The Goulash Archipelago EU Remains Silent as Hungary Veers Off Course

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Part 3: 'What Is Now Taking Shape Here Is an Operetta Dictatorship'


Where is the country headed under this government? "I don't believe that Hungary is on the path to a dictatorship, although this is perhaps what Orbán would like," says the professor. "But our people tend to be somewhat relaxed, and our greatest contribution to European culture was probably the operetta. What is now taking shape here is an operetta dictatorship."

Many intellectuals and scoffers say that Orbán's plan to bring about an intellectual and moral transformation will not fare any better than all the other revolutions of the last few centuries, and that every large-scale movement tends to be deflected by the flexible nature of the Hungarian people.

'Checks and Balances Are Being Eliminated'

Writer and philosopher Agnes Heller has her own take on Hungary's current situation: "Under Kádár, we had communism without communists, starting in 1989 we had democracy without democrats, and for the last year we have had conservatism without conservatives. It's a reflection of the nature of the Hungarian, eternally chosen and misunderstood, sitting in his corral and unable to make up his mind, because his biggest concern is to survive in the midst of the enemies surrounding him."

Heller, 82, her mobile phone in a Mickey Mouse case dangling from a chain around her neck, was a favored student of the philosopher Georg Lukacs. She experienced the end of the war in Budapest with her mother. She emigrated to the United States in 1977 and, since her return to Budapest, which anti-Semitic hate publications have recently begun deriding as "Judapest," enriches Hungarian debates with her life experiences.

It isn't necessary to smell fascism behind every bush, says Heller. "The worst thing is that the checks and balances are being eliminated in this country, and that the rule of the yes-men has begun." In fact, she adds, now dissidents are even being treated as criminals.

The Hungarian authorities are investigating Heller and some of her philosopher friends, known as the "Heller gang," for alleged embezzlement of research funds. But Heller, sitting in her apartment high above Guttenberg Square, laughs off the accusation.

What is most troubling to Heller, who survived both the horrific regime of the Hungarian version of the Nazi Party and the communists, is the disquieting feeling that the clique now running Hungary does so without "responsibility" -- and without a sense of the "danger that violence could erupt." "Orbán is extremely sure of himself," says Heller. "It's a typical characteristic of dictators."

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Eleos 08/22/2011
1. Bias, pure and simple
The article makes no effort to be objective, taking the views of the critics of the regime as worthy, without questioning or analysis, and suggests a fascist dictatorship is in the making. All of us outside Germany appreciate how difficult it is to deal with the merest hint of right-wing resurgence, especially where Jews are concerned, but Der Spiegel should make an effort, or another half-century will pass with Germany unnecessarily and continuously on the defensive. The editors would do well to consider letting Walter Mayr go.
beobachter68 08/23/2011
2. Excellent
Zitat von sysopSupporters of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán*say he has*a strict leadership style, while critics warn of the threat of forced political conformity, Jew-baiting and labor camps. Meanwhile, the European Union is saying nothing, apparently accepting the fact that a member state is getting out of control. http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,780794,00.html
The article of Walter Mayr is right to the point, perhaps still too mild. What is going on in Hungary is a disgrace for the entire EU. Antisemitism, persecution of political opponents, strong limitations of media freedom, terror against Roma, attempts to rehabilitate Szalassy, one of the worst nazi criminals. All these thins are inconceivable in a democratic EU country but EU is busy with Euro crisis. Orban is indeed nothing new in the sad line og hungarian dictators , except that people might have the illusion that in our times this should be once for all gone. For Hungary Orban is a catastrophy now.
GBI 08/27/2011
3. gbi
Not to bad article this is from the "Pinkelwurst mit Eisbein und bierromantik" islands. However, if the reporter put down his beer, and travel to the location of the subject? Could be much better! Run it again...
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