There’s no such thing as just letting off steam. The two minutes hate only leads to 24/7 hate, fear and violence.
“The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but, on the contrary, that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretence was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge-hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one’s will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic.”
— George Orwell: 1984
You know the feeling when you are looking at history and you are trying to guess which stage of insanity you are at? Of course, it’s never exactly the same so it’s hard to tell, but the vectors are all pointing downwards. Nonetheless, slight discrepancies between history and the present lend deniability to those who insist on going down the rabbit hole again.
Some systems are just so great, they cannot be maintained without a common enemy. Autocrats know perfectly well that their countries suck, so they supply such enemies generously. Outside of the country and the enemies among us.
The last years have passed with an ever-growing hysteria about migrants and then George Soros personally. Soros having been born Hungarian his scapegoating is on a whole different level in Hungary. This year the whole country has been wallpapered with his grinning face in a hate campaign pleading us not to let “Soros have the last laugh!”
So when I saw these posters with Soros’ face that were conveniently placed on the floor of a tram for the frightened flock to stomp on it angrily, I wasn’t even surprised.
Think what you want of Soros (or anyone) but a government inciting hatred against an individual is just plain wrong on every possible level. How can you even be surprised when lives are destroyed and people are killed after such a campaign? After all, we all become like the enemy we conjure up for ourselves – even if it’s a violent caricature of a human being. You fear a religious fundamentalist who is set to destroy you? Become one yourself and set out to destroy them. After all, violence and war has only ever been launched in self-defense.
So when the first, frightened and angry man kills, say, a migrant, he will be and remain absolutely certain that he sawed his own daughter from rape and go to jail feeling victimized. And the spin masters coming up with these campaigns and the spineless minions fabricating news reports on government-dictated topics (i.e. migrants doing scary things and the opposition is not saving us) will shrug off responsibility.
Just this weekend the governing Fidesz gathered for an campaign launch before the elections early next year. They have geared up into campaign mode and announced a National Consultation Survey on the totally real Soros-plan. A direct marketing letter with loaded statements funded by taxpayers’money sent into ever household is definitely what we need now.
The two-minute hate is turning into a 24/7 frightened nightmare and turning people violent. Now you know what top Fidesz politicians mean when they envision a violent campaign for next year…
Today, the government named three “public enemies”. A theater director and two opposition activists. How many steps are we from actual violence? In which universe is it normal for the rulers of a land to start singling out citizens for public attacks on public money, inciting public hatred using their public positions?
There are no counterweights within The Party against Orbán. Gang members go out of their ways to second guess the emperor’s wishes and do his bidding without being asked. And so far, neither of them has been scolded for for going too far. On the contrary. The signal from above is thus is clear: more of this, comrades. More of this.
We already had a lowly Fidesz worker clearing off a journalist from a public event simply because she came from a non-Fidesz news site. Her camera was taken away and she was intimidated by a gigantic Fidesz member. He obviously felt immune to prosecution. (He was.)
We already saw an overzealous Fidesz fan manhandling a woman during Orbán’s public speech because she was protesting. He was a volunteer Orbán-defender, the husband of a local Fidesz-member. He wasn’t ordered to push the woman on the floor – yet, he felt the need to do so and even perhaps that he can do that without consequences. The order doesn’t have to come from above for it to be the result of centrally conjured hysteria.
We saw bald thugs with no apparent jobs leaving their regular gym one morning only to block an opposition politician from submitting a meager referendum question for mere approval by the election office (that is more than qualified to reject such questions by itself). The same thugs who keep popping up during protests, “helping the police”, or staging anti-protests – and also very fond of football.
We saw concerned citizens so scared that Orbán might be even symbolically defeated that they punched young activists who collected signatures against Budapest hosting the Olympics. Why those people found it necessary to defend mighty Orbán’s delusional Olympic plans by their fists you can easily guess.
This is the mental state that precedes murder. No one will be surprised. They will act surprised, but they’ve spent years in this atmosphere and that’s enough to soften even the most resistant mind.
How will commit the first murder against whom is almost coincidental. People are made to fret of a threat and feel that any act against it is heroic. Taking any sort of action will finally feel like a relief. After all, it is people’s sense of control that was first eroded by the fear campaigns. And helplessness makes a strongman.
It all came upon us gradually. Every stage is awful if you look at it in isolation, but not much worse than the previous one so the option is open to explain it away.
Remember, those black-and-white people of the 1930s were not that much more stupid. The propaganda aimed at them made them just as scared of the Jews as people are now of migrants. That doesn’t make the Jews all nice and innocent – neither does it mean that every migrant is an angel. But it doesn’t make the propaganda true either. Scapegoating distracts from finding solutions – and probably for the better because you may not find the problem in search of a solution. The accusation that Soros and the Jews want an islamist takeover of Europe will sound just as moronic tomorrow as it sounds now that the Jews used to drink the blood of christian children. We will be those black-and-white old people our grandchildren will be embarrassed about. So it is the autocrats’ fault. Then what?
Because we will have no right to act surprised when the first undeniable act of political violence arrives that will be too obvious to deny or explain away. We saw it happening. And it is probably happening in your country right now.