It is fascinating to see how the Fidesz govenment, while continuing to rubbish and execrate the old pre-1989 system acts increasingly like it. Old habits die hard, especially when they suit you.
Having hastily devised a new constitution and tried to fill all significant state and civil service positions with its own supporters assuring them of extended periods of office, and having replaced important cultural figures with more Fidesz puppets, the goernment is now determined to return to the days when state ideology came first and the rest nowhere.
It's not by law, of course, dear boy, for despite the media laws look! there are people, would you believe it? still criticising us. Of course it's not by law alone, how crude! People and money are the agents. Whoops, your job is gone! Whoops, your financial support has vanished! But it's OK we've got someone to take your place. See, we have an entirely new appointments board.
But it's still not enough.
Now the Hungarian government is setting up its own nationalist publishing venture with public money and loads of free books - providing the books fit into the nationalist agenda, the nationalist agenda being the point.
Some excerpts from an article in Magyar Narancs - my translation.
The state is offering 300 million forints [c £860,000] of support for the first fourteem books to appear under the Imre Kerényi National Library imprint. This sum us roughly 100 million forint more than that allocated to the NKA (National Cultural Foundation) Könykiadás Kollégium (Publishing Academy) fund to cover all Hungarian publishing both in Hungary and abroad.
A spokesman for the Prime Minister's office declared that the new imprint would comprise books that the government recommends to its supporters and possible future supporters...and is an attempt to offer the nationalist side its own canon. According to Kerényi all political systems try to embody their philosophy in buildings, monuments and books. What these books would have in common is their Hungarian quality and love of the mother country, and would not seek to be a criticism of anyone or of other canons, he said, completely contridictiong his earlier statement to the effect that it would be a canon for government supporters...
The books in the Library would be published by the 100% government-owned Hungarian Journal and Book Publisher. The books would appear in editions of ten thousand of which half would be complimentary copies. All school- and public libraries would receive the books with a note to the head teachers and to the mayors of all significant communities that they are to be received under the condition that they be 'prominently displayed'. The cost of the books otherwise is to be 2500 forint [c£7.20]*
One major problem is that all this has been set up without any consultation with other publishers and writers.
A little late in the day, in fact yesterday, the Union of Hungarian Publishers and Distributors reacted to the setting up of the multi-million new series by pointing out - not surprisingly - that the money is not being provided exclusively by government supporters but the whole nation... and that it does not need 300 million forints to publish fourteen books and that this constituted a serious waste of taxpayers' money.
My bold type. In other words you can't trust actual writers and publishers, especially those with the greatest reputations abroad. You can't trust the Nobel Prize winner, Imre Kertész, you can't trust Nádas, Esterházy, Krasznahorkai or any of that insufficiently patriotic, internationalist, commie-Jew set. They are pernicious influences.
Trust us instead and, as you look at your free patriotic book, remember which way to vote next time. It's your money after all.
*Average take-home pay is c £400 per month. (Data from, but note the low pay of doctors)