Yesterday, I overheard someone say, "Hungary is dead!"
Is Hungary jeopardizing its membership in the EU? Are the citizens passively allowing their political leaders to deprive them of intelligent national discourse?
Is Hungary Orwellian?
I have never been to Hungary but I have always been curious about this country with an interesting history. For one, its language Magyar was thought to have some similarities with Turkish, Finnish and Japanese and the linguists were divided as to how to classify it, Uralic or Ural-Altaic. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ural%E2%80%93Altaic_languages It is currently considered Uralic but it had me wondering for a while back when I first started thinking about it.
Another reason why I've been curious has to do with the fact that it is a country founded by the nomaric warriors of the steppe called the Magyars http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magyars http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onogurs who were thought to have migrated from an area between the Volga River and the Ural Mountains and whose patriarch claimed lineal descent from Attila the Hun http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huns who was possibly a descendant of Hun Khans known to have married Han Chinese princesses; it is not clear in some cases whether the princesses were actual daughters of the Emperor http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Princess_Taihe or noblewomen from the Emperor's household. (Tang dynasty emperors were descendants of Laozi, the author of Tao Te Ching and an early proponent of liberalism.) Anyway, this evokes exotic imagery of the Silk Road across the Eurasian continent which is a source of great fascination for me.
There's also a poem I like by Delmore Schwartz (NYU/Harvard poet of Romanian Jewish ancestry): The Would-Be Hungarian. I'm reminded by this poem of the existence of the Hungarian diasopora http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hungarian_diaspora and the World Wars I and II.
I have known for a long time that Budapest http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Budapest was the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and that the WWI was precipitated by the assassination of the crown prince Archduke Franz-Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Sophie. A couple of decades later, WWII erupted and the Nazis invaded (after Hungary tried to negotiate with the Allies) when more than two-thirds of the Hungarian Jews perished or were murdered http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Jews_in_Hungary while some of the royal family members were imprisoned at Dachau. Notable Hungarian-Jewish refugees from Budapest include Robert Capa who invented war photojournalism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Capa After that, the Soviets came; the humanity and the fate of righteous gentile Raoul Wallenberg http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raoul_Wallenberg come to mind.
Under the new Communist government supported by the former Soviet Union, all civil organizations such as traditional social clubs (where citizens could engage freely in open discussions) that had sprung up spontaenously over time (and were developing naturally as they should) had to be discontinued and replaced by new artificial ones formed under the watchful eye of the Communist government. (Kati Marton has written about her childhood in Communist Hungary. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=FA0A1EFF3C5B0C708EDDA909... )
Forty years later, Hungary finally emerged as a democracy, but it has not been an easy transition. In fact, things seem to be worse economically for many of its citizens compared to when the Communists and the Socialists were in power.
Hungary's first Nobel Prize winner in literature Imre Kertész says: "Hungary is a country which has never known democracy – and by that I mean not a democratic political system, but an organic process which has mobilised the entire country's society. In the case of Hungary, this development was blocked by the growth of the Ottoman empire in the 16th century. This delay was never made up for. In historic terms, to wait for Hungary to suddenly find democracy almost doesn't make any sense." http://www.theguardian.com/global/2012/feb/12/imre-kertesz-hungary-wrong...
I'm wondering now what will be the fate of civil discourse in Hungary with the advent of this new government lead by Orban. One glimmer of hope for the Hungarian Jews is the recent resurrection of their synagogue in Budapest. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doh%C3%A1ny_Street_Synagogue
I wonder if the Habsburgs can do a better job running the country than Orban. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otto_von_Habsburg
Here's an interesting article written by an ex-Austrian, providing a perspective on the Habsburg family. http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/berger/2011/07/20/the-fading-shadow-of-the-habsburgs/
Perhaps, some of the members of the Habsburgs might consider playing an active role in uniting the diaspora to fight for Hungary's awakening as a democracy.
Lastly, for those who want to keep up with the news from Hungary, I've found a website that seems to satisfy my criteria as a news source. http://www.paprikapolitik.com/about/