Viewing Hungary Through Warped Mirrors

Duly Noted

About the hidden forces that determine what you will have reason to think.

Before resigning, Sarah Palin admitted:  “I cannot take this anymore.” Since the title “Iron Lady” is already given away, the best way to refer to Ms Palin might be “Metal Maid”. The case makes one speculate about the instruments that can end the political life of a toughie. The concern is independent of whether one is a Palin fan or not. 

Palin’s case points to other victims. Behind this affair, there is a force that cannot be written off. Thus, the seemingly isolated issue is an occurence that is not limited a country or to parties. We have a case with a warning label “You are next”. 

If the forces that move the media wish, anything can be converted into what it is not. Alternatively, into the opposite of what it is. Once the muck sticks, it will be more difficult to remove than it is to split the atom. Take the case of Bush. The other day someone inquired about the training of American Presidents. Usually they have higher degrees. Even Bush? Regardless of anything said or done, Bush is labeled as an idiot and nothing will change that. Every time the foreign press mentions the Swiss People’s Party it uses the adjective “extreme right-wing”. Never mind its record or the platform. Short of a fusion with the CP, nothing will erase the label. 

As a country, the USA is a victim of distorted labeling. Some of it is of minor consequence. This is the case of “young country” implying lack of the grown-ups wisdom. To most here, it is a shock to be told that the US has the oldest system, the most stable order and that she is the oldest modern democracy. “Trigger-happy cowboys” is another one. It scores even if restraint from considering the other guy's position has regularly been to the detriment of US interests. A prediction can end this aside. If Obama is unelected, the action will confirm the charge or primitive racism. No explanations will be accepted.

The present is producing a case that is not only illustrative but also significant. The machine that runs the European Union exploits the currency crisis to force a political union. That sneaky centralization transcends the mandate of the EU and what the public would approve – if only it could speak up. Leaving economics, in politics, the attempt to centralize has picked a target to serve as a test case. The test of the concentration of power in Brussels is to impose a leftist project on Hungary. The lack of an effective foreign lobby – Magyars do not stick together and assimilate abroad well - and the limited information about the place, make the target attractive. Furthermore, recent elections resulted in the defeat of the Socialists with tight connections to the old Soviet-imposed system. The new majority that reduced the Socialists into a minor party pursues what is anathema to the global left. Besides shrunken government, the resented areas are a flat tax, non-PC ideas about marriage, and the handling of Nazism and Communism as related totalitarian systems. Legal action against the political criminals of the “People’s Democracy” also irritates as it is “persecution”. 

The EU’s Socialist-Liberal-Green majority relies on effective instruments. Their purpose is to “defend democracy” by removing Hungary’s government and Mr. Orbán as Prime Minister. First, the country’s reputation is attacked. An action to condemn Hungary is threatened by the European Assembly. Second, the international media can be mobilized through the leftist network that dominates it and the universities. The ammunition comes from the sidelined local left whose exponents are part of the “network”. The bad press cuts the inflow of investments. This causes a downgrading by the rating agencies and that undermines the economy and devalues the local currency. Finally, the EU threatens to deny a stand-by credit of 15 billion needed as a security to calm the markets. Additionally, a 500 million “cohesion fund” given to new members is about to be terminated because the deficit will exceed the mandated 3% of the GDP. 

That deficit might be a case that space allows to handle. Hungary’s went from 4.6% in 2009 to 4.2 in ’10, and then it dropped to 3.6, and will be 2.8 this year. This year Belgium will have 4.6, Denmark 4.5, France 5.3, Ireland 8.6, Romania 3.7, Slovakia 4.9, and the Czechs 3.8%. Spain scored in 2011 8.5 and is lobbying to be above 5% this year. None face public flogging. 

Frustratingly, the moves against Budapest reflect a pre-conception and the accusers are the judges. Therefore, the defense mounted is not heard and whatever can be voiced is ignored. The case of the “Klubrádió” is telling. Commissar Neelie Kroes’ facts are fakes. She had denied the agency in charge of public broadcasting the privilege to present its procedures; has she known that the station has not paid its dues?  On the other hand, Kroes received the station’s managers. She also believed them. The case reminds the writer of a major US paper’s refusal to print a letter that questioned its presentation. The rejected writer is an acting ambassador, has served in Washington, and is an ex Minister of Foreign Affairs. He is also a professor and used to teach at a major US university. Big gun, big silencer. A word about Ms Kroes who consults fortune-tellers can broaden the reader’s perspective. When challenged about her errors she claimed to be properly informed -by an unidentified Hungarian. Newly, she has appointed Herta Däbler-Melin to a board that is to protect the freedom of expression in Europe. As a minister in a leftist German cabinet HDM compared Hitler and Bush. 

A note from Holland reveals a case about investigations with pre-determined results. Since 1992, Mr. Marácz is teaching at the Europe Institute of the U. of Amsterdam. One day a call came from a TV program. His expert opinion regarding the “dictatorial situation” in Hungary was wanted. Mr. M. explained that he cannot give an expert opinion about a dictatorship that does not exist. During the long call, he explained the “nonsense” of the accusations. Finally, the caller admitted that he had no idea about “all this” and that, therefore, he sees the matter in a new light. Days later, the tone changed. The talk ended with “you know too many facts. This not good for us.”

In the program, the moderator explained that Hungary is building a new dictatorship. The gays are persecuted, the “liberals” lose their jobs, there is no religious and press freedom. Orbán was either shown, in slow motion or speeded up when he spoke. Local “experts” were used to prove that “there is no democracy” and that the Catholic Church is occupying that Hungary. The good news was that, three days after the four-hundred thousand strong demonstration that responded to the hundred thousand of the opposition, the viewer was told that hardly anybody supports Orbán. Here and there, the Ambassador was shown for seconds as the representative of the tyranny.

If you did not know reality independently, the program left you convinced that a threat to freedom is, albeit at a considerable distance, unfolding in the “East”. 

A Jewish Euro-MP, Agnes Hankiss from the “anti-Semitic” Orbán party put the matter well. She concluded from her meetings in Brussels that the foreign critics are wrong but believe what they say. The picture presented by their sources in warped mirrors confirms their preferred views. Those that project the images are trusted from the days when these people criticized Sovietism and fought for a “Socialism with a human face”. Real-existent Socialism did not survive its own reform, and so the moderately critical intellectuals lost their political influence. Hungary’s rejection of government by the Soviet-style successor party and the sidelining of the well-connected but now locally ineffective intellectuals hurt. This element is unable to conceive of democracy without their “leading role” and therefore, they react to the abandonment of their ideals by punishing the “deserters”. 

On the general level, the case demonstrates the power to create a substitute reality by those that control the media. These are the individuals that determine what is allowed to be the news and that control university appointments as well as the curriculum. In addition, this element hands out prizes and allocates funds. They can largely impose what the average person will think of parties, institutions, and individuals and so they can torpedo what offends them and sell what displeases the palate. The concluding question here is; will they be able to create a relatively unnoticed precedent to expand their power by using Hungary?