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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Racism: Wrong "Basis" to Oppose Nuclear Deal

Reading the explicitly racist, blankly Russophobic and, reading the calendar, curiously anti-communist (sic) reactions of the ostensible "left" "liberal" opposition in Hungary to yesterday's deal (stating that Hungary will upgrade and expand its nuclear power plant with Russian technology and loans) I'm really glad that the government didn't award the contract to India (which also uses Russian technology, i.e., on a purely technical basis, it could have been done with little trouble).

I deeply disagree with the way this deal was done. I deeply abhor the absence of any open discussion to precede the deal, and I hate what that says about the current Hungarian government's disdain for the collective wisdom of society, such as it may be, even with respect to long-term issues like this. And this is especially so because, at 10 BILLION Euros (or, 12.7% of this year's annual government budget), this is the largest single public investment project in Hungary--probably ever. I'm thinking, it may have been a good idea to have extended public discussions about the various alternatives before signing. Even if Russian technology is as safe, and if the deal is as advantageous and secure as it is presented.

But racism, anti-communism and spewing ethnic hatred? From the ostensible "liberal" opposition?

That's not the way to oppose this deal. And, my humble thought, it is also a remarkably stupid way to go: If you wanted to give the government a major political trump card in the subsequent discussions (keep in mind, elections are coming up in Hungary in less than 3 months), if you really wanted the government to appear measured, trustworthy and reliable, as against a loudmouth, demagogical opposition, this is pretty much exactly what you would have wanted to do.

And all this rhetoric is aimed at Russia--a market of 140 million consumers, on the upswing, where, historically, the Hungarian economy has made nothing but very solid profits. Russia is a virtually un-saturate-able market for Hungarian products, ranging from fresh fruits and meat to more complex industrial products and services, including high-profitability business services and health care. Russia has virtually unlimited amounts of agricultural land, almost "waiting" for high-quality agro-production systems such as those that Hungary has been world leader in. Hungary still has a small group of Russian-speaking merchants who are reasonably comfortable in the Russian context and have extended informal networks there. There is a very sizeable consumer class emerging in Russia, and given Hungary's and Russia's relative positions in the world economy, and their respective nodes of specialization, Hungary has, in theory enormous inroads to make there. Especially with a modicum of Russian government goodwill. Furthermore, there is a very significant amount of investment capital available in Russia, and that capital is eager to come to the EU (including Hungary) for a number of well-conceived reasons, geopolitical as well as taxation-related. How dumb, really.

So, basically, I don't get it. It must be me.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Hunting Scenes from Lower Hungary

Just Another Day In The Life Of A Culture That Wallows In Undoing Every Progressive Element In Its Past--Especially Those That Have To Do With Equality ON

Secretary of State for the Prime Minister's Office, János Lázár hosted a group of his friends for a hunting weekend. Among the guests we find "Archduke (sic) Michael Habsburg (!) of Lotharingia, Earl (!) László Károlyi and his wife, Prince (hhh) Michael of Liechtenstein and his wife who is the younger sister of the Prince (grrrr) of Luxembourg," writes the pianist Donatella Failoni, a member of the Hungarian State (!) Opera House, herself an aristocrat, in her Facebook (!) page (removed from FB). (Signs of irony, expletives and general dismay have been inserted by yours truly.)

During the weekend, 913 (nine hundred and thirteen) pheasants have been shot, coming to an average 80 (eighty) pheasants per "hunter." (If you would like to see some photographs, including the bodies of the fowl, arranged in neat concentric circles, and a rite of passage ceremony inducting the Secretary of the Hungarian Holocaust Memorial Committee (headed by Lázár), involving the beating of the inductee with a ramrod, executed by Lázár, click here. Fair warning: You won't like them if you have good taste. Definitely not the part of the Secretary of State subjecting his employee to physical abuse, even if the latter is asking for it. Seriously too much information, I'd say.)

The State Secretary is angry at the news reports and demands that his and his "long-time friends'" (8-DDDD) privacy (sic) must be respected. No journalist has thought of asking the local poor who are routinely hired for hunts to trample through the field to stir the fowl to flight what they think about the story. Reports mainly focus on the degree to which proper fees and rent have actually been paid.

For, all this is done on state land and in a hunting lodge that belongs to the (supposedly democratic) state of Hungary. In the 21st century, that is.

Just Another Day In The Life Of A Culture That Wallows In Undoing Every Progressive Element In Its Past--Especially Those That Have To Do With Equality OFF

cover page of the book

cover page of the book
image used for the cover design by Anannya Dasgupta