Satire

How To Mock An Absurd Regime?

The Hungarian satirical joke party had a problem: This government is already absurd.

Some argue that Fidesz is the ultimate joke party here: their statements are often blatantly absurd lies, cynicism is their spokesman’s middle name, and some policies backfire so quickly, Fidesz MPs can’t keep up with the frequently changing party lines. (Which they otherwise follow religiously – acting as mindless delegates of Orbán, rather than representatives of their supposed constituencies.)

How to satirize something that is already so absurd, it sounds like its own caricature? 

Take their open-doors policy to Russia. Posing as anti-communist and living off their old reputation as anti-Soviet, PM Orbán’s Fidesz can let the Russians in, reinstate de facto central economic planning, mix it with debilitating cronyism – and they still pass as “conservatives” in international circles. Attention deficit is their friend.

They even pass as totally-not-communists in the eyes of some of their followers. Although many devoted Fidesz fans have adopted spectacularly pro-Russian views, following their deeply ingrained authoritarian instincts (never going against the strong and powerful), others still labor under the misconception that Orbán is somehow still patriotic. It’s a hard state of mind to maintain in the face of his Russia-policy, for instance.

So when a satirical opposition party sets out to lampoon this nonsense, they have to work hard.

The last weeks’ anti-government protests brought two novelties:

  1. They are young. Teenagers and early twenties invented the techno-protest, with the declared recipe of 20% speeches, 80% music, with DJ sets and highly creative slogans. (This is in line with recent trends worldwide.)
  2. The other is the new protest genre, the mock protest.

The satirical joke party decided to parody the so called “Peace marches”, massive and mildly threatening demonstrations of support for the government, 50s style, organized by the belligerent, pro-government, fake NGO, called CÖF. CÖF get their money straight from the government – but fiercely deny it, flouting court orders to reveal their funding sources. They are easy to recognize by their sanctimonious speeches and solemn marches behind a giant tricolor that reads:

“We will not be a colony!”

So heads were turned yesterday, when the satirical joke party organised their own “peace march” of roughly 4000 people happily marching behind a Russian tricolor, reading:

“We will not be a colony!”

Also, in Russian.
<img height=”1″ width=”1″ style=”display:none”
src=”https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=1803110543301684&ev=PageView&noscript=1″/&gt;

They marched “for the government, for Russia and against everything else”. And their slogans were no less thought-provoking – not least because they truly depict the government’s various policies:

And there were of course the declarations of undying love for our dear leader, such as:

“I would love Viktor even if he was a girl – but fortunately he isn’t”

referring to the often morbid sexism and proudly declared misogyny of the government.

“We’ve come to take back the streets. To take back the streets from the 10 or 20 people who have been vandalizing the city center for the past few weeks. They raped policemen and set fire to public buildings, so that billions of illegal migrants can be settled here. At last, there is a country in Europe that proudly dares to undertake the destruction of this ridiculous democracy. The direction is good but Russia is still too far away!”

– commented Gergely Kovács, chairman Two-tailed Dog Party (MKKP).

What else can you do to protest a power that organizes demonstrations in its own support? If “peace marches” are centrally organized in postmodern, Russian style, let’s give them another twist. After all, who would demand a third Russian nuclear power station to the country, if not a satirical party? (For now.)

They also demanded more demagogy, more stadiums (and less hospitals), more corruption and gleefully chanted “Let us get lost!”. They called for the boycott of “buying CEU” – as if it were a retail store, not a university – and ceremonially laid the first lawn square of a new football stadium, while declaring war on Brussels via email.

Then they went to party.

Humor against power

It is an old cliché that power built of authority cannot resist humor. When you can laugh at the powerful, their fear-mongering loses its grip over your mind. Promoting fear may be in the hands of the politician – but laughing at them is in yours.

Also worth mentioning that the recent setback of Orbán’s unbroken authority – the surprise defeat of his Olympic dreams – has proven resistance to be working. It broke the ice and shamed plenty of apathetic people for their own resignation and inaction.

It may not save the country. Indeed, it is not impossible that crackdowns on protesters will gear up. A frustrated power and a panicking autocrat can be dangerous. But as far as the minds on the streets are concerned, this spring brought some hope.

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Featured image: MKKP – Hungarian Two-tailed Dog Party, Facebook

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