Sunday, 10 April 2011

Meanwhile in Hungary...

The philosopher Ágnes Heller on the political climate in Hungary.

To say I find the Hungarian situation depressing is putting it mildly. The great pianist András Schiff, who lives in Italy, has been threatened with having both hands cut off if he returns because he wrote an article in which he questioned whether Hungary was fit to be the president of the EU. By way of response, one of the members of the ruling Fidesz party, declared it was a pity that more people like Schiff, Nick Cohen and Daniel Cohn-Bendit, who had expressed similar opinions, couldn't have been massacred in the White Terror following the fall of the Bolshevik revolution in 1919. A little more massacre, if you please, maestro.

Meanwhile the attempt to smear intellectual critics of the regime goes on with accusations of financial impropriety. This has been the charge levelled at, for example Agnes Heller the philosopher, who dared write this. And today's Magyar Hirlap carries news of a demonstration by all of ten members of an organisation called A Szövetség a Német-Magyar Párbeszédért (The Federation for German-Hungarian Dialogue, and one may not have to wonder what element of historical German dialogue they might wish to pursue) protested at the 81 year old internationally recognised philosopher's appearance at a media conference of the paper, Die Tageszeitung. They accuse her of slandering Hungary. It is fascinating to read the comments under the clip: they fully demonstrate their own position while denying it.

How do I know about this insignificant little demonstration? Because the Hungarian paper features it on its web front page, and a lot of blogs and websites have also run with it.

Anti-Semitism? Certainly not! Though Schiff and Heller are in fact Jewish. Heller had criticised the Hungarian public for not speaking out about the current social and political climate.

Well now, there is the Demokratikus Ellenzéki Összefogás (the Alliance of Democratic Opposition), and there was this march of some 50,000 people through Budapest on 15 March. These are causes for some cheer. I cannot quite believe that Hungarians are slipping into fascism, though there are people who wouldn't mind at all. Especially those who'd have liked a more comprehensive massacre in 1919.


Mark Granier said...

Re those comments under the youtube clip: extraordinary lack of imagination, self awareness, history and, well, practically everything. The racist sheep are out in force, furiously pulling the wool into their own eyes.

liam cleary said...

So glad to see you drawing attention to this George.As someone who visits Budapest regularly I think it is vital to keep developments in Hungary in the news and to help strengthen the position of anyone who wishes to speak their mind. Otherwise art, culture and poetry get kicked to one side.Do post up when next you will be reading or speaking in Budapest.