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Hungarian journalists and critics of Orbán were targeted with Pegasus (telex.hu)
612 points by r_sz 10 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 509 comments





All of Netanyahu's allies in the world seem to have profited from this relationship by obtaining military grade surveillance inorder to suppress human rights of journalists and opposition.

This is Netanyahu's legacy, a proto dictator, arming dictators.

I'm convince pegasus was used against Israeli journalists, opposition leaders and law enforcement officials. Too bad our political system is still under his thumb and doesn't shed light on this crap even now that he's no longer PM.


Hungary aside, most of Israel's allies in the region are dictatorships, actaully all of them: Egypt, Jordan, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Morocco (arguably, let's agree it's not a liberal democracy) and so on and so on. There are zero democracies in the area. So it's easy to see Israel's interest in supplying technology to those regimes and assuring good relations; it's not like the oppositions to these dictators are any better, the Muslim Brotherhood is appalling. Now Hungary isn't really important to Israel and is part of the EU, may have been wiser to not do that.

> This is Netanyahu's legacy, a proto dictator, arming dictators.

Isn't the U.S selling arms to Saudi Arabia?


> Hungary aside, most of Israel's allies in the region are dictatorships

Not just in the region. In the 1970s, Israel worked with apartheid South Africa to develop nuclear weapons. South Africa has subsequently been disarmed, but Israel has not been.

Incidentally, in 1963 JFK was trying to stop Israel's nuclear weapons program because American intelligence had failed to turn up any evidence that other countries in the region were pursuing the same. In a letter to Ben-Gurion, JFK wrote:

> "I can well appreciate your concern for developments in the UAR. But I see no present or imminent nuclear threat to Israel from there. I am assured that our intelligence on this question is good and that the Egyptians do not presently have any installation comparable to Dimona, nor any facilities potentially capable of nuclear weapons production. But, of course, if you have information that would support a contrary conclusion, I should like to receive it from you through Ambassador Barbour. We have the capacity to check it."

Egypt never developed nuclear weapons.


Well times changed, Iran is very close to nuclear weapons

in response to Israel developing them first...

So I guess strategically for Israel, making nukes was a mistake.


In the area, I agree. But Netanyahu chose to spurn democratic European allies and allign Israel with Hungary and Poland. Basically he made western Europe an enemy of Israel because he chose settlements over a peace process, to alleviate the foreign pressure he alligned Israel with Hungary and Poland, also helping Russia with its cold European conflict.

> Isn't the U.S selling arms to Saudi Arabia?

How's that relevant? If you're fishing for hypocrisy, be assured I dislike the US take on democracy and it's leaders of late no less than Netanyahu.

But At least the US has a constitution, checks and balances. And a tradition of freedom and democracy. Israel has a growing population, the parts that grow are mostly lacking any sense of democratic values or tradition. Guess which electorate Netanyahu spurned and which he focused his Messiyah propaganda on.


I'm not fishing for hypocrisy, that's quite a strong word. But there is some bias I'm sensing here. You would probably never say "Obama's legacy is arming dictators" though it's part of his legacy for sure. Merkel's as well.

> And a tradition of freedom and democracy

The U.S was a de facto apartheid state until the 60s. The UK castrated gays up until quite recently. Liberal democracy as we know it today is quite new. I'm not a Netanyahu fan, quite far from it, but bias is bias.


And don’t forget all the coups the US has forged in Latam and Africa, the first years of the patriot act (NSA spying on citizens), putting kids in cages, et cetera.

US and UK policy isn't at all confused about that - Israel couldn't operate the way it does without our support and direct subsidy. Both countries also use Israeli crowd control and intelligence tech on their domestic populations, just like all of those Sunni royal families attacking their Shia populations. It's only the West Wing fans that are confused about how their country works.

Thanks for the support btw :)

> So it's easy to see Israel's interest in supplying technology to those regimes and assuring good relations;

It's easy to see that it's in my interest to kill a woman on an unlit street and nick her purse. What kind of argument is this??

It's especially aggravating since so much propaganda comes out touting Israel as a democracy and decrying the savage Palestinians for being a dictatorship.


But Israel is a democracy and the Palestinians didn't have elections for 15 years already. These are facts, not propaganda.

But apparently they (Nethanyahu and co) do not have problems with supporting dictatorships where it suits them, nor of subverting their own democracy. That is the point I'm making.

Unfortunately that is the case with almost every significant democracy under the Sun.

Just count all the European countries that prop up Saudi Arabia and make business with Putin and Xi. Most of them are even afraid to call Taiwan by its name.


It's probably not in your interest since you'd go to jail and the whole metaphor seems quite simplistic to me. Since you seem to be talking about ethics, not interests, If Israel supports Egypt's El-Sisi is that immoral? Yes he is a despot, but the opposition is worse. Same can be said about Israel's support to the Palestinian Authority. It's quite difficult to know what the right thing to do is. Israel wants good relation with these countries for obvious reasons.

> Yes he is a despot, but the opposition is worse.

As long as you're just willing to make things up, everything is justifiable.


> Yes he is a despot, but the opposition is worse.

This is the exact mental process that has brought most dictators into power.


It's either a true statement in the general case of that region of the middle east or it isn't. I'm not sure what you're trying to argue.

1) It’s a false dichotomy. There are more paths forward other than “tolerate <ally>’s misbehavior” and “let <perceived threat> control the region”. The fact that this line is used by those who want more power should make anyone wary.

2) Tolerating the gross misbehavior of one state or leader because you perceive them as a bulwark against other worse leaders is an extremely foolish course. Not only does it expose ones ideals as being hollow and situational, but it often creates new problems that must be contained later.


> 2) Tolerating the gross misbehavior of one state or leader because you perceive them as a bulwark against other worse leaders is an extremely foolish course. Not only does it expose ones ideals as being hollow and situational, but it often creates new problems that must be contained later.

The summary of US foreign policy since WW2 x)


They support who they can control, that’s it.

Nothing to do with them thinking one is better for the citizens living under their selected rulers control.

Israel doesn’t care about half the people within its borders. Saying they choose who to support based on how that person will treat their citizens is laughable.


> They support who they can control, that’s it.

Or they support who won't try to destroy them, see - I said it in a non demonizing way.

> Saying they choose who to support based on how that person will treat their citizens is laughable

I wasn't saying that. I was just saying, at least in the case of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia (and also the Palestinian Authority), it's not clear at all that selling them tech/arms is immoral.


because in Israël's case, they've been at war repeatedly with their neighbors, so maybe they want to have good relationship to avoid further conflicts?

> Isn't the U.S selling arms to Saudi Arabia?

The US and UK sell arms to all of these countries. That's not a good sign; the US even directly subsidizes the military and police of some of them. We like dictatorships that make our political donors money.


I’d argue that we like dictatorships that align with our strategic interests. Raytheon doesn’t really care who we sell arms to, as long as they get sold. The politicians want to back anyone that’ll push back against our mortal enemy <strike>the USSR</strike> Iran.

> There are zero democracies in the area

Lebanon used to be more democratic; Iran was democratic at one point. What happened to Mossadegh?


>Lebanon used to be more democratic.

Lebanon used to be a state. More democratic? Perhaps.

>What happened to Mossadegh?

One of the first things Mossadegh did was to suspend elections because the opposition was winning too much.


Neither of them was democratic as in liberal, free press, human rights etc etc. Iran afaik was a full blown dictatorship before the islamic revolution (it's still a dictatorship, but different), Lebanon's history is more complicated but I stand by my view that it was never a liberal democracy, definitely not in the last 40 years.

>Iran afaik was a full blown dictatorship before the islamic revolution

Yes, but he was talking about before that wasn't he? Iran was a democracy (flawed, but still) before the US–UK alliance overthrew the parliamentary system and installed a puppet dictator, to keep stealing their oil.


I'm no expert on the history of Iran, but no, it doesn't seem it ever was (Most countries in the region ever were or are one now). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_rights_in_the_Imperial_S...

"The reign of Reza Shah was totalitarian and dictatorial at a time when totalitarian governments and dictatorships were common in the Middle East and the world[8] and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was some years in the future."


It was more of a democracy before the 1953 coup [1].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1953_Iranian_coup_d%27%C3%A9ta...


OK, it was more of a democracy at that time I agree. That was 70 years ago.

For the 3rd time, I'm talking about the regime that was overthrown to put in the Shah Reza Pahlavi...

You could be right, I will read up on that. But again, you are pointing to a very specific point in history, that was an exception to the rule.

Again, you've got the wrong time period.

If there is one single lasting international effect of Orbán and his party, it's how he demonstrated how EU is completely helpless against rouge states (as well). The delicate political balance of its parliamental politics make it impossible to react to any complex, even if lethal threats. The EU funds and fuels a Belorussian-style regime in its own heartland for a decade now, and all they can do are angry notices and legal disputes that take years without a noteworthy resolution. Due to how alliances within the union work - Hungary has the full support of Poland and the V4 - any major blowback would result in shattering itself.

> EU is completely helpless against rouge states

There is a point where politics depend on good intent. It does not matter if it is the EU, USA or China. If there is a part of the population that is radicalized and hate rhetoric is used that will destabilize any society.

The main defense against this situation is that it does not work to improve citizens lives. It only benefits a small part of society and it will make the rest suffer. Hate calls for win-lose deals and an unproductive zero sum mentality. Hungarian business will suffer, and Hungarian workers will suffer. That is not sustainable long term.

EU can be improved, but if millions of citizens support a far-right government there is little to be done. Orbán is a problem, but that people follows him is another one. It will only make Hungary poorer and the EU poorer and more dangerous.


> If there is a part of the population that is radicalized and hate rhetoric is used that will destabilize any society.

I'm going to point at this as an example of a very traditional, very political example unproductive thinking. One of the lessons people refuse to see in politics is that the people who vote for things they don't like might, potentially, be upset about something. There is a lack of reflection on how rational people might have ended up here.

I know nothing about Hungary. But I am quite confident that a happy, well organised society labouring under the grip of sound economic policies tends not to radicalise very easily. People get radicalised when it becomes obvious that politics as usual is not going to work out well for them. There are cases where the cause is lost and there is an intransigent radical group. Usually there is a long lead up to that of a group who is systemically not having their needs met.

It is totally correct that hate leads to win-lose deals. That seems like a very reasonable option to people if the alternative loving approach is a win-lose deal but with the winners and losers reversed.


I'm not sure I agree. In the UK, the lower middle class are (to generalise) materially well-off; they own their own homes, they have a couple of cars, they have large televisions, one partner does not have to work, etc.

And through pure boredom/decadence, they were radicalised through years of negative messaging from the populist press into 'caring' about things like Brexit, immigration, welfare claimants, etc.

These are people that have most of their needs met and are comfortable, yet their emotional buttons were pushed over the course of years into making them foam at the mouth about things they largely don't fully grasp and that definitely don't have an impact on their lives.


"In the UK, the lower middle class are (to generalise) materially well-off; they own their own homes, they have a couple of cars, they have large televisions, one partner does not have to work, etc."

I'm glad you added "(to generalise)" in there, because I'd class myself as 'lower middle' and most of my family/friends in a similar bracket absolutely cannot function without both partners working, and a majority are renting rather than buying their home. I'd argue that what you've described is only true of those OLDER lower middle class folks (like my parents) who struck it lucky before the housing market lost its mind.

The only reason I personally fit into your description (well, I only have one car) is that I was lucky to find my way into the software industry which pays a heck of a lot better than most...


Hasn't the UK's energy availability basically collapsed? I keep an eye on the basic stats [0] and it looked like the situation was pretty grim leading up to Brexit.

Someone is really hurting. Either production is collapsing and people are losing good jobs, or it is directly going to result in household pain.

I suppose it would surprise me if 20% of a country's electricity can disappear, almost half its primary energy production is gone, the population grows by 10% and everyone is cheerful. It looks like a situation ripe for rage, tension and people asking angry questions.

This is basically the pigeonhole principle at work. If energy availability is going down and population is rising, someone is going to be developing some profoundly anti-migrant views.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_in_the_United_Kingdom


The numbers look like a combination of increased import of electricity and move away from lower efficiency thermal cycles for electricity production (primary energy use is the thermal energy before going through the heat engine; replacement of coal and nuclear with gas and wind would reduce primary energy use even if electricity production were unchanged.)

Can you explain what "energy availability" means in this context? My family lives in the UK and the lights work and the gad flows. Prices increase over time (above inflation, IIRC) but it still works, so I assume you're referring to some other meaning I don't yet know about.

The amount of energy is lower - the UK is producing much less, electricity use has declined and (although it isn't strictly certain) that is suggestive evidence that if you tallied up all the Joules consumed in the UK then there are less of them in 2016 than 2010.

If there are less Joules and more people, some people must - by mathematical necessity - be consuming less of them. If your family can still afford to consume the same amount then maybe someone else on the margins is really being pushed.

That is a pretty decent reason for why a large number of people might be getting desperate for political change. It is a stronger explanation than some variant of the more common "maybe they are just really confused and/or hateful and/or unexpectedly stupid". People don't read economic stats but they'll notice if 20% of their electricity goes away.


I live in the UK, and I don't think energy has anything to do with it. We're producing less electricity because we're consuming less electrcity, which is mostly due to more energy efficient appliances and decreasing industrial usage isn't impacting lifestyles.

If you want to point to something, I'd look towards massively inflated house prices (almost 10x over 30 years in some places), and stagnating real wages.


> ...which is mostly due to more energy efficient appliances and decreasing industrial usage isn't impacting lifestyles.

For energy efficiency to cover the change + population growth with no winding back of lifestyles it would need to be something like a 30% increase in efficiency over 10 years, affecting all electrical devices in the country. There is reason to be sceptical that it is a major factor here.

Add to that there is an argument/observation (Jevons's Paradox) that increasing efficiency of using a commodity generally doesn't lead to reduced usage. If it made sense to procure X commodity when it generated Y, it makes it even more sensibly to procure X when it gets you (Y+something).

As for decreasing industrial use ... the default position when a country jettisons its industry is "gee, that might reasonable upset a lot of people and/or cause social problems!". The changes are rather large. Deindustrialising might foreseeable lead to such things as stagnating real wages, as the country can't produce as many goods, or massively inflated house prices as it becomes more difficult to secure useful work/build new houses.


Electricity usage as a metric for wealth is such a XX-century construct... I have no idea why you would still use something like that in a world where Climate Change has been socially accepted as fact.

The UK temporarily outlawed older-generation lightbulbs, as well as putting in place a number of measures to reduce energy use. Even Conservatives, historically the party of industry, are now heavily committed towards energy-efficiency measures of all sorts (sometimes excessively so, like the push for those terrible heat pumps).

A decline in energy consumption is a good thing and is absolutely not impacting standards of living in any way in UK society. The reasons for discontent are many, for sure, but not related to energy use in any way. The main issue really is wage stagnation (and hence, availability of time) for the working classes.


Although it is possible that it isn't a problem, you haven't actually argued why beyond vaguely being optimistic. Banning older generation lightbulbs will not cause a 20% decrease in electricity over 10 years.

The default position when a country's electricity use drops 20% is to be concerned. If they do the same thing 4 more times they will have returned to the stone age.


Have a look at the primary source here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/...

If you look at trends, the main driver is the fall in industrial use, which has been consistent since the '70s. This country has effectively abandoned industry with Thatcher, and, unlike others, it has never looked back. British industry is in (un)managed decline, the economy is now entirely driven by services and finance.

Domestic trends are flat or falling softly, driven by those efficiency measures I mentioned. The UK used to have very cheap electricity coming from nuclear reactors that are slowly being decommissioned, which (combined with a typically-botched privatisation of the sector) has driven up domestic prices very significantly, pushing people towards alternatives. For example, there used to be a lot of electric heaters in British homes, which are now invariably replaced with gas-powered ones. That has not meant a significant fall in living standards.

There are many issues with the UK system, particularly a wealth distribution heavily skewed towards one or two metropolitan areas (the centres of services and finance), but falling energy use is not really one of them.


We have seen an enormous disintegration of social stability in many European countries, if not most. Those parts of the middle class that have not been affected by materially are right to fear they will be. This economic development has been a consequence of the politics of the past decades which have been dominated by austerity, general redistribution of wealth towards the top, and accompanying measures against democratic structures that can include free press, independent justice, marginalization of workers unions etc. Especially more radical parties of that sort like Orban have driven these classical liberal economic developments; mind the hypocrisy in their "illiberalism" claims.

Every other topic that has emotional potential can serve as a scapegoat for distraction ("we have to fight the common enemy first, then we can care about the poor"): immigrants, the EU, Jewish/Marxist conspiracies, homosexuals etc. It does not _necessarily_ mean that there are no problems related to other topics (e.g. EU bureaucracy etc.), but that is hardly relevant in these cases. You see this playbook in many countries inside and outside of Europe (e.g. Brazil, USA, UK, Russia, Poland, Slovenia, Turkey, ...).


The last part of this comment is very well written. Actually the whole comment is. Having said that there are a lot of EU that is... Well crazy but what was before was not really good either.

[flagged]


You're exaggerating. The UK isn't even in the top 10 for alcohol consumption.

https://www.alcohol.org/guides/global-drinking-demographics/


It's not top 10, but at 10.4 liters consumed per capita it looks like it might be number 11. Not exactly not a problem.

> the lower middle class are (to generalise) materially well-off ... they have large televisions ... through pure boredom/decadence they were radicalised ... about things they largely don't fully grasp

8/10 top parody comment. You could have strengthened it by suggesting they turn to brioche if they don't have enough bread to eat though.


Please address parent's post in good faith. The point he was not outlandish or imponderable.

I agree with the parent's post FWIW. However, there is a strong tendency in mainstream thought to have great deference to "the People", however you define it. The voice of the People is the voice of God, in fact. So for a person to claim that well off people turned to radical thought out of boredom and ignorance might be correct, but would be considered not just outlandish, as you put it, but outright heresy.

It's not just the UK. It's the US and every other place. Trump wins 46% of the popular vote in 2016 and suddenly there's a deluge of think pieces about how people are hurting and what not. Yeah maybe. But there's a lot of folks out there who love voting for a guy who "triggers libs" and normalizes pussy grabbing. And we're not allowed to say this, because again, it's heresy in a democracy to imply that a large segment of voters could be ignorant or stupid or racist.

Another example, this time with vaccines. One person decides not to get a life saving vaccine because he was duped by misinformation online - he's an idiot. 30% of the population swallow the same bullshit - they have valid concerns that we need to empathise with and assuage. If they choose not to get vaccinated, we have to accept their choice. We shouldn't require vaccine passports because it would hurt their feelings and their ability to transmit diseases to their fellow citizens.


You touched on a lot of important things and I will try to respond to all of them without distracting myself.

I posit to you that 'people hurting and what not' are not merely think pieces ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillbilly_Elegy ). I remember driving through PA months before Trump's election and recall seeing some of the sadder signs you can read including "Save us Trump". It is not "triggering the libs"; it is genuine despair of no options other than triggering the libs. It is important to understand where it comes from, if one is to have a hope to counter it in any meaningful way. Just using that slogan is a mental shortcut that undermines our discourse.

I do not see that understanding. What I see is more targeted messaged intended to inflame pre-existing passions. I do not see discussion. I see bumper stickers.

As for democracy, there is an argument to be made that it relies on educated and engaged populace. I am not the biggest fan, because US has neither and a lot of ways to manipulate public opinion are well understood now. And yet, it is still a better option than benevolent dictator, monarchy or some sort of theocracy.

Now, we can quibble over whether US is a democracy, which in itself is a discussion for a couple of pages.

I do think you have a point with vaccines, but I want you to consider the question of choice, mandates and so on in regards to government imposing choices upon you. What is the lesser evil here?


> the question of choice, mandates and so on in regards to government imposing choices upon you.

The government isn't imposing these requirements arbitrarily, it's your fellow citizens imposing it through the mechanism of government. For example, Big Government will outlaw and penalise littering not for the sake of it, but because that's what citizens want from their democratically elected government.

And as a citizen who fully supports restrictions in response to a pandemic - IMO the government can't require you to get vaccinated. But you can't demand to be allowed into nightclubs and cruise ships while unvaccinated. Fair?

> And yet, it is still a better option than benevolent dictator, monarchy or some sort of theocracy.

I didn't argue against democracy. I argued against putting the population on a pedestal. It's ok to criticise people's beliefs. And it continues to be ok even if those beliefs are held by a large group of people. If a large group of people think that vaccines cause 5G ... I don't think we should coddle them and think about it from their perspective and accommodate their idiocy just because they have plenty of company. Let's create rules so the damage they do is minimized.


> I didn't argue against democracy. I argued against putting the population on a pedestal.

Please note that democracy literally is the rule of the people. You simply cannot state that you are not arguing against democracy and in next breath say that people should not be on its pedestal, because, theoretically, people are its ruling class. If it is a democracy, people are on its pedestal. That is the main weakness of democracy. People, as a whole, are idiots.

Your issue appears to be with commonly held beliefs that are not your beliefs. But that is a very different discussion.

> And as a citizen who fully supports restrictions in response to a pandemic - IMO the government can't require you to get vaccinated. But you can't demand to be allowed into nightclubs and cruise ships while unvaccinated. Fair?

I have zero problem with that statement.


You've misunderstood and mischaracterised my argument. I'm done.

And having elected Trump, what did they get aside from triggering the libs?

I see a fair bit of attempts at understanding. Liberals love to write books like "The Righteous Mind" and "What's The Matter With Kansas?", attempting to understand conservatives from a liberal point of view. I can't think of anything comparable on the right. Progressives seem to me desperate to understand and cater to conservatives, and it feels like the only thing conservatives want is to make my life harder.

It could very well be that I'm just not listening hard enough. That seems to be the response every time liberals lose elections: "understand harder", because the problem is with me. But I'm starting to think that maybe I do understand: they don't want anything from me except someone to be angry at, and whatever despair they're undergoing is more about the deliberate induction of that despair than anything I actually do.


>>And having elected Trump, what did they get aside from triggering the libs?

Just top of my head:

Well, there is an argument to be made from purely economical perspective, avg. earner did see some improvement. Regardless of whether you think tax cuts were a good idea, Trump tax cuts did have intended effects ( even though they also added to an ever increasing deficit ).

He did pull out of JCPOA, which some of his electorate actually wanted for various reasons.

I maintain that listening is important. I would argue that understanding is more than important. You want an absolution and an easy answer of 'they are just assholes so I can be an asshole back', but it is not that easy. The people you dismiss have rationale for what they do. And now that you know this, you have no excuse but to act on that knowledge. Or, at least, use it to your advantage.


> He did pull out of JCPOA, which some of his electorate actually wanted for various reasons

How's that worked out for them? People in Appalachia feeling pleased about the pain inflicted on the Iranian people? Or are they pleased that Iran stopped adhering to the deal and have resumed uranium enrichment? Or are they pleased about Iran's expanding influence in the Middle East?

It doesn't take much to to give people what they want. Pulling out of the JCPOA took only a couple of days. But it was not a good decision, and the fallout wasn't felt by the people who pushed for it.


That is on me. The example here was more intended to show that IAPAC got what it wanted out of Trump presidency.

You are correct to point out that people of Appallachia did not get anything of value out of that exchange.

Since that is the case, would you accept Keystone Pipeline ( https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/trump-administration-app... ), which was approved and, arguably, allowed for a lowering of energy cost across US?

< It doesn't take much to to give people what they want.

I do disagree with that statement. This is the hardest thing in politics.


You're absolutely correct that some of what I want is to make my own life easier and be lazy, but there's also a political calculus. Almost anything I do to cater to them helps split my own political coalition.

One possible way to look at 2016 is that the left wing of the Democratic party felt taken advantage of. The party put forth a centrist candidate (after 8 years of a President who wasn't nearly as progressive as they'd hoped). There was little enthusiasm, while the people you've asked me to understand voted for a candidate who was obviously awful in many ways.

So the political calculus can say, "It doesn't matter what they want. You can't reach them, as evidenced by their willingness to vote for such a terrible candidate. I need instead to lean in the exact opposite direction, doing things that they hate vocally, because they can't vote against me any harder than they already do."

That's my excuse to not act on that knowledge. I have only so many actions I can take, and I will spend them in the way that does the most good.

Note that I'm not committed to that, merely explaining the view as being something other than "they're assholes so I can be an asshole back". But I do believe that the time has come to consider making them chase me rather than the other way around.


> Liberals every time liberals lose elections: "understand harder", because the problem is with me.

Conservatives every time liberals win elections: "let's make voting harder", because the problem is still with liberals.


Progressives seem to me desperate to understand and cater to conservatives

Huh? Do you have any examples of this?

I think you might be generalizing too much what it means to be liberal and don't really understand who is or isn't progressive, even in the context of the US.

It sounds like by liberals, you are referring to the Democratic party at large. You have to understand, the Democratic party at large is barely liberal and nowhere near progressive. Outside of a small number of progressive politicians, they're perfectly fine to waste a majority in DC doing very little because the same corporate interests that back conservatives also back them. They behave like controlled opposition. You can do your part to vote for someone who truly is progressive in a primary election.


You're correct: I conflated liberals, progressives, and Democrats. There are definitely important distinctions, but I conflated them as all being roughly on the same side when it comes to politics and dealing with the opposition party.

As for "examples", take a look at those two books I mentioned. There are many more books, and many op-ed pieces every time Democrats lose elections.

It's only relatively recently that the more progressive wing of the party has said, "Hey, rather than try to bend over backwards to attract moderate conservatives, how about you garner more enthusiasm from your left wing?" Or at least, they've been saying it for a while, but were generally dismissed. I think 2016 made the proposition more thinkable: if they will vote for the Republican candidate even if he's obviously insane, maybe a new approach is needed.


FYI, progressives did not write the books you mentioned, so they aren't good examples of showing how "Progressives seem to me desperate to understand and cater to conservatives".

You're correct. I should have said "Democrats", who are the party most closely aligned with progressives and the more progressive of the two parties, but not really very progressive. These books are written targeting centrist Democrats.

Excellently put.

> the people who vote for things they don't like might, potentially, be upset about something

Yes, but is the thing they're upset about and the thing they're directing their anger towards actually linked?

It's often hugely successful in politics to say "all your problems are the fault of this external bad actor" rather than "we have a problem and it's going to take a lot of hard work to fix it". It's very easy to blame external Jewish financiers (George Soros always gets a namecheck) and gay people for all your problems. The last time people did that en masse in Eastern Europe it ended up with extermination camps and millions dead.

Arguably Hungary's problems are due to the international finance industry, but there's nothing especially Jewish about it, just good old mis-selling. See e.g. https://www.ft.com/content/6c27cfbc-f50b-11e2-94e9-00144feab... - Orban took on the banks, which has to have been a big help to his popularity.

The EU is not blameless in this: https://www.escp.eu/news/eu-convergence-narrative-played-key...


> en masse in Eastern Europe

Is Germany in Eastern Europe now?



If I remember correctly, the vast majority of the extermination camps were in occupied Poland (or Austria), rather than Germany itself.

Well, yeah, but if somebody said the Vietnamese had a history of using napalm, because it was mostly used there, people might look at them funny.

OP didn't say 'the Germans', OP said 'The last time people did that en masse in Eastern Europe'.

You thought you would score a point by embarrassing a stranger on the internet, but it didn't work out because you read something that OP didn't say. Pedantry is rarely a good look.


You should probably re-read his post.

Plus, it's not pedantic. Saying that the holocaust was a eastern-european thing (or that the polish were largely responsible) is a common way the far right in germany try to diffuse and deflect responsibility.

I don't think OP is doing that, but I still think it's an important thing to remember - that the holocaust was the project of western europeans, i.e. it's not somebody else's problem.


> You should probably re-read his post.

I did

> Plus, it's not pedantic. Saying that the holocaust was a eastern-european thing (or that the polish were largely responsible) is a common way the far right in germany try to diffuse and deflect responsibility.

>I don't think OP is doing that, but I still think it's an important thing to remember - that the holocaust was the project of western europeans, i.e. it's not somebody else's problem.

In Hungary (which is after all the country in focus here), saying the holocaust was forced upon us by the Germans is similarly a common way the far right try to diffuse and deflect.

'the holocaust was the project of western europeans, i.e. it's not somebody else's problem' is only true if you are a Western European yourself. If you say that the holocaust was the project of western europeans in Hungary, it means the opposite of what you're trying to say.


Obviously, different countries participated in the Holocaust to varying degrees, ranging from turning a blind eye, to deportations, to active participation. That's even true amongst some of the allies (the UK, for instance, turned back many Jews attempting to flee).

Still, it's just a fact that the holocaust was a German policy, organized and largely staffed by Germans. I think that while much of eastern europe was and still is profoundly antisemetic, the Germans would have absolutely carried out the holocaust even if the opposite was the case. That many people took part in the process is obviously shameful in every instance, but the OP comment makes it out as if it was like some plebiscite of eastern europe - which it obviously was not.


OK, we read the comment a bit differently then.

For me, I see OP's mention of Eastern Europe as a link to Hungary, which is the focus of the article, rather than as a general, out-of-context attempt to shift the blame from Germany to Eastern Europe.

I guess we've now both made our points, and it's come down to a question of what OP meant rather than the words on the screen. I don't think either of us have managed to convince the other, so without more input from OP, we're at an impasse.


>what OP meant rather than the words on the screen

Mmm, I was actually just pushing back against the words on the screen. I don't doubt the OP means it the way you read it. I guess I don't generally see a rejoinder as a way of embarrassing the person I'm replying too - rather as a way of contesting the point, refining it, or clarifying it. I actually quite rarely notice who I'm talking to online.


A chunk of it certainly was, before the Germans got the boot. And the Nazi party was popular with a lot of factions in Eastern Europe, including in Hungary.

Western europe too, and in the USA. Vichy france, for example, is a pretty standout example, or Franco's spain, or Mussolini's italy, or some people in the UK (the daily mail, perhaps their readership?)

> But I am quite confident that a happy, well organised society labouring under the grip of sound economic policies tends not to radicalise very easily

Brazil experienced 12 years of prosperity from 2003 to 2015, with some trouble starting in 2012, but still with solid numbers in unemployment, for instance. Still a hate-based disinformation campaign managed to overthrow a re-elected president for accusations later proved unfounded, paving the way to the election of a far-right president who is ripping apart the fragile fabric of Brazil's still young democracy.

This is why we need to deal harshly with such hatred/disinfo campaigns, ruthlessly deplatforming fringe elements and denying them the chance to drag the Overton window their way.

In the past century Europe saw the construction of facilities used exclusively to commit murder at an industrial scale, designed to be the cheapest way to kill whole populations.

It's people like Orbán, the Le Pens, Jörg Meuthen, Nigel Farage, among many, many others, that took this continent there and, if we don't act, they'll do it again.


You think that you can "deal harshly with such hatred/disinfo campaigns, ruthlessly deplatforming fringe elements and denying them the chance to drag the Overton window their way" forever, because if the right people run it, they can keep the wrong people from ever coming to power. That's misguided, for two reasons.

First, sometimes the wrong people come to power anyway. If they can't do it by blatant misinformation and propaganda, they'll do it by "wolf in sheep's clothing" tactics. Once they get power, the machinery is there, just waiting for them to use it to enforce their narrative. Sure, by protecting the narratives that are allowed, you might make it more difficult for such a one to come to power, and therefore less probable. You can't make it impossible, though. And if the thought of such machinery in Orban's hands (or Trump's) doesn't terrify you, you're not thinking.

Second, power changes people. You might be a perfectly fine, democracy-loving person. Give you that kind of power and you might not be the same person forever. As Elrond said, "I fear to take the ring to guard it. I will not take the ring to wield it" - and for very good reason. Too much power is a danger even to the good.


>>This is why we need to deal harshly with such hatred/disinfo campaigns, ruthlessly deplatforming fringe elements and denying them the chance to drag the Overton window their way.

I can't help but to smile the smile of mild horror that calls to overreaching and overzealous censorship of wrongthink ( hate is sufficiently innocuous and broad to cover just about any kind of wrongthink - just the fact that it has been accepted by mainstream as a good enough reason is horrifying ) is so common that is used with adjectives like ruthlessly without any feel for the irony.

I can certainly feel the hate.


The conditions that allowed Hitler to rise to power were created by the "winners" of WWI with the treaty of Versailles. These are not masses of sheep being led around by brilliant propaganda, they're often people who don't think they have anything to lose by voting for the extreme nationalist over the status quo.

While true, this was not the root cause any more than keeping tons of explosives together in a port warehouse didn't cause the explosion in Beirut.

You are right in the sense that eradicating poverty will probably have a stabilizing effect on many societies, but, in Brazil at least, it wasn't the poorest who supported the rise of fascism - this was driven mostly by the middle class.

In Germany it was the hate speech, the scapegoating, the xenophobia of the nazi discourse, the framing of other people as sub-human, evil and unworthy of living. This led to seemingly normal people inflicting unspeakable evil upon others. And it's frighteningly easy to make a human do that.


>The conditions that allowed Hitler to rise to power were created by the "winners" of WWI with the treaty of Versailles.

That's quite literally Nazi propaganda, although the narrative was born in the US with Keynes as Americans were oddly keen on washing the Germans of their sins, shifting the blame everywhere else and go back to business as usual.

The Treaty of Versailles was nothing particularly odious, Germany could have coped with it fine if it stuck to the terms. It didn't, it broke its economy on purpose to avoid honoring the treaty.


Accusations are not proved unfounded, he was freed from prison because of a mix of politics, procedural errors from judges that imprisoned him, and changes on how the judiciary works.

And many people rightly saw that the prosperity that happened during Lula's time was because of booming commodities market and exports booming, not because anything he did in particular.

Brazillians voted for Bolsonaro not because he is right wing, but because he promised he would end corruption, and the workers party IS corrupt.

Now that Bolsonaro has proven that he won't end corruption either (starting with him protecting his son), I doubt he will be re-elected, instead whoever else promises to end corruption and is not corrupted that has a good shot.


> the prosperity that happened during Lula's time was because of booming commodities market and exports booming

Ah, the familiar sound of facts being twisted and turned to conform to what you wish reality had been. We’ve been hearing this same rhetoric of denial since before their government ended. Somehow we should believe that a country of 200 million people was just “going through its motions” for over a decade and the figures in power were just spectators. I guess that leaves room to say the same about the current government - the ongoing destruction of the economy is “not their fault” either.

There are a thousand different policies implemented in those years that helped the country achieve growth. A huge number of them already reversed in the past 5-6 years. Hand waving all of it as “the commodities market boomed” is of such a despicable, willful ignorance.

EDIT: on why I find this so aggravating: to have a decent government you need people to vote based on proposals, political stance on specific issues, policies, not empty promises (like ending corruption). This kind of discourse just continues to poison the well by taking focus away from real economic/political issues and into a red vs blue team mentality.


> Accusations are not proved unfounded, he was freed from prison because of a mix of politics, procedural errors from judges that imprisoned him, and changes on how the judiciary works

You are talking about Lula, who was jailed after massive procedural "errors", mishandling of evidence, witness intimidation (bordering on torture), evidence inflation and many, many others, conducted by a partisan judge who would be named by the election winner (a win Moro helped him secure by preventing Lula from running) to head the ministry of justice.

Dilma's maneuver was later considered legal and not grounds for an impeachment.


> we need to deal harshly with such hatred/disinfo campaigns, ruthlessly deplatforming fringe elements

(1) If you believe that hate-based disinformation campaigns routinely unseat good people ... I might suggest that normalising ruthless deplatforming of "fringe elements" is a strategic blunder?

There is a stereotype of ye goode olde Nazi/Communist regimes. It involves tropes of ruthlessness and deplatforming of fringe elements.

(2) I'm not sure dismissing political opponents as "far right" and "fringe" when they are winning elections is rhetorically feasible. It is hard to get away from the fact that winning an election involves convincing swing voters that a plan is acceptable. It is worth asking some what? and why? style questions. Then getting to answers that don't involve the public becoming suddenly and unexpectedly susceptible to hypnosis.


It seems a shame to downvote someone who is so genuinely trying to help in this situation. The moment the populace falls for 'far right' rhetoric, it becomes, by definition, centric rhetoric, in the same way that what was once 'left' rhetoric is now being called right-wing because the center has moved so far left. De-platforming and de-humanizing are the playbook by which every totalitarian government, no matter its political colors, has established itself. Be wary listening to anyone who suggests these as a genuine solution, no matter what they wave in solidarity.

The word radicalized is also way overused.

Orban is seen as hateful or radicalising because he is against illegal immigration. He has made a big marketing point about this.

But that doesn't mean that there aren't legitimate concerns about illegal immigration that Hungarians might have. Just because Western european nations have decided they don't mind if they add 1-2% yearly to their populations of a culturally totally different type of person, doesn't mean that that is normal or "good".

Orban is using these emotions for his own purposes. That's true. But it's not Orban that is creating these issues, or the concerns about them.


>Orban is seen as hateful or radicalising because he is against illegal immigration. He has made a big marketing point about this.

I'm not going to go into the topic of migration and the "legality" of it. But the reason Orban is considered "radical" by many is not because of his stance on immigration first and foremost but because he's been dismantling democratic institutions left and right, starting with NGOs, the media, academia and to some extend even the judiciary. The fact that his rhetoric is hung up on blaming everything on George Soros does also not help.


Looks so much similar to Modi in India. At some point we are all helpless in front of blatant rhetoric. We will destroy our institutions just for the hatred for "others"

Rhetoric on its own is nothing. But rhetoric that adresses needs and fears of a big size of the people - does.

So I do not see the solution in fighting populist rhetoric, but in adressing the cause of the fear of the people.


>but in adressing the cause of the fear of the people.

If you address it they won't have a reason to vote for you next time. This problem plagues many US cities.


There is a huge disconnect between the accepted "truths" in "public discourse" or "mainstream" opinion, and what people really believe. This is a consequence of who knows how many years/decades of punishing "incorrect" opinions. Just look at the example presented in this thread about illegal and/or wide-scale immigration. 100% a thing that people can sanely and without being hateful hold as an opinion, yet it is stigmatized and punished when espoused in any sort of public forum or as a political platform. So everyone that doesn't want to be clumped into "that right-wing/hate group" category of people, just decides to shut up and go with it performatively.

> he's been dismantling democratic institutions left and right, starting with NGOs, the media, academia

This is precisely where I claim you've gone wrong.

> NGOs

NGOs are not democratic institutions per se. NGOs can be incredibly detrimental to societies, whether intentionally or through incompetence, and can be used by billionaires to social engineer societies as they see fit.

> the media

The media are not democratic institutions per se, even if they can in principle be used to communicate information needed to make sound political decisions. In practice, they've owned by someone with a view that's inseparable from the writing. So far I've seen corporate media banned and very often, in that part of the world, the corporate media are owned by powerful foreign interests, thus often becoming instruments for social engineering and propaganda.

> academia

A healthy academia can, again and in principle, be very important for the maintenance of an informed society, but here, too, they are not democratic institutions per se, and they have demonstrated enormous susceptibility to ideology (which is quite a charitable claim; they are, in fact, the breeding grounds of many of the ideologies that later enter the political sphere). Through funding (gov't and private foundations often backed by billionaires) and biased hiring, ideologues can be promoted and concentrated within the ranks of the university.

So I have to say I am a bit frustrated by the pervasive myopia about the reality of these kinds of political issues. What I see is often a credulous attitude toward the false narratives that corporate media have published.

Whether Orban is using appropriate means to achieve certain ends is the subject of another discussion, but that Hungary and other countries are the subject of foreign imperialist ideological bullying is not an open question as far as I am concerned. Whatever flaws Orban might have, realistically, I do not see any other forces that can mount a serious enough defense against these threats. (Mass immigration is only one thing Orban takes issue with, btw.)


Institutions like that play an important role in democracy precisely because they can hold views opposing the mainstream and act as a moderating force even if they themselves aren’t ‘democratic’. The populist idea that institutions should kowtow to some Rousseauian ‘will of the people’ ideal can be damaging to democracy because it’s easy for someone like Orban to claim to speak for ‘the people’, so when institutions have to fall in line with ‘the people’ really they’re falling in line with Orban, and then you’ve not got a democracy.

I call this argument "totalitarian democracy argument". Yes, NGOs and media are not democratic, nor family, corporations, etc... Not everything is and it is fairly obvious that if everything was controlled through the goverment (so in some sense, democratic) it would lead to one party rule almost immediately, which unfortunately seem to be the point in this particular case.

It is also very ironic that in Hungary these independent (i.e. from state) institutions are replaced with ones who's mandate last longer than 2 terms of election - fairly obvious that public control is not the goal, but the exact opposite.


I think you're playing a bit of a semantics game here. Obviously media, NGOs and academia can be detrimental to democracy. So can elections or the judiciary too (e.g. Hitler's rise to chancellor of Germany was legal and Democratic).

When one calls these institutions Democratic it's because they do represent opposition and thus a control mechanism. This does not mean that they're infallible or act for the good of society by definition but if they do not exist the government operates - de facto - in a completely uncontrolled framework. Unsurprisingly this is why many governments do try to dismantle these institutions in the first place.

>[..] but that Hungary and other countries are the subject of foreign imperialist ideological bullying is not an open question as far as I am concerned.

I agree that this is worthy of a discussion however I don't think this is the topic in question at all.


> Democratic institutions [...] NGOs"

What is it that makes non-government organizations so democratic? Do they let the general public vote for their leaders?


You don't understand Hungarian history and why he has to dismantle those institutions. After the failed 1956 uprising these 'democractic institutions' became soviet levers of power with key left supports in power. After the fall of communism there was never a real purge as the left has been mostly in power. This is the purge. What gets rebuilt?

I fail to see how using spyware against journalists and critics is in any way linked to a failed uprising from 1956 or how his successful efforts to establish a media landscape that largely backs him is supporting "the real purge" you're describing. When Miklós Vaszily bought Index.hu how did this help remove the soviet levers?

I think you're being willfully naive here, I'm afraid.


There's almost seven million displaced Syrians. The real failure is to not have dealt with the Syrian crisis, and now the demand to kick out the refugees, no matter how impractical this is or how lethal it would be to them, is rising.

> The real failure is to not have dealt with the Syrian crisis

Most migrants weren't Syrians, btw. But more importantly, I wish to remind you that when this mass migration was inflicted on Europe, the Left was very much in favor of this shitshow. There was no "dealing with the Syrian crisis" then (whatever anyone means by that). Nor was there any acknowledgement that the majority of migrants weren't fleeing Syrians. Syrians should have been helped on the ground in Syria, but only a few states seemed to promote that approach (Poland comes to mind).

All of this should suggest that the mass migration was weaponized.


> acknowledgement that the majority of migrants weren't fleeing Syrians

Which migrants? Where are they from in Hungary, then?

> should suggest that the mass migration was weaponized

By whom? For what purpose?

> the Left was very much in favor of this shitshow

The left (such as this can be described as a homogenous bloc!) was not in favour of the collapse of Syria, although they generally were against just repeating the mistakes of Iraq there. Without the attack on Iraq the collapse of Syria might not have happened, after all - it released a huge amount of arms stockpiles into the region which were taken up by ISIS.


Syrians were under 30% of the migrants arriving in Europe from 2015-2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_migrant_crisis#Causes...

> The left (such as this can be described as a homogenous bloc!) was not in favour of the collapse of Syria, although they generally were against just repeating the mistakes of Iraq there. Without the attack on Iraq the collapse of Syria might not have happened, after all - it released a huge amount of arms stockpiles into the region which were taken up by ISIS.

Obama authorized the CIA in 2013 to supply the Syrian rebels with money, weapons, and training [0]. A lot of those weapons ended up falling into the hands of extremist groups like AQ and ISIL, either by "vetted" militia groups getting absorbed into larger ones or weapons getting resold on the black market. That may not have ignited the conflict, but it certainly prolonged it and contributed to the humanitarian crisis in Syria.

[0] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timber_Sycamore


Pop of Hungary is 10m. What % of Syria can be absorbed by Syria?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hungary


At 1% 100,000 or so max.

[flagged]


Or to turkey, russia, iran, france ... there are many powers involved in syria and fighting over it.

https://www.unhcr.org/refugee-statistics/ > Turkey hosts the largest number of refugees, with nearly 3.7 million people.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syrians_in_Turkey > The number of Syrians in Turkey is estimated at over 3.6 million people as of March 2020,[3] and consists mainly of refugees of the Syrian Civil War.


Yes. And turkey is also very active in creating more refugees by supporting islamists in syria and active combat raids. And is using the mass of refugees regulary to blackmail the EU.

Turkey did not start the war in Syria, but they do share a border with them, and have a responsibility to secure their border from a failed state. They took in more refugees than any other country in the world, which has a massive impact on their economy and security. Requesting economic aid from the EU to deal with this is not blackmail. The EU benefits massively from keeping Syrians in Turkey, because Syrians primarily use it as a pass through on their way to Europe.

"and have a responsibility to secure their border from a failed state."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkish_involvement_in_the_Syr...

So you think supporting islamist militias is helping stabilize said neighbor state?


and just to clarify - joining the EU is an exercise of free will. Countries are met with some conditions and it's their decision to join or not. This is valid for both Hungary and Poland. If they don't want to be part of EU any longer I think Brexit showed the way, and all the consequences of that.

Brexit was a way to leave EU by country which wants this. But Hungary doesn't want to leave, they want all benefits and keep doing what they want. EU has very little power to punish Hungary. To do something serious all countries should vote for this, but Hungary and Poland have agreement on protection of each other. So EU is kind of hostage there.

I seem to recall the UK Brexit and that freewill argument was almost immediately challenged by calls for next rounds of referenda ( presumably until the right decision is reached by the population ). As always, it is democracy and free will as long as it is exercised in a way the conforms to rather specific view of what the outcome should be.

I don't understand your argument. Britain voted to leave, and they left.

People can 'call' for whatever they like. In this case the demand was related to the refererendum being on a nebulous idea without any clear idea on how to implement it. No-one would ever seriously suggest having a referendum on a Trade deal or Treaty before the negotiations had even started. The idea of having a referendum on the final deal was hardly a crazy one.


> joining the EU is an exercise of free will

This sounds like comments to the effect of "If you don't like how America does X, then leave X." It also frames things in a relativistic sense, as if consent is unconditionally binding and nothing but consent has any moral weight.

Anyway, this isn't as simple as it sounds. First, joining did not give the EU license to make all sorts of weird impositions and to demand these countries cooperate against their own good. Second, countries aren't people. Politicians in those countries at the time put a great deal of energy into promoting entry into the EU among the populace, and referenda results reflected a wish to deal with frustration caused by domestic political realities, and feelings of inferiority, more than some kind of reasoned and responsible decision (I recall speaking with political analysts at the time who felt that entry into the EU was a bad decision, at the very least a premature one).

> I think Brexit showed the way

This may be the only option. But this is politics. The EU is unjust (put aside the propaganda please) and so the moral high ground is not to be found in Brussels. For now, tolerating and resisting bullying from the EU is likely better than exiting. But I don't expect the EU is last another 25 years at this rate, so it might be a matter of waiting out the storm.


because they are part of a community (Europe) with certain rules and they are deciding to enjoy the fruits of being part of this community (a lot of funds, free movements for people) and then you don't want to follow the rules. It's part of the basic principles of living in a community. You can't have your cake and eat it.

Issue is that when they joining EU there was no mention of large influx of immigrants to the country.

There is also a difference when you get immigrants of somehow similar culture vs large amount of immigrants from one that is completely different (and it being the same as ISIS, doesn't help, how one can differentiate infiltrator from legitimate refugee?).

It is all good if amount of immigrants is not large influx.

But what most Hungarians (and Poles) didn't take into account is that most of those immigrants prefer to get to western Europe, so blocking them was pointless. They would quickly go West.


I’m not from Hungary or Poland so can you please explain to me why Hungary and Poland seem uniquely inundated by refugees and apparently terrorists? Are there terrorist attacks happening from refugees regularly in Hungary and Poland? Why are they special, or are other EU countries just getting terrorist attacks and are ok with it?

I’m genuinely asking because looking at the map, neither Hungary nor Poland are the first stop for a middle eastern refugee, and I have no idea where the statement of infiltrator from ISIS comes from because I haven’t heard of an uptick of terrorism in either country.


> I’m genuinely asking because looking at the map, neither Hungary nor Poland are the first stop for a middle eastern refugee, and I have no idea where the statement of infiltrator from ISIS comes from because I haven’t heard of an uptick of terrorism in either country.

People are more reluctant to let immigrants from too foreign culture in, e.g. Poland let in > 1M of Ukrainian immigrants (they are from similar culture as Poland) during last few years. Those assimilate easily.

Also, people are afraid of the unknown. You force that on them, they will object -> vote for those that will block that. There is no way around that.

This happens more in places that are more religious and for example Poland is, if you let in people from different (also religious) culture you create a clash.

I think it would be easier for Czech, where there are few religious citizens.

As for terrorists. People watch TV -> see that ISIS is cutting heads -> EU wants to import people from exact same region into your country. Many people objected to that, even those less nationalist.


they will answer that they don't have terror attacks precisely because they don't let terrorists in (unlike those pesky french and germans)

Well, don't you see it as one of the reasons?

The polish way of avoiding terrorism is very simple: just don’t count it as terrorism. Voila, problem solved. Works just as well with COVID tests.

Poland is very homogeneous regarding race, church. Most, who vote for populists, weren’t abroad, or hadn’t opportunity to meet other cultures really. Everything they know come from tv, or social media, and right-wing uses social media extensively: Facebook groups, or YouTube videos to scare them, you know, when one falls into Recommended black hole there is no turning back. Rapes, burning cars etc. Even government TV likes to remind from time to time what a “problem” refugees are. So it is mostly by showing everything negative about Muslims in Europe that is ever been able to find.

There would be little reason to migrate if those European nations didn't exploit corruption and poor labour/environmental standards in other countries. Allowing free movement of goods and services without free movement of people entrenches inequality and makes the problem worse. Time to look at whether global capitalism is culturally "good", rather than shifting the blame to desperate people seeking safety or a better life for their family.

> There would be little reason to migrate if those European nations didn't exploit

Which European nations did this and how? Did Hungary, Poland, Lithuania, etc. do this? If you're talking about colonialism, then if Western Europe has a guilty conscience, let them pay the price. Don't punish nations that had nothing to do with any of that and who themselves were oppressed under foreign imperialism during that time. (Though two wrongs don't make a right, so I would avoid the insane rhetoric of "reparative cultural and national self-destruction".)

Besides, the idea that the world is poor because of European nations is a simplistic claim and the sum benefits and injustices. These weren't typically wealthy nations that those European devils colonized, even if they later took part in exploiting or mistreating those peoples. Odd that only the West receives that attention and no one else.

> Allowing free movement of goods and services without free movement of people entrenches inequality and makes the problem worse

Inequality is not the problem. Poverty and unjust treatment are.

Also, free migration actually does actually make the world worse. It leads to the destruction of the host nation by flooding it with people of a different culture beyond a rate at which they can be absorbed, but also the draining of the origin nations of labor, expertise, etc. It's bad for everyone. Maybe corporations benefit in some myopic way. They're the one who will print the bleeding heart op eds that tug at sentimentalist moralizers.


> I know nothing about Hungary. But I am quite confident that a happy, well organised society labouring under the grip of sound economic policies tends not to radicalise very easily.

I've travelled a lot in Eastern Europe and I think I know where this is coming from.

When communism fell, people rejoiced in joining the EU and getting all the benefits of a free society. However what really happened was that those spoils went to the people who were desirable employees. Meaning mainly the young (and those happy few with money or connections). Meanwhile the old communist cronies stayed in power and simply became capitalist oligarchs.

On the other side, older people's built up state pensions were cut or removed due to their jobs being privatised to shady agencies owned by these ex-government oligarchs. An easy way to cheat them out of their benefits they worked for. For all its failures, communism did provide them with a sense of continuity and job security that is now lost.

As a result there is now a strong separation between those with opportunities and those without. The haves and have nots. The older people have been abandoned. Of course these people tend to have traditional values and this is what people like Orban target.

I don't think Orban will really make things better for them, he is just a populist seeing a niche to take advantage of. But the disillusionment is real and very clear to me. I've spoken to some well educated poor people that were just too old to be of interest to capitalist companies. And thus ending up living in an apartment with plastic bags for windows (in -20 degrees C). I spoke to a very well educated school teacher who was begging on the street to pay for her husband's cancer treatment. She wasn't one to fall for these populists as she was way too sharp. But I was shocked how society has let an entire class of hard-working people just drop away into insignificance. In Western Europe we have built a balance between capitalism and welfare, but in Eastern Europe they moved straight to a caricature of hard neoliberalism. It caused a big culture shock and left a whole class of people behind.

We (as the EU) have let this happen by letting these states change their industries to capitalism overnight without setting up a proper welfare system. This will not go away until we find a way to give everyone a decent life in these countries. For some people the EU has been nothing but broken promises. Of course that's a breeding ground for dissent and populism.


I'll just add that in Israel there is a similar problem with older immigrants from the former USSR (a big wave of them came to Israel just after the USSR imploding), where they don't have any meaningful pensions saved up.

The people I speak of weren't immigrants though. They were just abandoned in their own countries.

> but in Eastern Europe they moved straight to a caricature of hard neoliberalism

Please don't generalise. Have you been to Czech Republic or Poland? There are no such neoliberalisms (I would say same about Hungary, but considering Orban, I'm not sure, I haven't been there)

We have good welfare and educated people don't beg on streets, not to mention plastic bags on windows.

Your description looks more like one for Ukraine.


I was in Romania primarily, many times. Have been to Poland a couple of times, but indeed I haven't seen this there. Sorry I was indeed extrapolating my experience in Romania to other countries. I assumed this happened in more countries.

The plastic bags on windows were really common though. There was a really poor apartment block just beside the office and I always felt so guilty looking at it. From the well heated office with free coffee.


Poland, welfare? :-D

As for neoliberalism: in Poland the usual way of employment, called "umowa o dzieło", gives the employee pretty much no rights whatsoever. It's almost as bad as in the US in that matter, and not comparable at all to Western Europe.


I am not a Pole, but live in Poland. Umowa o dzielo is quite pervasive but this is not a problem specific to Poland. Portugal, my home country has the same problems just the thing is a different name. The translation would be contractor. As a contractor you obviously have no rights, even so i think this is not the equivalent of US employment.

In both countries the governments are trying to make it quite hard to have people with Umowa o dzielo, which are de-facto employees, but do not pay the appropriate taxes nor are corrrectly protected. The employers also have some reason to do this, the protections offered to the employees often make it a very big risk to hire somebody. Regardless, i believe the southern European countries got it much worse on that front. (Note, the Polish social security model was heavily influenced by the spanish one).


The difference is, in Poland "umowa o dzieło" isn't hard: if anything it's easier than normal employment, because you don't have to care about things like ZUS, and it's much cheaper (in terms of labour costs).

I have never worked using that "way", always the normal one.

What you describe is used by firms that you can smell a mile away and don't even try to work there.

I'm sure western Europe has similar companies that abuse employer rights.


In the field of software development, in Poland, this is the normal one.

Also, note that this is not an abuse of employer's rights: that's precisely how "umowa o dzieło" is supposed to work. That's one example of prevalent neoliberalism.


No one in my or my wifes family works in any other formnof emoloyment. And believe me they are not software developers.

Yes, that's not a good proof, but you also did not present any sources.


It’s a bit hard to find something on this in English; if you can read Polish there’s plenty, eg https://biznes.interia.pl/praca/news-2030-proc-zatrudnionych...

It's not just whether peoples' lives improved. It's also how much they expected their lives to improve. If capitalism made life 10% better, that's good. If they expected capitalism to make life 500% better, then 10% isn't so good. And if they look around and see people whose lives are now 500% better, then the resentment is pretty natural.

It's not just that we (the EU, or even the West) let them switch to capitalism without a proper welfare system. We let them without giving them a government that knew how to run a capitalist country (because we didn't give them a government at all). But we let them have the expectations of a functioning Western government, instead of the expectations of a transitioning country that didn't really know how to do either democracy or capitalism.

It worked out pretty well for Germany and Japan to be conquered, and have the US spend a decade showing them how to do both democracy and capitalism. Just saying "Welcome to capitalism and democracy! Glad you're here!" turns out not so well. (The problem, of course, is that when you aren't a conqueror, the country doesn't want you to run it. And when you're fighting against the "evil colonialists" meme anyway, taking over is a really bad look, whether or not the results would be better in the long run.)


If you know nothing about Hungary, why are you so confident GP is wrong?

It’s rare for people to look at things from the perspective of the other side. I thinks it’s both: lacking abilities and willingness to do so.

The world would be a better place if we did that more often.


How can win-lose (lets say in the expected value) deals exist when the participants are free to partake or abstain from the deal?

In this context, they meant to say "outcome", not "deal".

However, win-lose deals can indeed happen, although they're rather rare. Consider the example of diminsmished agency, e.g a fentanyl addict "choosing" to buy more fentanyl. Or consider agency conflicts of interests or information asymmetries as examples where deals can turn out to be win-lose.


> One of the lessons people refuse to see in politics is that the people who vote for things they don't like might, potentially, be upset about something.

And one of the lessons other people refuse to see is that appeasement of hate generally just leads to more hate. This is what we're seeing in the US right now, where what seems to be a majority fraction of one of the major parties is captured by an escalating rhetoric of hate. The angrier they get, the more votes they get. You can't placate that, because at the end of the day it's feeding on ITSELF, not a fundamental injustice.

You really think that American voters are so outraged about vaccines or masks because of a genuine concern for good modern medical practice? No, they hate that stuff because it's pushed by the people they already hate. So now they hate them more.


As far as I'm aware ( source Hungarian people), entire families voted for him because he was strongly opposing migrants.

All the other shit he does, they deem less important. It's ridiculous.

Hungary should go out of the EU or be forced out. The lack of obeying rules and abusing subsidies for own gain should be enough reason. Hungarians should outweigh pro's and cons, it's already a decade...


I think Hungary should be very much kept in the EU, so the EU can continue to exert its influence. The funding taps should be turned off however, and only turned on again subject to demonstrable and verified improvements.

> The main defense against this situation is that it does not work to improve citizens lives. It only benefits a small part of society and it will make the rest suffer.

This pattern is attenuated when there's a reliable external source of energy. Hungary is not a closed system that will decay into entropy. It has regular funding from the EU which allows the disequilibrium to continue.


They should be expelled, but that's not possible. So the EU is indeed kinda helpless against member states gone rouge

I don't recommended this scenario but: the other states could join a new union and leave Hungary and possibly other states outside (the usual split into a good company and a bad one.) Lots of legal disputes but in international law the strongest party always makes the law and shrugs problems away.

BTW, is it rouge (as in French for red) or rogue?


No, they can't make a new union, that's just stupid. It took decades to build the EU as it is now. Building something new isn't feasible.

Just look at the Brexit shitshow and that was only a country leaving.

And besides that, the EU has never been about controlling national governments. The common values thing it's something new they brought to the table because they want to expand their powers.


In case of Poland the only value being forced by the EU is not breaking Poland’s own constitution. Which is required for any kind of reliable business, which, in turn, is pretty central to fundamental purpose of the EU.

Or they could just develop decent sanctions and enforce them. Hungary is a massive net recipient of EU funds, which seems a great starting lever, plus throw just the smallest amount of friction into their Schengen status, and you've got something pretty potent there.

It's Rogue. Common misspelling :)

Orban will vote easily against Poland just when he is guaranteed that he gets money from after-COVID fund. Maybe that is why EU are withholding Hungary spend plan for this fund.

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I am really not sure where this notion is coming from and I've seen it repeated in this thread multiple times now. The reason Orban's government is considered dangerous within the EU context has never been because of his stance on immigration or that he "doesn't kiss the rainbow flag". The problem is that his government has been attacking and dismantling democratic institutions such as academia, the media, NGOs and even the judiciary to some extend. The critique and this development started long before the refugee situation in 2015.

This has really nothing to do with immigration or LGTBQ policy. A number of EU countries are not really champions of immigration or LGTBQ+ matters either (Slowakia, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece). This idea that the issue is about him or his government not being "hip" or "woke" enough is really odd to say the least.


The recent politicising the courts, and the political aftermath, is bad enough to warrant serious action from the EU. Orban has had undemocratic tendencies for a long time, and his blatant misuse of power has had all spectrums of the political field concerned since we'll before the 2015 EU migration crisis.

The government calling people subhuman simply because of what gender they prefer or feel like is far more twisted than some "not kissing the rainbow flag", and that's what's happening in Hungary or Poland receiving huge EU subsidies.

While there's a fair amount of hypocrisy from other countries going on, the core issues are more about human rights and fascism than about hipness.

"Hungary has the full support of Poland and the V4"

Oversimplified view. There was common interest of V4 against accepting refugees, but Czech & Slovak rep. generally support EU's side in judicial and media independence issues.

Elsewhere, German automakers have vast investments in the eastern EU and they have been holding Merkel back against Orban, together with conservative faction of CDU.


> Czech & Slovak rep. generally support EU's side in judicial and media independence issues

In Czechia, I wish that was true, but our current prime minister Andrej Babis is actually openly admiring Orban, and playing up the same nationalistic politics (before the upcoming elections in October). I am not sure he would necessarily support media and judicial independence if it came down to that.


And here in Poland we already have problems since few years, people that oppose judicial and media independence are in charge, elected mostly by elderly and eastern parts of the country.

Oh, same with recent Slovak governments, they say one thing at home and another toward EU. But it is only populism as usual that the EU could eventually work out. So far.

> German automakers ... have been holding Merkel back against Orban

Between this, Nord Stream 2, etc, Germany's commercial elite are having more and more to answer for...


> The EU funds and fuels a Belorussian-style regime

Afaik Orban's party has won the last rounds of elections pretty conclusively, with no fraud allegations involved (unlike what currently happens in the US, I'm talking about election fraud allegations). What's with this "Belorussian-style regime" nonsense?


It is true that Fidesz, his party, has won 2/3rds of the seats in the Parliament, though they only got 45.2% of the total votes. This victory was in part due to them significantly re-drawing the regions used during the elections to their favour, changing rules for voting from abroad (making it easier to vote from neighbouring regions where most of the people are traditionally their supporters, but more difficult from other parts of the world, where most of the population would like to see a change). It was also helped by using the state to fund and run their own campaign with virtually unlimited amount of money (they were the ruling party in the previous term as well), gradually taking control of all media outlets (especially traditional print and TV ones, further strengthening their base in more rural areas), etc.

Since then they have taken even more control of the media, diverted the majority of EU and state funds to loyal businessmen (a regular gas-fitter became the wealthiest man in the country in a few short years, believed to be the straw man of Orban himself), filled all major positions with their own people (including most recently the high court), created laws directly against the civil society and LMBTQ+ people, stopped most of the funding to towns that have elected politicians from the opposition, taken control of all universities and actively worked on getting rid of CEU (one of the best, independent university, which was criticised due to being funded by George Soros), signed secret business deals for enormous amounts of money with Chinese and Russian interests that will almost certainly never be beneficial for Hungary, etc.

The comparison to Belarus is not correct in the sense that in Hungary violence has not been used (fortunately), but apart from that the governing party has done everything else they can to keep their power and crush everyone else.


> they only got 45.2% of the total votes

Think the figures are somewhat higher: Party/FPTP: 49.27%/47.89% [0]

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2018_Hungarian_parliamentary_e...


Sorry, you are right, I quoted the wrong number.

The point is the same though: due to the nature of the Hungarian voting system, the winner can easily get more mandates than what would follow from the raw results, and this is why it is beneficial to manipulate the voting areas.


So, just like the US then.

Sure, but no one was discussing the US. Not everything has to be related to them.

That's more than what Trump got in 2016. Still nobody compared the U.S. to Belarus.

I think the problem is that a lot of these claims could apply to many other countries as well, and don't obviously implicate Orban in doing things that are clearly beyond the pale. For example:

- The UK has got a bunch of boundary changes queued up that have been pending for years, which will benefit the ruling party. It sounds bad when put like that, however the boundary changes themselves were recalculated using census data (I think) in a neutral way, so although it helps the ruling party that isn't what led to the changes.

- It's hard to understand for a non Hungarian exactly what the voting rule changes might be about, but it sounds like it may be related to postal voting (people in neighbouring regions can go there physically). A lot of countries either restrict or want to restrict postal voting because it's drastically more susceptible to fraud, and there are constant allegations that left wing parties in particular like to abuse postal voting. Again the UK has exactly the same problem and some conservative MPs want to tighten the rules over who may vote postally due to a string of scandals related to it.

- Using the state to fund their own political campaigns. Again, any consistent standard that said this is evil would need to have considered the UK a rogue state in 2016, because the government at the time used vast sums of government money to fund the campaign to remain in the EU. For example the government sent a mailshot to everyone in the entire country, which alone cost more than the theoretical spending limit for the entire campaign. Government resources were routinely deployed in other ways to try and win the vote. Yet unsurprisingly, nobody in the EU complained at the time.

- "Gradually taking control of all media outlets" sounds like a reference to supporters of Orban coming into editorial positions rather than the government literally passing a law that gives Fidesz direct control over the press. Is that not so? In which case, under what standard can that be described as illegitimate? European media is totally dominated by supporters of the EU Commission and centre-left parties to the extent that in some parts of Europe, Eurosceptic conservative media hardly exists at all. Clearly the same thing has happened with different political movements in other parts of the world.

- Filling major positions with their own people and other such things, that's exactly what governments are meant to do. It's a necessary step in order to govern, in fact. No government can run a country if all major positions are controlled by people who oppose the government. Again, the UK is an interesting counter-point: it has major constitutional problems due to the lack of the government doing this, with the result that various organizations that are technically parts of the government are run by people who see themselves as some kind of quasi-official opposition, and who constantly try to undermine the actual elected government instead of doing their job.


What is being done by Fidesz is definitely not what "most other developed countries" do. I won't be able to discuss all topics, but I'll give you a few examples of the media situation.

There were several businessmen who became extremely wealthy within a very short period, either by working directly for the government (usually with all the typical signs of corruption), or by getting financed directly or indirectly by the government in the form of huge free loans, grants, etc. These businessmen then started buying different media outlets, some of which were 'usual' business transactions, while others were very nasty stories in themselves (the ownership change of the news site Index.hu was probably the biggest scandal). At some point all of these supposedly independent businessmen decided to give away ALL of the media companies they owned for free to a new non-profit entity. This transaction was given a special exemption by the government from all the usual checks and requirements (like antitrust), even though hundreds of media outlets were concentrated in a single entity, which now governs the majority of print newspapers and radio stations. Since this has happened, all of them transfer exactly the same messages - for example look at the following picture to see the front page of the 19 or so county news sites the day before the last election, where the headline says "Both votes for Fidesz!". These used to have independent editorial boards and focused on local news previously.

https://assets.4cdn.hu/kraken/78sQpRcFFKsevwZIs.jpeg

The state-owned national media holding MTVA (like the BBC in the UK), which of course is supposed to give an unbiased view of the world, also transfers exactly the same messages - there were several scandals where it became public that even senior editors had to send their content for review to Fidesz's people for review, and they got detailed instructions on what and how to say.

Viktor Orban, the prime minister for 10 years, refuses to answer questions or give interviews to any media that is considered to be 'the opposition', even the sites with the highest number of daily readers. At the same time members of the opposition parties are given close-to-0 airtime on the state-owned national channels, and even when they are shown, it is in a negative context.

The national media regulatory body does not check any of the previous issues, but they have been very active for example in revoking the license of one of the last non-Fidesz-friendly radio stations (Klubradio) recently, which also became a scandal.

The work of journalist is made more and more difficult because the state refuses to give information to them or even answer basic questions - for example during the corona virus epidemic, Hungary had by far the least informative site on the topic, yet it was filled with propaganda news. For example to create a chart of the daily cases, journalists had to manually check the site every day and save the currently shown numbers. In order to get a breakdown per county about the cases, they had to submit an official inquiry, where first they said that such data is not available (!), then used all 45+45=90 days to give an answer. Of course the answer only contained the data for the time period when the questions was sent, so it was basically impossible to get up-to-date information.

Viktor Orban still frequently uses the same defence that "they are working in an unfriendly media environment and only try to restore balance", but that is simply not true.


That's useful additional context and information, thanks. My point was only that without deep knowledge of the situation, many of the allegations sound not so different from things that happen elsewhere in Europe.

While I wouldn't call if a fraud, but they skewed with the election system to bend it towards in their favour. They for example introduced monetary support for small parties in a way that made it really easy to commit fraud, which surprisingly did happen at a large scale. It also resulted in people voting for those fake parties and not on the opposition with real power. They won 2/3 power like this.

"Belorussian-style regime", to name a few:

- control of state media packed with non-stop propaganda

- openly friendly towards dictators / other regimes

- suppressive, openly anti-liberal laws


US style, to name a few:

> - openly friendly towards dictators / other regimes

Trump cuddling with Kim-Jong Un and being a good buddy of Putins.

> - suppressive, openly anti-liberal laws

US Republicans are working on overturning Roe v. Wade, opening the door to more anti-liberal laws. Heck, in some states, women have to drive hundreds of miles to the next abortion clinic and risk getting intimidated by big guys with guns on their way in. Cause freedom.

> - control of state media packed with non-stop propaganda

I give you that, the non-stop propaganda in the US is privatized, e.g. Fox News, Washington Post, OANN, MSNBC, etc. Still propaganda.


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Sure, liberal is an umbrella term. Instead, imagine a country where we let people live their life however they want, do whatever they want to their bodies and think for themselves.

This is not Hungary and we are heading towards the opposite direction.


Which country in EU is like that? I don't know of any. And there are much worse counter-examples than Hungary.

And after corona lockdowns, talking about stripping all kinds of rights from the unvaccinated which country in the world right now is moving in the right direction?

Hungary is not worse than the rest.


> Afaik Orban's party has won the last rounds of elections pretty conclusively, with no fraud allegations involved (unlike what currently happens in the US, I'm talking about election fraud allegations).

You are partially right: they won the elections conclusively. However, their supermajority was due to fraud. I am not even sure whether that can even be called "allegations" at this point, it's more like "everyone knew on election night already but what could you do".

I think the best description of the events in English can be found at https://www.unhackdemocracy.eu/en/investigation Summary:

> Unhack Democracy’s year-long investigation into the April 2018 Hungarian Parliamentary elections indicates Prime Minister Viktor Orbán secured his one-seat supermajority thanks to a combination of outright fraud, gerrymandering and by engineering the electoral system.

> Our findings reveal extensive polling station irregularities including forged voter logs and intimidation of ballot counters; a suspicious ticket splitting rate twice as likely in areas where there we no opposition delegates; electoral clientelism involving large-scale vote buying and intimidation of voters, the unlawful transportation of voters from Ukraine, Romania and Serbia; missing absentee ballots; and a mysterious failure of national election software.

And the full version goes into "fake" parties and more.


The last election they won fair and square was 2010. After that, one of their first acts was to modify the previously proportional electoral system to ensure that they get a supermajority in parliament despite winning 40%. Since then, they've had full control over the constitution and the law despite 60% of the country not voting for them, and all "debate" has been pointless.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elections_in_Hungary#The_votin...


Democracy isn’t merely “majority rule”. It’s also the concept of everyone’s equal value regardless of ethnicity, sexuality, freedom of expression and so on. Merely getting 51% of votes by disregarding those values is neither acceptable nor democratic. And the EU can’t stand for it just like it could t stand for a regime that takes power through violence.

“Belorussian style regime” I assume is in reference to freedom of press/expression/artists/minorities etc in the country.


> Democracy isn’t merely “majority rule”. It’s also the concept of everyone’s equal value regardless of ethnicity, sexuality, freedom of expression and so on.

As much as I would like this to be true, I don't think it is. In practice - and to a certain extent also in theory, if you at least add add some nuance - in every democratic country the majority has power to decide who's granted full rights and value, and who isn't (think of voting rights for inmates or immigrants, right to be elected, right to obtain a job etc.). Even when the constitution sets those rights "in stone", a vast majority has the legal right to change the constitution.

Update: part of the nuance is that democracies won't technically change the value of a person, to use your term. But by removing their rights, the effects are hardly different.


Modern democracies (i.e. the ones set up including the learnings from the Weimar Republic) should include minority protections and defenses of democratic institutions that can not be overridden by simple majorities.

"Afaik Orban's party has won the last rounds of elections pretty conclusively"

AFAIK Lukashenko also has some no-fraud elections under his belt. You don't need an election fraud to go from a democracy to a dictatorship.


People voting themselves right to the edge of a totalitarian regime does not make that criticism any less legitimate.

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I think what's important is respecting human rights, not ideological affiliation, and in that sense Hungary has noticeably regressed in the past decade.

Human rights are a human construct and constantly change over time.

If you deny any form of transcendence, which is the case in the positivist, technocratic culture of the West, then this is the inevitable conclusion.

It’s either this, or basing ones moral code on old wives tales.

I am very much in favor of human rights. They are among the last, public vestiges of the “old wives tales” you denigrate, and could be problematized at any time. This could come from the political left, the political right, or some as-yet unrevealed historical force. Without recourse to the kind of transcendent, essential reality that positivism negates, we will have a very hard time defending them as anything other than a mutable, socially contingent prejudice.

That’s an interesting argument, given that the Catholic Church was - and largely still is - opposed to Human Rights, and fought fiercely against them. Remind me, when was the last time the Catholic pope argued against woman voting rights; it was ~1950, right?

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I guess you will change your views about human rights when you and your family will be the ones being specifically targeted by your own government.

No it's not.

Far more people have an apoplectic fit at anything that can even vaguely be described as “liberal”..

Even when the word is being used in its european sense, meaning more or less the same as 'libertarian' in the US.

It can be for sure, but at least in Northern Europe, it can also suggest a more social liberal ideology (e.g. look at Sweden’s recent debacle)

To be honest, my comment was mostly a jab at the GP for their touch anxiety when using the word “liberal”, although it’s less obvious now, when their followup comment is dead.


There are military and there are civilian dictatorships. Taking control of the legal system, legally removing oversight, silencing the media, bribing etc does constitute fair elections. Your definition of fairness might need to expand its scope.

Sure they did. I also think Lukashenko would have also won most of his elections if they were democratic, losing maybe only the last one marginally. Same with the Chinese communist party. To no surprise - if your people sit on all levels of the government, if you control the media and the public discourse, if you persecute anyone having any chance against you, you win. This doesn't mean other countries need to support this. And voicing an opinion against these tactics isn't "meddling in national affairs" as these governments like to tout.

This sort of implies people can’t think for themselves. By this logic, the liberal countries are only liberal because the media tells the people to be liberal. Maybe you’re right.

Nope, because there are different media available, and one can watch/listen/read those.

In Orban like states you loose that free access to all media and you are forced into the state one.

For those that are not aware countries that were under former Soviet boots all have a state television, which is the default source of information for older people (they are used to it), whichever party wins the elections sets up this TV broadcast to their liking.

All other TV broadcasters need to have a special privilege approved by the state - do you see what can happen here?


> For those that are not aware countries that were under former Soviet boots all have a state television

Most countries in the world have state-owned television.

> In Orban like states you loose that free access to all media and you are forced into the state one.

So many people own smartphones and have internet access. Even older ones, who learn to use them faster than PCs. People can consume whatever media they want. And people can certainly teach their parents how to consume non-government news.


> Most countries in the world have state-owned television. Yes, but not state-owned television almost exclusively. The Orban government managed to buy out pretty much every independent TV channel leaving basically only RTLklub which is free-to-air and available anywhere in the country.

> So many people own smartphones and have internet access. Even older ones, who learn to use them faster than PCs. People can consume whatever media they want. And people can certainly teach their parents how to consume non-government news.

Still not everyone has access to the internet, especially in rural areas. For some people the only news source is television and the radio, both which are predominantly owned by the government.


Don’t want to downplay the government’s role in shaping the public opinion. But quick check shows that the number of internet users is well over 50%, which gives a good shot at winning at election if one decides to defeat the government.

I'd like to stress the "_may happen_" in the parent's post. I'd argue that in Czech Republic the state TV (ČT) works well so far. One cannot filter out out biases from journalism completely, but in general the quality of production is a good indicator to me that they do have processes in place which try to address some biases. In my eyes on average ČT wins compared to the private TV stations in the country.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Czech_Television#Management


Yes, that sounds about right. "public opinion" is constructed, covid showed that pretty nicely.

Fidesz did win the last election. Part of this has to do with a number of scandals from the previous Socialist government (before 2010), part of this has to do with the hybrid electoral system (half gerrymandered FPTF, half proportional party-list) and part of this has to do with horrendous organization of all non-Fidesz parties.

Now all the major opposition parties have united into a single electoral slate for the next election. Primary elections are being held for the first time to determine the compositions of the electoral slate. One minor problem is that the coalition would be very incongruous. But hey, still gonna vote for them (personal opinion).

But while it is not a dictatorship, it is, as Orbán himself puts it, an "illiberal democracy". And the government's attitudes and laws create a ton of problems. And that's not even getting into the corruption and so on...


If you only watch regime media, it is impossible to vote differently, only successes, no problems, no shady affairs, no nepotism. Opposition, on the other hand, is portrayed as the root of all evil.

Sorry, but that is totally factually incorrect. I am a Hungarian citizen and there are many well known and worrisome circumstances about Fidesz's electoral victories:

- The election system has been changed in a way that overcompensates the winner. Fidesz is supported by about 50% of the voting population, yet it has a 2/3-s supermajority which enables them to pass any law they wish without any resistance.

- Fidesz has built up a MASSIVE database of the voting population over the years, basically they can tell the voting preferences for each home address. There is video evidence of this, I am not talking out of my ass.

- Based on this database large scale gerrymandering took place in the past years.

- The governing body overseeing the elections is run by long standing Fidesz cadres. Many polling districts especially in rural areas only had Fidesz-affiliated polling-clerks during the last election.

- Thousands if not tens of thousands of Ukrainian citizens (many of whom have Hungarian ancestry, but many do not) have been registered in the Eastern part of the country with voting rights. They are eligible for pensions multiple times the amount they would receive from the Ukrainian government because of an old agreement made bw the Soviet Union and Hungary. In exchange they are voting for Fidesz. Again, this may sound like bullshit, but it is a documented fact.

- Small cities are told that they won't get any EU funding from the government if they elect a non-Fidesz mayor.

- There is a massive amount of very poor people dependent on government distributed "public work" in the countryside. It's basically modern day servitude. These people are also often threatened that if they vote the "wrong way" they will not get work.

- Most of the relevant news outlets (TV, Radio, Newspapers, online media) are owned by Fidesz-frienly businesspeople and they are in 24-7 propaganda mode. I am talking about 1950-s style Stalinist propaganda, not some kind of "pro-government bias". There have been by now basically one TV station and a handful of small websites left that are not controlled by Fidesz.

- And add to that that any opposition leader, any journalist critical towards Fidesz or any businessman who is not part of their circles can be monitored by these spy softwares and then you will understand what the term "hybrid regime" stands for.

Yes there are elections every four years, but they are just for show.


EU is primarily an economic bloc and economic interests will carry the day any time, or at least 99 per cent of the time.

Orbán has integrated Hungarian industry deep into German supply chains and milks this fact as much as he can.


Agree with "primarily an economic bloc." On that note though, I don't think German-Hungarian industrial integration is all that weighty. Hungary's economy isn't big enough to make it compelling.

The EU just doesn't have a political culture where Hungarian press freedom is "our problem." It's more of a "very unfortunate, next" kind of issue. No more of an EU concern than Uzbek press freedom.

This doesn't compute. I agree. The EU clearly is a very political union. But that's how it is. Press freedoms, human rights or minority freedoms outside of the EU are more likely to become politically hot than inside it.

Maybe this will change over time, but the EU has a weird trajectory. I have no idea where it's going. For the most part, "culture war" issues don't seem to have a grasp on it... as they do on most polities.


Don't underestimate the EU. It's a slow beast but it can bear a grudge. The language used to address Hungary is slowly becoming more and more aggressive. A head of state from a small EU country explicitly called for Hungary to leave.

You also have to remember that the EU is an union of sovereign countries. Plenty can be done by EU members where the EU is powerless. History shows that messing with France and Germany can be costly.


History also shows that when Germany messes about with east europe it can get messy rather quickly. And sadly hungary is in bed with russia. The eu should just cut funding for hungary and let everything else play out from there. Anything more that that is pure suicide for an already declining eu.

History as in 80+ years ago?

AFAIK last time it was when the eu and germany pushed for ukraine regime change. ended up with ukraine getting invaded and loosing territory. so germany better stay out of east europe and so should the eu. the only way to win is by economics. thats how the us eventually won the cold war. also germany is not particularly popular, considering its bullying tactics and it being one of europes largest polluters, eu corruption it supports and so on. all i want is to make sure the most effective tools are used against hungary, as that country is a symptom of a much deeper problem. germany should let established powers deal with hungary and get into it before it messes things up again.

What do you want the EU to do? Kick Hungary out?

EU offers a lot to the Hungarian people in terms of travel, freedom of business, employment etc. In 10 years Orban likely will be gone. In the long run the liberal values of Europe will prevail.


Orban didn't become president by himself. There is social support for his platform and this platform will generate new leaders that will be like him or worse

He has similar platform to what you will find in many other european countries. Le Pen in France. AFD in Germany. Dansk folkeparti in Denmark.

How does EU "fight" that? By playing for the long run: freedom of movement, cultural exchange, freedom of business. In the long term this leads to a more liberal society, regardless of counter movements.


If there ever comes a time when AfD creates a board to “review” Supreme Court justices, or moves to remove “foreign influence” on media in Germany and so on - then the same discussion will return there. The difference is that conservative nationalism can’t get that type of foothold in Western Europe and the mistake was to include countries in the EU that even had a risk of having a nationalist majority. We should have “tiers” of membership with a legal/political inner union of liberal states that can have a common foreign policy, and a wider less tightly coupled trade Union with the EEA that doesn’t necessarily need to agree on such things.

" The difference is that conservative nationalism can’t get that type of foothold in Western Europe and the mistake was to include countries in the EU that even had a risk of having a nationalist majority"

Does spain is included in your non-nationalistic western europe? A state where old fascist are still in charge in justice, police and army? Who cheeringly cracked down on catalonia who dared to organize a referendum on independence?

Or, well france. Who declared as a first move of presidency of EU to make french the standard working language of the EU?

Nationalism isn't restricted to eastern europe.


> Who cheeringly cracked down on catalonia who dared to organize a referendum on independence?

Which would likely be done by every country that respects rule of law and equal rights of its citizens.


I supose by rule of law, you don't mean:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-determination

Aside from that, the UK showed with scotland, how it can be done dealing with political issues, without involving the police. Because that is just in tradition of the fascist way.


> Who cheeringly cracked down on catalonia who dared to organize a referendum on independenc

Parts of states do not simply arrange independence referendums without approval from the central government. This would be “cracked down” in every single country on earth. It may well be that Catalonia deserve independence but it’s not exactly surprising or authoritarian of a central government to stop such attempts. Scotland doesn’t arrange an IndyRef without getting a nod from London.


But how could they have proceed legaly, when the central government made it clear, they never respect their right of self determination?

By trying to move that opinion. It might take three or ten generations but it’s hard to see an independence movement go faster without violence.

> The difference is that conservative nationalism can’t get that type of foothold in Western Europe

UK says hi!


By conservative nationalism I mean something that is much further removed from liberal democracy than Nigel Farage or even LePen. It’s not about economic conservatism, closed borders and populism in immigration matters. I mean (extremely) socially conservative.

I somehow doubt it. EU's reaction to migrant crisis was everything but liberal.

And that's basically only the tip of the fuckberg that will be future migrations.


they have parliamentary elections in 2022. i bet Orban will be out by then

> If there is one single lasting international effect of Orbán and his party, it's how he demonstrated how EU is completely helpless against rouge states (as well).

Helpless and hypocritical. If Orban rolls out surveillance he is a dictator. If UK or Germany do it, it's the noble fight against terrorists, pedophiles and kids downloading moviez from the internet.


EU is as helpless as USA. what would US of A do with a rogue Texas? nothing

Little-known fact, this actually occurred before: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Civil_War

You might want to look up the American Civil War. It lasted from 1861 to 1865 and some 600K people died. That's what happened the last time any states threatened to secede from the Union in the US of A. It's also a pretty well-known bit of history.

That was about secession, though, not misbehavior. In fact, arguably it proves the point; after the US civil war there was a period of 'reconstruction', which largely failed, and then the southern states carried on doing pretty much whatever they felt like for the next century.

EDIT: As mentioned below, desire to misbehave was certainly at the root of the secession, but in practice even after the war was won the federal government wasn't able to impose its will particularly effectively.


No it was not. The Civil War was about states wanting to abolish federal laws they didn't support such as those that impinged upon the right to keep slaves and take them wherever they wanted to(see Western Expansion.) How could that be considered anything but "misbehavior"? Secession was simply the byproduct of this.

Oh, sure, but afterwards, the federal government wasn't able to impose its will particularly effectively. It's really hard to see reconstruction as anything but a failure.

I don't disagree however my posts were in context to the OP's assertion of "what would US of A do with a rogue Texas? nothing." And clearly the US did something. Also as disappointing as Reconstruction was it was in fact responsible for creation of the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the U.S. Constitution aka the "the Reconstruction Amendments."[1] The important of which can not be overstated. Surely those should be factored in to any judgement of "failure", no?

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reconstruction_Amendments


Again, though, the 15th in particular just wasn't enforced for about a century in the states concerned. The civil war probably provided impetus to pass these very important amendments, and that, as you say, shouldn't be understated, but they weren't particularly effective in a reasonable timescale. Going back to the original point, more or less the entire south were rogue states to a much greater degree than Hungary, for a very long time.

The war started well after states started seceding and even then only in response to a military attack by the south. So it's not quite the example you portray it to be.

The secession convention meeting in Charleston, South Carolina occurs on December 20, 1860. Confederate troops fired on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. Let's see that's 3.5 months later. And for 3 of those 3.5 months the US has a lame-duck President in James Buchanan whose cabinet was also famously split oh the issue. Lincoln isn't inaugurated until March 4, 1861. Further, the attack on Fort Sumter is just the "official" start of the war. It's not like nothing was being done by the Union in the interim. Far from it. As early as January 5th of 1861 hundreds of troops and provisions were sent to fortify the Sumter garrison. Lastly on April 4th Lincoln tells his southern delegates that he intends to attempt to resupply Fort Sumter. This is understood by the Southern states to be a declaration of war. So yes I think this is exactly the example I portray it to be.

Don’t underestimate energy companies ability to bring in a ton of state firepower to keep their bottom line intact - that’s one of the main lessons of the 20th century.

I mean the US had a civil war over the “rules”, so it’s kind of clear what it would do.

The EU is not a state...thank god for that, and that it never happens.

But it can be a federation of states. Hopefully, that will happen.

Depends how much the states have their own freedom and power (financial marketplace, and military), remember Russia is a federation too.

I hope not, because I'd prefer if we don't give even more power to a bunch of unelected technocrats in Brussels.

They are elected. In Romania we have voted for the people that represent us in the European Parliament. Voted for an independent fella.

Hopefully that never happens. Hopefully more Hungary's emerge. Hopefully more Western countries start actually serving their people

Hopefully nationalism crushes this perverse anti Western virus which has taken over the once greatest nations in the world


In this day and age, don't people like you read/watch some world history? What you are saying seems so narrow-minded (ignoring the racist undertone), it makes me confused.

It's precisely a studying and understanding of history which makes me so.

Perhaps people like you would do better to engage in conversation where you might learn something you don't know rather than throw out your classic epithets


So, to be clear, you studied and "understood" history and came to the conclusion that nationalism is a good thing. How? It's clear that I don't agree with you. I think you must be too isolated from some nice people to be so furious about other people.

We can circle back to the psycho analysis later if you so desire, but I'll be sticking to the topic at hand for the time being.

You seem to have made a connection between nationalism and being furious about other people. I respectfully disagree that there is a necessary relationship there.

I have no ill will against other people. I would like people who share my culture to govern me, and I would not like people of my culture governing people of a different culture. They can govern themselves and we can govern ourselves. We can share ideas, trade, sport, etc., But multiculturalism within borders is an inevitable failure and globalism is an inevitable failure


I find that despite my national background, there are tons of people in my country whose ideas and principles I don't share, and lots of people from other countries/cultures that I would team up with anytime.

Drawing a line primarily along cultural lines means ignoring or downplaying all of the other lines that other people might find similarly important or more so.

Why would I bias my decisions about people over other people just because they grew up within a few hundred kilometres of me? Why would I prefer helping a bunch of deadbeats from my own country over a bunch of promising bright people from halfway across the world? Because they'll stand up for me in return?

Because it's always one team against another? Fuck teams. There are my immediate friends, and outside of that I'll fight only for principles, not arbitrary teams. Everyone's a different person in their own right. Everyone deserves to be treated as who they are, not where they're from. (Cue Backstreet Boys.)


Having written this, I think it's worth pointing out the main flaw that I see in nationalism: it's that it uses culture and nations as a proxy for principles, as opposed to digging for the actual principles underneath.

As an example, I stand for freedom of speech, in the form of a diverse, largely independent set of publishers and authors that allows me to make up my own mind by exposing me to different viewpoints. Many Western countries have a better track record at this than authoritarian countries. But this doesn't mean that I'm on Team "The West" - if my country drops this value, I'd rather drop my country than my values.

If my country thinks that skin color or wardrobe of a person is more important than what that person is saying, I'd rather drop my country than team up against that person.

If my country decides that Islamic Law or autocratic dictatorship is a better form of government than democracy, I'd rather drop my country than abandon my principles.

It's great to be in a shared space where you agree with everyone. The question is, when you eventually disagree (because you don't get to choose what your neighbors think, and because nationalism is just a proxy for actual values), then are you going to follow your principles, or do you let your nation and culture dictate what your principles should be?


>the main flaw that I see in nationalism: it's that it uses culture and nations as a proxy for principles, as opposed to digging for the actual principles underneath.

I think the problem that you are going to run in to is that culture and nations as a proxy for principles works pretty well since those things are highly correlated. Unless you have a strong civic identity that aggressively assimilates and ensures respect of those civic norms, you have an inevitable clash that just becomes a question of scale.

>If my country decides that Islamic Law or autocratic dictatorship is a better form of government than democracy, I'd rather drop my country than abandon my principles.

In your hypothetical, how exactly would this situation come about? You should be able to venture a guess.


> Unless you have a strong civic identity that aggressively assimilates and ensures respect of those civic norms, you have an inevitable clash that just becomes a question of scale.

I'd like to suggest multicultural cities such as Toronto as an example that preserving cultural backgrounds and integrating with the rest of society aren't necessarily mutually exclusive. You have a broad mix of people from (among others) European, East Asian, South Asian and Middle Eastern backgrounds here and while all of the usual discussions are alive and well (left vs. right, urban vs. suburban, immigration vs. bubbling), people's cultures are just not the main issue dividing people. You'd think that with a lot of Muslim immigrants, Canada would have larger problems with value differences, but guess what, most people are just people and want a good life for themselves and their families. Nothing new here, move along.

The point is that full-on assimilation isn't necessary. Celebrate shared values. Celebrate diverse backgrounds and differences, too. I don't have to tell a Muslim woman that she can't wear religious clothing, just like I don't like it if her husband tells her the opposite. I can just grab food with the two of them and discuss tech, ethics, religion and whatever, just like with regular people, because they are regular people. The kids just see a lot of different ways of people living their lives and learn that it's okay to be different.

> In your hypothetical, how exactly would this situation [Islamic Law / autocratic dictatorship] come about?

Recent history suggests that there is a template: a politician gets voted into office, gets drunk on power, finds a common enemy and sells it to the people, changes elections and eventually the constitution to remain in power, kills the independent press, persecutes opposition leaders and intellectuals with dangerous ideas.

Turkey and Hungary are well on their way. Russia has arrived. Iran and China went the revolution route, that works too, although probably requires more of a flawed system to begin with.


> I would like people who share my culture to govern me, and I would not like people of my culture governing people of a different culture.

When did this ever happen in history? People diverge all the time, that's how we have so many cultures.


>People diverge all the time, that's how we have so many cultures.

Lightly categorized in so called country's?


Globalism is inevitable, you cannot stop it. You should rather get used to it. The fact that you get anxious by ideas penetrating your culture means that globalisation works. It is like my Romanian grandfather telling me how bankers should have been punished in 2008. Which would have never and it will never happen because that's how the world works. The alternatives are far too costly and our global capitalism does not allow it. Get used to it, neighbor.

Only death is inevitable and even that is not that certain.

I am saying this as a person, who likes the science fiction level of species level organization ( vs geographical nation-state ), where we pay with universal credits and basically have few of the issues inherited from the olden days of 2021.

But I dream.


Yeah just hope your not a belter ;)

>Globalism is inevitable, you cannot stop it.

If corona told us anything, then this is probably not true anymore.


Nationalism gets a bad rep now precisely because it has accomplished many of its goals and is a part of many European states and now the nationalists get confused with the extreme nationalists.

Before nationalism, most European states were monarchies "answerable by God". Now it's dominated by countries with a single people/single language/single religion. Minority rights are important, but a minority should never be in charge of the majority as it was under the Austrian Empire for example (a.k.a as the Jail of Nations).

It's sad that reactionaries are trying to undo this and slowly turn the EU into another Austria, which will inevitably be dominated by the Germans and French.


I'm certain that every Romanian sees Vitkor Orban as a wolf in sheep's clothing. The protector of interests for V4 group through unethical means and corrupted politicians. Hopefully, sanctions will follow soon. Masking local interests of a few corrupted individuals with nationalism is borderline criminal.

>Hopefully nationalism crushes this perverse anti Western virus

Being totally against the EU, i think full on nationalism is wrong too. We life on one big spaceship and with that, we should have one organizing (not governing entity) like the UN was once meant to be.


EU is built on the European thought at least, it is the child of Christianity, strongly influenced by Greco-Roman world sprinkled with some Germanic austerity. No wonder why countries with Muslim minorities cannot join the Union. UN would never work because what binds Europe together is exactly this shared Christian past starting from the division of Catholic and Orthodox Church and ending with Protestant thought. Even if our European elite act as religion does not play a role anymore that is simply not true. Christianity is the most enduring and influential legacy of the ancient world, and its emergence the single most transformative development in Western history. Even the increasing number in the West today who have abandoned the faith of their forebears, and dismiss all religion as pointless superstition, remain recognisably its heirs. From Western France to Eastern Romania, the legacy can be felt in everything, from language to cuisine, from architecture to music. Imagine that those countries are on opposite sides of the EU but they both speak a Romance language.

You do realize that Islam is essentially a Christianity’s sequel, right?

Also, your mistaking Christianity - which is doing just fine in the western world, probably better than ever - with its degenerate form of fundamentalist groups, based mostly on hate, eg homophobia. This is most visible in Poland - which is very Catholic, and definitely not Christian.


>No wonder why countries with Muslim minorities cannot join the Union.

Germany has a Muslim minority. And Cyprus has 25%. I don't think Religion is a point here at all, culture definitely is.


There were thin provisions against member states getting out of hand, but they became useless the second Poland conspired with Hungary.

I'm not sure if I would've liked en EU with stricter punitive measures over its member states before all this, but it's clear that the measures to prevent situations like these have all failed.


I'm not sure if conspired is the right word. Poland just has very strong sympathy for Hungary as a country and its people.

Poland has nothing to do with Orban and wants nothing to do with Orban. Unfortunately we have our own populists that like Orban wants to remodel our country to be easier for them to rule as they please. And results are similar as with Orban in Hungary and threats to that from EU are the same so cooperation against EU safeguards is kind of natural and spontaneous.


"Polak, Węgier, dwa bratanki, i do szabli, i do szklanki."

(Pole and Hungarian — two brothers, good for saber and for glass.)

Some countries in the EU have better relations than others. Czechs and Slovaks, the three Baltic nations, and Poland and Hungary. Things must get really bad before they will stop having each other's back on the international scene.

This is a historical and diplomatic fact that must be taken into account when conflicts arise.


Poland has common geopolitical interests with nordic countries like Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark. Hungarian strategy of playing both sides can work because Hungary is not between the hammer and the anvil. And the languages are radically different. "Gulasz" and "Dobosz" are not enough. If you ask 100 Poles on the street, you won't find 1 that can count to ten in Hungarian. Finnish is an equally hard language and there are common values and sentiments between Poland and Finland, for example wars against Russia. Simo Hayha is pretty well known.

I don't want to make too much of this, but it is possible that you are a part of or have rather eclectic social circle. My personal advice would not be to extrapolate to the entire society.

That said, I would welcome a citation supporting this assertion. My personal experience is very different and I do not want to swap anecdata.


I'm not sure which parts do you find questionable.

The common geopolitical interests - true as long as you believe Poland is more comfortable with the West rather than in "Eurasian Union". Nordic countries are way more liberal, but they are wary of Russia. Historically Russia was often in conflict with Poland. Scandinavian Peninsula can be a great obstacle to Russia if it wants to expand west. It threatens sea routes and airspace and it's only going to become more important as global warming makes the north more navigable (without icebreakers).

Hammer and anvil - alternate names for the location of Poland (and Ukraine) include Bloodlands(Timothy Snyder), crumple zone(Jacek Bartosiak). Russia and Germany are powerful states and many transport routes lead through Poland. The Carpathian mountains in the South and Baltic Sea in the north form a sort of a bottleneck. Timothy Snyder is of the opinion that central-east Europe had the great misfortune of lying right between two totalitarisms - fascism and communism.

This is a bit of contrast with Hungary, which is now completely inland and land transport is about 10x more expensive so it's not as good for trade.

Or do you mean the Finland? I can expand but you can find common points between Poland and Finland.


I was referring to Poland, but I am now even more intrigued as I never explored Hungary's history as much. Thank you for sharing the books -- I added them to my reading list.

Can you expand on the Poland and Finland?


I, um, need to refresh my memory on common Polish-Hungarian history.

As for Finland, it's the more superficial things. Wars against Russia, desire to be independent, and Finland fought Russia very effectively in the defensive Winter War. Both Poles and Finns are heavy drinkers.

Since you seem to like this kind of books: Timothy Snyder is an US historian specializing in Eastern Europe, and he's especially fond of Ukraine. He also has good lectures on youtube, although I think he's trying too hard when he's commenting modern politics.

Norman Davies is an English-Polish historian with a particular interest in Poland. He speaks the language surprisingly well. The books I'd recommend include: "Red Star, White Eagle". He described an unlikely outcome when in 1920 Poland won a war against Bolshevik Russia, and delayed the onset of communism in Europe.


Orban exists because of EU overreach. If the Brussels set weren’t intent on turning the EU into a federal United States of Europe, none of these “rogue states” (a completely absurd label for Hungary, btw) would have any political interest in Fidesz/PiS/etc.

Wrong. EU is the boogeyman for the governments in Eastern Europe. Whatever unpopular move they make, EU gets blamed for it.

It is easy to blame some entity everyone knows exits, but at the same time, that entity is more like a group which doesn't fight back against it. Even if they fight back and criticize the government here and there, the latter own the media and that becomes a non-story.

Right wing governments always need a boogeyman to rally against. Today it is EU, LGBT+ groups, Roma etc. Tomorrow it might be you and me.


Sorry but this is a caricature. These countries were dying to join the West 30 years ago. Orban himself was one of the most prominent pro-West figures in the 90s.

The only reason these countries are now “hostile” is because the EU and the West have changed.


So what's your point then? Of course stuff changes in 20 or 30 years. Everyone wanted to join the EU. They've joined, and for the last 20 years the elites are reaping the benefits.

And that doesn't change the fact that there is a very strong anti EU sentiment among the Eastern European population. Did the EU screw them? They did not. Who did? Those same politicians now blaming EU for 30 years of their own corruption, suppression of freedoms, stalling and maintaining status quo.

Here we had war which ended 26 fucking years ago. No war can do as much damage as corruption and incompetence. And somehow EU gets blamed for it. I understand that EU is no saint, but what we have here is a disaster happening in slow motion.


Because these countries joined an organization with X agenda which now has Y agenda. This change (and demonization of anyone against it) is what gives politicians like Orban ammo.

If the EU were more decentralized, none of these political parties would exist.


My whole point is that "EU-talk" is just a convenient scapegoat. It even doesn't matter if EU exists or not. Those crooks like Orban don't need a solid boogeyman, everything is good for them. Be it EU, "Communists", Jews, Roma, gays, trans, immigrants, dwarfs, Serbs, Croats, Albanians, hairy women or aliens, there is always someone else to blame for their own problems.

This is what fuels these guys. The tanking economy of their own doing which leaves citizens poorer and poorer. So they take away the money with one hand, and point to someone else with another.

EU has its own internal problems and huge overhead, and I agree it doesn't help the situation, but blaming EU for Orban's success is naive.


The only reason Orban is the way he is and Fidesz exists is because of the overreach of the EU.

Study the history of Orban himself. He isn’t just some random right wing nut. He was a part of the first wave of liberalization in the 90s and was very pro-West.


I feel like you're missing a few key points that have also changed. I think almost everything is different from 30 years ago, not just the west and EU.

Of course but I don’t think it’s controversial to say that the “problem” EU countries are quite happy with a 1990s vision of Europe, while the West isn’t.

It has actually elicited a response. Through many mechanisms now big countries in Europe have gained much more power than before, when the model was very egalitarian.

And you can look at it in a very different light if you see it as Hungary becoming a small vassal state of Germany (an autocracy helps it to stay that way, and German manufacturers want the situation to remain like this) rather than a "rogue fascist" state. Just follow the money.

If you look at things this way you expect to see a war of sphere of influence of big countries in the near future. I think the Balkans will be the next soft battlefield between German and Italian influence.


If you put it that way, the "war" has already been won by Germany/Austria here in Croatia. There is next to no Italian influence (only in one small region). Everything else is German/Austrian owned. Banks, Telecoms, big business, construction etc. Most of the houses on the coast and islands are theirs as well.

EU needs our country just to be minimally stable. Stable enough so millions of foreigners can come to their villas each summer, and as poor as possible so their money is worth more here. Whatever happens outside summer, that's not their problem. That includes tolerating far right politics, Christian fundamentalists and other lobbying groups, super corrupt politicians (better to say whole governments), huge government incurred debt, no freedom of the press or speech, and pretty much non-existing economy.

I'm sorry to say, but I'm sure that trouble is coming to this part of EU, maybe not in couple of years, but eventually surely will. The seeds of radicalization, corruption and all that nasty "us vs them" mentality were planted 20 years ago already. Only now they are starting to bear fruits.


As someone living in Austria, I noticed this as well. Rich Austrians own all big businesses and all desirable properties in Croatia.

I wonder what will happen to Croatia, politically, in the future, when the young there find themselves priced out of their own country by richer foreigners.

Seems like uncontrolled capitalism has enabled a form of economic colonialism, as proven further by the money printer let loose during Coving, making the rich richer and the poor poorer, to which the response is always "that's just how the free market works".


I'm glad that I'm not the only one seeing this effect. And economic colonialism is a succinct way of putting it as you said.

I mostly blame the government for it. If we had a better economy we could compete and the prices for us locals wouldn't be prohibitively expensive. But no, our government (and most of opposition) is a corrupt criminal organization so there is no way out of it. We're just getting poorer and poorer relatively speaking unfortunately.


As Italian I've got very few doubts about the outcome of a struggle between German and Italian influence. Maybe Italy vs France as it happened in Libya but not against Germany. As you wrote, "follow the money" and Germany has much more of that and can buy out Italy together with France at any time.

The EU is still, at core, an economic/trade union, not a geopolitical actor. That's both cultural and structural.

Meanwhile, european people's appetite for "international" politics is been mostly satisfied with world politics... especially US politics, which was good and saucy for the last few years. The most animating issues of recent years have been: Trump, BLM related US politics, Israel-Palestine conflicts & climate change. Most of what happens in EU parliament attracts very little interest in the greater citizenship-journalism-politics sphere. National politics is, by far, still the main political sphere.

European politics rarely becomes primary news/politics "stories." That applies to both Hungary, within the Union and Belarus, an immediate neighbor. It also applies to Ukraine and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, which was largely about EU affiliation.

Notable exceptions are Brexit, peek refugee migration and the Greek/Euro crisis... 12 years ago. The ironic exception to "EU politics doesn't exist" is the nationalist, eu-skeptical camp which has been developing an EU-wide audience.

In any case, IDK if "helpless" is the right word. It's more like "uninterested." Hungarian freedom of the press and such just aren't on anyone's agenda. The fact that they're EU doesn't really mean much.


I think the issue is that EU was founded with an idea that they can copy US creation pattern, but without sufficient consideration of the simple fact that there is a thousand plus years of history that is being crammed into respective citizens' heads including, but not limited to wars with neighbors. It is hard to forget blood; especially if survivors still have a state.

Do not get me wrong. I like the idea of EU. I see its benefits, but the idea ignores lessons of creating new federations. Apart from everything else, I doubt EU would be willing to do the same things US did to maintain its grip.


> I doubt EU would be willing to do the same things US did to maintain its grip.

I think you meant war.

I think the EU is unwilling to make even non-bloody sacrifices, like the US did in the beginning at the Connecticut Compromise (1787). Basically as early as 11 years after the independence, the large US states relinquished a lot of power to the smaller states. With that compromise they gave 2 senators to each state, no matter how big or small it was.

I really don't see Germany relinquishing that much power, or France for that matter.

Also the EU cannot function like the US without the absolutely massive transfer of cash from rich to poor states.

A poor state in the US receives as much as 10k per person NET from the federal government https://worldpopulationreview.com/state-rankings/federal-aid... Imagine giving out 200 billions to Romania alone every year... At best we get 10 billions a year, but only for a limited time. In the previous budget we got like 3-5 billions a year. For those funds, the richer countries expect a lot of obedience in return, always dangling the threat of cutting the funds if we "don't behave".


War, civil war or re-education of local populations.

Note that either of these would be unlikely to succeed. Just about every EU state has survived numerous occupations; some partitions; some ceased to be nation states. How can you possibly hope to force them to see themselves as Europeans first and nation A second? If anything, force or even threat of force will likely result further digging in.

Overall, I agree with your post though. I personally think both France and Germany simply use EU framework for their own purposes ( Germany actually just had an interesting case that may finally shed some light over whether EU law is above German law -- that should be fun to watch - https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jun/09/eu-launches-le...).


> Hungary has the full support of Poland and the V4 - any major blowback would result in shattering itself.

Countries can only be kicked out of the EU with unanimity of all states except the one being kicked out. But Poland and Hungary have a pact to support each other, so that can't happen. I suspect though that if Hungary and Poland pissed off the EU in a big way, the other states would all leave and simultaneously form a new EU2021.


Orban was actively supported by the EU center-right wing parties. Do not assume morality, no one was angry they were in fact joking about it. Actions are reserved for countries with left wing governments. Funniest moment, if it wasn't so tragic for hungary:

https://youtu.be/1hl83Jpd_OI


True. But EU also repeatedly ignores a decent chunk of people that want a stable social state without LGBTQ agitprop and unlimited illegal immigration. I have a hunch that the western left wing would have much more support if they focused on the wellbeing of the common worker, not on the countless minorities. Instead the choice always seems to be between a reactionary right-wing degenerate and a hyper-progressive left-wing degenerate. And to think Americans call them communists. In communism most of the shit we see today from left and right politicians wouldn't fly at all.

> But EU also repeatedly ignores a decent chunk of people that want a stable social state without LGBTQ agitprop and unlimited illegal immigration

Can you give me some examples of the EU doing this?

My understanding is that nothing has happened on migration because there is no agreement.


The most obvious example is Merkel's flooding of the bordering european states with economic immigrants and "refugees" of disputed international validity. Not only EU states like Hungary, Italy, France or Slovenia, but also non-EU territories like Croatia, Bosnia etc. It's a difference that is showing if you like me live as a student in a Schengen-border state. Ignoring the major changes of public opinion and trying to arrange no compromises at all is (IMO) a common pattern with the EU law- and decisionmaking. Saying that a whole international union with will somehow deal with and accept an overwhelming influx of non-integrated, traumatized, not-fit-for-work population is peak bourgeoisie. At the end of the day, social state is (at least in my god-forsaken old-school commie eyes) there to provide the future productive members of society with an education, housing, stipends etc. for the betterment of the nation/state/collective/whatever. I see little sense in promotion of influx of cheap, abusable, low-skill labour or even worse, perpetual social system abusers.

So how is it different from a similar influx of migrants from Eastern Europe? (Disclaimer: I’m from Eastern Europe myself.)

Significantly lower unemployment statistically and a much lower cultural barrier anecdotally. But I might be ignorant or going off anecdotes. Economically, they are pretty comparable if it weren't for the fact that most of my compatriots in the diaspora and foreign workers where I live are usually employed. EU statictics reflect this: https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php...

Sure, as the immigrants from Eastern EU countries can legally work in the West without all the paperwork required for folks from outside the EU. But I still remember when it wasn’t the case, and Poland was widely known for stealing cars and prostitution.

EU can't do anything because many other countries are doing the same.

Is it better to shatter itself, or to have this within it? Do you want the EU to be smaller, or to be a bloc without ideals?

> helpless against rouge states

Is Hungary a rogue state?


From the perspective of EU, it is a rogue state. It acts in concert with Putin and Kremlin to destabilize EU.

> Hungary has the full support of Poland and the V4

this is not going to last forever, its already diminished a lot since 2015


I'd argue that it's in their interests. Right populist politics and bland status quo centrism need the other to justify themselves. Bland centrism needs the threat of the right to keep the left in their box (see Biden, Macron, Chirac), then through representing the interests of the status-quo and not addressing any systemic change they create the conditions for right populists.. and so it goes on.

It takes time, good systems move slow :)

> rouge states

States that wear lots of lipstick? It's a word often mis-spelt.


Which is an indication that the whole system is simply too weak. EU was originally founded to make trade easier. Even the temporary removal of borders for EU citizens was only done to fasciliate trade, the free travel amongst EU states was a nice side effect which could also be used to lure the citizens into believing the EU was actually more. The social apsect was originally only a side effect of fasciliatating trade. And now that it starts to show that the different member states have different political agendas, and not everything can be pacified by just making commerce happy, the system starts to crumble. I still remember the biggest fear of EU when brexit came up. That more member states could have a similar idea. That isn't particularily showing strength and confidence.

Oh so you mean the people who like to call it "EUSSR" are full of it?

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