canada, please change your nickname for something else. We have a very old commenter on this list with the name Paul from Great Britain. Your ideas about the world are very different that could confuse people. We can’t have two Pauls.

  5. Sorry guys, I realise that there is not room on this site for people who do not agree with the views of everyone else. Those of you who have seen my posts on other sites such as politics hu will know that I am certainly not an Orban troll, but I have received more abuse on this site than I ever did from Leto on politics hu.

    Enjoy making each other more and more angry about Hungary and Russia, and don’t for one minute entertain the ridiculous view that the US’s intentions are anything but altruistic.

  6. Istvan,

    You wrote: “They did not agree with the idea that the U.S. organized these protests, as they generally put it there is more than enough to complain about in Hungary and the CIA doesn’t need to ferment discord.”

    Well put, much more succinctly than I have lately.

  7. Marcel Dé,

    You wrote: “Russian ethno-nationalism is looking for puppets in the region, in or out of the EU.”

    Perhaps you are correct, but would Russia really be willing to pay as much as it would take to keep Orbán on his side, once we’re not in the EU? I doubt it, especially since, right now and for the foreseeable future, Putin doesn’t have a lot of spare cash. Serbia is a different situation, since they have been pro-Russian for a long time now, without needing to get paid. Hungarians, however, are fair-weather friends in this regard, and will find other patrons if Russia isn’t willing to provide enough cash. The problem, of course, is that there aren’t that many countries with extra cash willing to give it to Hungary, which has become apparent since the “Eastern Opening” began. If only we had more ax-murderers to trade for cash and oil! When we get kicked out of the EU, we won’t even be able to sell our residency permits anymore.

  8. Paul Angyal,

    You wrote: “One shouldn’t be forced to ‘choose’”.

    Yes, I agree, but that’s the way the world works. Also, by supporting Russia in any way, even rhetorically, you’re making a choice, and that choice is for oppression and war, and against democracy. Remember, the Russian-backed Donetsk rebels took up arms first, and began murdering and torturing their opponents immediately. What would Hungary or Russia do if there were a rebellious province taking up arms and murdering legitimate mayors in that province? We don’t need to speculate about Russia, since we have Chechnya to be our guide.

    You also wrote: “Is it so completely unfathomable for you that a country, as small, as Hungary should maintain good and mutually beneficial relations with more, than one large power block?”

    Yes, I’d like to have my cake and eat it, too, but that’s not how things work. If you are on good relations with one side in a war, you have to expect to be treated as hostile by the other side, that’s just how it works in the real world. As you know, according to Kövér, we are at war. If we wanted to truly be neutral, then we should leave the EU. That’s how Switzerland does it. You don’t seem to understand world politics at all.

  9. Paul Angyal,

    You wrote: “If the Hungarian population doesn’t like Fidesz, they can throw them out at the next election. It is that simple. Convincing them that this is the correct step however is up to Hungarians and outsiders, like the Yanks should just butt out.
    Trouble is, that there is no reasonable alternative, as the opposition both on the right and the left is fragmented.”

    Ah, if only that were true! Unfortunately, as long as Fidesz as absolute power over the media, the electoral system and its rules, and all levers of power, they will be able to stay in government long after they are no longer popular. If you try to argue with me on this point, please start with an explanation as to how it’s possible to get a 2/3 majority in parliament with only 44% of the vote. Most Hungarians who bothered to vote chose to reject Fidesz, yet they get to continue to change the constitution at will, as well as the electoral rule (which they changed right before the local elections, in order to ensure that they could not possibly lose). Anything you have to say after this is just trolling, as far as I’m concerned.

  10. Voice of Reason,

    You wrote: “When Yanukovic was discussing joining the EU, Putin was not happy, but did suggest that Ukraine should be allowed to continue its close relations with Russia as a member of the EU and perhaps the Eurasian Union at the same time. The EU said no.”

    That’s actually the opposite of what transpired, according to everything I’ve read (though I don’t speak Russian, so maybe that’s where you get your information). I personally know Ukrainians, and they are a separate country now, regardless of what transpired 700 years ago. If everyone thought like you do (and Putin), then the UK should be telling France to give Normandy back, which is where the modern nation of England began. I could go on and on, but your argument is too weak to compel me to do so.

    As far as the problems with the Orange Revolution’s aftermath, it would not take too much imagination to see the evil hand of Putin behind the problems in Ukraine. He unmasked his ability and desire to interfere in the affairs of sovereign states when he broke Russia’s agreement to respect Ukraine’s borders (the agreement that was a result of Ukraine giving up its nuclear weapons, without which it is apparently helpless against Russian aggression).

    Go ahead, listen to Russia and what they want. You will hear them say that they want to bully the whole world again, like they did in the Cold War, but they will gladly start with the countries closest to them. Don’t forget Chechnya, and the ethnic cleansing they supported in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

    If you can’t respond to the criticism here with reason and arguments, then you didn’t really have a valid point to begin with, no?

    Perhaps this blog is too strenuous for you, and you should try blogs followed by less informed and intelligent commenters. We do engage in discussions with those who offer quality arguments, but you apparently aren’t one of those people.

  11. this electoral system is almost the same, as the Canadian one. Here, we only vote for individuals, no parties and no lists. There is a so-called “first past the post” vote count, which gives the leading candidate a win, even if he/she was elected by one extra vote.
    The current government has a majority in parliament, with only about 41% of the votes and virtually rules by decree. Furthermore, the PM can simply suspend parliament (“prorogue” it is called) if things don’t go his way. The opposition is absolutly toothless.

  12. One name: Kosovo. Except there the central government was the enemy. In Ukraine the “rebels” are the bad guys.
    Don’t be naive: it is and has never been about Ukraine, it was always about Russia’s “containment”.

  13. Sinners, liers.
    Russia and Hungary were governed by rotten, lying, cheating, oppressing regimes for between the world wars and after.
    The post communist times have not brought relief.
    These nations remained hostages of the old guard, sets of colorful oppressors.
    These nations did lived like prisoners.
    These nations will not be liberated from their evil leaders for a long time.

  14. Nothing can illustrate better the catastrophic failure and hopeless backwardness of Hungary than the fact that twenty five years after the regime change, Hungary has become an illiberal democracy that yearns for the embrace of the Russian bear (once again!). Instead of looking in the mirror, recognizing what needs to be fixed, then systematically fixing it, if need be over a generation or two (or three).

    But that is never going to happen, because the mentality of most Hungarians simply blocks any movement in a positive direction. Hungarian politics and politicians are faithful reflections of this mentality and the political will that drives it. As such, they are merely the symptom, not the disease. Hungarians are simply unable to see themselves as others see them and do something about it.

    And that same mentality also ensured the inevitability of myriads of lost opportunities to build a decent and prosperous society over the past quarter century, and a lost generation of people who are not just wondering in the wilderness, but will assuredly continue to go around in circles in that same wilderness for generations to come.

    America is not perfect by any means. It can be an obtuse behemoth and do stupid things from time to time. But the American ideal, most of what America is about, is still the shining beacon on the hill for most of humanity. Most people in the world would give a year of their life just to be able to swim to America, and once there, to become proud Americans.

    And it can be just about guaranteed that if America wasn’t an ocean away from Europe, then the best and most enterprising among the millions of Arabs, Black Africans and Central Asians trying to get into Europe, would instead vigorously head for and try enter the States by hook or by crook, just like the Hispanics, instead of staying in Europe to live on dole.

    Given the supposed attractions of the “Eastern Opening”, it is therefore a mite strange, isn’t it, that there don’t seem to be millions of people around the world aspiring to immigrate to Russia or Hungary or Turkey to better their lives and fulfill their dreams?

    That is the essence of the catastrophic failure, hopeless backwardness and delusional humbug of Hungary in attempting to manufacture an enemy and scapegoat out of the United States of America.

  15. Small correction:

    Hungarian politics and politicians are faithful reflections of this mentality and the political will that it drives.

  16. Another small correction:

    Nothing can illustrate better the catastrophic failure and hopeless backwardness of Hungary than the fact that twenty five years after the regime change, Hungary has become an illiberal democracy and fully-fledged kleptocracy that yearns for the embrace of the Russian bear (once more!).

    Apologies.

  17. Mike Balint is a passionate, smart, eloquent new contributor of this blog.

    I am greeting him from my heart.

    He should be welcomed by all similarly thinking reader. I would like see a proportionally measured enthusiastic appreciation for his efforts.

    Isten Aldjon Kozottunk, Mike! God Bless, Mike!

  18. @d’magyar

    Köszönöm szépen D’magyar úr kedves, jól eső szavait.

    A legjobbakat kívánva Önnek is,

    Mike

  19. Mike Balint, thanks.

    I am wholeheartedly agreeing with you.

    I have seen Hungary in my first 25 years of my life. It was not pretty. Life in Budapest was hard, but I managed to finish college. The social milieu was so bad. Ordinary people acted strangely. To survive, it was best to give up any moral. The result was depressing, and I left with light heart.

    The last 25 years, I have spent in USA. What an uplifting experience it was. It is good to live in a free country, where ordinary citizens try to be nice to each other.

    Why is it impossible in Hungary?

  20. Mike Balint,

    Sorry to once again do this, but I totally disagree with your assessment of Hungary as “hopelessly backwards”.

    If you would do a little research, you would see that Hungary is actually par for the course among former communist countries. The twin blows of an inept government and a global financial crisis have caused Hungarians to be understandably disenchanted with democracy and capitalism. After the change of the system in 1989, there was a painful, wrenching transition period, which was the opposite of what most Hungarians had been led to believe would happen. Democracy and capitalism remained in place, however, which shows that Hungarians are willing to put up with a lot to get to the promised land.

    In many of Hungary’s neighboring countries, however, there was not as inept and corrupt bunch of former communists as in Hungary, yet they have reacted in the same way as Hungarians. Look into the current leadership of Slovakia and Romania, and you will see similar contempt for the rule of law, the will of the people, and the protection of minority rights. Slota and Fico are less tyrannical then Orbán, but they were not as gifted at fooling people, in my opinion, and did not have an Öszöd speech handed to them. Meanwhile, in Poland there will soon be a government run by a Kaczynski, again (will they never learn?), while in the Czech Republic, Vaclav Klaus besmirched the office of president for 10 years, until last year.

    Also, Hungary is not the only country in the region running back to the cold embrace of Russia. Slovakia and the Czech Republic are also considered to be more sympathetic to Russia’s interests in the current standoff than to the EU’s, despite having vastly more economic links to the EU than to Russia. Bulgaria would’ve gladly continued to build South Stream, and is also considered to be a relatively pro-Russian country. Russia have been busy, and their oil money has bought a lot of fair-weather friends.

    Therefore, Hungary is just a slightly more extreme version of the rest of the former Warsaw Pact countries, and your insistence that it is somehow genetically inferior to others who have been through similar circumstances is almost certainly based on your lack of understanding of the broader region.

  21. detox should eliminate the old and new crooks.

    liberation must be accomplished.

    fidesz/jobbik are not qualified for the job.

    find decent Hungarian lawyers, sociologists, historians to finish the transition to freedom.

    the inept Hungarians do not need to apply.

    googly can help us to get out of this mess. please be assured that we understand the problems.

  22. @googly

    Three points:

    1.
    Where have I “insisted” that Hungary/Hungarians are “somehow genetically inferior to others”? You do have a marked propensity to put words in my mouth.

    2.
    I was talking about Hungary and not its fellow East Europeans. If I did talk about the other East Europeans, you would have found that I was an “equal opportunity” critic of the entire backward region, albeit I do hold that Hungary/Hungarians are (currently) even more screwed up than most of the rest.

    3.
    Anyway, comparisons are odious. Yes, there can always be some feeble pretexts for excusing or even justifying hopeless failure. Starting with Móricka explaining the reasons for the shortcomings in his term report from school, and ending with trying to justify the failure of Hungary/Hungarians to create at least the beginnings of a decent and prosperous society in the quarter century since the regime change. The excuses are pathetic and do not wash.

  23. Over and over and over and… again: anti-Hungarism is one of the most devastating sickness of historically liable Western mass-societies; a rare pathological disorder: there is no end to it?

  24. @d’magyar

    “I have seen Hungary in my first 25 years of my life. It was not pretty. Life in Budapest was hard, but I managed to finish college. The social milieu was so bad. Ordinary people acted strangely. To survive, it was best to give up any moral. The result was depressing, and I left with light heart.

    The last 25 years, I have spent in USA. What an uplifting experience it was. It is good to live in a free country, where ordinary citizens try to be nice to each other.”

    ——————————————————————————————————————————–

    I know exactly what you mean.

    My memories of Hungary are mainly bad. I was fourteen when ran away from Hungary in 1956 as an unaccompanied minor. It was like escaping from a darkly oppressive lunatic asylum.

    The place was suffused with mindless suspicion, hatred, ill will, “secrets” and malevolence. There were many people who would smile in your face, but stick a knife in your back at the first opportunity. I had bad “káder”, looked “Jewish” and was subjected to incessant antisemitic bullying. The fact that I was registered as a Catholic, due to my parents having converted some years before the Jew Laws got enacted, meant absolutely nothing of course.

    It was with the relief of a drowning person finally being able to gulp in some fresh air that I stepped on the soil of Austria on November 12, 1956. Then, arriving and settling in Australia, I found Australians to be absolutely wonderful people, wholeheartedly welcoming and accepting me as one of their own, making me feel like the little ugly duckling that finally found out that he was a swan.

    Visits to Hungary in 1975 and 2003 have not changed my opinion of the place one whit. On the contrary, what I found there in 2003 merely confirmed and reinforced it. Today I don’t consider myself Hungarian at all, but simply a descendant of Moravian and Galician Jews who wandered into Hungary in the late eighteenth century. As a consequence, I happened to have been born in Hungary and into the Hungarian language, though only because my forebears were not smart enough to leave for America in good time.

  25. Goulash capitalism, goulash nobilities, goulash communism, goulash fascism….

    We are back to the oldest defense.
    We are attacked by those nasty anti-hungarians with the help of those like the Senator McCain.

    Many good Hungarians are delusional.
    They are in deep denial.
    They are also liars, when they say that the Hungary of the Prohaszka, Sztojay, Horthy, Szalasi, Orban, Vona, is an innocent nation.

    These good Hungarians are the problem, and they prevent the real liberation.

    googly seems to be insider, and must explain to our friends where they fail themselves and us.

    they do not believe to Mike, Petofi, or me.

  26. Apropó – így volt, így van és mindig így is lesz Magyarországon a zsidó etnikumhoz tartozó emberek számára:

    http://nepszava.com/2014/12/velemeny/kertesz-akos-a-holokausztot-tulelt-zsidok.html

    … éspedig pontosan.

    That is why it is not very advisable for ethnic Jews to stay on in Hungary. If they do, they inevitably expose themselves to incessant hurt and disappointment to the end of times.

    For an ex-Hungarian ethnic Jew like myself, Hungary can at most be an interesting place to visit for a few days for some great food and re-familiarization with an interesting culture.

    What remains of value is Ady, Kosztolányi, Radnóti and Antal Szerb.

    But that is all.

  27. @Mike Balint “What remains of value is Ady, Kosztolányi, Radnóti and Antal Szerb.”
    All those people did their best work in worse times than these. Heads up! Ignore the idiots! These bad times will end, and you are and will still be Hungarian, in part because you know who those people are and what they achieved. You show that you are Hungarian by reading this blog, and reacting to it. You’re stuck being Hungarian, and there’s nothing you can do about it. If you find that a bit sour (as my aunt says) just make lemonade! It ain’t so bad.

  28. @Webber

    Your comment is fascinating.

    You might consider me a Hungarian, but most others in Hungary would consider me a Jew, who by definition could not possibly be a “true” Hungarian.

    As a Jew, I am of course automatically excluded from the “sacred body” of the Hungarian Nation, unless I happened to have became world-famous for one reason or another.

    In that case, the “sacred body” of the Hungarian Nation would instantly attempt to lay a claim to me as a long lost compatriot in foreign lands (idegenbe szakadt hazánkfia) – without of course any consideration of what I might think about that – whilst doing its best to muddy the fact that the person concerned was a Jew. And of course quietly hating that fact.

    Well, let me tell you that amusing oneself with reading this blog and reacting to it, or enjoying some Hungarian poetry and literature does not a Hungarian make.

    Ethnic Jew into Hungarian is like trying to square the circle – fából vaskarika.

    Yes, I understand Hungarian and follow the events in Hungary on the internet. So what? I also understand Hebrew, enjoy Modern Hebrew literature, and follow the events in Israel on the internet. That does not make me an Israeli any more than the former makes me a Hungarian.

    I left Israel too after ten years, army, university, and marrying a kibbutz girl, because I found the mentality there increasingly alien and some of the carryings on totally unacceptable. For me, at least, totally unacceptable.

    I am a non-observant, non-religious ethnic Jew, a descendant of Jews from Moravia and Galicia who happened to wander down into Hungary in the late eighteenth century. I therefore happened to have been born there and into the Hungarian language. Nothing I can do about that or wish to do about it, even if I could.

    But I always found Hungarian mentality totally alien and repellent, and chose to leave the place as quickly as I could. I was finally able to escape from there as an unaccompanied minor in 1956. Fourteen years old I was then, and it was by far the best move I made in my whole life.

    I chose to settle in Australia fifty seven years ago, learned English and made a success of my life here both as a businessman and an academic, whilst doing my best to avoid the company of both Jews and Hungarians. The Anglo-Saxons do me just fine.

    If after having read all of the above, you still think I am a Hungarian whether I like it or not, well, you are of course perfectly entitled to your opinion. Who am I to argue?

    :-))

  29. Can Hungarians clean up the past?

    The horthy/szalasi regimes persecuted only the innocent.

    All of their victims were decent people. Political prisoners.

    Anti-Hungarians are united in this view.

    The rakosi-gero-kadar regimes persecuted people who were often war criminals, but a significant number of their victims were totally innocent, and their only crime was their names or views.

    the fiercely anti-communist hungarians are blind and biased, they readily honor all hungarian anti-communists, despite of their war crimes.

    this has led to the current mess, to vote for a nominally fidesz/jobbik, anti-communist, pro-horthy tyrannic regime.

  30. @Mike Balint – Oddly though, two of the people on your list of great Hungarians were also Jewish (as you know). Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe both of them considered themselves Hungarian to the (awful) end, even though they were persecuted by some other Hungarians for being Jewish.
    If you choose not to be Hungarian, people should accept that, I guess.
    But still, two questions bother me: Can you truly make that choice? Conversely, could you possibly make the other choice – not to be Jewish? I don’t see how one could do away with one’s past identities, even if they seem (to some) to be mutually exclusive. If you see how it can be done, more power to you.

  31. Radnoti and Szerb became the victims of Sandor Sik, a priest, and another convert from Judaism.

    One of our cousins was married to Szerb. Szerb was beaten to death in January 1945, at the age of 43.

    Radnoti suffered a similar fate. Radnóti admired his former professor of literature, the Piarist priest Sándor Sík.
    He was buried in a mass grave near the village of Abda.
    His slightly senile widow just died. She was a convert, too, and a pretty rabid antisemite.

    These cases should be studied by many to avoid past myths and errors.

    This message was not intended to be anti-hungarian.

  32. d’magyar – That’s exactly what I meant, but I don’t know why you say they were “victims” of Sandor Sik. Though he survived the war, I seem to remember that he too had to hide from the Arrow-Cross.

  33. d’magyar – when was Radnoti’s wife ever an anti-semite? I’m reading her diaries now, and see no sign of anti-semitism (still in the first vol.).

  34. Mike Balint,

    You wrote: “Where have I ‘insisted’ that Hungary/Hungarians are “somehow genetically inferior to others”? You do have a marked propensity to put words in my mouth.”

    I wasn’t putting words into your mouth, I was summarising your comments. It’s quite clear that is how you feel. If you don’t want people to think that is how you feel, please contradict me (I notice you didn’t take the opportunity here to do so), and stop writing things that can be construed that way.

    You also wrote: “I was talking about Hungary and not its fellow East Europeans”

    I can clearly see that. I, however, am showing you that Hungaians are not different in this regard from others in the region. If you criticise Hungarian society, you should do so fairly, and provide context. Your failure to do so seems to reveal a bias, which becomes even clearer when viewed alongside many of your other comments.

    You also wrote: “Anyway, comparisons are odious. Yes, there can always be some feeble pretexts for excusing or even justifying hopeless failure.”

    Ah, so every nation is an island, and everything that happens to a small country like Hungary is our fault alone. Interesting thesis, but I know quite a few experts in the field who would disagree with you.

    You also wrote: “…the failure of Hungary/Hungarians to create at least the beginnings of a decent and prosperous society in the quarter century since the regime change.”

    Comments like this from you make it clear that you haven’t paid attention to anything I’ve written, and that you really don’t know anything about Hungary. If you did, you would remember that there was a very vibrant democracy growing here until about 2008, and that Hungarian GDP and the standard of living for most Hungarians was dramatically improving until the global financial crisis. Your anger towards Hungarians (though understandable) seems to have blinded you to any information that may contradict your incredibly negative and unfair view of Hungary and Hungarians. I do pity you for this, but I will have to continue to point out your biases and mistakes when you post here. Hopefully some of what I write will eventually sink in.

  35. @Gabor Dalmand – “anti-Hungarism is one of the most devastating sickness of historically liable Western mass-societies”… WHAT are you going on about?? Most Westerners couldn’t find Hungary on a map if you asked them, much less tell you what an average Hungarian is like. They have no opinion whatsoever. In 1938 Neville Chamberlain said of Czechoslovakia “a far away country between people of whom we know nothing.” The same could be said by an American or British politician about Hungary even today.
    If you don’t know what it is, you can’t hate it. The idea that there is latent anti-Hungarianism in Western societies is one of the most ridiculous I’ve ever heard.

  36. “How horrible, fantastic, incredible it is that we should be digging trenches and trying on gas-masks here because of a quarrel in a far away country between people of whom we know nothing.” Neville Chamberlain in a radio broadcast on 27 Sept. 1938.

  37. Radnotine showed an incredible hatred by warning all Jewish magazines to refrain from publishing Radnoti poems.

  38. googly, it is noble effort to nurture the reputation of Hungary, while it is good to listen to our statements. let us keep the dialog open.

  39. “Radnotine showed an incredible hatred by warning all Jewish magazines to refrain from publishing Radnoti poems”

    – Would you mind to elaborate a bit?
    When, toward whom, what/which and why?

    While your information sounds interesting to say the least, its far from complete, at any event!
    So…

  40. @Googly

    Vibrant democracy in Hungary until 2008? Don’t make me laugh.

    With robber privatization stealing the country blind, with totally irresponsible populist promises followed by Öszöd, with Orbán taking politics out of the parliament into the streets with the aid of football hooligans (because the Fatherland can never be in parliamentary opposition), with Jobbik and an avalanche of antisemitic and anti-gypsy hate speech and hate actions getting out of hand, with private Nazi-style armies marching up and down the land, with a scandal a day exploding in the face of MSZP and SZDSZ politicians, with the prospects of creating a decent and prosperous Hungary receding by the day? Etc., etc., etc.

    Seems that in its fragility and instability, the Hungarian situation before 2008 was more like the Weimar Republic than some vibrant democracy. The Global Financial Crisis simply gave the final push to a precarious situation already teetering on the edge.

    Anyway, I am done with pointlessly debating this with you, and it matters not a whit to me how you choose to interpret what I write.

  41. @Webber

    “Oddly though, two of the people on your list of great Hungarians were also Jewish (as you know). Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe both of them considered themselves Hungarian to the (awful) end, even though they were persecuted by some other Hungarians for being Jewish.”

    ——————————————————————————————————————————–

    Yes, I am aware of this, of course. The problem with Hungarian Jews is that they became delusional after the Jewish Emancipation in 1867. They came to regard themselves as “true” Hungarians because the Hungarian authorities registered them as Hungarians to boost Hungarian numbers to at least half the population in the Kingdom of Hungary within the Dual Monarchy. Hungarian Jews got comfortable with this, refused to recognize that they were never really accepted – not as Hungarians of the Mosaic Faith and not even as converts to Christianity (as Radnóti and Szerb were) – and most importantly they refused to recognize that Trianon was a game changer, their usefulness to the Hungarians was over, and it was time to move on. The end result of the Jewish delusions about Hungary was the mass murder of three quarters of the then Hungarian Jewry, or almost six hundred thousand men, women and children, in the Hungarian Holocaust.

    Despite that, the delusions about Hungary of many of the survivors of the Holocaust then continued with socialism and communism as their supposed new road to salvation, i.e. to full acceptance as members of the “true Hungarian Nation”. After that road ignominiously failed too, in 1989, the remnant ethnic Jews in Hungary (who would of course never regard themselves as such!), and among them the handful of observant Jews, became left-liberals and saw their salvation, i.e. the road to full acceptance as members of the “true Hungarian Nation”, in a liberal democratic Hungary – the only fly in the ointment being that liberal democracy and Hungary are a contradiction in terms.

    So what we have is the remnant ethnic and handful of observant Jews in Hungary even today grasping at any and every straw to justify staying on in Hungary. Which is of course pathetic, and also futile, like trying to square the circle. I say to Hungarian Jews that they best leave Hungary to the Hungarians, and be done with it. Then make a good and happy life for themselves in one of the Anglo-Saxon countries of immigration overseas (or in Israel, for that matter, if Zionism is their thing), where they would be welcome with open arms.

    ——————————————————————————————————————————–

    “If you choose not to be Hungarian, people should accept that, I guess.
    But still, two questions bother me: Can you truly make that choice? Conversely, could you possibly make the other choice – not to be Jewish? I don’t see how one could do away with one’s past identities, even if they seem (to some) to be mutually exclusive. If you see how it can be done, more power to you.”

    ——————————————————————————————————————————–

    You are absolutely right. A Jew cannot be not Jewish, because Jewishness is first and foremost a matter of descent. Despite pretenses to the contrary by many Jews. Just like a black African cannot choose to be not a black African. Hungarianness is however a different dynamic. Naturally, as person born in Hungary and into the Hungarian language, I cannot unmake this fact. Just as I cannot unmake the fact that I was born of Jewish parents. And anyway, why would I want to unmake them, instead of making the best of it?

    Ultimately it boils down to values and value systems. Jewish values and the Jewish value system is very close to me whilst Hungarian values and the Hungarian value system is mostly very distant and alien. Anglo-Saxon values and the Anglo-Saxon, particularly the American value system is however extremely close to Jewish values and the Jewish value system. I therefore feel very comfortable in the Anglo-Saxon ambit.

    I pick and choose to retain Ady, Kosztolányi, Radnóti, Márai, Szerb, etc. purely for aesthetic reasons, for their value as literature, and not because they happen to be Hungarian. With this, I am the end of the line, because no one else understands Hungarian in my Australian family, and the grand-kids wouldn’t know from Adam either Hungarians or Jews. And to my lights, this is the way it should be, because why carry the baggage of being a Hungarian or being a Jew, if one doesn’t have to? And they, thank goodness, certainly don’t have to. Of course, were they ever to show the slightest bit of interest in Hungarians and/or Jews, I shall be happy to oblige with explanations. Otherwise we move on, and leave all that baggage behind.

    :-))

  42. @Webber

    So yes, my chosen identity is: “Ethnic Jew, Australian citizen”, as supplemented by being a libertarian devotee of the Anglo-Saxon liberal democratic value system and being fluent in Hungarian and Hebrew too, in addition to English.

    Simple! 😊

  43. @Webber

    One last point.

    Leaving the baggage behind is not just possible, but easy and straightforward in Australia or America.

    Leaving the baggage behind is not just difficult, but impossible in Hungary (or in Israel, for that matter).

  44. @d’Magyar – I’ve checked. Sik was lucky to survive the war. He was in no way responsible for and was horrified by what happened to his former students, Radnoti and Szerb, and to all murdered Jews.
    As to Radnoti’s wife – asking magazines not to publish his work is not at all a big deal. It proves nothing. The charge of antisemitism is too serious to be made lightly. If you have no more than that, I think you should change your views.

  45. Mike Balint,

    You wrote: “Seems that in its fragility and instability, the Hungarian situation before 2008 was more like the Weimar Republic than some vibrant democracy. The Global Financial Crisis simply gave the final push to a precarious situation already teetering on the edge.”

    The Weimar Republic was a vibrant, fledgling democracy, and, as I pointed out to you, Hungary was no different than its neighbors in all the ways that you described it. How long did Australia take to become a vibrant democracy, and do you really pretend that there have been no hiccups in Australian democracy recently? I guess you don’t remember the ones I pointed out to you before, but I only have to direct you to the montage that you can find on the web when you google “John Oliver Tony Abbot”.

    My point is that I never said we had achieved a perfect democracy, but after only 18 years, we were doing okay, well on our way, despite the fact that Orbán had been undermining that democracy for years. Had the global financial crisis not happened, or had Fidesz been in charge at the time, things here would definitely be better, democracy-wise. For you to say otherwise only shows your ignorance of the subject.

    You also wrote: “Anyway, I am done with pointlessly debating this with you, and it matters not a whit to me how you choose to interpret what I write.”

    Ah, the famous whine of the person with nothing of substance to say. I had left our last exchange with some respect for you. I am leaving this one with very, very little regard for your knowledge – of Hungary, the wider world, and yourself.

  46. d’Magyar,

    I agree, let’s keep the dialogue open. As far as Hungarians’ reputation, I don’t think I can do much about it, but I don’t like people who denigrate an entire people as somehow inferior, and I especially dislike it when I know from personal experience that the characterisation is false.

  47. “denigrate an entire people as somehow inferior” – maybe this is a reaction to some Hungarians who claim:
    We are the best, the only ones who count!
    I just discussed this yesterday with our young ones who also know these stories like: Whatever great invention you name – a Hungarian invented this first …
    We had a few good laughs …
    And look at the current Fidesz hysteria: The whole West is against us! Unbelievable …

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