“Childhood memories and a creeping dictatorship” by Balint Somkuti


If it looks like a duck…

I was born and grew up in Budapest, capitol of Hungary in 1972. Our flat was on the borders of three distritcts. The once posh I. with the royal castle and villas of the by then long gone aristocracy, the hilly XII. with the famous Rózsadomb, the epitomy of the higher bourgeoise, and the mostly flat XI. which was (and still is) the most populous district of the capital. Our so called 'city houses' stood on the very edge of the XI. district, with a good view to the other two. A bigger piece of sloping land in the hillside, surrounded by five four storey buidlings (officially named 'A' to 'E') built by the state in 1926 for its public servants. My grandfather, who was a doctor working for the social insurance trust, received a 3 and a half room appartement there since he had six children. My mother was his youngest offspring and he decided to keep her by his side to take care of him and my grandmother. When I and shortly after me my brother was born we were living with my grandparents, six of us on 96 square meters, one toilet, and one bathroom. And we considered ourselves lucky, since we were living at least in a building built to higher standards even if the houses were only superficially and very cost savingly renovated from the damages of World War II. The front two houses facing the street (in one of them, building 'A' was our flat) had to have a new roof installed since a german ammo truck recieved a hit in front of them during the siege of Budapest, and the blast literally blew away the roofs, otherwise miraculously causing no serious damage to the buildings themselves.

After the communist take-over, in order to change the conservative social fabric of these districts members of the communist party were issued flats. In the 'city houses' e.g. on the newly built 5th floor, or they were forcibly inserted to other flats of the compound where there were less people than the centrally delcared 2 per room. For example a childless couple in a similar sized flat, living together with a cousin and her husband whose flat was destroyed, were forced to cede 1,5 room to such a partymember.  

Growing up in this environment was a unique experience. The intermingling of the higher level, but undereducated communists, and the once middle-upper middle class of the previous system, whose expertise could not have been neglected in running the country caused a vibrating, challenging sorrounding especially for kids in my age. What to tell, what not to tell, what are the nuisances, which little signs show changes in the higher party leadership etc. The ideology filled things we were taught in the school were corrected by my parents, grandparents and some neighbours. Of course not 'those' on the 5th floor.

To sum it up I, like most of the kids in our yard, developed 'sensors' for unsaid things. Small pauses during a conversation, invisible nods towards the direction of present, but outside hearing range persons, overly zealous speaches about insignificant ideological issues or the opposite going suddenly completely silent about things we used to discuss. That of course on the level of kids.

This mood has started to change slowly when Gorbachev came to power and Hungary was his prime student in reforms. Hungary was always an exception, we said we were the funniest barrack in the communist camp, so e.g. our leadership could be softly criticised by people appointed by the party. I was 13 in 1985, a little premature for my age, but there was something clearly in the air. Old slogans have felt somehow hollow, but the quickly entrepeneur turned party members kept repeating them for years right until the collapse of the system. It was a complete and perfect oxymoron when those high ranking communist directors suddenly became capitalists, bankers and owners overnight in 1989-90. 'Naturally' still speaking about common ownership, public good and stuff like that and at the same time treating factories, mines, banks and other companies like their own, under the protective umbrella of the People's Republic's laws and the party's influence of course. After and during the 1990 change they bought them off for chips and beads, turning their de facto status into de jure ownership. Coming of age and growing up in an intellectual family where everything was dicussed I was more or less a conscious viewer of the communist system's slow hollowing out, then rapid collapse.

Why is it important now? And what has poultry to do with it? Well the overall current situation here in the EU is becoming more and more similar to that of 1985-90. There are things, obvious facts which cannot be openly said, or discussed. There are slogans, which obviously cover well defined and specific partial interests, yet presented as generally accepted facts, or even as the unquestionable truth. Fighting against corruption (also a slogan of the past) means choking competition, speaking of equal burdens means reaping someone else's harvest and so on. When I hear other contemporary blindly EU supporting, LGBT, anti-gun, human rights etc. slogans I feel like 1980's. The same internationalist, left-wing exaggregations, generalizations, unachievable, unaccomplishable social engineering solutions, what is more in most cases by the very same  persons of the ancien regime!

For people having the privilege of not living under such circumstances their slogans, ideas are mostly not out of the context of our everyday life, the so called 'progress'. They may seem like mostly harmless and may appear as unimportant. For us having endured the deadly embrace of communism for decades seeing and what is more important feeling the same gives us the chill. But this time it is NOT 1985 or 1990. There are no hundreds of thousands of foreign troops in Eastern Europan countries. This time we, former East Bloc countries are not occupied, desperate pariahs looking for any way out of the grasps of an oppressor.

Tell me why is it different: forcing you to accept illegal immigrants into you country (general, obligatory migrant quotes in the EU) to forcibly moving people into your house or flat? What major differences are in killing bystanders (collateral damage in newspeak) in the name of human rights or R2P, and 'with one voice say lasting peace, stand up and fight with us for it'  (popular hungarian song in the communist era)? The more power Brussels is trying to take away by coercion or outright blackmail from the nation states the more it looks like soviet Moscow.

Soros fans say that it is NOT a duck, but it is yellow, it walks, quacks like one, lives with the other poultry and can swim. You may say it is the brave new face of democracy, but when I see a  dictatorship I can tell you it is one.

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54 Responses to “Childhood memories and a creeping dictatorship” by Balint Somkuti

  1. BabelFish says:

    Absolute power corrupts absolutely, it seems. I will not profess to know all the dynamics involved but I am firm believer in the human penchant to consolidate power and then to work to make everyone fit in the same mold. Sometimes it is by war, other times by the ultimate constrictor, bureaucracy. Your excellent writing is quite an education for me and many thanks for it

  2. Matthew says:

    Very powerful. The EU’s (and the USG’s) trick of equating opposition to wage-depressing illegal immigration as the same as advocating racism is a key feature of the new War on Truth.

  3. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Balint Somkuti:
    Putin said something to the effect that the leader of a European country (I imagine from Eastern Europe) had confided in him that for years a certain Foreign Embassy had to approve their government’s choice for the Defense Minister Portfolio.

  4. Balint Somkuti says:

    Thank you for your kind words.
    Nihil novum sub sole. (There is nothing new under the sun.)
    We are ‘lucky’ to be able to see through it. We paid the price for this capability. Soros’ open society is nothing more but the old communist dream refashioned.

  5. L Sarik says:

    What is particularly galling about the immigration issue is that the refugee migrants have been caused by the deranged neocon neoliberal policies. NAFTA flooded Mexico with cheap US industrial ag products. It destroyed the livelihood of small Mexican farmers leaving them no choice but to hit the road north.
    Same for the hell on earth that neocon policy has caused in the NA/MENA countries from Libya to Afghanistan.
    Those Syrians drowning in the Agean could live with Assad, just not with the help they were getting from the R2P nutcases running our foreign policy.
    And what’s up with NATO? Has it become the private army of the corporate war mongers? Outside and above any government? sure starting to look like it. When the German Foreign Minister is telling NATO to lose the hardon for Russia and Putin, one wonders.

  6. doug says:

    This reminds me of an illuminating book I ran across a few decades ago: “Private Truths, Public Lies” by Kuran.
    Discussed are the hysteretic situation when acceptable social paradigms become riddled with contradiction. At first the reaction of elites is to clamp down on heresy. This, of course, drives things further underground until a tipping point is reached…
    It’s not a feature limited to the abominable communist systems. The road to Hell is truly paved with good intentions. They never stay good for long.

  7. jld says:

    By a strange coincidence the Archdruid weekly post is just about ignoring the lessons of history and extremism inviting backlash, but only after some while:

  8. Gary K says:

    “I, like most of the kids in our yard, developed ‘sensors’ for unsaid things. Small pauses during a conversation, invisible nods towards the direction of present, but outside hearing range persons, overly zealous speaches about insignificant ideological issues or the opposite going suddenly completely silent about things we used to discuss.”
    Orwellian at its best. But it is much worse. It is witches brew of massive influx of third-world immigrantion, intolerant oligarchic technocracy, unhinged feminism fueled by anti-white & anti-Christian motivations, a decline of the demographic who made Western civilization and all that the rest of world covets and scams to acquire, et al. It’s almost like Camp of the Saints meets Fahrenheit 451… on bath salts.
    I was told by a retired friend, who works in background investigations, that he rarely sees a new hire for adjudicator or officer for USCIS that was born in this country. He tells me that the typical USCIS hire is a Latina or a far-left white female with a law degree who volunteered during law school to spend her summers in Central America instructing local how to enter the U.S., where to go, whom to contact to get welfare AND employment. I work in a investigative field and I can attest to the fact is orders of magnitude worse than how the most pessimistic alarmist portrays it.

  9. Babak Makkinejad says:

    :…all that the rest of world covets and scams to acquire…”
    Not going to happen, in less than a few hundred years, even then…

  10. Balint Somkuti says:

    very well could be.

  11. VietnamVet says:

    Balint Somkuti
    The Brexit vote today, Donald Trump’s nomination and the right wing movements in Europe are all a result the colossal failure of the western elite to get their heads out of their asses. They all are a direct result of the loss of family supporting jobs and the influx of refugees from a world at war.
    This is not top secret. Washington Post reported that “Hillary Clinton says the economy and government have failed many white, working-class Americans, and that she understands why those workers would respond to the appeals of her likely Republican opponent, Donald Trump”.
    Your post is an excellent description of the effects of totalitarianism and the collapse of the Soviet Union. I am fearful that apt historical analogies for today are the French or Bolshevik revolutions. The world economy is teetering in midst of a depression for everyone except the top 5%.

  12. Bill Herschel says:

    I strongly recommend reading the biography of Victor Hugo by Graham Robb. Hugo fought on both sides of post-revolutionary France. He both invented and resembled the nun in Les Misérables who slept in her coffin to be closer to God. What stands out in your post is that corruption doesn’t care about a system of government, only about grasping and keeping power. Hugo, who created perhaps the holiest man in literature, the Bishop of Digne, was himself a contemptible miser.

  13. sans racines says:

    As an alternative view, and knowing many Hungarians, having lived there for some time post system-change I would say that it was not a feeling of oppression for everyone – people got by and knew how to work the system, who you needed to know and it was not so different from Western countries in that respect. I know many who remember the former days fondly, not because they were tools of the system – but how to explain this..? Well, at the Sochi olympics I recall the British commentator being surprised or rather incredulous that there seemed to be nostalgia for the old days in the opening(?) ceremony – surely that was just for show, right? Not according to my experience. But Hungary is full of extreme opposites. The political Right vibrantly despises the Left and in general all ills that befell the country were at one time blamed on this Left, and among many in society even (although not publically) possibly a number of obviously rich Jewish figures. My lasting impression is that the mafias did very well whoever was in power and were not challenged, and that politicians of all stripes did very well out of their private business and connections. When the Hungarian Television building was attacked and ransacked by a mob for being perceived as too close to the socialist government a few years ago there was a particular private tv channel that portrayed this bunch of Frodi football team hooligans as freedom fighters, a misconception also taken up by the BBC for a day. It is a Hungarian characteristic to blame the country’s problems on external actors, partly justifiable but also partly disengenious as Hungary’s actions leading up to these catastrophes are always ignored, in this case Communism, but also Triannon did its part to leave lasting scars on many Hungarians and now many on the Right long for the one time ‘Greater Hungary’ stretching to the Adriatic, hence the profusion of bumper stickers with Hungary ‘made whole’ again. But during the real economic boom years in the late 90’s and early 00’s my overriding impression was that the various governments left or right were not building Hungarian industry with the great influx of Western money. The multinationals moved in, motorways were built, money siphoned off by both politicians and mafias, but where was the nation building – no one was concentrating on this, instead being wrapped up in parochial infighting, this age-old obsession to bicker and find fault in the other party. An opportunity lost I think – Hungary deserved better and for its leaders to rise up out of the old arguments. So finally I would respectfully suggest that to focus on Communism as the defining story of Hungary is too narrow. As a counterpoint I had an experience early in my time in Hungary at a May day celebration where a brown-shirted individual stood in front of a military lorry wearing a red/black armband – this was the Munkas Part or far right worker’s party in action. I was outraged – how could this be allowed in modern civil society – this was freedom of expression gone too far. But then this was somewhat accepted and my impression was that the Left had better not say anything about it now that the system had changed… So I believe there is more to Hungary’s story than a single facet – there are many threads…

  14. Jack says:

    Thanks for your poignant note on the Orwellian nature of a totalitarian state.
    A decade and a half ago my neighbor for a few years was a Czech family who fled communist Czechoslovakia with only the shirts on their back. They have told me many stories of the absurdities, the nomenklatura, the oppressiveness and the pitting of social groups to maintain their new class structure. I also recall many conversations I had with young people in Beijing who would approach me to practice their English when I visited China a few times before Deng’s liberalization. What I took away from those conversations was the arbitrariness, the system of fear and the complete disregard of individual choice. From schools to education to travel, everything was controlled. Only if you belonged to the nomenklatura did you have the chance to pursue your dreams.
    The EU as you note is reminiscent of that system. With 5 unelected presidents, a legislature that can’t bring forward any laws but only rubber stamps regulations written by the mandarins in Brussels. And the Commissars receive tax-free wages and benefits that the tax slaves can only envy. Perfectly Soviet in structure. The EU project IMO is a great example of how once a bureaucracy is formed it grows like a cancer and spreads its reach into every nook and cranny. The will of the people never mattered as the apparatchiks amassed ever more power. From the Maastricht treaty to the Nice treaty to the EU constitution and the Lisbon treaty, it didn’t matter how people voted. If the desired result was not achieved either people were made to vote again or some other way was found.
    Much to my chagrin the US too is well on its way to be an Orwellian state. Here, both the left and right want big and bigger government. And the politicians and bureaucracy happily oblige. Institutional failure means even more power and funding for that institution. The consequence of failure to uncover the 9/11 plot is mass surveillance, arbitrary watch lists, trashing due process and ever increasing powers that a Chekha commissar would have killed for. And not to be outdone the Fed with the charter to regulate banks to insure their soundness, not only instigated and cheerlead the speculation but failed when all the largest banks nearly imploded. This failure was rewarded with even more power and the central planners in the Mariner Eccles building have now gone hog wild and taken on new mandates well beyond their lawful ones. This country, unique in history, with a written constitution that affirmed the rights of individuals and constrained government to protect essential liberty has squandered that legacy. Now, all we are left with is rhetoric of that legacy. Civil forfeiture, the discretionary application of the law for the elites and the nanny state are just few examples of how far down the rabbit hole we’ve gone. The intensity of the propaganda by the elites enables manufactured consent. They don’t yet need the knock on the door at night to keep wayward citizens in line. They’re getting close though. Only those who have lived in totalitarian states understand the tyranny. What I find fascinating is how in just a few generations the descendents of those with the greatest vision to date of a free society have voluntarily given up their liberty and now are becoming more and more subjects of the state run by the elites.

  15. Balint Somkuti says:

    And the top 5% is just as ignorant as were the Czar & co, as well as the french nobility. (see If they dont have bread why dont they eat cake?).
    Being a historian by profession let me tell you that a revolution is probably the second most ugly and disgusting thing in human history. The first is the situation before a revolution.

  16. Aka says:

    power s power. whether it is EU style or Chinese style.

  17. Balint Somkuti says:

    Yes the hungarian communist ruler, Kádár, had a much more lax system, than the other east bloc states. It has rested on two things. The presence of 300 000 soviet troops, and a subtle system of soft coercion, instead of upfront terror, including some channels to let off the steam so to say. He was famously quoted, paraphraseng the Bible (!), ’who is not against us is with us’. Kadar once dared to travel with his retinue on a public transportation tram, a completely unique deed among communist rulers. He was the same kind of leader as Governor Horthy before him. A sort of father-figure for many, and a humble person himself devoid of most passions of the other communist dictators.
    This fact also explains the nostalgia. The average person lived better off than anybody in the sorrounding countries (e.g. in 1985 standards of living were comparable to contemporary spanish) maybe with the exception of the Czech parts of Czechoslovakia. We had freedom compared to other communist countries, and those who wanted to work could expect a slow but stabile growth. Ont he top of that Kadar was not hated like other communist leaders.
    When the change came the communists were not driven away or banned like in other countries, but simply changed master replacing Moscow with Berlin, Brussels and Washington. The quick and unthought privatization brought quikc changes and a faster increase of living standards at the expeanse of completely selling out state companies even the strategically important ones.
    And yes blaming outside actors is a habit in countries like ours. Those nations living centuries under foreign rule became accustomed to not being able to influence their own fate. As simple as that. In any historical example there were always renegades willing to cooperate with the occupier. In our case the communists suddenly turned european democrats discrediting ’europeanism’ and those who willinlgy allied with them almost immediately. Unfortunately the „developed world” embraced these internationalist traitors immediately and completly making the population losing faith in their goodwill and honesty. For various reasons this treason became only obvious to the majority of the public opinion only in 2006 in Hungary.
    The stickers you see are a complete mistake since the Kingdom of Croatia was living only in a personal union with the Kingdom of Hungary for a mere 1000 years. The fact that they are a separate country was also shown by the fact that the croats had their own parliament during all that time called sabor.

  18. LeaNder says:

    When I helped my niece to write her thesis, I looked at a couple of EU sponsored publications in economic development. The subject of my niece was in IT. Thus the publications I looked at were, suggested economic strategies for Eastern European or former communist states. The Baltics, by the way are doing very, very well in that field.
    Of the publications I checked there was one, that looked at the effects of a system change. I know the German East slightly in this respect, both from own and from the experience of friends during the time of change or what we call “die Wende”.
    There was only one article that looked into the change from party dominated to a free market system. Mind you, privatization was the gold calf, if I may, at the time. It would ultimately take care of everything. …. But in the larger economic context, or in my special case the idea that information technologies are not only an important factor, but a guarantee for economic growth, only the authors of this article discussed possible sociological results. Their argument: Substituting free market for party dominated production, would result in some groups losing their jobs and connected with that their livelihood. One cannot in these states expect–the main argument of these two authors was–hope the drop-down-principle would successfully deal with the larger social upheaval. In other words it wasn’t a guarantee everyone would does at least have the basic level of survival.
    I’d prefer to leave out your red/black armband allusion. But strictly there is a strain of historical evidence that partly explains why and how there was a connection between some political actors in my country and support by a group in Hungary even before the takeover. Not a surprise in the larger historical context, maybe, but some of the propagandist exaggerations made, to pick one single issue, somewhat more of a “statistical sense” in Hungary.
    But really, I would prefer to use my own country in this context. More basically: Over here in East Germany the right was enormously successful post “Wende” in the East. It partly resulted in nationally freed zones. This makes a certain sense, let’s better pick the opposite. 😉
    For the European right the British exit is a starting shot for the complete break up for the European union. They were hoping for this to happen. They are in the process of demanding referenda everywhere. …

  19. Balint Somkuti says:

    You know we did not joined the EU to have a soviet union light. Even though Kadar was less of a dictator than an autocrative leader he still had much blood on his hand.

  20. Matthew says:

    Aka, this is why American Exceptionalism is so dangerous. Our Founders were intensely practical people with a jaundiced eye. They understood human nature. They distrusted the Leviathan.
    We forget their wisdom.

  21. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Francisco Franco did more for Spain in the areas of water management and hydro-electric power than any government since his death.
    His social security system was superior to what is today in Spain.
    And lastly, the devolution of power to provinces in Spain since his death is slowly making that country again ungovernable as parochial interests are once again reasserting themselves against national ones.
    Heard in Spain: “Why build a dam here and pump water to there when only Moroccans are going to be working on those farms?”

  22. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Chinese style is the worst of the too without a doubt.

  23. Babak Makkinejad says:

    “Soviet Union Light/Lie”:
    Isn’t that the inevitable consequence of any level of political and economical integration?
    A single man in New Cannon decides to close a factory in New Bedford since that factory’s return on investment is a mere 5% but buying some corporate bonds would return 8%.
    So, all of a sudden, a 1000 people are without jobs and will have to leave the area – selling their houses, disrupting their social connections etc. – in order to hopefully begin to earn an income.
    Did the Central Planners ever do anything like that?
    “Capitalists beat you into line, Communists beat you into line..” said the hobo – as reported by one Loren Eiseley in his autobiography.

  24. LeaNder says:

    BS, I doubt the Soviets left a social security system in place. From their perspective it made no sense. I am not really an expert in the field to what extend EU transfers to Hungary made sure that such a system could be established. I somewhat doubt.
    Even in Greece it seems to not exist to the extend it does elsewhere. Varoufakis at one point suspected Schäuble to wanting to push Greece out of the union and only after institutionalizing something like a European social security system. He suggested Schäuble already had this plan, and therefore wanted Greece to leave. This part was cut from the video, as it was distributed by his network over here.
    It feels European economic developments may have been based on a pure filter-down-idea. Never mind it’s dead for longer now. As long as there is private business versus restrictions based on bureaucrats deciding what can or what cannot be produced, the rest will work fine. Thus there would be an argument, that the EU wasn’t maybe authoritative enough on a regional/state level. Not that this would be easy to sell. Notice, I cannot see anyone, maybe I didn’t look hard enough, that made sense other then suggestions to simply print more money, yes simplified somewhat.
    My mind is pretty limited. Maybe versus the 19th century and it’s aftermath some type of nationalist* European alliance is possible, I have no idea. More likely the respective European leaders will get more suspicious of each other after a break up of the union … There may also be, beyond whatever other tools in the box are available, attempts to make others pay via pure money politics.
    But maybe then as now or in the future, public emotions can be stirred into the “right” direction. And in times of a somewhat doubtful growth or double, triple, quadruple …. gains that have come to be expected in some quarters on input, what other enlightening input can you see other then long-term war production feeding the populace? This is no doubt from a possibly ill-informed assumption how the German leaders at one time dealt with it. Or managed to feed their populace. —
    You tell me.
    PS: Babak, in your short summary on Europe and/or it’s driving factors somewhere around here, this was a factor I missed: nationalism, national interest. But then, I am also some type of incorrigible brat and ignorant that tries to avoid the real world out there via his basic left-wing ideology somewhat made worse by the fact that I am female. But I always also realized that Europe or the European Union had an purely economic foundation stone, and it’s ideological superstructure was always a vision only, that may one day turn out to be a day dream.

  25. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The European Thinkers, over the last 50 years, failed to articulate a believable sense of what it means to be European.
    Men in Oxford shire, in Vilnius, in Cadiz, in Montpelier, in Trieste, in Skopje, what do they have in common except Christianity?
    Of course they were bound to fail – trying to bridge the Diocletian divide.

  26. jld says:

    Worst with respect to what?
    AFAIK, under the “red paint” China isn’t that much different today than Zhou China of around 1000BC while Europe and any other places bear no such similarities to their previous selves.
    Perhaps only the old Egyptians beat the Chinese as an enduring civilization.

  27. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I think they use people to the extent that is inconceivable to a Western Diocletian. Japanese and Koreans are not qualitatively different in that regard.
    Yes, regrettably, all the worst features of Chinese Civilization endures while its Humanism and Sense of Balance is lost.
    To be concrete: only under the dictatorship of the English Governor of Hong Kong, during a 99-year period, a few million Chinese experienced security in their persons, their property, and their families.
    That was for the first as well as the last time.

  28. sans racines says:

    Thank you for this nuanced reply – much to agree with here. I would compare your use of the word ‘treason’ to the actions of other leaders where the approch to privatisation and globalism becomes destructive to the nation. However I recall a general enthusiasm in Hungary to join the EU, and the priniciple of a greater collective that this represented aligns with what I saw the Hungarian Left trying to achieve, to attempt to be inclusive, hold the country together and to win external investment. A lot of European development money flowed into the country at his time with positive results. The first Fidesz government led by Orban struck me as divisive, both internally and in regard to relations with neighbouring countries. It is important to separate the issue of mass immigration and globalisation which are valid threats to Hungary from the issue of the management of internal affairs with the Left and minorities (e.g. Jewish and Gypsy communities). Just as Thatcher was internally divisive, setting one half of the country against the other, the simmering divisions in Hungary prior to 2006 turned to positive action after the start of the economic downturn and the ascendency of the Right in 2006. For example the creation of the ‘National Guard’ paramilitary wing of the far-right ‘Jobbik’ party in 2007, which was allowed to operate until 2009. I recall news reports of armed members of the ‘Guard’ entering Gypsy villages… The issue here surely is ‘what is publicly accepted in society, and what is publically challenged’. Horthy was a strong nationalist leader, a father figure to some – remembered for law and order, but possibly with sympathies for Hitler? I have never seen the idea of Greater Hungary put to rest publicly – it seems to be lying around under the surface for some later time. Much recent legislation in Hungary seems to be highly controversial and divisive – my concern is where all this will lead. We need better approaches to deal with mass migration and globalism, but at the expense of replaying the failures of the 20th Century? In that respect it is probably for the better that you did not drive away the former communist party leaders, for they are Hungarians too, and it is questionable as to whether the Ukrainian approach is the one to follow.

  29. sans racines says:

    The armband crew were actually Magyar Nepjoleti Szovetseg who never made it big, and not the Munkas Part. My issue was that such expressions were not controlled, and rather than just being PC it is an issue of what symbolism a nation is willing to tolerate. But this continues to this day in the sense that all over Europe we are lurching back to a state of tension between ethnic groups within existing states – the recent banking catastrophe has exacerbated this – times like these are rich-pickings for those leaders looking to divide and conquer, and they’ll choose whatever emotive topics they can get their hands on.

  30. sans racines says:

    My question whenever a leader is characterised as having blood on his hands is, ‘what was the challenge and what came first?’ I would refer to recent events in Ukraine, Libya, Syria as scenarios to consider.

  31. sans racines says:

    From experience I don’t know if It is possible to separate ‘being used’ or ‘for the cause’ with respect to China – can not patriotism can lead to self-sacrifice?

  32. sans racines says:

    That’s the thinkers – the common people find common threads in beer, wine, food, football, literature (both Spanish, Hungarians and Swedish are fully aware of Douglas Adams) and a sense of humour (strangely Monty Python is a common currency all over the place)…

  33. sans racines says:

    Yes the question is how you take enough power to be able to force these these large projects through – today for the French it appears relatively straightforward to plan a TGV line compared to the UK’s painful efforts to justify and plan their first high speed line – for France it’s for the good of the nation and the thinking is ‘Tricolor’, well and also they have more space. In general any system that gains power and that has the resources will start some large projects – keeps everyone busy and shows ‘action’, looks good politically, makes things better (hopefully) and leaves a legacy. I’d suggest that it doesn’t necessarily justify the way they achieved power or identify them as particularly foresighted / more fit to rule…

  34. Babak Makkinejad says:

    EU Charter went through contortions to deny any role to Christianity. And you recall the idiotic reversal when “ecu” – reminiscent of the Charlemagne – was dropped in favor of “euro”
    I will repeat myself again: One’s origins may lie in Hell but without an honest acknowledgement of one’s background and history – what you always call by the name of “Context” – one cannot attempt any productive change; in my opinion.
    Europe, in my opinion, can only be unified at the level of ideas by acknowledging that it is foremost a Christian Continent. And further that its economically vibrant and dynamic has been Germany for more than a century.
    Only then can the European project be laid on a more solid foundation – in my opinion.

  35. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Let us take “beer, wine, and food (in many places pork)” – that already excludes Muslims. For Spaniards, Greeks, Bulgarians, Romanians, Portuguese, Italians, Poles and some others, the rituals of their daily lives revolves around those of Christianity; Covenant of Marriage, Last Rites, Easter, Baptism of the New Born, Feast of the Dead.
    Muslims and Jews and Hindus and Sikhs cannot partake of this commonality. Their alienation is fundamental and unlike the secular French Catholics or the Italian Communists (who baptized their children nevertheless).
    One has to look at the speeches of Putin in regards to Russian Culture and Civilization to find a practical way of trying to accommodate the non-Christians in the same body-politic. But, of course, Putin is the Manichean Bad Guy and cannot be emulated in any manner.

  36. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I am not taking about that.
    They just consume people – feed people into this or that furnace – war or industrialization or whatever strikes the fancy of the latest clique to run China.
    English underestimated the extent to which the Japanese Imperial Army was willing to feed soldiers into their war effort – and thus neglected defenses in areas that they estimated to be too formidable to be shattered due to natural topographic features.
    In one case, the Japanese generals had the men haul cannons up steep hills, loosing men all the time to heat and exhaustion, and throwing more men into it until they had their cannons in places, opened fire, breached the English defenses etc.

  37. Babak Makkinejad says:

    For several hundred years, Hungary has managed to be on the losing side of the European politics; will this time be any different?

  38. sans racines says:

    Yes I see what you’re driving at but those Christian rituals don’t make you a European. I know a Sikh and a Turkish muslim, they’ve both worked hard here for a very long time and they’re as European as anyone else having contributed to European prosperity and by the way they socialise. The muslim observes Ramadan, doesn’t drink and goes surfing – great character, can appreciate a joke, may as well be labelled a European as they fulfill the social contract – a major part of being European as I see it is being able to get on with other people in Europe, i.e. you have an aversion to causing other Europeans harm. Doesn’t matter whether this ‘getting on’ is via a common interest in food or surfing, music or humour – it’s finding a way to be productive and (importantly) to be open and relate to others. This makes some who live within the European geographical boundaries not ‘European’ as they only see irreconcilable differences with others. Is this definition perfect? No. Nothing ever is, I can’t find you a true definition for being British or French either, when you break it down there are usually great differences between individuals and we can find it hard to even get on with our neighbours – we are limited by our experiences. I would however suggest it’s a closer definition than shared Christianity.

  39. Balint Somkuti says:

    Yes we were eager to join the EU hoping for a better livelihood, a working democracy and the same things we saw in Austria or Germany. You know my opinion what we got instead.
    As of relation with neighbouring countries, should they pursue the european approach towards the millions of hungarians living in their territory, there would be no problem. As long as they are oppressed (in many occasions like the gypsy communities of the very same countries) they must now we wont let that happen.
    Horthy as a born aristocrat despised Hitler the dictator turned proletar. He has only cooperated with him, since no other country was willing to force the wilsonian principles in the occupied hungarian territories (you know the turks were here for 150 years. Hungary was smaller for the most part of the 16-18 centuries than now. Trianon turned 86 this year 😉 )
    In the case internationalists owing loyalty to ANY country, in my opinion you are clearly and plainly wrong. On innumerable occasions have they denounced any kind of national attachment. They are internationalist who happen to be born somewhere.
    As of globalism and mass migration please allow me a little criitcism. No pun intended You like most people in the ‘developed world’ think that the rules, the boundaries of the wolrd which we live in cannot be changed. You think that nation states are a thing of the past. Well they are not. You say failures of the 20th century? The internationalist, neoliberal ilk are repeating them. That is why I keep comparing this neoliberal sof dictatorship to our communism. There are way too many paralells. If you think that the reemergence of the commonn sense will lead to war you are wrong. This not the old kind of nationalism. I would call it patriotism. Nobody wants wa. Speaking of Ukraine how does it fir into your world view that the EU and the USA supports real, clear cut nazis in that country? Jobbik, or even the bulgarian ATAKA are boy scouts compared to them.
    In my opinion globalisation, because of the financial unsustainability it has caused has reached its zenith in 2008 and started a steep dive in 2015 du to the the mass migration. Our duty is to find a way to end this nightmare not in an armageddon, but a nice controlled emergency landing and at the same time find out how we will proceed. Another nice paralell with its brother communism.

  40. Balint Somkuti says:

    Whatever I think of the commies, as a historian, and an analyst I can not let the positive side of their rule go unnoticed.
    They not only upheld the social insurance of the Horthy system but seriously improved it. My father-in-law, may he rest in peace, was a true believer of communism. He had faith in it just like other have in any religion. Of course he never got rich by stealing the common property, like so many of his party members. He once said to me after the change. “I knew that I earned three to four times less than a comparable austrian engineer. But I thought it was a fair exchange for that money went on the free of charge health care, education, and other social activities in order to help the impoverished.” Of course he only got to know that communism was not as it seemed to be after the change.
    As I see today was face two choices.
    Either we accept this EU, creeping more and more into our private lives, taking away more and more liberties in the name of common, international good (does that sound familiar?). This nightmare which was a dream of freedom and prosperity for all, brought both for an undemocratically chosen few. The rest got poorer, and less free.
    The other is a jump into the unknown hoping that the death of hundreds of milions killed by nationalism was not in vain. Because we see that the other hundreds of millions killed by communists have died in vain, since this dispisable ideology is still with us. No one wants war on the eu-skeptical side, except some deranged idiots. But this has gone way too far.
    A friend of my mine who was prosecuted many times under communist rule because as a roman catholic he did not accept the state’s intermingling into church internal affairs, said to me. ‘For me the communist were preferable to this current system. At least they let me live my life, and not even dared to have a say in my own principles. Not even them wanted to have a uniform mankind.’

  41. Balint Somkuti says:

    “given up their liberty and now are becoming more and more subjects of the state run by the elites.”
    Because that is easier. The ‘west’ lives in the age of prosperity and entertainment. My father always told me: “Rome was not lost when it suffered defeats from the armies of the barbarians, it was lost when it could not rebuild its armies because the fathers failed to teach their children the old roman values.”
    Where are the father figures in the ‘developed world’? Parent 1 and parent 2? Oh com’on!

  42. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I hope you are not offended by what I am about to write but in the interests of open & respectful discussion:
    – You are in denial. The Christian Europeans, if you insist, know that the Turk or the Sikh, or the Arab, or the Hindu are not Europeans. They do not shillyshally like you in order to avoid calling a spade a spade. That does not mean that these minorities cannot have productive lives among Europeans, just like so many Armenian refugees have had productive lives in Iran over the last 100 years.

  43. Balint Somkuti says:

    Exactly. But this is not gonna happen with this EU leadership. They are interested in upkeeping ambiguity for their own good and everybody elses’ demise.
    Where have I seen a very similar ambiguos situation? 😉

  44. Balint Somkuti says:

    Thank God this is not my/our problem. Kadar was obviously brought to power for executing his fellow hungarians. According to reports when he started aging he felt his guilt, and died asking for forgiveness, but not from all those who were executed, but from only his communist comrades, whom he felt he betrayed.

  45. irf520 says:

    Anyone seen this yet?
    If it’s genuine, it should set the cat among the pigeons. Here’s one Czech’s reaction to it:

  46. jld says:

    There are many, many explanations to the downfall of Rome beside the loss of moral values most notably Joseph Tainter “Collapse of Complex Societies”:
    The assumed mechanism is a decline in the marginal return of complexity which is a polite way to refer to engulfing bureaucracies and parasitic classes (high or low…).

  47. sans racines says:

    No offense taken Babak, I know some think as you state, but I also think that one must not think stereotypically – starting from a precept of a religious position forces one to do that, but seeing the person’s contribution as more important than their religious identity is how I and many others think however – with all respect you may however doubt that such a way of thinking is possible.

  48. Balint Somkuti says:

    Nice. But like our czech brother said it aint over till its over.

  49. sans racines says:

    I think it will – Hungary (as a nation state) has established ties with Russia. This could make all the difference.

  50. Balint Somkuti says:

    Exactly. After couple of hundred years of bad decisions it looks maybe this time we picked the right horse as the saying goes.

  51. Babak Makkinejad says:

    From UK – Diversity at its finest
    LeaNder – are you paying attention?

  52. sans racines says:

    Thank you for this clear exposition of historical context – a good introduction to Hungary’s complex situation. Hungary is dear to me, and I think it a shame that due to the uniqueness of your language very few will be able to appreciate the warmth, intelligence, and sense of humour of the Hungarian people. I am not an internationalist but do see the benefit in trading blocks. I do not believe in colour revolutions. The soft landing I’d like to see for Hungary is a national strategy that is both patriotic and inclusive, that protects national interest but is not so radical that it becomes destructively divisive/oppressive along racial and political lines. Hungary has strong agricultural and IT industries and they will do well with good trading partners.

  53. sans racines says:

    Sorry for the late reply! Certainly ‘Trickle Down’ does not work as advertised.. But yes indeed – IT has worked out well for Hungary and many Hungarians.

  54. Balint Somkuti says:

    Thank you for your understanding and openness. With soft landing I meant the end of the present EU and its neoliberal ideology, sans guerre. Colour revolutions are covert coup d’etats so we also agree on that.
    As of oppressive along racial lines I can assure you there wont be any. But the double standard neoliberal way of handling preferred minorities (gypsies, 3rd world immigrants etc.) vs. neglected local (inborn) minorities (hungarians, basques, irish catholics, russians etc.) will NOT go on.
    In case of political lines I ask you a simple question. What do you do with those who revolt and hinder the majority in trying to save a sinking ship? In a clear and present danger there is no place for dissent. And this time it is one.
    The hungarian internationalists (no matter which party they belong) have shown that they dont care at all about our land, our real and inclusive interests only their own peculiar personnal ones. What do you do with those who decline even to speak abut our brothers outside the borders? Thwe left has lost all of its credibility in Hungary since it has shown its true face under PM Gyurcsány after 2006. PM Orbán will win the next elections against all the obvious mistakes he and his govt has done, not because he is a dictator or something but because we are fed up with the internationalists.
    The US/EU may and can push a balanced political system against the will of the population’s majority, but it wont succeed. I personnaly find it impossible to cooperate with some who obviously and clearly stated that we have nothing in common except the language we speak.

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