Sunday, March 09, 2008

Three Little Words (that mean so much for Hungary today)

Igen. Igen. Igen.

Talpra magyar, hí a haza !
Itt az idõ, most vagy soha !
Rabok legyünk, vagy szabadok ?
Ez a kérdés, válasszatok !
A magyarok istenére
Esküszünk,
Esküszünk, hogy rabok tovább
Nem leszünk !


Rise up, Magyar, the country calls!
It's 'now or never' what fate befalls...
Shall we live as slaves or free men?
That's the question - choose your 'Amen"!
God of Hungarians, we swear unto Thee,
We swear unto Thee - that slaves we shall no longer be!


Sándor Petőfi

2 comments:

Karl Naylor said...

Crowds of people have already gone to Budapest to protest against Gyurscany's MszP regime which now languishes in the polls on a feeble 13% compared to the 38% built up by Orban.

There is hardly an atmosphere that's going to lead to barricades and calls to overthrow the venal post-communists that have plagued Hungary since the end of Soviet domination.

Inspiring as Petofi Sandor was in 1848 and his legacy in 1956, when the Petofi Circle copied the demands for revolution and national independence, the main problem with referendums has been the level of passivity and indifference.

Pollsters in 2003 predicted a 2/3 turnout to the EU referendum in 2003 when ,in fact, it turned out to be 46% with a 81% approval vote. During Orban's last spell in office the dual nationality referendum inspired a 38% turnout and a 51% vote in favour.

This time it might be different as the volume of protest at Gyurscany's secret speech showed widesread resentment towards the MszP for having lied to get re-elected and which had echoes of a distictly Communist political culture of duplicity anf gloating cynicism.

Gyurscany's highly intelligent response to Fidesz's referendum and opposition to the health reforms has been that he's 'out of touch with reality'. Always conceivable if the mass media is still rum by a post-Communist network which tries to remould 'reality'.

Gyurscany opined in order to prove he has his finger on the pulse that 'Those guys in the gym, whom I would not think are Einstein, they know much more of life, of what makes Hungary stronger than the leader of the opposition'.

The revolt against Gyurscany is partly one of Hungary as a historical nation state against the idea that Hungary is a mere global investment zone, a divide that has some historical precedent in her history and culture between those who stressed cosmopolitanism and those who stressed nationalism.

That divide has now reached an absurd point where Gyurscany sees his task as abolishing Hungary's national culture and sovereignty and remodelling it as what he calls 'an island of modernity' which, stripped of the upbeat management jargon, means a deracinated nowhere where the development of Hungary is ended and given over wholly to pleasing the short term interests of global corporate capitalism without any retraint.

The aim has been to re-invent the Utopian project of top down managerial Communism for the age of neoliberal globalism which is why so many former dissidents of a 'leftist' persuasion such as Gabor Demsky who ran a samisdat press and lauded China are now fanatical adherents of the power of money and large corporations.

'Market Maoism' is designed to smash historic Hungary and Gyurscany also wants to end Hungary's sense of nationhood. That tends to be the case when, as in Britain, the place is run by Metropolitan elites in a capital city of disproportionate size in a truncated former Empire.

As a revolutionary and a nationalist Petofi Sandor believed that the principles of universal social justice and freedom and dignity were ideas that Hungary could bequeath to the world ( vilagszabadsag )not by eradicating and destroying nationhood and national culture.

That's why he appealed to many of the Young Democrats before 1989 and why, perhaps, Hungarians of all political persuasions should unite to undermine Gyurscany and topple him from power by peaceful demonstration and principled opposition.

Orban must be aware of the symbolism of having this referendum just before March 15 which is the date when the 1848 Revolution was detonated and Petofi Sandor thundered out his Nemzeti dal to the crowd who then went on to demand an end to press censorship and Hungary's subordinate second class status to the Germans.

The same is true now as the Commissioner for Competition tells Hungary how to run their economy to the benefit of EU investors whilst cutting spending on health care. That would not go down well in Germany or Austria but different standards apply in Hungary.

Now, whilst there is no press censorship , the press generally does not give Orban a fair hearing and sneers at him as some kind of 'peasant'.

As in Britain, anybody who challenges the authoritarian PC elites in power is written off as some 'far right' lunatic and the usual conflation of race with nationhood ensues in order to de-legitimise discontent.

Gyurscany needs to go and Hungary preserved as a nation state that has its sovereignty in tact and where basic utilities and public services are retained by the state for the good of all. This is not a question of 'socialism' but just a balance between the market being complimented by public institutions.

Gyurscany is highly arrogant, does not give a fig about those who did not elect him and who 'belong to the past' and so violates the principle of representative democracy that an elected head of state has the duty to work for the good of all citizens.

Karl Naylor said...

Here;s Tibor Fischer on the political culture of Gyurscany in 2007.

'The fiftieth anniversary of the revolution also saw the worst street disturbances in Budapest since 1956. As I watched one demonstrator, who was restrained by four riot policemen, being repeatedly kicked in the head by a fifth, it occurred to me that the commonplace that the revolution has had a delayed triumph is wrong. There has been almost no attempt to punish the guilty, especially the ÁVO who massacred hundreds of unarmed, peaceful civilians during and after the revolution; the reasons for this are manifold, but the reality is that the justice button has never really been pushed. Those who fought in 1956 and survived mostly have miserable existences as hard-up pensioners.

Fine, the Russians are gone, and there have been free elections (though fair would be debatable – the media is mostly in the clutches of the old comrades and their coalition allies). Democracy can’t be installed like a telephone system. The damage done by forty years of dictatorship runs deep. The continued presence of Gyurcsány as Prime Minister, after he was taped gloating about lying about everything to everyone, “fucking up” his own words and cooking the books for the EU, is beyond belief.

The support he has enjoyed from his Party shows that many of the MPs genuinely don’t understand democracy (compare this with Sweden, where ministers resigned over unpaid television licence fees). Many intellectuals have also, bizarrely, lined up behind Gyurcsány, despite his turning Hungary into an international laughing stock, but then they did that for Rákosi too. Hungary seems to be drifting into becoming an oligarchy, albeit a mostly benign one (as long as you don’t demonstrate).

Some weeks ago in Budapest at a conference on 1956, when I pointed out that in an established democracy Ferenc Gyurcsány would have been out of office in a matter of minutes, one of the organizers (a Hungarian) came up to me afterwards and screamed at me that I had no right to say that. I rest my case'.