Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hungary and the Perils of Super Nationalists

In a recent New York Times op ed, Gyorgy Konrad reminds us about how quickly, even in our modern post Nazi German era, nationalistic politicians can move to uproot fundamental pillars of democracy.

Viktor Orban the prime minister has replaced the Hungarian Constitution with what he calls Basic Law. What asks Konrad is the point of this "crafty text"? Quite simple, he responds, "It aims to ensure that his rule is as lasting as that of the quasi-fascist Miklos Horthy, from the 1920s to the 1940s, or that of the communist Janos Kadar, who took over after the 1956 revolution and ruled until 1988.

Gone now are intellectual freedoms and "our only independent radio station, with hundreds of thousands of listeners — on a trumped-up pretext. Some of its shows were critical of the government."

Listening to the Republican nominee attacks on the "media elite" and their ultra patriotism suggests that there is a similar lurking desire to move in the Hungarian direction. 

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