When autocrats get fed up with their limitations and start to believe they are above the rules of reality we all suffer. But they don’t.
“We are on the right track if we are capable of bending reality according to our own way of thinking, according to our own will. As a politician this is how I see the essence of innovation.”
— PM Viktor Orbán
at the opening of the new headquarters of Ericsson in Hungary, 29 May, 2018
Orbán had stopped adapting to things a long time ago – his ego has outgrown not only this country but this reality. Which is a hallmark of autocrats on their downward trajectory. Cutting off the naysayers, surrounding themselves with yes-men, demanding personal loyalty (a knd of omerta) above professional or human integrity, paying only lip service to the national interest, but despising civilians in their actions.
That being said, the downfall can be a long way from here – with plenty of economic and human suffering, legal and law enforcement abuse, civil liberties and freedoms out the window – with the enthusiastic agreement of the victims.
Orbán also repeated for the nth time that the “Hungarian way of thinking” is so unique – we think differently. We not only dare to think, but “dare to think in Hungarian”.
“You can see that in migration policy, in border defense, in foreign policy. We have a unique way of thinking. We understand the world differently than others.”
— PM Viktor Orbán, 29 May, 2018
Nota bene: The Hungarian language is different from every other language, that much is true. But I seriously doubt Orbán keeps quoting Wittgenstein every time he rants about Hungarians thinking differently, about “thinking in Hungarian”.
According to a cliched, self-congratulatory anecdote, Hungarian scientists in the US were once accused of having come from Mars – they spoke and thought so differently.
“We might have arrived from 〈Mars〉, but it is the Earth we have to make a better place.”
— PM Viktor Orbán, 29 May, 2018
For context, those scientists were chased away by world wars, ethnic cleansing, the Holocaust, communism, and the Hungarian governments of the day. But we don’t talk about that.
It wasn’t the first time though that Orbán appealed to the quirks of the Hungarian minds.
“We have to insist to our own, so to speak, unique way of thinking, our own, so to speak, quirks of mind.”
— PM Viktor Orbán,Oct 24, 2011 about the EU
But it’s still embarrassing to watch as Ericsson’s leadership is smiling to it.
There were countless other instances when Orbán build up his argument on the assumptions that we are different and we are better. I don’t feel like translating them right now though. The message is always the same: Hungarian superiority of the mind. And from now on: bending reality to it. Or to quote Fidesz’ 2004 campaign slogan – just like many in Fidesz do – “Dare to be great!”
I was thinking what he might consider as bending reality to his own mind. Naturally, the laws of this country don’t just favor him now – they don’t apply to him. That’s the best place to be vis-a-vis the law, and that is hereby achieved. He may also consider it as a brilliant maneuver to sabotage the EU and veto every EU motion to blackmail Brussels (and maybe also to benefit his buddies in Russia and China).
But the benefits of such “reality-bending” only apply to him. It is good for him, personally, not for any other Hungarians. Naturally, for the authoritarian mind, the two things are the same. It is thoroughly uncomfortable, after all, to reside in their own, helpless, powerless points of view – they think with the head of Orbán instead and they cannot disentangle the two.
Such non-constructive behavior is also bad for literally everyone else in the EU (apart from perhaps other aspiring demagogues), but Putin will be delighted. Who knows, he might even get angry if Orbán would stop sabotaging Europe from within. Who said it’s a choice for Orbán?
As of the lessons? Collective entities, such as nations, never learn from mistakes. Even individuals find it hard to learn the real lessons from their own mistakes – and not escape into denial. But entire nations absolutely never learn. This is why Mao’s and Stalin’s nightmare visions were followed by entire nations – and they would be again. This is why the monsters can always come back, despite the genocidal consequences of their nightmarish visions. Because people will fall again and again for the mirage of bending reality to better fit the strongman’s vision. It is so appealing to believe that our strongman really is that strong. And our way of thinking really so special. It is just no one has thought of it before, no one dared to be great. That’s the only reason they couldn’t bend reality. But this time will be different…
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