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The Frightening Hungarian Crackdown
January 10, 2013 7:06 AM   Subscribe

"The new constitution 'recognizes the role of Christianity in preserving nationhood,' and art that is deemed blasphemous or 'anti-national' is now the target of a full-blown campaign of suppression."
posted by Rustic Etruscan (137 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
If that's what the people of Hungary want, then that is what they get to have. No one ever promised that all of the former Warsaw pact states were going to become liberal utopias, especially when they never came to grips with their behavior before and during WWII.
posted by Renoroc at 7:11 AM on January 10, 2013


If that's what the people of Hungary want, then that is what they get to have.

Good thing there's no minority opinion in the country! It would suck if dozens of "opposition" journalists were being fired, or the country's most prominent independent radio station was being denied a license because they didn't want that.
posted by Greg Nog at 7:19 AM on January 10, 2013 [64 favorites]


"If that's what the people of Hungary want..."

Who says this is what the "people of Hungary" want? Oh, that's right. Their Fascist dictators.
posted by chance at 7:26 AM on January 10, 2013 [12 favorites]


Well, I mean, it's not like Jews, Roma, homosexuals, liberal intellectuals, and world-renowned artists terrified of going back to Hungary because of potential dismemberment are people after all.
posted by griphus at 7:29 AM on January 10, 2013 [31 favorites]


Bruce Sterling posted about this two days ago.

"If that's what the people of Hungary want, then that is what they get to have."

The new constitution also accepts conservative Christian social doctrine as state policy, in a country where only 21% of the population attends any religious services at all.

Somehow, I don't think the people really want their government to be dicking around with this kind of stuff, even as they face tough economic conditions.
posted by markkraft at 7:30 AM on January 10, 2013 [9 favorites]


I have become resigned to seeing history repeat itself, but usually history has the grace to wait until all the people who saw it screw up beyond belief before have died before it repeats. Lately, it seems, history has lost all patience and sense of proportion.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:32 AM on January 10, 2013 [40 favorites]


Previously. Previously. Previously.
It's a textbook example of a nation getting injured while using democracy.
posted by hat_eater at 7:34 AM on January 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


Perhaps they should start "sister cities" programs with cities in South Carolina.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:36 AM on January 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Perhaps they should start "sister cities" programs with cities in South Carolina.

Don't let either of them give each other ideas.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:49 AM on January 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


A thing that humanity in general seems to have not yet figured out: It's not the particular brand of extremism -- it's extremism itself.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:50 AM on January 10, 2013 [12 favorites]


I wonder how this is being reported (if at all) on Fox and by Rush Limbaugh.
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 7:52 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Perhaps they should start "sister cities" programs with cities in South Carolina.

Barbecue gulyás? Excuse me, I need to sit down.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:53 AM on January 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Just to start off with one thing very very wrong here, Jobbik and Fidesz hate each other. This article is at once true in the broad picture it paints of cultural traits and terribly researched. It's very frustrating.
posted by jaduncan at 7:55 AM on January 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


The activist Elie Wiesel has also returned a Hungarian award, in protest against the attendance of government officials at the reburial of a writer who was a member of the National Socialist Arrow Cross Party, which, for a few months at the end of the Second World War, led a brief and bloody “government of national unity,” murdering between ten and fifteen thousand of their countrymen and deporting around eighty thousand to Auschwitz.
Oh yeah, going to the effort to rebury a war criminal always makes a country look good.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 7:57 AM on January 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


A thing that humanity in general seems to have not yet figured out:

I think there is also a strong urge (hell, for all I know it's hardwired in; it's certainly deeply ingrained) to look for a strong leader when things seem out of control. When we are scared and uncertain, it's really easy to follow the guy (most always a guy) who says, confidently, "I know how to fix this." Surprisingly, we don't demand that they actually fix it with any kind of accountable timeline; we are willing to go along with schemes that throw our neighbors under the bus on any flimsy Us/Them classification; we accept changes in community discourse that head us in directions we never approved or wanted; all it takes is that Patriarch to say "this is the way" and even sensible people go weak at the knees. It's like some kind of freakin' hypno-ray or something, this desire to fall into the arms of the Great Stern Father when the going gets tough.

Sadly, the going is tough in a lot of places these days.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:59 AM on January 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


How exactly does this jibe with Hungary's membership in the EU?
posted by rocketpup at 8:02 AM on January 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh, it doesn't!
posted by rocketpup at 8:04 AM on January 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


Interestingly, no discussion of human rights in the above article.
posted by rocketpup at 8:05 AM on January 10, 2013


When we are scared and uncertain, it's really easy to follow the guy (most always a guy) who says, confidently, "I know how to fix this."

Exactly, we see this in the way some people look at Obama or others at their candidate. And this sort of ties in with Renoroc's first comment, in which there's no guarantee that the guy chosen as father figure will fall on one side of the political spectrum or the other.

Just remember your outrage at the suppression of liberal minority views in Hungary when conservative minority views are suppressed.
posted by resurrexit at 8:06 AM on January 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's worthwhile to read the comments below the article (from Imre Kertes' UK publisher and from Angryrat, the latter for a different perspective with its own set of biases).
posted by hat_eater at 8:08 AM on January 10, 2013


If that's what the people of Hungary want, then that is what they get to have.

That's a mighty big "if", there, sparky.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:09 AM on January 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Just remember your outrage at the suppression of liberal minority views in Hungary when conservative minority views are suppressed.

Hungary =/= Metafilter. Thank you for playing, try again later.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:10 AM on January 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


Just remember your outrage at the suppression of liberal minority views in Hungary when conservative minority views are suppressed.

As soon as I see some conservative minority views suppressed, I'll definitely try to remember this outrage.
posted by rocketpup at 8:13 AM on January 10, 2013 [34 favorites]


How exactly does this jibe with Hungary's membership in the EU?

Here (pdf) is a Consolidated Version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) which is the closest thing that there is to an "EU Constitution". The treaty is binding as national law on those countries which adopt it.

"Article 19

1. Without prejudice to the other provisions of the Treaties and within the limits of the powers conferred by them upon the Union, the Council, acting unanimously in accordance with a special legislative procedure and after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament, may take appropriate action to combat discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.

2. By way of derogation from paragraph 1, the European Parliament and the Council, acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, may adopt the basic principles of Union incentive measures, excluding any harmonisation of the laws and regulations of the Member States, to support action taken by the Member States in order to contribute to the achievement of the objectives referred to in paragraph 1."

Which means that if the Council and Parliament feel like it and can come to some agreement on it they might, possibly, could begin a long and drawn out process of wrist-slapping.
posted by three blind mice at 8:15 AM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Thank goodness we live in a western liberal democracy where such a thing could never happen!
posted by blue_beetle at 8:16 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Funny how the window has moved so much that relgious tolerance and anything approaching freedom of speech is now overtly ''liberal'' as opposed to a basic human right. Christ, and I thought having a root canal would be the low pont of the day.
posted by edgeways at 8:16 AM on January 10, 2013 [27 favorites]


Just remember your outrage at the suppression of liberal minority views in Hungary when conservative minority views are suppressed.

If you can just give me a quick rundown of the violation of civil liberties and mortal danger this conservative minority is encountering, I'll kindly run it down to Budapest for you. I am entirely sure the situations are analogous to the extent that solidarity between these conservatives you mention and Hungarians terrified of an encroaching dictatorship is almost guaranteed.
posted by griphus at 8:16 AM on January 10, 2013


Just remember your outrage at the suppression of liberal minority views in Hungary when conservative minority views are suppressed.

NO! WE THE LIBERALS WILL DESTROY ALL WHO ARE OPPOSED TO US, AS IS OUR BLOODRIGHT! HA HA HA! COWER BEFORE US, YE SUPPRESSED CONSERVATIVES! FEEL OUR FASCIST LOCKSTEP DESTRUCTION OUTLAWING YOUR VERY THOUGHTS
posted by Greg Nog at 8:17 AM on January 10, 2013 [38 favorites]


[Folks, maybe discuss this like adults or feel free to head over to Daily Kos?]
posted by jessamyn at 8:22 AM on January 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


The activist Elie Wiesel has also returned a Hungarian award, in protest against the attendance of government officials at the reburial of a writer

What happened to the New Yorker fact checkers? There wasn't a reburial, because the Romanian government forbid it.
posted by Jahaza at 8:31 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, the nice thing about a dictatorship is that they will gleefully oppress anybody for affiliating with ideologies of any stripe, as long as the dictator doesn't approve of it in some way. It really depends on how details-oriented him or his subordinates happen to be.

Conservative (per Western political polarities) belief in strong singular leaders tends to mean that conservatives get a pass as long as they play along with the system, and this skews the demographics of the oppressed by quite a lot.
posted by ardgedee at 8:33 AM on January 10, 2013


Seems to me that this is exactly the same as what is happening in Egypt right now, except replace Christianity with Islam.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:35 AM on January 10, 2013


Seems to me that this is exactly the same as what is happening in Egypt right now, except replace Christianity with Islam.

Not really, no. Egypt has had the centrality of Islam enshrined in its laws for a long time, Hungary certainly hasn't. There's really very little that the two have in common except that there's currently a struggle for political power brought on by economic problems in both.
posted by atrazine at 8:47 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


If that's what the people of Germany want, then that is what they get to have. --Renoroc, 1933

(Yes, I know: but we were going to get to Godwin in this thread eventually.)
posted by jokeefe at 8:53 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you can just give me a quick rundown of the violation of civil liberties and mortal danger this conservative minority is encountering, I'll kindly run it down to Budapest for you.

I was just mentioning conservatives in general, not Hungarian ones. I think the Genjiandproust comment, as well as the renoroc comment I was trying to it tie into, were both intended as more of a global statement about political situations such as the one lamented in the OP.

So my point is that if you're outraged at this Hungary deal because it's liberal minority views (someone else above called it that, not me) that are being suppressed, I'm asking you folks to remember to be equally outraged when conservative minority views are suppressed in other situations. If you don't, then you're not mad about the suppression of speech, ideas, art, involvement in the public square, etc., and you're not really dedicated to free speech and tolerance, etc.--you're just mad because your guys are losing.
posted by resurrexit at 8:54 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


If that's what the people of Hungary want, then that is what they get to have.

Except it comes at the expense of a significant portion of the population. Majority rule without respect for minority rights is not democracy.
posted by asnider at 8:56 AM on January 10, 2013 [10 favorites]


Greece and Hungary have been growing scary in the last few years. It's times like this that I wish we actually had a superstate for the EU, then we would have a supreme court too and could strike this shit down as unconstitutional. I mean, some US states seek to do dodgy things at times, but they get their ears clipped often.
posted by Jehan at 8:59 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


So my point is that if you're outraged at this Hungary deal because it's liberal minority views (someone else above called it that, not me) that are being suppressed, I'm asking you folks to remember to be equally outraged when conservative minority views are suppressed in other situations.

We understand that that was your point, we question the need for you to make that point. To my knowledge, there is not currently, nor has there been, an attempt to systematically enshrine the liberal viewpoints as the status quo into a government's constitution the way Hungary is doing. Moreover, the very notion of systematically enshrining one or another viewpoint as universal law is not a thing a liberal-leaning government would even do.

I would be happy to be proved wrong, though, if you have an example. For the record, though, I am speaking strictly of across-the-board government/legal excision of a given viewpoint, which excludes certain viewpoints being counter to a given website's terms of service.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:02 AM on January 10, 2013 [9 favorites]


Just remember your outrage at the suppression of liberal minority views in Hungary when conservative minority views are suppressed.

I'll be certain to do that, when it happens. Just point me to an example. You know, a leftist national government (if you mention the word 'China' you will be disqualified for several reasons), that actively works to suppress minority party views by denying them media access and tarring opposition members with ethnic slurs.

I'll be waiting over here. My quivering outrage is all queued up. Any time you're ready.
posted by Mayor West at 9:03 AM on January 10, 2013 [12 favorites]


I was just mentioning conservatives in general

Social and fiscal conservatives get a swell deal everywhere. Even in the US, on the rare occasions when the rest us get our rights recognized, these days, special provisions always get set up to protect conservatives' rights to discriminate or raid our pockets. Don't worry about conservatives.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:05 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


We understand that that was your point, we question the need for you to make that point.

Eh? It's Metafilter. Most of us probably don't need to be commenting at all. He can probably make whatever point he feels like.

To my knowledge, there is not currently, nor has there been, an attempt to systematically enshrine the liberal viewpoints as the status quo into a government's constitution the way Hungary is doing.

Bwhahahah.
posted by Jahaza at 9:06 AM on January 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm asking you folks to remember to be equally outraged when conservative minority views are suppressed in other situations.

Again, can you please run down these situations for me? I will profess my ignorance to this happening and I am open to relevant examples.
posted by griphus at 9:07 AM on January 10, 2013


Look, I'm not defending the Hungarian situation or any creeping totalitarian situation anywhere.

For just one example, how about the various human rights commissions established in various secular democracies, in which people publishing traditional views on human sexuality are fined? I'll resist using a lmgtfy link and let you look them up yourselves.
posted by resurrexit at 9:07 AM on January 10, 2013


I would be happy to be proved wrong, though, if you have an example. For the record, though, I am speaking strictly of across-the-board government/legal excision of a given viewpoint, which excludes certain viewpoints being counter to a given website's terms of service.
The nationalist experiments of the early to mid 1800s were incredibly liberal. They produced constitutions which were balked at in their time through being so liberal, yet today would be considered standard. Anything democratic and secular is liberal, and conservatives have shifted hugely in accepting such things.
posted by Jehan at 9:08 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, I'm not talking about specific examples of being oppressed; I just, like, feel kind of like maybe someone might be, somewhere, soon, because of liberals, and thought it would be cool to make vague statements about it here. Thanks everyone!
posted by Greg Nog at 9:08 AM on January 10, 2013 [16 favorites]


... how about the various human rights commissions established in various secular democracies, in which people publishing traditional views on human sexuality are fined?

Well, how about them? When and where are they happening? Can you narrow it down to, I don't know, a continent?
posted by griphus at 9:10 AM on January 10, 2013 [9 favorites]


A thing that humanity in general seems to have not yet figured out: It's not the particular brand of extremism -- it's extremism itself.

I would argue that it's not so much the extremism, either "conservative" or "liberal" (as if that were a natural continuum of some kind... that's another conversation though) but rather authoritarianism. It is indeed unfortunate that societies have a frightening tendency to turn to authoritarian leadership in times of strife -- it rarely seems to actually make things better, but that's people for you. It's not so much that the government has an agenda as that it is forcing said agenda down peoples' throats and persecuting them if they don't hold the party line.
posted by Scientist at 9:10 AM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Jahaza, rather than laughing, can you actually say something to me? It'd be neato.

... how about the various human rights commissions established in various secular democracies, in which people publishing traditional views on human sexuality are fined?

1. How often do you think those fines actually get paid?

2. How is a fine comparable to loss of employment and jail time?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:19 AM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


2. How is a fine comparable to loss of employment and jail time?

Or, you know. Genocide.
posted by elizardbits at 9:20 AM on January 10, 2013 [8 favorites]


and:

Look, I'm not defending the Hungarian situation or any creeping totalitarian situation anywhere.

No, but you ARE equating things that aren't equitable. You are comparing -- say, to pull an example right off the blue - the Fort Bragg army base officer's wives club being forced to admit same-sex spouses into its ranks to a Hungarian artist being JAILED for expressing a non-Christian viewpoint. Hungary is an example of the squelching of a specific viewpoint being written into the law - Fort Bragg is an example of the government just abstaining from paying for a given law, since no one is stopping Fort Bragg's wives from forming and paying for their own private social club off base.

No one here supports totalitarianism, but all too often, when I see people on the blue talking about "conservative minority viewpoints get prosecuted too, you know," they're talking about something like Fort Bragg, or not being able to crack jokes on a web site. Most people oppose totalitarianism - what we do NOT support, though, is the equation of "waaah I have to do something I don't wanna" with totalitarianism.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:25 AM on January 10, 2013 [17 favorites]


Perhaps our esteemed colleagues are confusing liberalism, which by definition espouses religious tolerance and a certain freedom of speech/press, with colloquial uses of "left" and "right" in US or similar political discourse?
In two party systems, the terms "left" and "right" are now sometimes used as labels for the two parties, with one party designated as the "left" and the other "right", even when neither party is "left-wing" in the original sense of being opposed to the ruling class.
posted by eviemath at 9:27 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Again, can you please run down these situations for me? I will profess my ignorance to this happening and I am open to relevant examples.

I suppose that we (for some value of "we") could mention Hugo Chavez here.

But why some people feel the need to come into a post about XYZ and be all Oh yeah?! Why aren't you outraged about 123? I won't take you seriously unless you announce your outrage at other stuff that this post isn't about!

I mean, the fact that the "other side" does shitty stuff doesn't make the things discussed in this link less shitty. It's okay to be mad about some things and not other. People are also generally capable of being mad about many things simultaneously, even if they don't tell you they're mad about something that's not the subject under discussion.
posted by rtha at 9:31 AM on January 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


To my knowledge, there is not currently, nor has there been, an attempt to systematically enshrine the liberal viewpoints as the status quo into a government's constitution the way Hungary is doing.

The Mexican Constitution of 1917
The 1918 Soviet Constitution
The Spanish Constitution of 1931

Such examples could be multiplied, especially if one includes administrative decrees or laws that were not formally "constitutional" but acted upon what Americans would normally consider fundamental rights.
posted by Jahaza at 9:32 AM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Dang, you guys are serious I guess--I suppose this doesn't hit your radar because, well, your side is winning and you see the suppression of speech or thought you dislike as just and good.

Read this 2002 letter to the editor of an Alberta daily. (Which I disagree with on many points, don't pin this guy's words on me.) The guy was fined thousands of dollars for writing a letter to a freaking newspaper and only this year did he find out that he would not have to pay that fine when the conviction was reversed.
posted by resurrexit at 9:33 AM on January 10, 2013


People are also generally capable of being mad about many things simultaneously, even if they don't tell you they're mad about something that's not the subject under discussion.

True, but people in the thread are actively telling us that "the other side" never does these things!
posted by Jahaza at 9:33 AM on January 10, 2013


In other words: Totalitarian repression in the name of some conservative doctrine? Certainly not universal, but is the natural and logical end result of a number of them. Totalitarian repression in the name of some liberal doctrine? You're doing it wrong, kind of tautologically. Which is not to say that peoples' and politicians' rhetoric and cover excuses always match up well with their actual actions. It's just that, for example, when the US invaded Iraq "for democracy and to protect the womens! And weapons of mass destruction, oh noes!" someone was being dishonest about more than one topic.

Preventing individuals from infringing on the civil rights of other individuals =/= totalitarianism, however, as EmpressCallipygos said.
posted by eviemath at 9:34 AM on January 10, 2013


...people publishing traditional views on human sexuality are fined?

Is this a longhand way of saying 'heterosexual pornographers?'
posted by kaibutsu at 9:34 AM on January 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Totalitarian repression in the name of some liberal doctrine? You're doing it wrong, kind of tautologically.

This is really only true of some interpretations of liberalism. Many so-called liberals have historically seen no problem with passing anti-clerical laws (and I don't just mean disestablishment.)
posted by Jahaza at 9:37 AM on January 10, 2013


Read this 2002 letter to the editor of an Alberta daily.

I can't actually find any information on Stephen Boissoin being fined on a reputable news website. Do you have one? The only links I see are a number of explicitly Christian right-wing newssites, and places like Stormfront and "White News Now". Any corroboration from sources that don't have an explicit agenda?
posted by griphus at 9:38 AM on January 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


But why some people feel the need to come into a post about XYZ and be all Oh yeah?! Why aren't you outraged about 123? I won't take you seriously unless you announce your outrage at other stuff that this post isn't about!

Because people in this thread are couching their disdain of the Hungarian situation in high and mighty ideals of freedom of expression, when not everyone in this thread really supports freedom of expression, but is instead disappointed to see views they agree with suppressed by people they disagree with who are currently in power. I think it's called hypocrisy.
posted by resurrexit at 9:38 AM on January 10, 2013


You're right griphus, here's the wikipedia article I just wrote.
posted by resurrexit at 9:40 AM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


The 1918 Soviet Constitution

I don't think that's what the word “liberal” means, except perhaps on FOXNews.
posted by acb at 9:40 AM on January 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


The Mexican Constitution of 1917
The 1918 Soviet Constitution
The Spanish Constitution of 1931


Jahaza, two follow-up questions for you:

1. What are the conservative minority viewpoints that were suppressed in those cases, and

2. What is your evidence for the likelikhood that anyone here would not be opposed to that suppression?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:41 AM on January 10, 2013


Read this 2002 letter to the editor of an Alberta daily. (Which I disagree with on many points, don't pin this guy's words on me.) The guy was fined thousands of dollars for writing a letter to a freaking newspaper and only this year did he find out that he would not have to pay that fine when the conviction was reversed.

Ah, he's a homophobe, inciting people to stand up and take a charge against the homosexual menace who are sapping our purity, raping our children, and fluoridating our water.

Canada has laws against hate-speech. Lots of places do. The question, and it is a good one, is how to find the balancing point between religious tolerance and suppressing hate-speech. I think we should agree that the line should be somewhere on _this_ side of "I wasn't inciting murder; I was just saying we need to get rid of all the homos."

In any case, it's a complete derail, as Alberta is nowhere near Hungary. Which is a beautiful country that I am heartbroken to see going this road.
posted by kaibutsu at 9:42 AM on January 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


people in this thread are couching their disdain of the Hungarian situation in high and mighty ideals of freedom of expression, when not everyone in this thread really supports freedom of expression, but is instead disappointed to see views they agree with suppressed by people they disagree with who are currently in power.

....I suspect you are equating "freedom of expression of conservative viewpoints" with "some people can't diss certain other people on web sites."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:42 AM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


The guy was fined thousands of dollars for writing a letter to a freaking newspaper and only this year did he find out that he would not have to pay that fine when the conviction was reversed.

If his conviction was reversed, then it sounds like that's a Constitution that supports expression rather than squelches it, no?

(And again, where are you assuming that we would have supported his paying the fine?)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:44 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


The conflation of "suppression of clerics and advocating their imprisonment and killing" with "liberal" as the term is used on mefi and much of North America is very odd.
posted by rtha at 9:44 AM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Publicly calling people out on their bigoted viewpoints and/or enforcing laws against hate speech does not equal "oppression of conservative viewpoints". It equals decent human behavior in modern society.
posted by elizardbits at 9:44 AM on January 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


"Elp! My Freedom to oppress is bein' trampled!"
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:45 AM on January 10, 2013 [9 favorites]


when not everyone in this thread really supports freedom of expression

I'm not sure you can really support that statement. I, for one, found the Soviet Union fairly outrageous. I don't agree with laws banning expressions of fascist or white supremacist views in some countries. While I was fascinated with Hugo Chavez early in his career, I think he has unfortunately jumped the shark into something uncomfortably close to totalinarianism.

And with regard to this:

Anything democratic and secular is liberal, and conservatives have shifted hugely in accepting such things. -- Jehan

Well, if you're going to hold up minority conservative views as opposed to a democratic system of government, I guess you've got me. But if someone wants to write a book about how the US would be better off as a totalitarian dictatorship with themselves at the top I believe they have a right to do so. They won't be receiving any dinner party invitations from me any time soon, however.
posted by rocketpup at 9:46 AM on January 10, 2013


I suppose this doesn't hit your radar because, well, your side is winning

Wait, is your side the Hungarian crackdown? I admit I was zoning out a little when our team captains were divvying us up into two opposing teams, but dang.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:49 AM on January 10, 2013 [19 favorites]


But how 'bout that situation in Hungary, eh? Maybe being concerned with values such as free speech and religious tolerance, we should address concrete and severe repression of such civil liberties as they occur, when they are the main topic of the discussion thread that is immediately in front of us, no? I certainly wouldn't want someone to think I tacitly supported the current situation in Hungary because I derailed a thread on the topic to whatever my other pet concern is, such as pedantically educating people on the definitions of liberal and left-wing, so I think I'll relegate my future comments in this thread to be more Hungary-specific.

Some earlier comments brought up the potential role of the current global economic situation. How has Hungary been doing lately in this respect?
posted by eviemath at 9:50 AM on January 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


You're right griphus, here's the wikipedia article I just wrote.

So the best example you can come up with of the wide-scale government suppression of conservative views is a tempest in a teapot brewed by a bigot who didn't have to pay a $5,000 fine because the government said it was okay for him to be a bigot?
posted by griphus at 9:51 AM on January 10, 2013 [15 favorites]


You're right griphus, here's the wikipedia article I just wrote.
Hi! I count myself as liberal. And yet more or less support your right to say what you want against gay people, black people, Muslims, Christians, and whatever. So long as you don't harass or libel an individual, or incite to a specific crime, you're free to spout hate as much as you want in my book.
Well, if you're going to hold up minority conservative views as opposed to a democratic system of government, I guess you've got me.
Well, check 1848 for a rundown of all the folks who were against democracy. It was considered pretty outrageous in some circles that the people could have power over the king. Ironically, Hungary itself fought a viciously bitter war for their country to be independent and have a liberal constitution.
posted by Jehan at 9:51 AM on January 10, 2013


You're right griphus, here's the wikipedia article I just wrote.

This.... this is your example of an unbiased source?

wha
posted by elizardbits at 9:51 AM on January 10, 2013 [9 favorites]


Anything democratic and secular is liberal, and conservatives have shifted hugely in accepting such things.

My Facebook wall says otherwise.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:54 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, if you're going to hold up minority conservative views as opposed to a democratic system of government, I guess you've got me.
Well, check 1848 for a rundown of all the folks who were against democracy. It was considered pretty outrageous in some circles that the people could have power over the king. Ironically, Hungary itself fought a viciously bitter war for their country to be independent and have a liberal constitution.


I do believe you. I do believe there were and are many people who take a dim view of democratic systems of government. The thing I am not sure of is what you are arguing about.
posted by rocketpup at 10:03 AM on January 10, 2013


This.... this is your example of an unbiased source?

You can read the legal papers on the case.

I don't think that's what the word “liberal” means, except perhaps on FOXNews.

OK, I withdraw the example, but my point stands since the other examples do.

What are the conservative minority viewpoints that were suppressed in those cases

There were all kinds of onerous anti-clerical provisions enshrined in the 1917 Mexican Constitution. Feel free to read it for yourself. One example: religious leaders were prohibited from criticizing "the authorities of the Government, specifically or generally."

2. What is your evidence for the likelikhood that anyone here would not be opposed to that suppression?

Define "here"? But regardless, I didn't say people here would support those laws I was responding to what you wrote:

To my knowledge, there is not currently, nor has there been, an attempt to systematically enshrine the liberal viewpoints as the status quo into a government's constitution the way Hungary is doing.

I suppose it was true. You don't know about these things. But that doesn't mean they didn't happen.
posted by Jahaza at 10:06 AM on January 10, 2013


DERAIL SUCCESSFUL
posted by brundlefly at 10:07 AM on January 10, 2013 [13 favorites]


(I was joking about having written it.)
posted by resurrexit at 10:07 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


The problem with trying to connect with the idea that liberals should sympathize with conservatives if/when they get suppressed is that conservatives, when in power, meet liberal ideas with basically 2 words: shut up. There are variations, including ones that don't use words but certain bodily gestures and careful voicing to suppress, marginalize, silence, or ignore, but that's basically it.

Wait... actually, liberals do kinda already do this. Instead of telling conservatives/republicans to shut up when they're in power, they know how it feels to be silenced, suppressed, marginalized, and or ignored, so they let them voice their opinions as they have in the debate over Obamacare and the Fiscal Cliff.

I suppose the conflict I might be referring to is more outside the congressional halls.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 10:12 AM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


I do believe you. I do believe there were and are many people who take a dim view of democratic systems of government. The thing I am not sure of is what you are arguing about.
Oh, sorry. I was answering an earlier comment concerning whether there had ever been attempts to inshrine liberal viewpoints in a constitution. The answer is not only "yes", but also that the world is now so much more liberal than in earlier years we hardly acknowledge those attempts as anything but "how things are". When likened to 150 years ago, the western world of today has liberalism baked-in.
posted by Jehan at 10:13 AM on January 10, 2013


Which I disagree with on many points, don't pin this guy's words on me

Nah, you don't get off the hook that easy.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:14 AM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


The problem with trying to connect with the idea that liberals should sympathize with conservatives if/when they get suppressed is that conservatives, when in power, meet liberal ideas with basically 2 words: shut up.

All those think tanks, magazines and things just keep repeating two words whenever they're in power. OK then... Just because you don't pay attention to conservative voices doesn't mean they don't exist.
posted by Jahaza at 10:15 AM on January 10, 2013


I'm really glad this thread is about US politics now because having to think about other kinds of places is hard.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:18 AM on January 10, 2013 [30 favorites]


Just because you don't pay attention to conservative voices doesn't mean they don't exist.

"Bill O'Reilly is really a liberal." - Roger Ailes
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:20 AM on January 10, 2013


Just because you don't pay attention to conservative voices doesn't mean they don't exist.

Do you have anything insightful or informative to say about Hungary, the subject of this post? If so, please do.

Seconding eviemath that I'd love to know more about the effects of the global economic situation on Hungary, and what links there might be to that and the current political situation. I had a number of friends in college who studied in Budapest (it was the site of one of our college's government foreign study programs), and at the time (1980s), Hungary seemed to have a rep as being more liberal (sorry) than a lot of other Soviet Bloc countries.
posted by rtha at 10:21 AM on January 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


From the linked article:
For example, currently his work is not part of the Hungarian national education programme, due to some changes in school material in which, at the same time, three famously antisemitic writers have been included.
As an educator, I find the role of choice of education materials in shifts toward totalitarianism quite concerning. Do other folks have more context; how much has this been a factor in the shift, or is it merely a symptom?
posted by eviemath at 10:22 AM on January 10, 2013


Do you have anything insightful or informative to say about Hungary, the subject of this post? If so, please do.

My comments are about the subject of the post, but thanks! The topic of the article involves the idea of enshrining political principles in a constitution and that's mainly what I've been discussing.
posted by Jahaza at 10:25 AM on January 10, 2013


You don't know about these things. But that doesn't mean they didn't happen.

And that is why I qualified my statements with "to my knowledge", and invited people to correct my assumption. Thank you for doing so (and thank you, moreover, for not leaving it at an invitation to read the whole of the document myself - pulling out the anti-clerical provisions in the 1917 Mexican constition was helpful).

> What is your evidence for the likelikhood that anyone here would not be opposed to that suppression?

Define "here"?


The root of this entire derail is that in this thread, people who are shunning the Hungarian government for its current actions are being accused of hypocrisy because it's only liberal viewpoints that are being squelched, and that if it were conservative viewpoints who were getting thus squelched we'd be all cool with it. I feel quite confident in saying for myself that if this were 1917, I would be just as upset about the Mexican government's anti-clerical statutes, so such an accusation of hypocrisy is unfair, and uncalled for.

I do find it interesting that it was necessary to go back nearly 100 years into the past in order to find an instance of institutionalized banning of the conservative minority, incidentally.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:26 AM on January 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Do you have anything insightful or informative to say about Hungary, the subject of this post? If so, please do.

rtha, I directly asked him. He replied. It's good.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:27 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Do other folks have more context; how much has this been a factor in the shift, or is it merely a symptom?

I mean, it could very well be both. Anti-Semitism is basically an ambient condition in Eastern and Central Europe, and public figures don't really censor themselves on that front. The only sort of racism that's even more open is antiziganism (or anti-Gypsy or anti-Roma or whatnot.) Sticking openly anti-Semitic writers on a school curriculum wouldn't be nearly as big a leap as if you were to stick a white supremacist into an American one.
posted by griphus at 10:27 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's a topic page about Hungary and Orbán at Presseurop if anybody wanted to delve into more background. It's news articles over the last couple of years, so they should show have things have developed.
posted by Jehan at 10:29 AM on January 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


(And, for that matter, American schools still teach kids about the inspiring industrialist Henry Ford without making mention of The International Jew.)
posted by griphus at 10:29 AM on January 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


...there are all kinds of onerous anti-clerical provisions enshrined in the 1917 Mexican Constitution..., and all related upstream comments:

Let's not fall for this classic (and frequently successful) attempt at bamboozlement.

When a people organize themselves to discourage and outright block oppressive behaviors and ideologies, they are not being "oppressors". They are not "inconsistent", nor "hypocritical". They are simply enforcing a public ethos of mutual respect and open mindedness. The liberal (in the US sense) ethos of open mindedness is not a suicide pact. For example, it is not "racist" to vigorously oppose the white supremacists. In the US, claims that liberals have some sort of moral obligation to be "consistent" about their belief in listening to different perspectives opened the door to the theocratic fascistic tendencies that have all but taken over the contemporary GOP at all levels. To say that contemporary Democrats have anything remotely close to this tendency toward totalitarianism is a lie, period. But it's a lie backed by tons of fascist money, and so disseminated 24/7 by phoney "entertainers" like Limbaugh, Beck, Savage, and hoards of wannabes and minions.

What is most obvious is that referring to the growing theocratic fascism of Hungary as "conservatism" is by no means a conservative position, but a fascist one. Likewise, those who equate liberalism with "stalinism", or mixed western economies with "state socialism", are not speaking as conservatives, but as propagandists with a rightist utopian vision (i.e, again, as fascists). Yes, that includes all of you "conservative" rightists in the US and Canada.

Both "liberalism" and "conservatism" belong in the constitutional republics formed out of the Enlightenment. Both are actually considered too "liberal" and too centrist by totalitarians of the right and left, and both are purged, or worse. Look at the GOP: how many solid Republicans in the Reagan and Bush administrations have come out denouncing the authoritarian and extremist tendencies of the phoney populism of the Tea Party? Many. They have either removed themselves from the GOP, or been purged.
posted by mondo dentro at 10:33 AM on January 10, 2013 [20 favorites]


Where did that come from? I've not heard anything about Hungary in the papers for a while now, so this is seemingly out of left field. I'm sure the story behind it is quite interesting though.
posted by Slackermagee at 10:41 AM on January 10, 2013


I do find it interesting that it was necessary to go back nearly 100 years into the past in order to find an instance of institutionalized banning of the conservative minority, incidentally.

It's interesting, but not in the sense that makes it particularly unlikely. It's neccesary to go back that far because there was in much of the world a conservative/liberal (broad sense) anti-communist coalition for most of the period between 1917 and now. (Arguably examples from Spain, where the republican government was a liberal/communist/anarchist coalition, are a couple decades more recent.)

It's largely because of the erosion of that after the collapse of democracy that we see situations like Hungary, the current politics of Poland and Russia or, to a degree, the current politics of Greece (this is obviously a generalization).

The absence of the unifying force of anticommunism seems to make liberal anticlericalism as well as right wing racism more likely.

When a people organize themselves to discourage and outright block oppressive behaviors and ideologies, they are not being "oppressors".

True, but not on point. Liberal anticlerical laws in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century banned, e.g. the wearing of religious garb by priests. That some hard core oppressive behaviour there, eh?
posted by Jahaza at 10:44 AM on January 10, 2013


Not really, no.
posted by elizardbits at 10:50 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's neccesary to go back that far because there was in much of the world a conservative/liberal (broad sense) anti-communist coalition for most of the period between 1917 and now. (Arguably examples from Spain, where the republican government was a liberal/communist/anarchist coalition, are a couple decades more recent.)

So, then the question becomes - are the viewpoints that today are considered conservative the same as what would have been considered conservative then? And by that token, were the anti-clerical views of the 1917 Mexican constitution considered to be the repression of a conservative viewpoint? Meaning, is that what people in 1917 thought?

It's largely because of the erosion of that after the collapse of democracy that we see situations like Hungary, the current politics of Poland and Russia or, to a degree, the current politics of Greece (this is obviously a generalization). The absence of the unifying force of anticommunism seems to make liberal anticlericalism as well as right wing racism more likely.


I'm not sure I follow, particularly in light of the fact that the specific viewpoints that are considered "conservative" or "liberal" can change over time. I'd wager that this has almost as much to do with why you had to go back that far as does the anti-communist coalition of the time; we are looking at what people back in 1917 thought about things, and that was often very, very different.

But that's all getting away from the thrust of the thread, which is that this suppression in Hungary is going on today - and the source of the ire at the derail, which is that government suppression is bad, regardless of who is being suppressed, and accusing people of playing sides with their opinons on that issue is shitty.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:55 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


What I saw in the essay: Religion is being tied to patriotism....or maybe the other way around. Or maybe Christianity itself is just a handy hook to hang power on. The effect is: to challenge a legal premise is to commit a sacrilege. When dissonance equals heresy, it also equals treason.

Heavy irony. Christianity's original theorist was a flaming revolutionary.

This seems to transcend liberal vs conservative ideals. It looks more like a budding theocracy. Conservative vs heretical is the dynamic in play. Maybe back to right and left wing analysis for these guys.
posted by mule98J at 10:58 AM on January 10, 2013


True, but not on point. Liberal anticlerical laws in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century banned, e.g. the wearing of religious garb by priests. That some hard core oppressive behaviour there, eh?

You can't say such a thing in a context-free way. These laws weren't just passed for the hell of it, out of the blue. If clerics have been supporting a brutally oppressive regime, then, sure, people tend to hate them. The Christianist (carefully chosen word, that) right wing in the US is hurting all Christians because it's doing exactly what standard lefty ideology says they do: supporting the powerful at over the weak by forming a coalition with would-be oligarchs, aiding and abetting the use of theological arguments a weapon of class warfare by the super-rich on everyone else.
posted by mondo dentro at 10:59 AM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


In the Soviet Union, my family had some property (it's complicated) out in the woods, but driving distance outside of Leningrad, where we lived. An Eastern Orthodox priest lived out there, basically hiding from the Communists, but really he was just keeping a low profile. I don't know the specifics of either him living there, or how the Eastern Orthodox clergy dealt with Communism -- although orders to eradicate the church tended to get "lost" a lot, or not followed through -- but basically this dude just lived out there because he knew that people wouldn't bug him, and his neighbors would cover for him and he was just that guy that lived out there and definitely not a clergyman.

Being Eastern Orthodox, he was also Russian, which means his birth certificate and government documents all said "Russian" in the little box that said "Race." My family were all Jews and short of my mother's father who, somehow, managed to get a birth certificate that said "Russian" on it (right next to his name, which was Avram, so fat lot of good it did) were all permanently branded as Jews by the Soviet bureaucracy. You want to go to college? Well, let's see your papers and, ah, Jew, okay, you have to go to this school. Top of your class? Want to go to an elite school? Get an important job? Sorry, it says "Jewish" right there on your paperwork and we can't let Jews in. Just how it works, no hard feelings. Unlike the priest who, ostensibly, could pass for Russian when necessary and, given enough time, effort and connections, enter society as just another Russian guy, my family could not. We were branded, permanently, by both our appearance, and our documentation. Once a Jew, always a Jew.

So, no, the banning of the wearing of religious garb by priests is not "hard core oppressive behavior." Hell, the shit my family went through is not "hard core oppressive behavior." It's just run-of-the-mill institutional racism. So pardon me as I call bullshit on basically everything you just wrote, Jahaza.
posted by griphus at 10:59 AM on January 10, 2013 [21 favorites]


Liberal anticlerical laws in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century banned, e.g. the wearing of religious garb by priests. That some hard core oppressive behaviour there, eh?

I'm having a little difficulty sympathizing with your tu quoque regarding liberal oppression of conservative minorities, since the latest incident you've cited is more than 80 years ago. If we count constitutions that made it for more than five years before popular revolt, now we're looking at 1918, prior to both world wars. I would argue that the tenor of the world is rather different than it was in 1918. If we're comparing apples with apples, the enshrined laws of the nations in question around this time period openly classified Jews, Catholics, minorities, and immigrants as second-class citizens, which is far worse than the Mexican constitution restricting Catholic criticism of the government. And even if we grant you that the one-time existence of asymmetrical liberal oppression of conservative thought did exist, you still haven't advanced the faintest hint of explanation as to why that makes Hungary's oppression of religious minorities in 2013 an OK thing.
posted by Mayor West at 11:01 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, no, the banning of religious garb by priests is not "hard core oppressive behavior." Hell, the shit my family went through is not "hard core oppressive behavior." It's just run-of-the-mill institutional racism.

You've completely misunderstood my point. In response to me, mondo dentro said it was OK for states to "outright block oppressive behaviors and ideologies." I pointed out that the laws went far beyond blocking what could reasonably considered "oppressive behaviors and ideologies" by, for instance, forbidding the wearing of clerical dress or religious habits in public.
posted by Jahaza at 11:03 AM on January 10, 2013


Slackermagee:
It's been building up for quite a while, as I understand things. Fidesz has been in power since 2009, when they obtained a supermajority and started re-writing the constitution in their favor. This new constitution has been in force for about a year now. They also now control judicial appointments and have basically been stacking the judiciary in their favor, as well, and are pretty much done with that project.

I suspect that the rather extreme linguistic isolation of the country plays a role in the quiet nature of its slide into fascism. Translating news is a bit of a pain, and so it filters out rather slowly...
posted by kaibutsu at 11:06 AM on January 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


You know Jahaza, if I had an insanely big axe to grind about the oppression of the CC in every thread that could probably be connected to it I probably wouldn't start off with the example of how the left wing disliked them in the Spanish Civil War. That might invite the close student of history to reflect on the way that might make the Spanish CC look like fascist blackshirt supporting assholes.
posted by jaduncan at 11:06 AM on January 10, 2013 [16 favorites]


Ah, I misread. However, you still can't draw a direct line between "liberal anticlericalism" and what is happening to minorities in Hungary right now (which is really just a specifically-nationalist and direct analogue of Soviet social policies.)
posted by griphus at 11:07 AM on January 10, 2013


[Folks, if people want to have this discussion with Jahaza specifically, it's okay to just MeMail them. Otherwise maybe consider letting this derail die and discussing the post that was made?]
posted by jessamyn at 11:07 AM on January 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


If clerics have been supporting a brutally oppressive regime, then, sure, people tend to hate them. The Christianist (carefully chosen word, that) right wing in the US is hurting all Christians because it's doing exactly what standard lefty ideology says they do: supporting the powerful at over the weak by forming a coalition with would-be oligarchs, aiding and abetting the use of theological arguments a weapon of class warfare by the super-rich on everyone else.

Wait, what?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:10 AM on January 10, 2013


acb: "The 1918 Soviet Constitution

I don't think that's what the word “liberal” means, except perhaps on FOXNews.
"

Also, you know, it's utterly wrong...

"13. For the purpose of securing to the workers real freedom of conscience, the church is to be separated from the state and the school from the church, and the right of religious and anti-religous propaganda is accorded to every citizen. "

21. The Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic offers shelter to all foreigners who seek refuge from political or religious persecution.

" The right to vote and to be elected to the soviets is enjoyed by the following citizens of both sexes, irrespective of religion, nationality, domicile, etc., of the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic, who shall have completed their eighteenth year by the day of election: "

----------
Those are all the instances of the word fragment "relig" in the 1918 Soviet Constitution. Separation of church and state, freedom of conscience, refugee status for religiously persecuted foreigners, the right to vote and hold office...

Whether you think that was upheld is another matter, but if you're going to start throwing around whatever fantasy version of something you think is part of your case against it, I think it behooves you to actually know what you're talking about.
posted by symbioid at 11:10 AM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Lenin: Socialism and Religion is also another article one could read to see where Lenin (at least at one point) stood when it came to religion and revolution and the party and state.
posted by symbioid at 11:11 AM on January 10, 2013


I suspect that the rather extreme linguistic isolation of the country plays a role in the quiet nature of its slide into fascism. Translating news is a bit of a pain, and so it filters out rather slowly...
I suspect it's more to do with the culture of the receiving country than with Hungary. I know worries over Fidesz have been talked about in Europe since the 2006 elections. It's just that it's more important to Europe than it is to North America. There's no language barrier (like a fifth of Hungary speaks English or German), just an interest barrier. I don't mean that in a bad way, as Europeans aren't exactly interested in Mexican politics in the way that North Americans might be.

Oh, and if anybody think Fidesz is really out there, you need to read about Jobbik. Hungary is in a weird place at the moment.
posted by Jehan at 11:39 AM on January 10, 2013


In 2010, Fidesz won almost two thirds of the votes. Did voters support these extreme nationalist policies? Or was it a hidden agenda, that voters have turned away from now?

The polls that I can find show much, much lower support for Fidesz. But no other party seems to have enticed the populace either, there's as much as 50% undecided voters. I'd be very interested in any better information.
posted by vasi at 11:41 AM on January 10, 2013


the right to vote and hold office...

Whether you think that was upheld is another matter, but if you're going to start throwing around whatever fantasy version of something you think is part of your case against it, I think it behooves you to actually know what you're talking about.


Except, you know, for the part where it says monks and priests can't vote, i.e. disenfranchises people based on their religious views and actions:
65. The following persons enjoy neither the right to vote nor the right to be voted for, even though they belong to one of the categories enumerated above, namely:
...
(d) Monks and clergy of all denominations;
...
posted by Jahaza at 11:42 AM on January 10, 2013


Would be nice to have this thread culled to the five or so posts which are on-topic. It's not like this site doesn't have other threads devoted to US politics.
posted by brokkr at 12:01 PM on January 10, 2013 [9 favorites]


I wonder if this nationalist shift is going to ignite any talk of "Greater Hungary?" Because we're in this thread to talk about Hungary, right?

When I was doing a kind of Grand Tour of Europe of a few years back I stumbled into the middle of some street protest holding up signs showing greatly expanded Hungarian borders (kind of like this). Not speaking Magyar I ask the couple running the hostel were I was staying what was up. They very sheepishly explained that some people wanted Hungary to expand back to older borders, but that no one really took it seriously. Thus assuage it was fringe-y, I went back to optimizing my intake of goulash and egri bikaver.

Still, with the serious hardcore nationalism of the current government, I wonder if the topic of borders will gain momentum.
posted by Panjandrum at 12:33 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fair enough, Jahaza. I'll take my lumps.

As for Hungary, it is a bit disturbing the rise of far-right movements in Europe these days. I've been worried about Jobbik for a while now (I wasn't aware of Fidesz). Pajandrum, your anecdote doesn't help me reduce my concerns!

Is there anything like the SPLC that is tracking the far-right movements in Europe and their gains in power and their various rhetoric in each country?
posted by symbioid at 12:48 PM on January 10, 2013


Would be nice to have this thread culled to the five or so posts which are on-topic. It's not like this site doesn't have other threads devoted to US politics.

How is a discussion about fascism vs. conservatism, about a general growth of fascist movements worldwide, about how such movements are growing in Hungary and elsewhere, not on topic?
posted by mondo dentro at 12:51 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Perhaps this is a good time to learn some Hungarian?

May I recommend: Az isten bassza meg.

That means "God should fuck it." Works well here, methinks.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:03 PM on January 10, 2013


The border debate is almost certainly doomed to stay a fringe issue, if only because even in the heyday of the Kingdom of Hungary, many of the people in the areas in question weren't ethnic Hungarians. Even in areas where the Hungarian identity maintains a foothold, such as Transylvania (these days a part of Romania), the Hungarians are a minority, often one that faces discrimination at that.

My wife is ethnically Hungarian from Transylvania (Cluj-Napoca, formerly Kolosvar). It wasn't so long ago that her hometown had openly anti-Hungarian Gheorge Funar as mayor. Even if the border issue escaped the fringe, it's hard to imagine the people who once elected Funar supporting re-absorption back into Greater Hungary.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:38 PM on January 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hey, I used to live in Cluj-Napoca! Even when I was living there in 94-95 there was a lot of random nastiness, particularly the debate about the big statue of noted anti-Hungarian lawyer/revolutionary Avram Iancu in one of the main city squares despite Cluj-Napoca having one of the largest Hungarian populations in Romania. Funar was just ramping up into serious jerkdom at the time but the combination of the anti-Hungarian and anti-Semitic sentiment that we would run into during the year we lived there (people would laugh at us on the bus and when I'd ask other people why they'd say "It's because you look Jewish") made our whole time there really strange. The border issue is a nice galvanizing "Here's to us, fuck them" issue but it's going nowhere.
posted by jessamyn at 1:52 PM on January 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


jessamyn, did you ever notice how very nearly all of the nationalist statues erected under Funar's watch look like penises?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:01 PM on January 10, 2013


Part of the momentum (a big part) that has brought Fidesz to power in 2010 was the fact that people were sick of the Socialist Party which ruled the country for the previous eight years among increasing accusations of incompetence and corruption, especially after the infamous speech by prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsány. Money quote: There is not much choice. There is not, because we have fucked it up. Not a little but a lot. No European country has done something as boneheaded as we have. It can be explained. We have obviously lied throughout the past one and a half-two years. It was perfectly clear that what we were saying was not true. We are beyond the country's possibilities to such an extent that we could not conceive earlier that a joint government of the Hungarian Socialist Party and the liberals would ever do. And in the meantime, by the way, we did not do anything for four years. Nothing. You cannot mention any significant government measures that we can be proud of, apart from the fact that in the end we managed to get governance out of the shit.

Something similar, to an extent, happened before in Poland, where the post-communist party ruled from 2001 to 2005, but there the right wing conservatives from Law and Justice haven't been given enough votes to attain absolute majority and after four years were relegated to the opposition benches. People voted on "liberal conservatives" of Citizen Platform, a broad "anti-Law-and-Justice" party that over time kept shifting to the right, while support for the left dwindled further.

It is unfortunate that in both countries the left wing of the democratic opposition from the times before the fall of the Soviet Union has failed to gain permanent and prominent place in the political landscape. There's still a lot of people who will not consider voting for the post-communist left no matter what and the result is increasing polarisation.
posted by hat_eater at 3:13 PM on January 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


There's a Mefite (happens to be an old friend IRL) who lives in Hungary , and I'm wondering if he'll chime in here, as I'd love to get his most recent views on the situation on the ground there. It occurs to me, though, that at this point he might want to keep a lower internet profile vis-a-vis commenting on the current government and situation there. But I'm dropping him a line to see if he's noticed this thread.

If he were to comment, that'd a blessed relief from the disgusting and utterly stupid conflations with US politics (Jeebus Q. Christ, AGAIN?) that we've seen proliferating here.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:21 PM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


jessamyn, did you ever notice how very nearly all of the nationalist statues erected under Funar's watch look like penises?

I bet you say that to all the gals you're chatting up! ;)
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:28 PM on January 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


Really interesting article. Reading such news from Hungary brings me down; it's such a beautiful place and Viktor Orbán isn't fit to shine Imre Kertész' shoes. It's a shame nationalism is on the rise in many countries, often helped by adverse economic conditions. The Ecofin had suspended a payment of EU500 mn (scroll down), but EU bigwigs are loath to apply pressure when human rights are infringed while they'll gladly threaten and cajole to ensure an economic programme is followed.

Bollocks to that. Authoritarianism, xenophobia and the erosion of the rule of law are more important issues as they poison the ground and are harder to root out. Hungarians are citizens of the EU and the European institutions should ensure they retain their rights.
posted by ersatz at 4:40 PM on January 10, 2013


jessamyn, did you ever notice how very nearly all of the nationalist statues erected under Funar's watch look like penises?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:01 PM on January 10 [+] [!]


That is some eponysterical goodness right there.
posted by Panjandrum at 4:56 PM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


OK. I'm sitting at night in Budapest's outer districts reading this while I should be sleeping. You need to understand FIDESZ, the governing party. It is basically a mafia. More Berlusconi style than Corleone style, but definitely a mafia, and rather laughably Balkan incompetent as well. We have Oligarchs - a party based class of mega rich who run the country. We have ruling FIDESZ party mega corporations that get all the infrastructure contacts (via a company called KOZGEP run by Orban's college room mate.)

I know. I taught them English many years ago. They are now guys in their late forties and early fifties who are nostalgic for the system they grew up in and know best: "soft" communism. Over the last few months it has turned out that most of the leadership were, in fact, members of the old Kadar era "Young Communist League.". Prime Minister Orban Viktor has gone on record saying " I did not have a problem with the old system, just with those who were in charge of it." during the 1980s. Orban's father, who was a Communist Party representative once came to Budapest to publicly beat his son for "playing politics."

As my (Hungarian) son said yesterday "The FIDESZ government is comprised of Hungarian Lawyers. Weasels trim their coats with them."

It is all extremely sad.
posted by zaelic at 5:30 PM on January 10, 2013 [13 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos:

> I do find it interesting that it was necessary to go back nearly 100 years into the past in order to find an
> instance of institutionalized banning of the conservative minority, incidentally.

EP, in the Ripped From The Headlines Of Today department we have Cuba, Venezuela, actually pretty much anybody who would want to belong to the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas.
posted by jfuller at 5:30 PM on January 10, 2013


Flapjax was right - a lot of people in Hungary are extremely careful to keep their heads down when publicly discussing Hungary's recent policies, especially in media that is outside the realm of the Hungarian Media Council, which keeps an eye on local Hungarian language media. Me included.

It is late at night in Hungary, and in the morning some pocky faced Party dickweed at the NEFMI (National Human Resources Ministries, which now replaces the recently defunct Ministry of Culture and a lot of other Hungarian Ministries and serves as Viktor Orban's personal Ministry of Funny Walks) will be told by some boffin that MeFi is discussing Hungary in a negative light and somebody should put one (or twelve) of the paid Government internet trolls onto the site to contradict the terribly uninformed anti-Hungarian foreign propaganda being spread here. (Waiting... one... two... three... have you ever read the comments on web sites talking about Hungary? Historian Francis Fukuyama won't make that mistake again!) By late afternoon there may well be an report on the (rightist near-Nazi) Echo TV denouncing Mefi as a Zionist backed pro-Gypsy criminal insane campaign against pure innocent Middle Class Christian Hungary. And tomorrow a couple of editorials denouncing those vicious Westerners.

Sound bizarre? It isn't. That is how we roll in Hungary today.
posted by zaelic at 6:18 PM on January 10, 2013 [14 favorites]


Thanks Flapjax. Sad, interesting news. Reminds me a bit of some of the stuff coming out of Romania that I've read in recent years - re-branded relics from the old guard holding onto power, rise of secret police etc.
posted by smoke at 7:38 PM on January 10, 2013


Fascism in Europe: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce. Although I suppose it will still be plenty tragic for the folk caught within the net.

Most people don't really remember that back between the world wars most of Central/Eastern Europe was fascist to one degree or another, often with a very strong streak of Christian fanaticism. Because of how first the Nazis and then the Communists conquered and ruled those regions, these nations usually got a pass on their behavior in the '20s and '30s - and since the fall of the USSR the old unreconstructed right-wing ideologies have been slowly re-awakening and coming to life again, even before the recent economic crisis shook things up. I remember living and working in Austria five years ago, even then there was a lot of talk about how weird the neighbors were, and a certain degree of skepticism (levened, admittedly, by some serious snootiness) about the viability of the extended EU.

Of course, in Greece the history of right-wing authoritarianism was pretty much continuous right up through the 1970s, so the Golden Dawn are even less surprising a development.
posted by AdamCSnider at 8:11 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


As soon as I see some conservative minority views suppressed, I'll definitely try to remember this outrage.

Canada?
posted by IndigoJones at 3:01 PM on January 11, 2013


We're living in Hungary this year, and while I'm kind of disconnected from everyday life in the country (well, I work online; it's a banner day when I leave the house other than to buy bread or walk the dog), my family isn't so much. My daughter's at BME (Budapest University of Engineering and Economics) and my son's going to school. So I'm kinda-sorta in the know here.

Anti-Roma sentiment is indeed rife. But this is nothing particularly new; the Magyar majority has hated the Roma for a long time now. Things are worse at the moment, but I think it's largely the economy - when people don't have stable lives, they hate the Other. And Hungary's economy is in really poor shape.

Why? Two reasons. First, the rich cheat the government with shocking abandon, leaving the rest of the country to foot all the bills. Since the median income is pretty low, the rest of the country isn't too happy about it.

Second, the pre-Fidesz socialist government was rife with corruption, as mentioned up-thread, and embezzled immense amounts of money while letting the country go to pot. Fidesz swept in and Orbán immediately started trying to change everything at once.

The Christian thing, I've been informed and I believe, is a sop to Hit Gyülekezet (Faith Assembly), a fundamentalist church with growing political power. The weird thing about that lot is that their political views are essentially GOP. Some of what they espouse is wildly inappropriate for the Hungarian context, but if Pat Robertson said it, it's enshrined in permanent faith. My sister-in-law is a member of this church. I can tell a lot of stories.

Anyway, they have a lot of money and disproportionate political clout, and Fidesz is after their support.

People complain about Fidesz a lot - I mean, a lot - but there's nobody else with the power to replace them, because Hungary's politics are so fragmented. Fidesz is successfully scaring people into believing that if they lose power, Jobbik will sweep in - which is ridiculous. They've only got about 10% support, last time I saw any polls.

Jobbik, Jobbik, Jobbik. OK, some of them are ridiculous caricatures of skinhead Nazis, but both of the kids went to a "Hungarian tradition" summer camp this last summer and made a lot of friends ... who turned out to be mostly Jobbik. There's a lot of resentment in Hungary about how they're treated by Europe in general, and I think by Austria in specific - I know my wife boycotts anything Austrian. The members of Jobbik are not the most educated, and they do tend towards anti-Semitism and anti-Roma sentiment, but in the extremely unlikely event that they gain any real power in Parliament, I personally don't see them ushering in a new wave of fascism. Realpolitik will be more than sufficient to reign them in.

Interesting thing, by the way: many Jobbik consider Christianity to be a non-Hungarian tool of oppression. I think this is actually pretty accurate, as the ur-Magyar population had extremely equitable law and custom when it came to self-determination - all of which was crushed under St. Stephen's boot when he was crowned by the Pope. So there's actually an interesting movement *towards* liberalism and *away* from Christianity embedded in the nominally rightwing movement in Hungary. Which goes to show you that political tendencies don't translate well between countries.

Fidesz has indeed been stoking nationalism to a pretty overblown extent. It's not all bad; Hungarian culture is worth preservation and foreign capital has been quite destructive since joining the EU. But yeah, what's going on with minorities is really extreme. Again, my sense is that it's largely economically motivated and that Fidesz is just trying to harness it, rather than actively encouraging - but that's a fine line and I don't want to absolve Fidesz of blame.

So ... I'm going to stop now; I just wanted to add my (somewhat isolated) view of Hungary from my vantage point in Budapest's 16th district. From ... well, from the beach in Puerto Rico at the moment. Politics or no, Hungary has unpleasant winters.
posted by Michael Roberts at 6:21 PM on January 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


I personally don't see them ushering in a new wave of fascism.

I shall just flat out say that I know someone in Jobbik. She recently told me that she was reading and loving Mein Kampf, having been given it at a party meeting by someone fairly senior. So, you know, I'm slightly less blasé about them.

Sample: "It's very interesting, and he was a very clever man." This was the point at the conversation at which my astonishment peaked.

Ironically, she also dislikes both Austria and German tourists.
posted by jaduncan at 6:59 PM on January 29, 2013


@Michael

Well written.
But I am hungarian and when I read something like this I feel myself ashamed...
posted by bdz at 9:40 PM on January 29, 2013


[double post] my favourite story that can only happen in Hungary:

A few years ago there was an LGBT march in Budapest. There was also an after party in one of the clubs and they didn't allow roma LGBTs to attend...
posted by bdz at 12:21 AM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


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