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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Austerity Cameron-style: Hungary shows there is an alternative

This piece of mine appears in the First Post.

Amid warnings of a new UK recession, Hungary reminds us there is another way – growth

At first sight, Hungary and Britain have much in common. Both started the year being led by men called Gordon B. Both have seen unpopular nominally left-of-centre governments replaced, after spring general elections, by the conservative opposition. Both have relatively large government deficits.

But when it comes to dealing with the deficit, the approach of the British Conservative-led government and their Hungarian counterparts could not be more different.

You can read the whole of the piece here.


Karl Naylor said...

It has to be remembered that Fidesz are derided as "nationalist" by neoliberal fanatics and doctrinaires as they stand for older conservative views but without the kind of transient neoliberal capitalism that has been embraced by the PO in Poland.

Paradoxically, this means Hungary has a better "civil society" than Poland. For the Kaczynski hegemony over what is in Poland genuinely a "populist right" has always supported neoliberal reforms on the whole, with a few caveats and reservations.

All governments that have come to power in the wake of the economic crash of 2008 are presiding over a time of turbulence. Orban can not commit himself to cut on services that he opposed in opposition without being held to account.

This is not because he is a "populist" ( as if Cool Briannia and Crative Economy Bullshit Britain Blair was not by definition ) but because Fidesz MPs were warning of the irresposibility of credit based consumerism a long time ago.

In 2005 I met an MP for Fidesz from Eger who told me that he was depressed at the way Budapest was dominated by those who were irresponsibly encouraging people to buy things on credit. It was I said the Blair model and he warned of the impeding dangers.

Five years later when the bubble has burst it was inevitable. Yet in Britain people have no memory of history. In Hungary they do, though that can lead to miscalculations such as offering passports to Slovak Hungarians.

It is that that has been seized on by neoliberals to "prove" that any attempt to safeguard national sovereignty is a sign of populism, without getting it that in Britain Thatcher and Blair were both populist AND neoliberal.

As always in the Anglobalisation cheerleaders, it's other odd foreigners who are nationalists when they go against against it and it's particular model of failed capitalism. And this is considered not a nationalism. Or utterly hypocritical.

Mr. Piccolo said...

Great article, really spot on. I applaud Fidesz, it takes courage to buck the EU and IMF. As Mr. Clark noted, we can expect a heavy barrage of attacks on Hungary from the neoliberal media. How long do you folks suppose it will take for Fidesz to be declared a fascist party?

It will also be interesting to see how progressives view Fidesz. Will they join the attack on Fidesz because it is a socially conservative party, or will they support Fidesz because it is anti-austerity? The Hungarian situation may be a good test to see who genuinely cares about people versus those who are only interested in being trendy.

Of course, one could also say the same thing about conservatives. Will conservatives support a party that is pro-family across the board, including on economic matters, or will they decide that market fundamentalism is more important than whether families can put food on their table?

R. J. Stove said...

A very interesting article that taught me a lot. We never see this sort of detailed coverage apropos Hungary in the mainstream Anglophone media. Thanks Mr Clark.

Neil Clark said...

Karl: some very good points.
Mr Piccolo-You're right- the Hungarian situation is a very good litmus test. Well, needless to say the 'progressive' Hungarian Socialist Party, instead of supporting the government's brave stance, and its determination to avoid inflicting further hardship on the Hungarian people, is siding with the IMF, the EU and the banks. And the 'liberal' 'progressive' media in Hungary is attacking Orban.
I'm sure that David Cameron would side with the Hungarian Socialists and not Fidesz.
R.J.- many thanks for your kind words.

Anonymous said...

"How long do you folks suppose it will take for Fidesz to be declared a fascist party?", Mr. Piccolo asked.

That happened quite a while ago... Accusing Fidesz with fascist or fascistoid ideas and practices has been a very persistent and intense campaign by the neoliberal-turned postcommunist forces in Hungary for many years. The landslide victory of Fidesz and the crushing electoral defeat, which the neoliberal-postcommunists suffered this April, made them pause just a bit in this.

However what astonished me indeed in the political campaign of the last couple of days is that how openly and aggressively these 'Socialists' trumpet what the IMF wants to see to happen in Hungary. That speaks volumes.

Miklós said...

Mr. Clark,

I've been really glad to read your informative, and I believe truthful, writing amidst the global media campaign Mr. Orban is subjected to these days. You've won a new reader for First Post and yourself.