Eastern Europe

The gains and snares of unity

Published on: Wed, 30/10/2019 - 10:43

A reader reports from Hungary

The results of the 13 October municipal elections in Hungary have seen the first victory for the opposition since 2010.

The candidates fielded against Fidesz won the capital, many districts of the capital (each district also has its own mayor), and 50 out of the 100 most populous cities. They’ve mostly lost in the countryside.

The reason for this success was the co-operation between opposition parties. In multiple cities, they all joined together to back a single candidate, thus avoiding splitting the vote.

In Budapest, the opposition backed Gergely Karácsony

Living in an illiberal democracy

Published on: Wed, 25/09/2019 - 10:17

A reader reports from Hungary

One of the perks of living in Hungary is not having to ask your grandparents: “What was it like living in a one-party state?” — because you already know.

You see outrageous government propaganda everywhere. You see the posters of the crowds of refugees – excuse me: “migrants” — which would have you believe that they are out for Hungarian blood. You hear the endless droning speeches denouncing the treacherous liberals, and the sinister conspiracies trying to undermine Hungary.

You turn on the TV, switch to the right wing propaganda channel of your choice, and you

Ágnes Heller 1929-2019

Published on: Thu, 05/09/2019 - 09:10

John Cunningham

With the death of Ágnes Heller on 19 July an era in Hungarian politics has come to an end.

She was one of the last links to the Hungarian Marxist György Lukács and the so-called Budapest School of the 1960s, which consisted of a number of his former students, including Heller’s husband Ferenc Feher.

Born to a Jewish family in Budapest, Heller survived the Holocaust. Her father – an inspirational figure who helped many Jews to survive – perished in the final months of the war. After 1945 she enrolled at university and joined the Hungarian Communist Party in 1947 after hearing Lukács give a

Reading list on the 1956 Hungarian Revolution

Published on: Mon, 22/07/2019 - 13:26

Thanks to John Cunningham for this list...

Aczel, Tamas (ed.) Ten Years After: The Hungarian Revolution in the Perspective of History. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966.
Bekes, Csaba, et al. (eds.) The 1965 Hungarian Revolution: A History in Documents. Budapest: CEU Press, 2002.
Cox, Terry (ed.) Hungary 1956 – Forty Years On. London: Frank Cass, 1997.
Dent, Bob. Budapest 1956: Locations of Drama. Budapest: Könyvkiad, 2006.
Litvan, György, The Hungarian Revolution of 1956: Reform, Revolt and Repression 1953-1963. London: Longman, 1996.
Lomax, Bill. ‘Twenty Five Years After 1956: The

Putin, liberalism, and the left

Published on: Wed, 03/07/2019 - 12:50

Colin Foster

In September 1847, before they had even written the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels declared:

“If a certain section of German socialists has continually blustered against the liberal bourgeoisie, and has done so, in a manner which has benefited nobody but the German governments... then the Communists have nothing in common with [them]”.

Marx and Engels rarely quoted their own earlier writings. They considered that article so important that they cited it again in 1865. Breaking off collaboration with a socialist newspaper in Germany (launched in the tradition of Ferdinand

Orban rewrites history

Published on: Wed, 09/01/2019 - 12:28

Luke Hardy

The Orban government in Hungary has removed the statue of Imre Nagy in Budapest in a overnight secret operation.

Nagy was the liberalising Stalinist who was returned to power by the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. He was overthrown by the Russian invasion which put down the revolution, and then executed in 1958. Nagy is not our hero. For most of his career he was a Stalinist apparatchik. But for many Hungarians he is a symbolic martyr of the Hungarian revolution.

In 1989, he was rehabilitated under popular pressure and 200,000 people turned out for his reburial. That was a key event in the

The roots of antisemitism in Hungary

Published on: Wed, 19/09/2018 - 12:31

John Cunningham

For part one click here

In the last part of this article I looked at how Bibó analysed the historical background of antisemitism in Hungary. But on a more general level what makes an anti-semite “tick”? Bibó begins by considering the personal experiences of anti-semites,
“[…] anyone who knows anti-semites even a little, knows that they base their claims about Jews on very personal experiences, presented in honest and passionate form. It would be incorrect to claim that they invent their experiences because of their shared prejudices, interests and ideologies; there are indications that the

Tories accommodate soft-fascism

Published on: Wed, 19/09/2018 - 11:56

Rosalind Robson

Even right-wing media outlets like the Spectator have denounced the Tory MEPs who recently voted against or abstained on the European Parliament initiating Article 7 proceedings against Hungary.

That procedure allows MEPs to refer a member-state to the Europe Council to determine if it does not respect human rights, democracy, rule of law and so on.

But this is hardly news! Since being elected in 2010 the Fidesz government of Viktor Orbán has:
• Rewritten the constitution so that key checks and balances (including judicial ones) on executive powers were removed.
• Bought up the media. This

The development of antisemitism in Hungary

Published on: Tue, 11/09/2018 - 21:43

John Cunningham

For part two click here

Bibó was not a Marxist but a member of the National Peasant Party (NPP) — a party of radical reformists who adhered to a political position which was loosely described as “the third road” (or “third way”): neither Communist (i.e. Stalinist) or capitalist.

It was, in effect, left-reformist and probably closer to the politics of Bennism (but with an agrarian orientation) than anything else to which it could be compared in the UK today.

That political stream had a short existence from 1939 to 1948. In the Hungarian elections of 1945 the NPP won 42 seats in the National

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