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Crimea as Precedent
Hungarian Fascists Want A Piece of Ukraine Too

The conflict in Ukraine is arousing some long-dormant passions in parts of Europe:

A demonstration for Transcarpathia’s autonomy and the region’s separation from Ukraine was held in front of the Hungarian foreign ministry in Budapest on Friday evening.

Participants carried banners reading in Hungarian and English “Autonomy for Transcarpathia!” and “Hungary wants Transcarpathia back!”

Tamas Gaudi-Nagy, a Jobbik lawmaker who initiated the event, said that “it would serve historic juctice if Transcarpathia was separated from Ukraine.”

Balazs Lenhardt, an independent (formerly Jobbik) lawmaker, said Transcarpathia is entitled to autonomy, similarly to Crimea. The 150,000 Hungarians living in that region in western Ukraine now expect help from the Hungarian state, he said.

This was not a serious demonstration—only 200-300 people showed up—but the mere fact that it happened points to some larger truths:

The first is that Europe’s neo-fascist parties look to Putin as their Big Brother. Like them, he stands for a mix of assertive nationalism, hatred of Western democracy, paranoid suspicion of ethnic and sexual minorities, defiance of international law, and denunciation of Western hypocrisy.

Second is that the ethnic hatreds and nationalist ambitions that made the first half of the 20th Century the bloodiest and most horrible period in European history are very much with us today, especially in countries like Hungary and Serbia where ethnic and historical grievances aren’t far below the surface. Putin’s latest moves have encouraged these people to once again give voice to their irredentist fantasies out in the open.

And while at the moment the neo-fascists are mostly lurking on the fringes in Europe, growing public discontent with the economic situation in many countries and a rising dislike of the EU’s brand of bureaucratic cosmopolitanism are gradually bringing dangerous ideas back into the European mainstream.

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  • Arkeygeezer

    It appears to me that the Ukraine is a failed state. The political corruption of the past 15 years as caused nothing but turmoil in a region that would like peace, quiet, law and order. I wouldn’t wonder if more sections of the Ukraine want to break off and join other governments.

    • Alex K.

      “I wouldn’t wonder if more sections of the Ukraine want to break off and join other governments.”

      Especially if Russia is always there to help.

  • Andrew Allison

    I’m disappointed by TAI’s careless use of the word Fascist. As WRM surely knows, the term applies to somebody who believes in a way of organizing a society in which a government ruled by a dictator controls the lives of the people and in which people are not allowed to disagree with the government. It has been hijacked by the left to denigrate anybody who disagrees with them. Ugly as the ultra-nationalists in Ukraine, Hungary, N. Korea, France, etc., are, they are not Fascists, anymore than Paul Rand, et al., are. The genuine Fascists, e.g. Putin and Kim-Jung Un, are socialists.

    • Dan

      Tutto per lo Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, niente al di sopra dello stato

      • Andrew Allison

        Close, but no cigar [/grin] It’s Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato (Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State) — as good a definition of the far left as you are likely to find.

        • Dan

          blame google translate =)

    • Alex K.

      “the term applies to somebody who believes in a way of organizing a society in which a government ruled by a dictator controls the lives of the people and in which people are not allowed to disagree with the government”

      Merriam-Webster’s “full definition” is more specific: (1) a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.

      Stepan Bandera, the prominent Ukrainian nationalist, was an admirer of Mussolini and his corporate state and so a Fascist of a sort. I’m not sure his admiration survived the war, and I’m not holding it against Bandera – he didn’t have many options to choose among. Likewise, as long as a succession can be traced from France’s pre-war and WWII far right to Le Pen’s movement, a taste of fascism is not going away.

      • Andrew Allison

        You make the same false equivalence as TAI: Le Pen’s party is nationalist, not Fascist. And “that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.” would apply equally well to the current (“progressive”) US administration, which is using organs of the State (IRS) to suppress opposition.

        • Alex K.

          No, I’m not talking equivalence; I’m talking history of ideas and political movements – political heritage, as it were.

  • BobSykes

    No European state has stable borders because each has sizable minorities living in a more or less defined subregion. Further, the Eu itself contributes to the instability by assuming sovereign state functions thereby deligitimizing its component states.

    • Andrew Allison

      Not so. The only European state which fit your description is Belgium. In Italy, the argument is purely economic. I would also argue that the tide toward ceding sovereign state functions appears to be turning.

  • Pete

    Putin is suspicious of ethnic and sexual minorities”

    Oh my. Do you mean homosexuals ?

    I guess Putin is not as enlighten as the West regarding hoimosexuals. He doesn’t he know that the homosexual is today’s model citizen. What a backward clod.

  • Alex K.

    “paranoid suspicion of ethnic and sexual minorities”

    Putin is trying to avoid ethnic scapegoating. He has embraced irredentism, however.

  • George Dunn

    You completely missed the “larger truths” which have little to do with fascists. To truly serve the “American Interest,” understanding the root cause of 21st century ethnic conflict is essential. It was Western powers that created the mess in the first place following WWI when they created artificial “nations” out of peoples that never wanted to live together and set the stage for these “long-dormant passions” that, under communism, became taboo, thus creating a pressure cooker that would explode into ethnic cleansing and civil war. Most of these countries no longer exist, but the millions of ethnic-Hungarians living in the successor states are still persecuted and on the wrong side of these artificial borders.

    Sub-Carpathian Ukraine (Transcarpathia), for example, was part of the Kingdom of Hungary since 896, as was the Vojvodina region now in Serbia. Both regions are home to sizeable Hungarian minorities who saw government-sponsored relocations of other ethnic groups to change the demographic makeup of these regions. The same is true in Slovakia and in Romania (Transylvania). The Hungarians living in Transcarpathia, for example, after French and British meddling for political reward (and ignoring President Wilson’s call for national self-determination and plebiscites), woke up one day with borders redrawn around them – first to a newly created “Czechoslovakia,” then to the Soviet Union, and now forming a part of Ukraine. The West and mainstream parties on both sides of the political spectrum, including Hungary, have ignored (or are ignorant of) these very real issues which is giving fertile ground to the Hungarian right wing (Jobbik). Not the other way around.
    Hungary is a committed NATO ally with large American investments. Simply labeling the desire to support their compatriots across their borders, calls for autonomy, or to regain unjustly annexed territories as “irredentist fantasy” of radical fringe groups does a disservice to the analysis of European and US National Security, NATO strategy, and a deeper understanding of Central European history and future development. It also ignores human and minority rights. The fact that right-wing radicals are speaking out now, does not make the issues any less real or relevant. Transcarpathia is not Crimea. We need a coherent policy based on real history to right the wrongs of those “nationalist ambitions” that were exploited by the West and created millions of ethnic-Hungarian minorities in the first place.

    • Andrew Allison

      Absolutely. The West consistently refuses to acknowledge its responsibility for the festering mess created out of the former Ottoman Empire. That said we should, and must, deal with the realities thereby created. If there is a lesson to be learned, surely it is the import of ethnicity. Yugoslavia, Crimea, not to mention the 16 Century-long Shia/Sunni conflict, suggest that cohesive ethnic and/or religious groups are potential trouble-spots. Does this not suggest that a more peaceful World would ensue if we encouraged autonomy?

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