Commentary

Samizdat Is Back

As countrywide print media has been bought up by three cronies of Orbán and became a centrally coordinated machinery to spread triumphalist economic propaganda and migrant-based scaremongering, dismissed journalists turned to Samizdat printing.

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Image: Facebook/Nyomtassteis

The tiny Nyomtass Te Is (You Should Print, Too) movement aims at breaking the monopoly of Fidesz-owned media in the Hungarian countryside where print media still reigns supreme in shaping people’s fears. Journalists who have been dismissed after the consolidation of the media in Fidesz’ hands had to find another livelihood. An editor-in-chief went to sell sausages, others have left the country.

Some such journalists believe that the one-sided success propaganda must be balanced out by local news. It is printed and spread by activists, and saw 10 issues in two months.

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Activists distributing samizdat Image: Facebook/Nyomtassteis

Make no mistake, print media still rules in rural Hungary, so the online version is not enough. Besides, online distribution is just as costly these days due to the quasi monopoly of Facebook in this field and among less educated, rural and older voters.

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“Viktor Orbán: It is worth to work in Hungary” Identical online headlines in the local Fidesz media on November 25, 2016

Given that the centrally coordinated headlines of Fidesz media read more and more like Communist-era success propaganda these days, even a better writing style is sorely needed in journalism.

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“Wages have grown in every sector” “Let’s stop Brussels!” 

Samizdat, (from Russian sam, “self,” and izdatelstvo, “publishing”), literature secretly written, copied, and circulated in the former Soviet Union and usually critical of practices of the Soviet government.” 

Encyclopædia Britannica

I know, it is not illegal, so I should shut up. You don’t get locked up. You may even write, you just don’t find a paper that runs it and even when you do, you don’t get paid. And you may totally print it yourself and distribute it at your own expense.

For now. To be fair, nothing could stop Orbán if he decided to start locking us up. Your disapproval certainly wouldn’t. And it has been amply illustrated in history that whenever there is no resistance, there will be no inhibitions. Fidesz is shedding its last inhibitions faster than Trump is losing staff when he feels hurt.

Samizdat is not technically banned right now but no one would be surprised if it would be against some regulation or other. After all, even blogs are obliged to have a responsible publisher these days – a few years’ old regulation that was meant to intimidate online speech. Or maybe the paper usage laws will be used against them. Or they will start licensing printers again. Or they will be asked to pay a fee for using their type font.

Or they will just run out of money and free time, or a tax audit keeps them busy until elections next year. Bangs and whimpers, you know.

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One thought on “Samizdat Is Back

  1. Pingback: This Is How Fidesz Media Looks Like | Meanwhile in Budapest

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