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Saturday, April 15, 2017


It seems to have escaped those who pursue a moral appeal to the European Union for direct help against a brutal policy by Hungary's EU-member government that, beyond all the "policy entanglements," bureaucracy and slowness, there is yet another problem: The EU has no executive apparatus of its own. Ergo the EU has enormous problems directly impacting the behavior of the government of a member state if it had a fully unified opinion.

Remember when the outright nazis gave 50% of the government of Austria? All the (BTW: Italian Socialist former PM) Head of the European Commission managed to do was send a congratulatory telegram to the head of that government, expressing his "hope" that "Austria will continue to honor its commitment to European values," whatever that means.

Given the EU's widely noted impotence in this regard, the reference to "Europe" and the "EU," (e.g., the widespread use of the EU's flag, the chanting, the interviews, the pro-CEU media, etc.) has unavoidably become a rather flat, pure symbolic gesture, claiming to construct an imagined, "European" quasi-community, based essentially on wish fantasies and a huge amount of desperation. It's really not the protestors' fault, and their cause is, clearly, a just one--but #Europe is a rather pointless reference point. It is hard to shake the feeling that this is happening because of

  1. the astonishingly low level of general knowledge about just what the EU is and 
  2. the overpowering need for a benign, Enlightened, reformist outside authority (or, superego?), a centuries-old political trap of non-revolutionary politics all over the world. Or, 
  3. because the protestors, who oppose Orbán, take their opponent's rhetoric about his supposedly "anti-EU" posture as a fact, in spite of the totally obvious, continued, high level cooperation between the Hungarian government on the one hand and west European Big Capital, the EU, NATO, Schengen, all of the above. In other words, this may be a simple mistake, that of failing to look at the EU-Hungary relations more comprehensively. Again, this is none of this is the protestors' fault but a feature of the poverty of public discourse in Hungary, characterized by breathtaking shallowness overall.
Meanwhile, the reference to 'Europe' is also completely un-thought-out in terms of its global implications. Hungary's intellectuals, by and large, are surprised to learn, and totally ignore, the fact that 'Europe' can, and in fact does, connote a huge amount of brutal anti-human implications, from colonialism to racism in all its manifestations. Instead, the public consciousness about the world is that everything that lies beyond the borders of western Europe is the realm of barbary. Most offensive, there are only a handful of people who see how racist, white-supremacist this ignorance is.

Be that as it may, the young intellectuals who are today's pro-CEU protestors throw all they have at the effort NOT to imagine themselves as comparable to anything beyond the borders of that imagined 'Europe'. Put differently, here we have yet another instance of a total incapacity of seeing ourselves as part of the world, coupled with a valiant, truly desperate effort at seeing ourselves as part of a benign(non-existent) Europe.


cover page of the book

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