A few weeks ago The Economist ran a story on the man who they feel is stronger than Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán. The title of the article set their stall out most definitively:
“Meet the man who could oust Viktor Orban, Hungary’s strongman”
A few things are immediately clear. The Economist is of the opinion that this man is obviously a new item on the Hungarian political menu. Further, The Economist believes that democracy in Hungary is a far more aggressive rough-and-tumble affair than that which can be found in the UK, for example. Why else would the word ‘oust’ be required? That’s an awfully dramatic and vigorous word to choose. Just as in other democratic countries, governments are formed on the basis of electoral results. The last time a prime minister was ousted in Hungary was when the Left in the form of the Soviet Union were invited by Hungarian traitors to ride roughshod over the country for as long as they pleased.
But let’s not get bogged down in the title. There is, after all, plenty to consider within the article itself.
The article states that Gergely Karácsony presides over Budapest as mayor.
Although that information might be described as being ‘correct’, it’s only correct after a fashion. Presiding over something doesn’t necessarily have to mean much more than having a contract. A lot of people who live in the capital, including an ever-growing group of disgruntled people who voted for Karácsony, would take issue with the bland assumption that Karácsony ’presiding’ over Budapest means anything in terms of acts and deeds. Karácsony has been mayor of Budapest (the interestingly-noted ‘cosmopolitan capital’) since 2019, but can show no real proof of presiding over anything apart from inactivity. Following his lack of accomplishment in the Zugló district of Budapest, his backers assured voters that, having done nothing of note as mayor of a large district, what Karácsony needed was a bigger stage. It seems that was wishful thinking at best.
Of the 150 promises he made in his campaign to become mayor, only 17 had been completed after a year and a half in charge. That fact underlines both how hopeless Karácsony is, and indicates exactly to what extent he ‘presides’ over the capital city, cosmopolitan or not.
There’s another sly dig. ‘Cosmopolitan’. That sound you hear, the slight, persistent hissing is not tinnitus, but rather the disapproving hiss of the enlightened management of The Economist muttering behind their hands about the lack of ethnic diversity, as they define it, in Hungary’s rural areas.
That, of course, is yet another stick which is regularly used to batter us, and other Central European countries, about the head. We don’t match the expectations of The Economist and others because our societies are predominantly white.
This is a fact, and I would argue that there is nothing wrong with this situation. The perceived homogeneity of Central European countries is something which bothers western liberals, but something which resulted from the actions of those same western nations whose populations now regularly berate us for being, in essence, more homogeneous than they.
The lack of dissimilarity in skin colour in our populations is regarded as indicative of deep-rooted racism. But that’s not true in the slightest. The woeful state of the teaching of history in British schools has resulted in repeated generations who are wholly unaware of the recent historical events of the European continent, events in which, let’s not forget, the British played major roles. That said, it takes an almost perverse level of ignorance to not remember the Iron Curtain which once split the continent, and the logical consequences that impenetrable barrier had on population development.
People over here weren’t allowed out, and people from outside weren’t allowed in. How difficult is that to grasp as a concept? It doesn’t seem that difficult, does it? No, but that’s what we’re being expected to believe. The Economist is taking us to task (albeit in an implied manner) for not having more immigrants. And yet, you would expect that even the journalists who make up the staff of The Economist would recognise that if immigrants aren’t allowed in, then foreigners, potentially those with different skin colours, would not have the opportunity to settle. Without that input, it’s hardly surprising that societies which were trapped behind the Iron Curtain are more homogenous than those located further west.
Surely, it’s a bit much to be castigated now for a situation which was forced upon us, isn’t it? It’s hardly fair to attack us when the West did nothing to stop the situation developing, after all. Your societies developed in a particular way due, in part, to the decisions your governments made in response to various socio-political phenomena. Our societies didn’t develop the same way because we were locked up and controlled by an authoritarian foreign invasion force.
Incidentally, Karácsony’s main supporter, the man behind him, pushing him to the fore and telling him what to do, is married to the granddaughter of one of Hungary’s most notorious communists.
Frankly, The Economist should be berating Karácsony for his political reliance on the people who ensured the lack of racial diversity in Hungarian society, rather than just simpering about the ‘cosmopolitan’ nature of Budapest (implicitly compared to those oh-so-homogenous rural areas).
There is more hatred and ill-informed judgement in this one short article published in The Economist than seems believable. The whole article, though doubtless intended as a ‘fair’ assessment of an element of Hungarian politics, reveals more about the sadly typical attitudes of the West to countries located East of Austria.
Thus we read, once again, about Hungary ‘grinding down democratic norms’, lies which have now been repeated so often that various people, the staff of The Economist included, believe them to be true. No matter that the Hungarians have repeatedly proven that Hungarian democratic institutions are no more and no less democratic than other Western European institutions, it remains a peculiar trait of the West to be forever free of blemishes where they themselves are concerned. Different histories necessarily dictate that similar institutions will only ever be just that – similar. It’s a shallow-mind that declares the only good institution is the one which is a mirror image of another.
This article purports to concern a Hungarian political battle, but that’s merely the icing on the cake.
Knowingly or not, whether motivated by a desire to denigrate the role of Hungary and the V4 in the European economy or whether born from mere ignorance of European history, this article is merely an extension of the Western imperialism we see around us. The only difference is that now empires aren’t reinforced so much with armies as with media dominance.