The decadent West is back as the regime’s propaganda tool. We have seen it in the 1970s.
The West had been declining for as long as anyone can remember – but people still don’t flock into eastern autocracies. If Oswald Spengler was a woman, people would cry for evidence-based theories instead.
The Fidesz election campaign of 2018 is heavily built on the government propaganda of 2015-17. It is migrant-bashing and West-bashing – and what combines the tow better than horror stories about migrants trashing western cities? And thus the genre ‘decadent West’ has made it to the TV news again.
One doesn’t have to go far back in history to remember a time when the declining West was the theme of TV news: The countries stuck in the Russian sphere of influence after WW2 had all seen propaganda like this.
Hungarian members of the government are also busy roaming the streets of Western Europe, reporting of what they find as unlivable cities.
- Austrian politicians were trying hard to dismiss Lázár’s infamous Vienna video. I have no idea how they managed. Maybe they said something like: just a racist minister of a foreign country coming to our capital and trashing us – nothing to see here. But then Orbán repeated the racist message and made them look like pussies.
- Then came the trashing of Sweden, where migrants allegedly caused so much chaos, Hungarians have to flee back for safety. One of them even gave an interview about her Stockholm ordeals. To the public broadcaster, no less.
- We have also learned (also from the Fidesz-controlled media) that Finnish children are so high on liberalism, they are burning down cathedrals and murdering parents.
- Then came Belgium. A Fidesz MEP repeated Lázár’s Fear and loathing video – this time from the streets of Brussels.
- And don’t forget Germany and France. Two, big no-go zones.
After the shock defeat in Lázár’s constituency in February this year, Fidesz and the entire government-controlled media was in a shock. For a day or so, they even said they went too far with the Soros-bashing, the voters found it too much. Anti-Soros Fidesz adverts disappeared from newspapers, news sites and government portals overnight. And for the next two days everyone was writing about that. It was amusing to see how bona fide racists and the most bloodthirsty Orbánist columnists started parroting the new mantra.
I almost wrote about it because it was so unusual after two years of constant and ear-shattering migrant-bashing, fearmongering and anti-Soros propaganda. But my delight proved to be too early. Because the slowing down only lasted for two days. And then the decision had been made: crank up the racism.
The last few weeks have been busy in Orbán’s life. Despite his well-known disdain for local politics (he feels better playing with the big boys, plotting global games) he had been visiting struggling candidates (always unannounced to avoid media, protesters or any uncontrolled publicity in general). Local Fidesz candidates are suddenly struggling not because Fidesz is so weak in general, but because they lack any authentic support. It has been Orbán’s policy to carefully hand-pick his MP candidates, based on their personal loyalty to him, and not their popular support. In fact, it was even better of the local candidates were weak and not embedded locally. It made them more loyal to the chief.
“They could run a horse in Fidesz’ colors and it would get elected.”
This strategy was perfect to colonize the party and then all public institutions – but proving to be a liability when elections results are no longer certain.
So Orbán went on the road and visited the industrial rust belt – where he compared gypsies to migrants and discussed in details how it is impossible to live with them when they move to your town.
“People of Miskolc know what immigration means. Once there was a mass immigration into this town. 〈Referring to the state-sponsored resettlement of Gypsies into Miskolc a few years prior.〉 You could see what happened…. Even though those people came to Miskolc from the territory of Hungary. Now imagine what it is like when people who are different in their culture, customs and views of life arrive from outside of our borders.”
–PM Viktor Orbán, March 2018
Then on another stop on his tour Orbán compared migrants to toothpaste
“If we want to defend Hungary and don’t want to become an immigrant country, we have to stick together and fight this battle together. … We don’t just want to avoid becoming an immigrant country because it would bring terror, crime and our wives and daughters will not be safe anymore, but because our cultural identity will … also slowly evaporate… Once the toothpaste is out of the tube, no man can put it back in.”
–PM Viktor Orbán, March 2018
But he wasn’t the only one openly performing a mating dance to lure in more Jobbik voters. Lázár, the minister who fell out of royal favour, was dispatched to make a fool of himself in Vienna.
The short clip is showing the minister talking on a Vienna street, warning of the horrors of immigration. He says things like “we can see what Budapest might look like in twenty years if the political opposition admits immigrants” “There are a number of schools in Vienna where there are no longer any white Viennese, only the children of immigrants attend…. The streets are visibly more dirty, and the neighborhood is visibly poorer, and there is a lot more crime.”
Austrian government forgave – Orbán made a fool out of them
Naturally, Austrian politicians had to react. It was amusing to watch how local right wingers were scrambling to write off the video as irrelevant – just to be able to avoid diplomatic conflict with a populist ally. After all, Vienna regularly tops the charts of most livable city on the planet – but even if it wasn’t the best place to live on the planet, even if Lázár went to, say, Bucharest, this video would have sparked a diplomatic scandal. In normal times, that is.
But a video that would have been casus belli had merely triggered an unwilling press conference because the Austrian government felt and unpleasant obligation to react. Pumping the same nationalist populism at home, they found it hard to react the way governments normally do. (Opposition politicians weren’t so forgiving, but they don’t regard Orbán as an ally.) So on the highest levels, Hungary was forgiven.
But then Orbán couldn’t resist and delivered another punch. After all, he didn’t need the Austrians’ forgiveness. Vienna IS a no-go zone!
„…security have been discussed a lot. We can see what’s going on in the cities of Western Europa and the Viennese video of János Lázár had painted and accurate picture of the situation there.”
–Viktor Orbán, 9 March 2018, Várpalotai Hírcentrum Televízió
When Steve Bannon called Orbán a “hero” and “the most significant guy on the 〈European alt-right〉 scene right now” this is what he meant.
There, Austrian politicians! You tried to dismiss the racism of the Hungarian government as irrelevant, as sovereign business of a government, or as a slightly lamentable offence by a government that is currently rendered irresponsible due to campaign psychosis. (Who doesn’t turn into a bloodthirsty racist int the heat of the campaign? Come on, people, that’s just politics…) But Orbán won’t let you get away with it. He will still call you pussies.
The Austrians thus got their lesson about ethno-populism not being a solid basis for an international alliances. Anti-foreigner chest-thumping might be something all right wing populists share – but nationalism and economic protectionism will always put them on a collision course with one another. By definition. This is why Orbán’s anti-Soros drive didn’t succeed in enticing Trump, and this is why Western European populists should think twice before embracing Orbán – on the sole basis of his border fence.
As of ordinary Austrians, a pissed off Viennese citizen had taken things into his or her hands and distributed this message on the windshield of cars with Hungarian number plates parking on Viennese streets.
Fear and loathing in Stockholm
The public broadcaster, in the meantime, started running reports and interviews with people who had to escape migrant-ridden Western capitals. Berlin, Brussels, Stockholm are all hellholes, apparently.
This lady, for instance, claimed to have escaped from Stockholm because police didn’t protect her from nasty migrants – in a half-hour report on the public broadcaster.
Five minutes of fact checking from the independent media resulted in hilarity. Not only was she herself a daughter of classic (Russian and Hungarian) refugees who met in an Italian refugee camp in the 50s, she also had long criminal record in Sweden. Mostly minor spats and fraudulent claims of being a public official, psychiatrist, etc. Not an actual aristocrat and never legally lived in Stockholm, least of all during the refugee crisis, when she was already back in Budapest. Where she also failed to live up to the basic rules of society, having failed to pay her landlord. After the obvious facts were (to her surprise) unearthed, she went back to Sweden, where she gave another interview to Aftonbladet, claiming that she had to flee Hungary for the hatred she experienced after having bad press. You can’t make this woman up.
Having no reputation to hurt, the public broadcaster didn’t stop there. Not only did they fail to apologize, they doubled down on Stockholm-bashing and invited new individuals who testified that migrants ruined their lives in Stockholm, whereas it was paradise in Budapest. An old fellow claimed that in Budapest “street gangs parted in front of me” out of respect. (Although he clearly hasn’t visited Budapest since the 70s, based on his choice of words.)
But the decadent West is everywhere. I have no doubt that the refugee situation poses huge challenges and integration is not a cakewalk, but I have just googled the terms ‘Stockholm’ and ‘migration’ and received the following headlines in Hungarians – from 2017-18:
- “Migrant criminals beheaded a woman in Stockholm”
- “Riots broke out in Stockholm’s migrant district”
- “Ever more no-go zones in Sweden”
- “Migrants waging war on authorities in Sweden”
- “Rape epidemic in Sweden”
- “Military intervention against migrants is contemplated in Sweden”
I am not going to bother you with any more examples. Let’s just say that there’s nothing else going on on Fidesz-controlled media. Nothing. And France, Paris, Brussels and Berlin also get the propaganda treatment – possibly because their governments are not friendly to Orbán (France and Germany) or because we are at a propaganda war against Brussels. If you think that two years of this propaganda tsunami would not affect you – you are more vulnerable to it that you’d like to believe. I remember a friend telling me about the 1980s: “We knew that official propaganda about the decadent West is all bullshit – but I was still surprised when I finally made it to New York and no one was shooting on the streets.”
The decadent-West propaganda is back in Hungarian media. Someone tell Fidesz that communism is over.
While I wrote this, another couple of thousand Hungarians left for countries such as Sweden. The campaign is meant to distract from them. We can only hope that their integration will be less violent.