Hungary’s problem is not the refugees but itself

September 6, 2015

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Translation of Péter Béndek’s blog post “Hungary’s problem is not the refugees but itself” (“Magyarország problémája nem a menekültek hanem önmaga”) appearing Gépnarancs.

Prime Minister Orbán is the most harmful Hungarian politician in the history of the Hungarian system change.  He has not given the country anything that would have made it sustainably successful.  To the contrary, led by his own self-interest, vanity, and ignorance of consequences, he has led the country from aberration to aberration.

Never mind the fact that the government is whipping its citizens into a frenzy over the refugee crisis for domestic political purposes (having neglected for years, but at least since the beginning of the year, to strengthen the border guard, set up civilized refugee camps near the borders, not to speak of effective state competency, or the fact that it went nine rounds with the EU over every decision it was compelled to take—in other words, that it might have governed).   Never mind its high-handed treatment of the leaders of some European countries and the press (while at the same time offering contradictory assessments).  Never mind a lot of things.  The thing that needs to interest us the most is ourselves, Hungarian society, and what we can take away from the crisis.

Looking at the dominant behavior of the entirety of its members, society itself, not knowing its own capabilities and objectives, wanders the maze of government propaganda.  It favors order, but has no idea what order is (what the majority believes to be order is accommodating the call of the stronger party, its stronger law, in lieu of moral and social balance), and has no idea how it could be successful, and for this reason is frustrated, constantly lives in fear, is constantly bickering, is constantly feeding the desire for revenge, has no idea how it might be free, generous, beautiful—all the things it would like to be.  It is for this reason that the image is both saddening and touching.   It suffers and struggles with itself, circulates values that do not exist, rejects values that could save it, and often gives itself over to loud, aggressive, threatening solutions.

None of which are solutions. Prime Minister Orbán is the most harmful Hungarian politician in the history of the Hungarian system change.  He has not given the country anything that would have made it sustainably successful.  To the contrary, led by his own self-interest, vanity, and ignorance of consequences, he has led the country from aberration to aberration.   The country has not had a single mini-crisis, either with the EU or in the domestic political arena, from which it successfully extricated itself under his leadership in which the vast majority would have won.  To the contrary.  The country is getting farther and farther from the possibility of a European, successful path.  Among them the refugee crisis contains the largest ricochet for us, and feeds appetites in the direction of an alternative world that nobody recognizes, in which it will eventually reap the reward it deserves.

Putting a country that has existed in historical crisis for a century on a liberating path and helping the people rise up—who wouldn’t rejoice over such a task, providing he has the necessary personality.  But what Orbán managed to bring about on the road to power (the two-thirds parliamentary majority), has been used in a manner contrary to this task.  Somebody writes, not entirely without reason, that the Central-European crisis is the product not of migration, but of the inadequate quality of liberal democracy.   This is triply the case in Hungary.  In fact, in our case it is not merely a systematic crisis.  It is not a crisis within Europe but rather a crisis of culture and identity that goes against Europe.  It is a crisis of a people who have lost their soul and are forced to live with illusions with the absence of self-knowledge, who are unable to act due to a lack of competency, which is not capable of grabbing onto or obtaining for itself the successes and motivations necessary for this.

It is not possible to know where the prime minister wants to lead the fight against the West, which is often not worthy and often insensitive to us.  But we can only lose such a battle.  Instead of accepting our points of view with intelligent words and civilized behavior, Orbán runs head first into walls, while the more clever ones look on to see what he achieves, and, once he has broken his head, choose the solution that is optimal for them.

We, on the other hand, are worse off for the prime minister, his notoriety, and the balance sheet of his results.  We needn’t fear.  It will be sufficient for national unity opposed to Orbán when the EU is threatening to suspend part of our rights, when it withholds a large part of the money, and the air freezes around us—so I’m not very concerned.   However, I am worried about what will happen until that time.  There is too much time before us.  Too many lost months, years.  And whether it won’t be too late to find our way back.