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Antisemitism in Hungary

How an ideology threatens to become violent…

by Magdalena Marsovszky
Published in: Petersen H/Salzborn Samuel (eds.): Antisemitism in Eastern Europe. History and Present in Comparison. Frankfurt/M., Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien: Peter Lang 2010 (S. 45 – 63)

(This article was written 2009 during the former Gyurcsány-government (2006-2010).)

Ever since “modern antisemitism” emerged during the nineteenth century, this phenomenon has become a regular fixture in Hungary too. It always intensifies during times of sociopolitical crisis, most strongly in the decades following World War I and the subsequent Paris Peace Treaties, and clearly again since the collapse of real communism. Could troubling structural parallels once again lead to an escalation of violence? This article seeks to answer this question. Beginning with a snapshot of the current state of fear in Hungarian society and the overly narrow conception of antisemitism in Hungary, a second section goes on to describe the emergence and development of ethnic-völkisch thought as the most important mobilizing factor behind exclusionary tendencies. A third section, on the construction of “the Jew”, draws on theory to describe the manifestations of antisemitism in this country, and a forth section corroborates this theory using empirical examples of antisemitic mobilization. How this mobilization is already resulting in violence, and how the widening schism within society, the sacralization of the nation, and the nationalist victim narrative are all exacerbating the spiral of violence, is shown in the final three sections

Fears of ethnic violence

Many people in Hungary are worried that “ethnic violence” (Wimmer/Schetter 2002: 313pp.) could break out in their country; there have already been many cases of individuals or groups being attacked due to supposed cultural or sexual otherness (cosmopolitanism, homosexuality) or supposed “racial” characteristics (darker skin color).

Which target groups are most under threat? And who is committing the violence? These are the most important questions to which the answers have been sought for many years. Of those who commit the violence, it is the paramilitary Hungarian Guard, founded in August 2007, that receives the most attention (cf. Malterik 2008: 26) – and justifiably so. Of those most under threat, it is the “Jewish minorities,” the Roma and homosexuals who are mentioned – also justifiably so. Although these statements are accurate, they do little to explain the overall complexity of the situation and general tenor within the country, because they focus on minorities in terms of both perpetrators and victims, and interpret these concepts too narrowly. As a consequence, one often assumes in Hungary that the causation of antisemitism, however analyzed, is connected to actual Jews.

If the terminologies are too narrowly defined, then one cannot understand the culture wars in Hungary today: one cannot understand how left-wing liberal politicians and journalists could be vilified as “dirty Jews” and subjected to physical attacks, without anyone confirming whether or not they actually have a Jewish identity; and one also cannot understand how an institution like Hungarian Television could be denounced as “Jewish” and their building set on fire, as happened in the autumn of 2006, so that the transmission had to be interrupted and the employees escaped lynching only through a back entrance (cf. Marsovszky 2006a).
It should first be stated that there is no persecution of Jews in Hungary. However, one can point to a widespread “structural antisemitism” (cf. Haury 2002: 158), or institutionalized thought patterns that make exclusionary beliefs automatic. When a Hungarian radical right-wing website categorizes “Jews” under “Blacks,” it shows that “Blackness” is clearly not about skin color, but is instead a construct that was designed to help construct a dominant “Whiteness.” That antisemitism and racism have nothing to do with the behavior or appearance of the object of racializing discrimination, but rather point to the hegemonial structures and institutionalizations of racially discriminatory persons, is an insight that is not widespread in Hungary, so that hegemonial structures and institutionalizations are not challenged.

This explains why there exists in Hungary widespread völkisch (German: “ethno-nationalist”) thinking and a broad völkisch stratum (on völkisch thought cf. Puschner 2001; Salzborn 2005) that includes many well-known scholars. The “national gaze” and “methodological nationalism” (Beck 2004: 39) which dominate the larger part of Hungarian scholarship help to support the “ethnic closure” of society and thereby its ultimate transformation into an ethnic community, which in turn feeds exclusionary tendencies with its idealized homogeneity. Völkisch thought is not new to Hungary, but instead draws on a long tradition.

The genesis of ethnic-völkisch thought and its development in Hungary

The conceptual world of the Hungarian völkisch (Hungarian: népi or népnemzeti) movement is derived partly from the achievements of the French Revolution, partly from the Enlightenment, and partly from a cultural tradition whose roots extend back to Herder and German Romanticism, and which also fed the völkisch movement of Wilhelmine Germany (cf. Marsovszky 2006b).

Structurally typical for völkisch thought in Hungary – as in Germany – was (and is) ethno-nationalism, which defined the country’s identity as ethnically homogeneous Magyardom, establishing national membership according to blood and ancestry. This was associated with a movement emerging at the start of the nineteenth century, which rejected liberalism, capitalism, and the West. However, the definition of a nation as an ethnically homogeneous society defined by lineage always leads to exclusion and ostracism, which articulated itself in Hungary – like in Germany – as antisemitism (cf. Puschner 2001; Szabó 2003: 101ff.) The rejection of foreign influences manifested itself in Hungary as a rejection of German “fascist” influence, which continues to serve as an argument for labeling Hungarian völkisch thought as “anti-fascist.” Antisemitism is the logical consequence of völkisch thought, but this link is ignored. In fact, it is still often called the “Jewish question” (Gyurgyák 2007).

In contrast to the German völkisch movement, the Hungarian one after the 1920s expressed such massive protests concerning the sufferings of the peasant class, that it amounted to a social revolt. This has led scholars to represent the Hungarian movement as primarily a social struggle for the agrarian proletariat (cf. Romsics 2005: 211). The social component is certainly an important aspect of völkisch thought, but it is only one element. If one were to follow this line further, then it would seem incongruous that there could emerge such a destructive dynamic through which nearly a half million Hungarian Jews were deported within eight weeks during the summer of 1944, with a comprehensive, bureaucratic efficiency comparable to the German one (cf. Aly/Gerlach 2002: 429). It is only by considering the ethnic component that the murderousness makes sense.

Especially after the collapse of the monarchy and the signing of the Treaty of Trianon (1920), when a “fear of the nation’s death” took hold amidst the general sense of destruction, the ethnic-völkisch nation-state started becoming increasingly important. After that point, the primary focus of politics, culture, and everyday life was the reconstruction of the “status quo ante Trianon,” or the re-creation of the borders of 1914. Even national Hungarian socialism was guided by the ideology of revanchism until the very end (cf. Ránki 1999: 82).

During the interwar period, völkisch thought had such a strong impact that a literary conflict ensued, recorded in literary history as the “conflict between the völkisch and the urbane” (cf. Nagy 1990). The völkisch-oriented literati condemned the Western-oriented “modernizers,” also called the “urbane,” who leaned towards abstraction, focused on the individual, and were cosmopolitan. These critics also strived to improve the social position of the “only worthy class,” the agrarian proletariat, which raised once again the problem of the “contradictions” between the peasant, “pure Magyar” culture and the urban, “decadent city” culture. This is the typical antisemitic stereotype of the “sinful city,” or “decadent urban lifestyle,” which also played a significant role in the völkisch movement of Wilhelmine Germany (cf. Puschner 2001: 115pp., Schlör 1995), and which can be traced in Hungarian literature back to 1897 (cf. Szabó 2003: 150).

Even after World War II, real socialism could not repress völkisch thought, despite socialism’s universalist ideals. The “national question” was also cultivated by the Soviet leadership, so that there eventually emerged a socialism with a “nationalist face” (Standeisky 2003: 127). Furthermore, traditional communist politics had developed a much stronger affinity with the völkisch than with the liberal or the social democratic (Agárdi 1993: 741), so that a societal consensus emerged in which the völkisch were gladly tolerated as the opposition. In relation to the activities of the “urbane,” i.e. the real opposition, also called the “democratic opposition,” the reins of official real socialist cultural policies were pulled especially tight, probably because the “urbane,” even when unspoken, were counted among the “Jews,” and this association was well-known to everyone (cf. Csepeli 1998: 69).

A large part of the social elite (cultural policy makers and the völkisch intelligentsia) were hoping thereby for the social integration of an ethno-nationalist, i.e. völkisch, cultural nationalism. For many, this cultural nationalist form of national resistance represented a progressive “revolution” from below.

Therefore, the end of real socialism was not only a democratic, but also an ethno-nationalist turning point.” (cf. Claussen 2000: 18). As a modern ideology, ethno-nationalism can be defined as an everyday religion combining secularization, nation-building, and real socialism. Due to the urge towards homogenizing one’s own group, this also leads automatically to the ostracism of any kind of “foreigner” (Werz 2000: 7). This is why ethno-nationalism and modern antisemitism in Hungary can be seen as two sides of the same coin.

The construction of the “the Jew”

In analyzing antisemitism in Hungary, it is also important to note that it – as would be commonly the case – does not just represent a tendency towards a racializing discrimination. Antisemitism in this country is especially associated with antiziganism and homophobia. However, none of these three constructions of the enemy has anything to do with the real-world actuality of Jews, Roma, gays or lesbians; the difference between antisemitism, antiziganism, and homophobia exists only within the specific construction of enmity being produced by the hegemonial structures and institutionalizations. Nevertheless, it is important to explore what the enemy construction of antisemitism looks like, in order to be able to identify which persons or institutions are vulnerable to concrete attack.

Antisemitism in Hungary cannot be defined in the narrow sense of Jew-hating, especially as there does not exist a single actual Jew that would account for the amount of antisemitic stereotyping. It is an animosity against symbolic “Jews” and “foreignness in itself,” aimed more towards politicians and media personalities which one does not like (especially socialist and liberal ones), than towards real Jews. In the tradition of the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt and its critical theory (Benz 2001: 129), Hungarian antisemitism can be understood as a “cultural code” (Volkov 2000). Further interpretations can be for it a “world view” (Holz 2001), “earthly metaphysics” (Kiss 2004) or a “universal projective identification” (Csabai/Erös, 2000: 120) or a “cultural essentialism” (Marsovszky 2006 [c]) in which such “groups of people are treated with enmity” (cf. the concept of “group-focused enmity” in: Heitmeyer 2005: 14), in that they are accused of not being “true” members of the völkisch-conceived nation. It is connected to an animosity towards all those “others” who represent cosmopolitanism, urbanity and intellectualism, as opposed to the myth of the “Magyar Fatherland” and the “homeland soil soaked in our own blood” (corresponding to the German ideology of Blut und Boden or “blood and soil”). This means that the “foreign” could include not only minority groups, but also democratic structures, the democratically elected government, and even the European Union itself.

In Hungary, antisemitism always appears within social groups experiencing – rightly or wrongly – anxiety, promising security and growth through the ideal of a strong, völkisch-homogeneous nation; it offers them a psychological grounding and fulfills a pseudo-religious function. This conception is organisch (German: organic-holistic), anthropological, ethnic-national-social, and also anti-EU, anti-Western, anti-capitalist, as well as biologistic, extremely anti-communist, anti-Bolshevist and/or anti-liberal. Völkisch thought also draws on the long tradition of religiously motivated anti-Jewish thought as well as that of anti-Zionism or “antisemitism from the left” (Haury 2002), which is no less völkisch. Antisemitism from the left, which is particularly characteristic of formerly real socialist countries, often uses anti-capitalist conceptual shorthand to align itself against “globalization” and Western “multi[national]s”. Furthermore, so-called secondary antisemitism, which tries to deny guilt by inverting the perpetrator-victim relationship, is also widespread.

These four manifestations of antisemitism which prevail in Hungary are identical to the ones which Wolfgang Benz gives in his comprehensive list. These are: (1) religiously motivated Christian anti-Jewish thought; (2) pseudo-scientific racist antisemitism, supported by anthropological and biologicist argumentation, which emerged in the nineteenth century and found its climax in the Holocaust; (3) secondary, post-Holocaust antisemitism, motivated by a denial of guilt and/or the inversion of the perpetrator-victim relationship; and (4) anti-Zionist antisemitism, which developed within real-world socialism (cf. Benz 2004: 19).

All four forms of antisemitism are well-established in Hungary, and in fact they intensify each other, which is a likely reason why the hatred has already turned again and again to violence, with some sociologists and civil rights campaigners predicting pogroms or lynchings in the future (cf. Rádai 2008).

Antisemitic mobilization

An example of the mutual intensification between Christian anti-Jewish thought, pseudo-scientific anthropological biologicist racist antisemitism and anti-Zionist antisemitism are the speeches given in front of thousands of people before the “Homecoming” reformed church on Szabadság tér (“Liberty Square”) in Budapest on 23 October 2007, during the national holiday commemorating the 1956 revolution. A young actor called through the loudspeakers:

“The land belongs to those who populate it. That is God’s law. We must populate the Carpathian Basin! We cannot permit incoming strangers to take possession of this country! Left-wing ideology is the spawn of Judaism. The Jewish psyche has never been creative, and has always appropriated the ideas of others. International left-wing ideology is the most important intellectual tool for Judaism’s abominable imperialism as well as its natural and organisch nationalism. This psyche, marked by five thousand years of superstition and racial fanaticism, is – in its delusional notion of being the chosen ones – alien, suspect, and hostile to humanism and the two-thousand-year-old culture of Europe.” (video document 23.10.2007)

Immediately afterwards, Pastor Lóránt Hegedüs Jr. took to the podium: “To paraphrase our fiery poet Petöfi, I say to Shimon Peres and to all those who would take our country from us: take your whorish mothers and not our homeland! Amen!” (video document 23.10.2007).

As at every demonstration of the last few years, the crowd chorused at the end: “Gyurcsány, get lost!” These speeches and the crowd’s reaction clearly illustrate the relationship between anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli sentiments, which automatically direct themselves against the contemporary, democratically elected government and against liberal intellectuals, a traditional antisemitic stereotype (Nordmann 1995). This sentiment is also being mobilized by the large völkisch parties, being the Hungarian Civic Union (Fidesz-MPSZ) and its smaller coalition partner, the Christian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP), both currently in the opposition. The latest label for the current government, as used by the Chief Elections Officer of the Fidesz, László Kövér, is a fusion of the words “Internationalist” and “Nazi”, producing “Internazi”. He said on HírTV: “The apparent inheritors of the nation-destroying policies of János Kádár [author’s note: 1956-1988 General Secretary of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party] are these Internazis, who are now inside our borders too, doing everything to rob the Hungarian community of its identity.” (video document 21.11.2008).

Regarding the intellectuals, he declared that no other country had “such criminal, self-prostituting good-for-nothings like these Hungarian intellectuals [...] They are accomplices within the criminal clique of the Socialists. There is no transgression, no loathsome crime, that they can’t spin into a virtue” (Tanács 2009).

A week later, also on HírTV, the President of the KDNP, Zsolt Semjén, compared the government with the “Bolsheviks who, as a minority, [ruled] the majority” (video document 05.12.2008). The allegation that “Bolsheviks and/or communists are Jews” also corresponds to a traditional antisemitic stereotype (Niedermüller 1995; Gerrits 2009).

Therefore, in Hungarian antisemitism today, the villain is to be found in the construction of the “Jew”, as manifested in archenemies like (“Jewish”) liberalism, (“Jewish”) Bolshevist communism, (“Jewish”) capitalism (Barkai 1995), and (“Jewish”) social democracy. The process of globalization is also seen as a “methodically organized extermination” of Magyar culture, traditions, values, and ultimately the whole nation and the entire Volk. “Globalists” and “globalization” are universally understood antisemitic codes; the term itself is often a code for Zionism (Kövesdi 2007). It is constantly claimed that the current government, entangled within this globalization plan, is “controlled by foreign interests” (through globalization). The economist László Bogár calls government members the “staunchest domestic vassals of the global capital structures” (video document 01.05.2009), which corresponds to the established antisemitic stereotype of the “Zionist Occupation Government” or ZOG (Grumke 2009: 10). Persons or institutions that correspond to the mentioned antisemitic stereotypes, or are part of the government, are forced to serve as projection screens for society’s problems and anxieties in very concrete terms. This includes socialist and liberal politicians, left-wing liberal journalists, left-wing liberal media and the liberal intelligentsia. They are in particular danger, being constantly reviled as Jews, spat upon, and sometimes physically attacked (cf. Marsovszky 2008a).

Escalation of violence

Although a spiraling overall nationalist radicalization has existed since the fall of the Iron Curtain, it became especially intense after 2002, the year in which the Social Liberals won the parliamentary elections and the opposition leader called for the formation of so-called “civic associations”. These were to “stand ready, and be capable of action when the time comes!” (Orbán 2002). Since then, there have been several “ethnic riots” (Wimmer/ Schetter 2002: 324), which the participants have perceived as a struggle for freedom. These riots were especially large in September 2006, on the fiftieth anniversary of the 1956 revolution. The participants consciously framed them in relation to the events of 1956, meaning that they experienced and communicated the riots as a modern-day incarnation of the past struggle for freedom from the “communists” (cf. Marsovszky 2006a).

The radicalization of society over the years has led to a phenomenon of dehumanizing the enemy, a typical signal that further escalations of violence can be expected (cf. Eckert/Willems 2002: 1457pp.). At first, it was only at demonstrations that one heard the taunting “Gyurcsány: cockroach!” Later, in the radical right-wing press and on internet sites one could find graphics and photo montages portraying left-wing liberal politicians and journalists as worms. For example, in 2007 the monthly magazine of the radical right-wing party Jobbik (Movement for a Better Hungary) included a large-format poster supplement which depicted government members as parasites to be exterminated (Magyar Mérce 2007). Meanwhile, this phenomenon has found its way into the media outlets of Hungary’s “patriotically oriented” völkisch side, which are close to the Fidesz and the KDNP. For example, in January 2009 the völkisch station EchoTV compared several well-known authors – Nobel Prize winner Imre Kertész, Péter Esterházy, György Spiró, and the late István Eörsi – with rats to be exterminated (video document 23.01.2009; earlier examples of attacks and exclusion of Kertész see in the collected volume Vasvári and Tötösy 2005 and 2009; Marsovszky 2003).

Divided society, völkisch thought, sacralization of the nation

In describing Hungary’s “patriotically oriented” side, one must explain that, in terms of social psychology, Hungary has been a divided country for many years. There are, broadly speaking, two parallel societies – one völkisch-nationalist and the other more cosmopolitan – which do not speak to one another, and whose cultures reflect fundamental differences. According to the beliefs of the völkisch-nationalist side, they themselves embody the essence of the “Magyar Volk”, while (as previously mentioned) the other side consists of “cosmopolitan” and “identityless traitors to the Fatherland”. This has already led to aggressiveness in everyday life, so that, for example, the fear of attack prevents many people from openly reading left-wing liberal newspapers in public spaces, such as in streetcars and subways. The “group membership” of individual persons is frequently visible in everyday life, especially since the völkisch often wear so-called “respectable” clothing, meaning with a folkloric touch. The level of aggression is so extreme, that each group suspects the worst of the opposing one (cf. Wimmer/Schetter 2002: 322). The mental chasm between the two sides grows from year to year, and has become so deep that although the two sides may nominally speak the same language, they do not always grasp the semantics of “the language of the Other,” because a completely different consciousness is encased within.

Society is being further divided by the increasing “sacralization” of the nation in völkisch thought (cf. Schulze Wessel 2006), meaning that the nation takes the place of God. Here, the nation is worshipped in the form of the “Holy Crown of Hungary” (from the eleventh century), which was moved from the National Museum to the Parliament Building in 2001 (during the term in office of the Fidesz and Viktor Orbán, who is now Opposition Leader). This was touched upon by Maria Wittner, a Fidesz member of parliament and former 1956 revolutionary, in an interview:
“What eases my situation is that the Holy Crown of Hungary is stored in this building. When the caucus chamber becomes too much for me, then I go to visit the Holy Crown, praying to it and asking for guidance. Here in the Hungarian Parliament, the Holy Crown has its own personhood. Anyway, the Parliament is only there so that we can pretend that Hungary has a multi-party system.” (Siklósi/Matúz 2008).

The “Holy Crown of Hungary” plays a decisive role in all völkisch discourse. All right-wing nationalist groups consider the so-called “Doctrine of the Holy Crown”, a nineteenth-century völkisch Lebensraum ideology (cf. Klimó 2003: 247), to be the country’s constitutional basis, and not the democratic constitution. This doctrine defines the Magyars as an ethnically homogeneous Volk throughout the entire Carpathian Basin, including the ethnic Hungarians in neighboring countries.

Numerous “civilian” organizations, such as the aforementioned civic associations, are also bound together by the “spirit of the Holy Crown of Hungary”: members of the Hungarian Guard swear an oath on the “Holy Crown” (in the form of a replica), and völkisch prayer rituals are regularly organized “for the salvation of Magyardom and for the nation” in the name of the “Holy Crown of Hungary”. This insertion of religious and messianic elements into the nationalist “prayer ritual” is nothing new to Hungary: between the two World Wars, it was already part of the “Hungarianist worldview” (Szöllösi-Janze 1989: 225). The “prayers for the souls of the Magyars and for the nation” combine elements of the Christian Mass or other church services with supposedly ancient Hungarian rituals (photo document 29.03.2009). These are a kind of sacral purification, in which the nation (in völkisch terms) is being spiritually cleansed of “internal enemies”. The first temple for Magyardom, called the “Temple of the Carpathian Homeland” is currently being built in the town of Veröce with community assistance (Varga 2009).

One finds all forms of völkisch thought in Hungary, ranging from radical to “soft”, and they are not even strictly limited to the so-called conservative parties. Völkisch conceptual structures, as well as the notion of “thinking in national categories”, exist in other parties too, such as the Socialist Party (MSZP) as well as – although to the least extent – the Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ). Even within the Socialist Party, the ruling cosmopolites have “patriotically oriented” opponents. Accordingly, the “sociopolitical cleavage” should not be drawn between left-wing and right-wing parties, as is often repeated, but between the völkisch-thinking and the non-völkisch-thinking.

National victim narrative

The national myth of victimhood is an important element within the ethnic-völkisch thought that prevails in Hungary, and is closely associated with the phenomenon known as “cultural pessimism”. In turn, both are important elements within the structures supporting antisemitism (cf. Salzborn 2006: 125pp.; Stern 1986). In both we can see an identification, which is ultimately being implemented antisemitically, with the völkisch-defined Magyar nation. This cultural pessimism emerges from the feelings of anxiety concerning the loss of long-standing handed-down traditions and beliefs, as well as traditional social ties, due to modernizations and reforms; it also comes from a psychologically determined perception of a supposedly peripheral status (cf. the concept of “inbetween peripherality” as coined by: Tötösy 2002: 8, see also Tötösy, 1999). One dreads the loss of “national unity” and ultimately the “death of the nation”, considering oneself the victim of modernization, European integration, and Western liberalism, and believes that what the communists did not destroy, will finally be accomplished by the liberals.

But the myth of victimhood also means the denial of guilt and remembrance, as well as the projection of crimes onto the “other” and the “foreigner”, who ultimately stand in for the “Jew”. Typical of this is the representation of ethnically-defined Magyardom as a long-suffering community, whereby one can discern clear iconographic parallels between the “Magyar history of suffering” and the Jewish history of suffering as well as the Holocaust. For example, this can be easily seen in the “train motif” at the House of Terror museum in Budapest (cf. Marsovszky 2008b). This is nothing other than an “inversion of perpetrator and victim”, which researchers have identified as a typical manifestation of antisemitism (cf. Haury 2002: 115ff).

Furthermore, the myth of victimhood also signifies an extreme narcissism, resulting in a constant misapprehension and reinterpretation of the news, so that nearly every news item becomes loaded with one’s own emotional reality. For example, if Hungary fails to repay the rescue loan that was guaranteed by the IMF in early 2009, the Fidesz seriously believes that not only the “Holy Crown of Hungary” but also the country’s waterbodies could then be forfeit (cf. Herczeg 2009). These ideas are always connected to the feeling that the European Union, its central institutions or its political elites are trying to erase the smaller countries. In this worldview, the “European idea” mutates into a new imperialist ideology of domination.

Among the main antisemitic constructions of the enemy in Hungary are the “domestic vassals” beholden to this imperialist ideology, especially – according to Fidesz’ Chief Elections Officer, László Kövér – the social-liberal government of “Ferenc Gyurcsány and his accomplices” (video document 07.03.2008) who are “slaughtering us in our own homeland” (cf. Tanács 2009). This mobilization has also been accompanied since 2007 by a direct call to violence in the “patriotically oriented” media. In early 2009, the economist László Bogár said on EchoTV: in this situation, “there is no evolutionary solution, only a revolutionary one. That’s why it can’t be resolved peacefully and democratically in accordance with the constitution, because what appears to be peacetime is actually a war being waged against us. [...] It is an intentional genocide [...], a war against Magyardom, which is why there can be no peaceful solution. We have no democracy, because that which we call democracy is actually the economic dictatorship of the world power, which is being implemented by the cynical, unscrupulous local collaborator oligarchies. That which we consider the constitution has had the function of protecting and promoting the Magyar body politic for a thousand years. Only the Constitution of the Holy Crown of Hungary was able to achieve this.” (video document 16.01.2009).

Therefore, if in Hungary today the “modern successors of the Bolsheviks,” the “local oligarchies of the global power” – meaning the socialists and the liberals – and the “Jews” can all be declared synonymous, while also communicating the feeling that this is about “life and death,” then one can ultimately expect a bloody end, and the image of the enemy can be clearly identified. Scholars would call this a “zero-sum conflict,” with the prediction of an especially violent realization (cf. Wimmer/ Schetter 2002: 316).

Translation from German by Wayne Young
© Peter Lang GmbH


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Marsovszky, Magdalena: Cultural Essentialism and the Exclusion of the Other in Post-1989 Hungary, in: Steven Tötösy de Zepetnek/Carmen Andras/Magdalena Marsovszky (eds.): The New Cenral and East European Culture, Aachen: Shaker 2006, 268–276 [2006c]

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Video documents (downloaded on 01 July, 2009):
23.10.2007: Youtube Videoportal,
07.03.2008: ‚Napi aktuális’ (Daily News), EchoTV, 20.00 Uhr
21.11.2008: Péntek8 (Friday8), HírTV, 20.05 Uhr,
05.12.2008: Péntek8 (Friday8), HírTV, 20.05 Uhr,
16.01.2009: Péntek8 (Friday8), HírTV, 20.05 Uhr,
23.01.2009: „Éjjeli Menedék“ (Nightly Asylum), EchoTV, 22.30 Uhr
01.05.2009: Péntek8 (Friday8), HírTV, 20.05 Uhr,

Magdalena Marsovszky, born in Budapest, german citizen, is working as an independent scholar and writer (Hungarian, German, English). Member of the board of Villigst Research Forum on National Socialism, Racism and Antisemitism (www.forschungsforum.net). Publications on political cultural research, cultural history, cultural policy and media policy in Hungary, European integration with regard to cultural policy and “cultural globalisation”, cultural essentialism and the exclusion of the „other“, etnicity and völkisch-thinking, antisemitism, anticiganism, racism without races.

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