Thoughts from Behind the Ironic Curtain
Hungary feels an old feeling in its guts, coming back in a new form as it confronts the migrant crisis: fear.
In 1989, we Hungarians finally left this horrible system that crushed our individual freedom behind to join the one that our cousins, brothers, sisters, and friends seemed to be enjoying for a few years already. They shared their lives with us through letters and postcards, or at least through those that weren’t intercepted. Paris, Berlin, London, the French Riviera, Scandinavia, Toronto, New York, and even Vienna: everything seemed so good, so simple, so comfortable.
Here in Hungary, we don’t believe in it anymore. Since 1945 and the great victory over fascism in the name of humanity, it had been a propaganda flood that drowned us daily. Fascism was now American imperialism and its Western dogs. They became those whom we had to fight, but it was possible with the help and protection of our Soviet big brother and the all-seeing eye of Moscow.
45 years were enough to remove the veil from the Communist lies. All those speeches about human rights and equality were rubbish and ridiculous.
Ideology had its day and became a religion, a form of witchcraft with its spells, rituals, prohibitions, and prayers. We learned its language. Then we could understand, spot, and disarm its lies.
Go bother someone else! We don’t believe anything you say anymore! Stop pissing us off with your bullshit; you’re done! Gorbachev betrayed you anyway, you old bastards! It’s time for you to finally go to your Red graves!
We’re in 1989. We are finally going to be able to remove this abominable Russian language from our textbooks. We are finally going to be able to enjoy what we could enjoy only in theory until now! And we are, because we learned the difference between practice and theory the hard way. We learned the difference between what is said and what is done. We will finally be able to be treated equally by our new partners. We will finally be able to enjoy this democratic dynamism that is absolutely necessary for prosperity, safety, stability, and happiness of a nation such as ours.
Communism is a religion, and we’re not believers anymore. We actually never were; it was imposed on us in 1945. It’s a religion, and like all religions, it despises human reality because faith is stronger!
We’re in 1989, and no one knows that we’re trading one religion for another. Not for a second do we think capitalism is a religion, too; its shady mechanisms work a lot more silently, a lot more treacherously. It’s another totalitarian system but, faceless. There is no Stalin, Brezhnev, Kádár, Ceausescu, Tito, or Jaruzelski to hate or adore. The system only has its silent and destructive cogs.
Today our society is already trapped. It feels an old feeling in its guts, coming back in another form: fear. A new, modern, and progressive fear, a fear that we will lose the shoddy comfort offered by the system. This new fear appears to be much stronger than the old-fashioned fear of a more concrete punishment.
In 2004, we were accepted into the trendiest club of the moment, the European Union. To get in, we had to make a lot of effort: we had to change our laws, traffic signs, and adapt to and accept new rules. Amongst those rules, we had to protect the club’s borders, since we were the outermost country in it.
In 2015, the migrant crisis got stronger and things got out of hand. The Hungarians are afraid; they never saw anything like this. Each time such a huge group of strangers has come to the country, it ended in a proper, armed invasion and in a bloodbath. They put their trust in their Prime Minister and support his government’s decision to build a wall. It’s nothing more or less than strict respect for our country’s responsibilities that were signed a decade ago. It has become a real topic. There is debate, suspicion, and accusations of demagogy, of populism. The Prime Minister is both attacked and defended. We claim that the wall is necessary. Whatever, it will be built because it’s consistent with the rules.
It’s precisely at this moment, facing the massive and violent criticisms and attacks from our new partners that we realised, not without disgust and fright, that their hypocrisy is the same as our former occupiers’. Again, something is being said and something else is being done. Like our political class, we’re too trapped by this same fear of losing the few advantages that appear to be vital to escape the system.
The new club’s arrogance and hatred don’t consider the fact that Hungary isn’t the only country questioning the choices of the past 25 years, but all of Central Europe is! From the Warsaw Treaty to the Visegrad 4 (and maybe 5 and 6) – all are mechanisms of disappointment and the growth of disgust will follow the same pattern.
The ranks of angry Europeans just got thicker after the complete elimination of the Polish Left wing. It now follows Hungary’s path in a bigger proportion.
The Iron Curtain may have been gone for a long time, and the efforts to hide its shadow now seem more and more futile. The legitimate question we’re starting to ask is: which side of it is going to be the good one this time?