December 30, 2011

The Truth About Hungary

Duly Noted
The less you know about a matter, the more likely that you will be misled by distortions that mirror the news making clan’s prejudices.

Your correspondent dislikes themes that involve his origins. There was a time when, coming from the “other” Europe, you were rated as biased by birth. Familiarity with the system proved a prejudice. You knew too much, you were too close to the case and that kept you from appreciating communism’s achievements. Firsthand knowledge counted a disqualifier and knowing the subject became a blemish. An objective witness had to be someone that read books about it or, if local, then he was a member of the Central Committee.

Recent events demand that the silence be broken. Abandoning self-censorship is warranted, as the specific case of Hungary is indicative of the might of those that can skew the global media-rendition of occurrences.

Some qualities make Hungary into an ideal subject for an international alliance determined to impose its will by economic and political means. Little is known about Hungary, which is a place about which outsiders do not hide their ignorance. Given the complicated nature of central Europe, and regardless of two world wars rooted there, those that know out of context bits would not mind knowing even less. The lack of knowledge is converted into a virtue by claiming that, ignoring the specifics facilitates a distanced, and therefore impartial, approach.

To extrapolate without being encumbered by the facts suits many needs. For good and bad reasons, the country has plenty of enemies. The recent story begins with the revolution of 1956, which shook the Soviet system. Some resented the challenge to the global balance, others bemoaned that Moscow’s “moderates” could be undermined by the insolence of resistance. Lastly, there were those that disliked whatever revealed the flaws of the Soviet system.

During the dissolution of the Crimson Empire, the Magyars played a leading role. Their actions, such as opening the iron curtain, have accelerated the process. By a clever deal, the peaceful change from dictatorship to pluralistic democracy and from central planning to a free market system came with a condition; the exponents of the old system would not be held accountable. Thereby the cooks of “gulyás communism” saved their skins and privatized for a pittance the economy they ran for the Party.

After the “system change”, the population showed its political immaturity and its ignorance about economics. The late Kádár era taught the Hungarians how the West consumed but it kept hidden the forces behind its purchasing power. Although expected, instant paradise did not materialize. In fact, since late Socialism was financed by loans from western banks, repayment implied hardship. Beyond that, enterpises that produced junk for the Soviet zone were uncompetitive in an open market. Restructuring brought privation. This made the siren song of the “Democratic Socialists” attractive. There could be free lunches –on credit. “Blood sweat and tears” proved to be a less attractive than “bubbly, relaxation, and laughter”. The Left was back in power and so the debt grew.

Also among those intellectuals that used to criticize Kádárism, disillusionment rose. By supervising them, socialism showed that they mattered. The new system’s emerging elites ignored them. That hurt.

The elections of 2010 ended an era. The righ-of-center “Young Democrats” achieved a two third majority. The rest of the vote was halved between the Socialists and a right-wing party. The mandate was clear; a genuine renewal -avoided in 1989- was to be pushed through. This belated modernization has to face the debt, cut bureaucratic fat, detect, and arrest the cleptocracy’s waste.

Three measures evoked the ire of the intellectuals and of socialism’s privileged class. Although the real issue is the loss of power and to wealth, the criticism aims at the “media law”, a new constitution, and the national economy. All of these are alleged to be “Fascism”.

Actually, the first two correspond to Western standards. When the media law came out, in the West the charge of censorship was immediate. Oddly, the storm preceded the regulation and also its translation to inform the critics who presumably do not speak Magyar. Once this writer got hold of the freshly publicized text he had to read it twice. After the first perusal, the discrepancy between the charges and the unspectacular act suggested that something had to be missed. It was not the case. Obviously, reality failed to conform to the needs of propaganda. No matter, once every source says that the blackboard is white, it will be accepted as such by those that cannot see it.

Concerning the fascist constitution, it is its preamble that is under fire. It mentions God, history and the kind of things to which such documents refer. Naturally, as customary, only a two third majority can change it. This is colported to mean that the YDs wish to keep power forever.

Lastly, to the economy. Perhaps unwisely, the PM, Orbán had refused to deal with the IMF before the crisis deepened. Hungary was willing to implement the Bank’s demands for austerity. However, talking of a “war of economic independence”, Orbán refused to let the IMF implement the measure’s detailed execution. Note: The subsequent new constitution goes further than the IMF. It provides for a flat tax of 19%, it demands that the deficit be less than 3% and it wishes to lower the national debt to 60% of GNP. Furthermore, the deficit’s rise cannot surpass one-half real growth. Not everybody might like this but such goals are hardly a sign of budding dictatorship. Even so, there are whispers that, to spare the country, Orbán has to resign to pacify Barroso and Brussels.

A question arises. Why is it that lately, even in conservative publications, Hungary appears as civilization’s Public Enemy No. 1? The beneficiaries of the old system that cannot forgive the YDs their victory are excellently networked. Left - Liberal and Socialist associates and friends – some truly concerned about “Fascism” – are fed with information from their trusted local contacts. The material is regurgitated as information. This starts a snowball that grows into an avalanche. Soon, since “many say so” newsmen located outside the “circle” take up the warning about a dictatorship. With that, the fiction becomes a reality supported by the fact that “everybody” says so.

The process in which interconnected transnational elites convert fantasy into a monster is effective in the case of other countries, too. There is also a mechanism that forgives some political crimes and alters wolves into lambs. Just consider the outrage the mentioning of an evil triangle with Gaddafi, Kim, and Ahmadinedjad can elicit. Therefore, in judging projected images, one should keep a salient fact in mind. The media lean left because those working for it are mainly leftists. The media relies on a network of experts that can control its membership. Add to this the “ping-pong system”. “Ping” and the ideological positions of writers with a leftist bias are taken up by kindred spirits abroad. At the place where the original distortion had been created, the resulting report is picked up. “Pong” is when this second-hand news is exploited as an impartial confirmation of the original line. In the end, this game creates the illusion of genuine international outrage and that decent people are outraged. This way the truth is not what it is but what it is pretended to be.

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