In that strange ancient land called Hungary, the past has never died. It just has retreated from time to time into hibernation. The reason for this state of affairs has always been that Hungarians of successive generations have failed to learn from the past. More recently, the Trianon Peace Treaty of June 4, 1920, reduced to territory of the Hungarian Kingdom by 67% and its population by 57%. In addition to being bad students of history, Hungarians have become paranoid and their society schizophrenic. Then, the seventy years history of maladministration by the Horthy administration as well as the Communists, combined to lay the foundation for a politically idiotic and geopolitically dangerous revanchism.
When national independence finally came in the spring of 1990, Hungarians again failed to realize that freedom can be a very dangerous commodity. As so often in history, national liberation in Hungary has been followed by long periods of political and economic instability.
The first free government of Jozsef Antall, a highschool teacher, was a collection of hapless amateurs. After four years of nostalgia and attempts to restore the pre-World War II Hungary, they were booted out of power. The former Communists who were voted in with absolute majority, were afraid of decisive governance. Four years later, Hungarians voted for a coalition of the untested Alliance of Young Democrats and the Smallholders’ Party, both led by incompetent megalomaniacs. What followed was a rapid centralization of power in the hands of the Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, and the rise of limitless as well as arrogant corruption.
The elections in 2002, brought back the former Communists and the politically insignificant Free Democrat Party. Neither of these two parties had any ideas of how to run an efficient government. By 2010, they mutually destroyed themselves. With the economic situation becoming critical, especially following the 2008 worldwide crisis, the disgust and alienation of the voters grew exponentially hostile.
In 2010, the voters brought back Viktor Orban and his Alliance of Young Democrats. He and his party won 52% of the popular vote. Since then, they were re-elected two times. To the detriment of Hungary, Viktor Orban and his colleagues have never learned that freedom should be exercised intelligently, and must always be protected from personal emotions, such as hatred, revenge and greed. Consequently, freedom could turn into its opposite, namely dictatorship, if those in power do not respect it, control it, and apply it carefully. The enduring tragedy of Hungary has been that the people have never understood what they are free from. For they have always confused freedom with societal chaos and individual anarchy. And they have never really internalized Goethe’s eternal wisdom in Faust: “He only earns his freedom and existence who daily conquers them anew.”
Thus, gradually it has come about that Viktor Orban has established an evil regime in Hungary that he has labeled “illiberal democracy.” His and his party’s political, economic, financial, social, cultural, and moral transgressions would take, if enumerated , several volumes. Politically, Viktor Orban and his party has promulgated a new constitution with its accompanying thirty cardinal laws that have laid the foundation for an one-party dictatorship. The media first has been emasculated and then bought up by the government. In economics , he and his colleagues established a grossly corrupted form of “state capitalism”, best described as a Houdini economy, in which the private business and the distribution of their products are controlled by him, his family, and a small number of acolytes. In reality, the Hungarian economy degenerated into a “pay to play” regime, akin to Mussolini’s fascist state and Hitler’s national socialist empire. In foreign affairs, Viktor Orban turned himself and his country into the traitor of the European Union. His courting of Putin, Xi, and Erdogan has created dangerous divisions within the European Union.
The last straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back is the so-called Slave Law that allows employers to burden employees with four hundred hours overtime annually. Payments for the overtime hours can be delayed by law for three years following the work performed. This monstrosity was voted into law by the ruling party amidst nationwide violent protests. The protesters attempted to storm the party’s headquarters, the Parliament building, and the block the houses the state television. The protesters have demanded that the state television shall broadcast their Five Point Manifesto. It includes the withdrawal of the Slave Law, the reduction of overtime for the police, independent judiciary, the joining of Hungary to the European Prosecutorial System, and an independent media. The Five Point Manifesto concludes with the statement that Hungarians must resist until their demands are met. Moreover, Hungarians must resist the oppression and the corruption that symbolize the illiberal regime of Viktor Orban and his party.
Clearly, the fate of Hungary’s future and its democracy are at stake. The United States of America has spent tremendous resources to push the rest of the world toward more political and economic freedom. Now a relatively obscure European ally threatens that effort. It is therefore, incumbent upon the United States of America and the European Union to show leadership and eliminate this burgeoning threat to both alliances.