Hungary in the twentieth century and Viktor Orbán
For anyone who’s been following Twitter lately, it’s becoming apparent that the Biden Campaign and subsequently his Administration (and even mainstream Republicans who served in the Trump Administration) are being schooled at Orban’s knee.
Like Orban, they worked assiduously to undermine a free media and convert it into a vehicle of state propaganda. They also emulated Orban in their attempt to turn both the foreign intelligence services and the domestic federal police into co-conspirators promoting the regime’s ideas and policies.
While the recent revelations don’t yet indicate that the United States has reached the level of authoritarianism Orban has achieved in Hungary, they certainly reveal an attempt by Democrats (and establishment Republicans) to move the United States in that direction.
There is nothing that establishment types hate more than disintermediation, primarily because disintermediation impedes their control (and in the case of private companies, their profits). Twitter (like Substack which is thankfully less inclined to censorship than old-Twitter was) represents the ultimate in disintermediation. The establishment press and the reporters who work for it hate Twitter with all the verve with which Orban hates the idea of a free press in Hungary. For the Western press, Twitter represents a major threat to their profits and, for reporters, their salaries.
For political elites, especially but not exclusively Democrats, Twitter makes it dramatically harder to craft and disseminate a well-curated set of messages. It’s little wonder that the press, political campaigns and federal police agencies would all be motivated to insure that Twitter was under their thumbs. Next thing you know, Elon came along and those same nefarious players are doing everything they can to criticize him with the same vigor with which Orban criticizes Soros.
Orban must be looking at the revelations from the Twitter files and laughing his tuchas off.
I was today years old before I knew any of this. It’s both useful and hugely disturbing, not the least of which is that EU leaders knew most of it before granting Hungary membership.
Thank you Claire. I now know a lot of (depressing if unsurprising) facts about Hungary, and also went and googled Rod Dreher. Cosmo Globo delivers again!
Excellent piece. Just one small correction. Count Tisza and other Hungarian leaders in the Dual Monarchy, while fiercely anti-Serbian, opposed going to war in 1914 and were reluctant to support it after being beaten down by Conrad von Hötzendorf, Berchtold, and the rest of the Austrian pro-war faction. So I wouldn’t be so hasty to pin the cause of the Great War on the Hungarians.
Claire,it’s no great revelation that Europe has been a bastion of antisemitism from time immemorial and it’s certainly no revelation that in the mid 20th century Europe, Jew-hatred reached new heights. The history of Hungarian anti Semitism that you cited was recapitulated throughout Europe; there was absolutely nothing unique about Hungary.
As a matter of fact, when it comes to antisemitism, the Hungarian experience was arguably somewhat less sinister than the experience of Jews in the country where you now reside. Here’s Yad Vashem on the Vichy period.
“October 1940, the Vichy regime published the Law on the Status of the Jews, which essentially reversed the emancipation granted to the Jews of France and defined Jewish status in accordance with a racial criterion. The Jews were subsequently denuded of their civil rights and their property, dismissed from the civil service, and expelled from their businesses. Tens of thousands of businesses and thousands of apartments were confiscated from Jews; Jewish physicians lost their titles. The goal of the law was to purify the civil service, the education system, the media, the cinema and theater, and the officer ranks of the military, ridding them of Jews. In the same month, numerous laws were published that further excluded the Jews from French society. These included the law for the “Aryanization” of Jewish property in the Occupied Zone. As noted, the main victims of anti-Jewish policy during this stage were foreign Jews, rather than those who held French citizenship. Thousands of Jewish migrants were placed in forced labor camps or detained in camps established throughout France.”
French Jews as well as foreign Jews (who had migrated to France in the hope of escaping the Nazis) were shipped off in huge numbers to Auschwitz where most of them perished.
If I’m interpreting you correctly, you’re suggesting that antisemitism in contemporary Hungary is a natural extension of historical 20th century Hungarian antisemitism.
If this is true, isn’t it also true that contemporary French antisemitism is a natural extension of 20th century French antisemitism? I think in your previous post you provided data demonstrating that current Hungarian antisemitism is not any worse statistically than current French antisemitism.
You could argue that most antisemitic incidents in France emanate from the Muslim community but that would be a cop out. Jew-hatred amongst French intellectuals is far too common.
Just recently, a Jewish professor was interviewed on a French television channel and was attacked with crazy Judophobic expressions by the interviewers:
“Why do you wear a religious symbol in the studio? Keep your Jewish identity for yourself" the reporter insisted. The video is readily available to view on Twitter.
You might argue that French intellectuals hate any demonstration of religious identity not just Jewish identity. This argument doesn’t hold water; you can’t excuse antisemitism by claiming it’s okay because the perpetrators also hate Muslims and Christians.
As far as I know, it’s safer to walk into Kosher supermarkets in Budapest than in Paris. Violence against Jews (as opposed to less life-threatening forms of antisemitism) is clearly worse in France than it is in Hungary.
Maybe now that you’ve done Orban and Hungary you should turn your attention to France.
One more thing; Franz Ferdinand may have been the dumbest Habsburg of them all, which is saying alot considering how overwhelmingly stupid most of the Habsburgs were. Half of Europe knew he would be assassinated if he made his ridiculous trip. He was so arrogant he went anyway. Had he not been killed by his assassin, he might have been killed by one of his own family members. Had he become Emperor, none of his plans for Hungary or anywhere else would have become a reality.
Thanks for this Claire - there's a huge number of things that I wasn't aware of. As you say, it puts Orban in a much scarier context.
This recurring theme of weakened nation states with a deep sense of grievance keeps causing problems - Russia obviously, right now, and however the war with Ukraine ends it's unlikely the Russian attitude is going to improve overnight. Hungary sounds like another, albeit smaller, example. One of the miracles of the twentieth century to me was the rehabilitation of (west) Germany and Japan after the war. So far both have done a commendable job of facing up to their past and doing better (although the recent arrests in Germany are perhaps a reminder that there's always someone wanting to hark back to an imagined glorious past).