András Inotai: “Spiritual genocide is taking place here”

January 8, 2018

András Inotai: "Spiritual genocide is taking place here."
Photo: zoom.hu/Balázs Ivándi-Szabó

“They are creating hateful people and at the same time creating four million seriously deprived, poor people. . . . Inciting hatred within the population is the emergence of the basest of human-animal instincts.” – András Inotai, former director of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences World Economic Research Institute

Translation of bulk of interview with András Inotai, former director of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences World Economic Research Institute, published by online daily zoom.hu on January 1st, 2018 under the title: “András Inotai: spiritual genocide is taking place here.”

The behavior of the governing party is unbelievably cynical and antisocial, says András Inotai in an interview given to zoom.hu.  We discussed the bank system, the effects of hatred and the failure of the government to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Compromise of 1867 (which ushered in an unprecedented period of economic growth and prosperity-tran.).

When we discussed meeting up you commented that you had something to say because you were not too happy about the direction of the world and Hungary.  What did you have in mind?

We are moving faster and faster towards globalization that strengthens and deepens mutual dependencies with steps that are increasingly difficult to understand or follow. This is not new. It is not possible to reverse this trend. These changes have winners and of course losers. At the same time, it is necessary to differentiate among the losers. There are absolute and relative losers.  Looking at developments in Hungary after the system change (1989-1990-tran.) and especially after 2010, then I would consider myself and a significant part of the population to be relative losers.

Like many others, I do not sit in Lőrinc Mészáros’ place, and am not a Fidesz oligarch. Just as earlier I did not belong to MSZP or SZDSZ circles.  So I live, I am okay materially, but spiritually more and more depressed.

It is important not to discount the rather wide circle of relative losers, whose motivation is as spiritual as material. Why?  Because the class of relative losers includes those who voted for Brexit in a country that is one of the biggest winners from globalization.  Especially financially.  This by itself is a total absurdity.  This class placed Donald Trump in the President’s seat in the United States which for decades has been the motor of globalization and moreover unequivocally its biggest winner, and continues to be.

However, both the Americans and the English fell asleep over the past decade and a half. A significant part of the British believe that England is still a world power. They do not take into account that the world was fundamentally reordered over the past decades.  The competitive Europeans showed up, both within and without the EU, as well as the Chinese, Indians, South Koreans, Mexicans and Brazilians. A typical lower-middle class family living in the English countryside thinks that its country produces a significant part of the world output.  Of course in 1948 this was indeed 12 percent, but today two percent.  In the case of the United States many believe that the country can do whatever it wants.

However, the connection between politics, society and economy has reached a point where nobody can say they are independent.  This means that nobody can decide exclusively about themselves.  For this reason nobody can take a maximal decision, only optimal, which means the best balance of advantages and disadvantages.  This is a totally simple connection, although many people cannot see it.  They are the ones who get it in the faces and believe the nonsense that we are independent, proud and strong. However in their circles frustration and anger is only getting stronger.

In this situation is it not a logical, indeed an expected, decision on the part of certain countries to raise higher the walls surrounding them in order to defend themselves?

You can call for an end of globalization. You can call for us to protect Hungarian sugar and milk. Let’s protect the Hungarian money market. So be it! We don’t need foreign banks! Statements of this nature have been frequently made in the highest levels.  “Thanks” to this today the local bank system is more than 50 percent in Hungarian hands.  And what happens if the Hungarian bank collapses? We should finally acknowledge that foreign-owned financial institutions undertook recapitalization in the billions of euros in order to remain here.  If a Hungarian credit institution implodes who is going to recapitalize it? The Hungarian taxpayers if they want their deposits to be secure.

These “panamas” (corrupt deals-trans.) that are taking place in the bank system are characteristic of the “growth” of wealth of an unprecedentedly selfish new oligarchy.  We are very close to a banking system in which one or more Hungarian entities collapse, or in which a single even triggers a chain reaction.

The situation cannot be all that serious.

You are very much mistaken! People are stupid to allow this to happen. This is the product of spiritual genocide that has taken place in Hungary over the past years which the Hague court should address were it authorized to do so, as the crime is similar to physical genocide. The spiritual infection is active in the case of migration, Soros, EU opposition, as well as passive in that official “national” propaganda has become an organic part of government. The latest obvious example of this is that we now commemorate the anniversary of virtually everything. Within this framework they reassessed the 1956 revolution within the framework of a year-long 60th anniversary “commemoration.” Here was the Saint László commemorative year even though they do not know precisely when he was born, but the official propaganda proclaimed it a celebratory year. By contrast I do not know who took note of the fact that last year was the 150th anniversary of the Great Compromise between Austria and Hungary, about which there was hardly any mention. Even though we could draw conclusions from its results, dilemmas, and consequences.

A foreign dissident, Kossuth, succeeded in launching a successful half-century of modernization without precedent in Hungarian history with the economic and financial development program of the suicidal Széchenyi, and the national wisdom of Ferenc Deák.

Because it is indisputable that the compromise strengthened the nation and its future and served the country’s long-term interests. This can be demonstrated through an examination of history.  Steps for which there are no signs. Meanwhile EU membership and EU money offer a unique historical opportunity, or would have, to prepare for the 21st century.

The first half of your answer was perhaps worded too strongly.

No! A hopelessly dramatic situation has come about! That is my considered opinion! Look what is happening with human capital which is critical to the sustainable competitiveness and the foundation for the balanced growth of society. This can be observed across three areas: Education, research and development, and health care. These are the foundation stones. All three have been deliberately destroyed in recent years.

Related to this is the nature and extent of social polarization the likes of which has never happened in the European Union.  Moreover, I am a beneficiary of these, but I do not at all wish to be!  I will say some examples as well, so you can better see what I am talking about.  The flat tax in and of itself is brutally antisocial.  Today I pay far less tax than before the introduction of the new tax rate, but I would be able to live with the previous high tax burden as well.

At the same time the rest, for whom changes brought an increase to their deprivation, are left struggling even as the budget suffers a very significant loss in revenue which, among other things, could have been spent on education, social matters, and health care.

The other is the pension system. I do not need that 1.8 or 2 percent which the current Hungarian pension system automatically assures everyone uniformly. I would gladly give over an increase to those who need more than this in order to live in a manner worthy of a citizen of the European Union and and consume more living essentials—with a 27 percent consumption tax—which would also contribute to budgetary revenue.

The governing party’s behavior is inconceivable, cynical and anti-social. And yet (it is tolerated).

Maybe that’s because we hear from the government’s mouth what they want . . . 

Excuse me!  I need to return to human capital. Besides the three elements more often a fourth one appears as well which is usually mentioned in relation to the Scandinavian countries. The innovative society. The key to the defining element is the successful and sustainable development in the 21st century. This is necessary to remain competitive, especially small countries that are especially small and integrated into the world economy. The fundamental question is how capable society is to hold its own in the accelerated 21st century. From this point or view, Hungary is not only deeply in the negative range but the government deliberately and irresponsibly dumbs down the people with its actions and propaganda which destroys — and this has already happened in many areas — the pillars of adaptation.

The innovative society is open, not closed. It is solitary, not hateful. It is cooperative, not artificially polarized, fragmented. It is oriented towards the future and is not always escaping to the “glorious past.” It is prepared for changes, challenges, and actively adapts instead of continuously living in a state of anxiety, fear, insecurity, and artificially created crisis in which it consumes increasingly limited physical, material and intellectual reserves. Here I note that a natural part of globalization is polarization, but apart from Hungary there is not a single government that would deliberately strengthen this through its actions. Even in crisis-hit countries with very limited resources they try to limit this.  Here they add another shovel full.

They are creating hateful people and at the same time creating four million seriously deprived, poor people.

Is this really the goal?  Because if so, then something has gone terribly astray.  Nevertheless, with this the self-proclaimed populist, Christian conservative government is sending the message that four million Hungarian should be destroyed — sorry — and we will defend six million. Is this the great national idea?  Because if I put together the government’s numerous political elements, what I see is that the decisions point in this direction.  This is more than irresponsible, it is the pure murder of a nation.

Is the situation really this bleak?

Unfortunately I must continue.  There are still two elements of lasting competitiveness.  The one is that society cannot maintain this without a certain degree of cohesion and solidarity. If this falls below a critical level then we can see international examples of capital infusion and flows ending, and then leaving.  Not only foreign but Hungarian capital would do this, and in part already is.  Who wants to keep their money in a country where there is continuous societal tension, where mutual distrust is artificially created, where there is insufficient skilled labor capable of thought for lack of investment in education and and health care?  The second element is the effectiveness of the government sector. This is not only eradicated by an unprecedented degree of corruption comparable to an African dictatorship, but also by the “results” of the “overgrown” public sector of the past few years. In contrast to the 2010 government program which, correctly, promised a modest but effective government sector, today 24 percent of those employed full time are tied either directly or indirectly to the state sector. What else needs to be said?

Maybe this is our historical fate. To hate each other and to live together.  At the beginning of the 2000s I asked a very respected figure of the national intelligentsia whether the system change couldn’t have been done better?  We stood at the 0 km mark, with all its problems and possibilities, but within just ten years time already many feel that this isn’t the horse we wanted.  Even then everything went wrong. The answer was “no.” This is who we are, forever pulling apart and hating each other and those better off. 

I am not a social psychologist.  However, speaking on the basis of historical experience, the Hungarians are, in fact, not a cohesive society.  I don’t want to say we are unique in this respect and that this is only characteristic of our national spirit, and that there aren’t other examples of this. This wouldn’t be such a big problem. The problem is that in the developed world nobody deliberately conditions society to hate or to incite against various supposed or actual enemies. Among those sitting in the current government nobody looks a little farther.  Let’s take the current migrant question.  If I conduct a campaign of hate now, does anyone know what the consequence of this might be in the future?  It’s certain that in time the subject of our hatred changes, but the hatred remains. I am not saying that there isn’t a migration problem. There is and it isn’t small. We must deal with this issue. However, the situation should not be blown out of proportion and least of all should it be the subject of a hate campaign. The inconceivable xenophobic mood is due to this.  For the sake of the numbers.  One million people from the Middle East and Africa arrived to Europe with its population of 510 million.  That is 0.2 percent of the population of Europe. If we cannot absorb and integrate this, then there are big problems. Of this, less than 1300 would have come to Hungary, a country whose survival for the past 1200 years was thanks to repeated immigration from abroad or communities deliberately settled here.

It is necessary to address the situation, and many governments, including Hungary’s, say it is necessary to address the problems where they originate . . . 

I completely agree with this. and the European Union even developed a plan for this. As I see it, even if it works, and the member states uniformly supported the recommendations and the actions take place, even then there could be serious breaches because the migration pressure will not go away. There will not be a perfect solution. But it is for this reason it is more important than ever to work together. This is weakened or undermined by unilateral steps. Inciting hatred within the population is the emergence of the basest of human-animal instincts.