Hungary Responds
Published on: February 3, 2012
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  • Gabor Kisfaludi

    Let me split my comment into two parts. Namely, the first part is a comment on the original discussion and then the one on the answer of the H. gov’t.

    First, let me offer an other approach. Namely, let us define “institutions” in a broader way. There are legal institutions as listed in the original article. These are instruments based on law and, in a democracy, are tools to ensure “good governance”. But, there are several other institutions that exist even if they are not in written form just as also described in the original paper. They are based on common sense, ethics, tradition that have been developed for decades, even centuries within a nation/culture/society and the society must consider them as their own values.

    That’s what the author is expecting assuming that once a democracy is announced in a country, people are able to adjust their mind on the very next day to the way that is expected in a “well governed” democracy.

    Sadly enough, while these values are developed during a long period of time, at the same time, they are necessary for “good governance”.

    In some of the newly formed democracies and half-democracies the ruling parties are attempting have these values put in place faster by substituting their evolution with laws laid as deep as possible determing issues that, therefore, can be considered invasion in everyones’s private life. Not surprisingly, these standards are exclusive and can be represented by them, only. By offering such standards, these people are fully convinced that they are doing something very good for everyone, just as kings and dictators some time ago.

    That’s exactly, what you can see in Hungary. It is the lack non-written, widely accepted values. That causes a vacuum that can be considered as an opportunity to be filled in.

    The “how-to” depends, both the personality of the ruler and the power he has. Under a working democratic legal system without traditions, values, common sense, values, it can be managed fastly and effectively. There are several examples in history, how fast a poor democracy could be deteriorated to strong dictatorship.

    All in all: institutions are important, but only if the full spectrum of institutions exist. Institutions, without mutually agreed standards and accepted values, will collapse due to the lack of a strong basis provided by the society.

    And a much shorter comment on the answer by the Hungarian Government: those who do not want to listen to what you are saying, it is a waste of time to answer. This goverment has a practice not to listen to anyone including but not only the IMF, US state secretary, EU representatives, the opposition, other parties, etc, regardless what is said unless you agree with them. One of the scheme they are using often that you must learn Hungarian in order to read the original wording. As long as you are not, you cannot (better not 🙂 ) comment their activity. Also, their approach is that they are defending the Hungarian nation with full empowerment in a war against the rest of the world. They are, therefore, national heroes who cannot be questioned.

    Too bad, isn’t it?

    • Sophie Johnson

      So there is in Hungary ‘the lack non-written, widely accepted values’? I’m sorry, but this is drivel. I doubt that you yourself can make sense of it.

      ‘One of the scheme they are using often that you must learn Hungarian in order to read the original wording.’

      This is a ‘scheme’ that exits in you fantasy only. Certainly, I have never come upon it. Nor, I am quite sure, can you point even to one instance of it.

      ‘… they are defending the Hungarian nation with full empowerment in a war against the rest of the world. They are, therefore, national heroes who cannot be questioned.’

      What war, you strange man? Hungarian readiness for open discourse is abundantly apparent. The Hungarian government, and the Hungarian people, engage in political discourse readily and intelligently. You may have missed Prime Minister Orbán’s last address of EU Parliament, which had decided to vent its ‘concerns’ about the erosion of democracy in Hungary.

      Prime Minister Orbán asked to be allowed to address this session, then announced to the press that this is what he will be doing. How did Schultz respond, that berk who did not even manage to pass his Arbitur exams but is now President of EU Parliament? ‘Mr Orbán is a very brave man’, he giggled to the press, cockily pointing out that Prime Minister Orbán is assuming presumptuously that he will be given permission to address parliament.

      Indeed, had the Prime Minister not already scheduled his address with the civilised Polish outgoing rotating presidency, it is very likely that the berk Schultz would have withheld that permission, and presided over a session in EU Parliament in which the usual suspects were primed to malign Mr Orbán and his government, unhindered by the Hungarian Prime Minister’s presence, and sheltered from his ability to point out where information planted about the Hungarian government, the Constitution, etc. is false.

      The Prime Minister answered all questions addressed to him directly, fully and articulately, no matter how boorish the questioner. So much for your ‘who cannot be questioned’ jeer. The Hungarian government is keen to engage with any platform from which a discussion of Hungarian is conducted. As you see, there was a very civil government response even to this rather unworthy discussion by Professor Fukuyama. I look forward to the Professor’s own response.

    • Francis

      You are simply a LIAR – that´s all…

    • Francis

      I mean gabor Kisfaludy is a LIAR – not confuse others…

  • I am beginning to wonder how any society, no matter how well governed, can allocate it’s capital resources rationally without private banks, commercial infrastructure, and a functioning price system.

    What we see now in China (I think) is closer to “War Capitalism,” i.e., the “financial repression” of an immense industrial army churning out mass-produced consumer items which have been designed and developed elsewhere for sales overseas. This produces an immense stream of income, much of which channeled into wasteful, unproductive Chinese state projects. Much of the rest is stashed in overseas securities.

    It looks good on paper and builds up the power of the state, but the reality may be hollow for the Chinese people. So what is good governance?

  • John

    You should take carfe of your own president. Just read the new laws, called “National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)”.

    By the way, read this too:
    Hungarian-American group appeals to Obama against “anti-Hungarian” policies:

  • I’ve written a blog piece about both posts and found that the Hungarian state only reinforces the point of Fukuyama – the paranoid state seeks to snuff out dissent.

  • Istvan B. Gereben

    The following document is quoted from the most authoritative source and explains the origin of the current turmoil in Hungary and defines the tenets of 21st century Kadarism. The article was neglected by analysts in Hungary as well as in Europe and the United States:
    – Excerpt from Viktor Orbán’s speech deliveredat at Kötcse, a small village in Southern Transdanubiaof Hungary on September 5, abridged and edited by Viktor Orban himself for publication in the February 17 issue of „Nagyitas,” a Fidesz supporting Magazine

    Introduction by the Editor of Nagyitas:
    Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the Lenten fast, but the promise of resurrection awaits Christians at the end of the forty days of self-denial. Hungary’s economy, society and culture also find themselves submitting to a long fast, although the meagre weeks, months, and even years cannot be considered voluntary. How did we reach this point, and is there a chance of being able to extricate ourselves? On this symbolic day, we, the editors, want to contribute to a clarification of our national self-understanding by the publication of an abridged and edited speech, delivered this past Fall, but one which received no responses. Viktor Orbán and the Fidesz (Young Democrats’ Union) Party over which he presides are often accused of lacking party platforms, because this is a country in which few people read such documents, but where many uncritically believe the media and the propaganda of elections. In our estimation, the following words, even if they do not constitute a traditional set of party platforms, contain the ideas, the vision, indeed, they outline a strategy about the future role of culture in this country. Since they are certainly open to argument, and in fact must be challenged, we have decided to use them as the starting point for a debate. In the following weeks the journal, Nagyitás (Magnification), will make its pages available for responses, commentary, and counter-arguments, assuming that our cultural elites are already using refined, carefully selected words to communicate.(Note from the Editor of Magnification)

    Viktor Orban:
    „Refined, carefully selected elites
    Let us take a glance at the field of party power in Hungarian politics. Until most recently, a field of party power divided in two has dominated Hungary. This duality has naturally not left culture untouched. This does not mean that those who play a role in culture also had to take a position on the political field, although this is true, but that the necessary concomittant of such a division of power is a permanent argument about values. In this twofold field of power, there are no common values, common goals,which both parties can accept, but there are continuous battles about the most fundamental questions. If we mention a system of family support, then they want to abolish it; if we mention dual citizenship, then they say 23 million Romanians will flood the country. We are engaged in a constant argument about values, not just about politics.
    Until most recently, this divided field of power characterized Hungary’s political life. Today, however, the duality of this system seems to be coming to an end, and a central political power- field is evolving, which is, on the one hand, the result of the ascendency of the right wing, and on the other, the growth of our strength. Whether the political field will look like this after the elections, I do not know, but I would like it to. One thing is certain, there is a realistic possibility that the next fifteen-twenty years of Hungarian political power will not be determined by this duality, which has produced continuous arguments about values, and has produced divisive, petty and unnecessary social consequences. Instead, a large, governing party, with a central political field of power will be established, one which will be capable of formulating national concerns, doing so without continuous arguments, naturally representing these in its own way. In terms of the goals and responsibilities of government, the question is as follows: do we want to continue governing and political behaviors, which include the possibility of the reestablishment of the dual system? Do we consciously accept this? Do we continue the shattering of our arguments about values concerning Hungarian society in the interest of day-to-day political goals, the arguments which again and again divide the whole society, or do we relegate these to the narrow circles of the elite, where they belong? More simply put: either we try to construct a governing system, which reduces the chances of the reestablishment of a dual field of power, and instead, in the long term, settles political questions in a large, centralized poltical field of power, or we prepare for shadow-governing, and then the dual field of power will be reestablished.
    It is my conviction that we should not engage in shadow-governing, but we must strive for the actual governing of our national affairs. Naturally, there will be many consequences of such a decision as far as the government’s program, its style, the extent of its structure and a number of other, direct political questions are concerned. I believe that it makes sense for the right to debate this question in the coming period, so that it can show in terms of what political power alignments it sees the guaranteeing of the country’s interests in the long, fifteen-twenty year, term. I for one propose that in this debate, rather than a stance which is designed for a continuous and constant political struggle, that we choose one which is designed for permanently governing; that our thinking not be determined by a continuous and constant struggle against the other side, but that it be based on the convincingly strong representation of certain national causes. Naturally, there will be competition, and in the end, the voters will decide. The question is only what kind of alternatives do we offer: the continuation of the two-party system in a dualized field of power with continuous debates about values, or do we direct those to an appropriate place, and represent to the public the actions and goals of a political power which strives for a permanent position in government.
    And cotinuing with Bibó , the above has important consequences for the country’s elites. The literature of the elites clearly states: in order for the elites to meet their responsibilities by means of creating culture, they cannot choose certain means of livelihood, in so far as they wish to live a refined, carefully selective lifestyle. This is the example that is desirable to spread throughout society. It is not possible, however, to live a refined, carefully selective lifestyle, if the elites are in a state of self-assertion; neither in the state of self-congratulation, nor in one that is charging ahead to success, nor existing in a state of constant attack, nor even one of anxiety, and certainly not if their day to day existence is defined by a fear of being called to account, or by defensive reflexes, or the compunction for self-justification. All of this must be avoided. I believe therefore that the task of those who will be governing culture next is to provide the opportunities for Hungary’s cultural elites to avoid such lifestyles, and to establish the prerequisites for an unstressful spiritual state, which is required for creative endeavors, as well as to guarantee the conditions for a refined, and carefully selective life.” (Translation by Steve Polgar)
    The orbanian vision is being diligently implemented, democracy and its institutions discredited, his plan neglected The time to confront the Hungarian Prime Minister with his own words with hisis overdue. Without such a confrontation no credible analysis can be performed

  • Francis

    Before anybody from USA criticizes the state of democracy in other countries, should read this:
    When America comes up as an exemplary country of freedom and democracy in different corners of the world, simultaneously induces fear and smile.
    The super-rich banker dynasties that operate the monetary system of United States as their own private monopoly, were able to reach, that by producing unlimitedly billions of uncovered dollars, the americans lived above the level of their real economical performance.
    While inhabitants of other countries of world could get the dollar (which is still No.1 foreign exchange reserve) only through work, products and services, the FED and its institutions could produce this money without any work only by diverse finacial techniques.
    However this possibility significantly changed, when dollar began to decline, and other stronger currencies came into the front.
    To support the dollar it was necessary to ensure the access to the energy carriers and oil resources of Middle East and Central Asia.
    The so called „dissemination of democracy” by military actions served partially the buttressing of dollar system, too.
    Therefore, it is a shameful hypocrisy indicate the coarse violence as spreading of democracy – by a state, where its own democracy is seriously ill.
    For many americans it is painful to admit that their, in the history so unprecedentedly succesful and so highly appreciated constitution, is now only a collection of wishes…..and that their so appreciated democracy is exhausted in semblances.
    The land of liberty is no more the home of braves.
    While in favor of democracy they engage in costly wars abroad, they did not accomplish the necessary fight to protect their original democracy.
    Those who are forced to face this problem for the first time, their instinctive reaction is that they leave this shameful circus.The result is that they do not go to vote.
    The politics who are serving the Finacial Imperium and information agents, are on the one hand indicating the circumstance, that regularly only a half of eligibles goes to the elections as unimportant, on the other hand they make responsible the absent voters for the corruptibility of the system.
    But the reality is, that disappointed and in the apathy sunken voters´s response is absence on the elections because they consider: there is no reason to take part.
    The problem is, that moderate absenteeism means not sufficiently powerful resistance, and does not paralyse the system, because it is not withholding from him the resemblance of legality.
    Thus the industry of consciousness using its clichés is able to maintain the myth of the world’s largest democracy.
    This is not only that it is not the greatest democracy, but substantially it is NOT a democracy, but an oligarchic authoritarian system, which in the real life converted to routine application of means and methods of a police state.

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  • Balint Szekely

    Dear Mr. Fukuyama, dear fellow Intellectuals!
    I would like to apologize on behalf of some of my Hungarian compatriots for their manners and raw reasoning skills: by “raw”, of course, I mean very weak. What puzzles me is the number and enthusiasm of self-appointed experts of political science, sociology, economics and law. I have a pair of eyes, yet I don’t have a theory of vision and if I can’t see I don’t try to fix my eyes myself, I go to the doctor. But when it comes to politics some have a compulsion to defend their favorite politicians, or ideological systems, without either the proper education, or the time and effort necessary to thoroughly evaluate social phenomena, ie. to check the facts from several independent resources, the structure of the reasoning based on those facts, and the variety of underlying axioms of our anthropology, social theory, etc.. To do all of the above mentioned would be impossible, so there is need for intellectual authority to guide our thinking: that would be the consensus of social sciences. Keep in mind that politicians usually have some sort of higher degree diploma, but by no means does that make them scientists or experts in any field, for that matter. Their trade is politics: power, as opposed to reason (in the enlightened sense). To those who believe, without any doubt, that FIDESZ is your glorious chivalry of uppermost morality: please educate yourselves in politology, political psychology and you might discover politicians using the same standardized tools for gaining popularity all over the world, that is guided neither by reason, nor by morality.
    Getting back to the discussion here, I think most of the misunderstandings are not about the facts or the underlying axioms. The issue of debate is the interpretation of the facts: the argument. The fact is that power is being centralized; reforms target the branches of power, and great effort is put into symbolic changes concerning the country, while the real social problems are still unaddressed, such as health, employment (50.000 or so seasonal jobs as road sweepers is insufficient to deal with structural unemployment concerning about 1 million people), education (claiming that “we don’t need it”, or rather, “you don’t need it” is not solving the problem, it’s a one way street to deep, lasting poverty), changing demography (destroying private pension funds do not address the issue for which they were created in the first place), racism (handing out pamphlets at film festivals claiming there is no racism in Hungary is just a waste paper), etc.. (Please do not take my comments in parentheses too seriously, as I do not aspire to paint the whole picture, but do intend to be moderately humorous)
    In any case, some of the popular, but certainly incorrect, arguments used by my fellow over-enthusiastic countrymen must be addressed: 1) the unique Hungarian civilization argument: our democracy is unique and its fine the way it is. The only ‘hungariqum’ is that we have no democratic culture, those who defend this 18th century definition of European democracy barely know the meaning, let alone the history, of democracy. 2) The ace of spades: the communist card. All of our problems stem from communism, or in the newer version: from “liberal-Bolshevik treason”. While the statement is obviously ridiculous, it also ignores the fact that FIDESZ has been in power for 2 years now, yet again and again they are “surprised” by some socialist mischief that has led to the problems theywe are facing today. Even if one feels inclined to point at scapegoats, it is still a clear proof of FIDESZ’s utmost incompetence in dealing with these challenges. 3) This one I find most entertaining (btw, another version of the communist card, also adapted to dealing with any sort of foreign or local coverage criticizing the Orban regime): “Mr Fukuyama is a left-wing pig” Why did he criticize the regime? Because he is a left-wing pig? Why is he left-wing? Because he criticized the regime. This is known as circular reasoning, one of many logical fallacies we engage in every day, that are re-enforced by our politicians. I strongly encourage everybody who participates in arguments of any sort, to learn about formal and informal logic, informal fallacies and the rules of rational argument. Studying these would reveal that most of the things politicians say to the people are nonsensical. Then you can decide for yourself whether these politicians are manipulative, or just plain stupid. But this intellectual equipment that enables us to evaluate arguments comes through education and sustained effort, not through blind faith.
    The turmoil of our times is in part due to our unfortunate history, especially that of the 20th century. For almost 100 years extreme left and right wing ideas fought each other with violence, assuming power in succession and driving the other one underground. In 1990 these forces boiling in the deep rose to the surface once again and resulted in an open clash of ideas, fought in a more consolidated environment, but with our traditional weapons: insult, violence, destruction. The mentality is, as always: all or nothing, it’s either us or them, the end justifies the means. There is no peaceful coexistence in diversity, and that is reflected in the attitudes of both the common people and our elected politicians. But all is not lost and I am not alone! I speak on behalf of many Hungarian folks and almost all intellectuals when I say that I want peace, democratic progress and a place among enlightened western nations. Our voice may yet just be a whisper, but please don’t give up on us: do not deny us the moral and intellectual help that we so desperately need!
    Sincerely yours,
    Balint Szekely

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  • Ms Fukuyama,

    I keep asking myself the same question, what is wrong with Hungary? I am not going to pretend I have the answers; in any case I lived in Canada for 45 years and thus am far removed from the position to have made a difference, however small that could have been if I stayed. Please don’t take it to heart these Hungarians jumped all over you for not understanding Hungary; Hungarians don’t understand Hungary either, even though many of them are arrogant enough to think they do, especially the men. Here they are a thousand plus years later and still trying to figure out if they came from a mythical bird in some princess’ dream. I wish someone would tell them they originate from Africa along with the rest of the world.

    Blame, blame, blame, all Hungarians do is they blame “others” or they blame each other. They blame the banks, they blame the EU, they blame Trianon and they blame every one of their neighbours. They blame the socialists, they blame the right wingers, they blame the Jews, they blame the Roma, and they blame the gays. Some nutbar just blamed Kadar for the last twenty years. Yes, Xenophobia is out of control and there are no signs of letting up. As a Canadian I don’t always like what you people do down south, and yes your slavery ridden past is nothing to be proud of, but at least your country has been moving forward. Congratulations, you just elected a black president for a second term. Hungary doesn’t even hold a candle to American democracy. They will have to elect a Jew or a Roma before they have the right to criticize your country.


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