Invention is a means to overcome non-conforming facts.
We like to ignore the forces that will determine our lives. The prize of shortsightedness is high for those that ignore the discernible trends. Frequently, what the unaware regards as a positive or negative “accident” is only in its minor details accidental. In reality, such mislabeled events are the consequence of earlier choices and are, therefore, foreseeable for those that look beyond appearances. The aware know that behind the confusing scenery, there lurks a decisive truth and that it is the real puppet master that pulls the strings.
Those of us that wish to understand the past century – recommended by the three-digit millions killed in its wars and its “peace” – should consider two topics. One is the impact of erroneous theories and their recipes for mankind’s forcible salvation. This demands the scrutiny of totalitarian ideology and practice. The other is the role of the masses. We can read extensively about what happens when individuals coalesce into a crowd. However, unless you have been personally transmuted in a multitude of hundreds of thousands, you miss what takes place through the absorption in such a collective “organism”. In this case, the theory will lack a dimension just as the descriptions of “blue” will to the blind.
On October 23, your correspondent has again had a “refresher” experience. Dissolving within a mass can elevate you to feelings of power beyond your means, or it will reduce you into a pebble. In this case and most untypically, singing as one of four hundred thousand an anthem the Communists did not to like, brought this writer to tears. The occasion was the 56th anniversary of ’56. These numbers demand an explanation. It is telling of the power of the “makers of consciousness” that as in this case, they can either give events a new content or delete what does not fit their world-view.
October 23, 1956 marks a seminal event. On that day, Hungary rose in a revolution against Soviet domination. It took Moscow two weeks to restore “order” by violating its promise to evacuate the country and to restore its sovereignty. Even if the USSR proved that it could defeat Hungary, the victory marks the beginning of the decline of Soviet power. The trend ended with the dissolution of the Crimson Empire. Even at the venue of the Revolution, remembrance must overcome the Left’s attempt to snub it. Therefore, re-writing the facts and “stealing” the movement by claiming it to be their own, prove to be effective tools. Earlier, other circumstances recommended other means. The local Left was in power at the unwelcome 50th anniversary. That enabled its security organs to attack and disperse a peaceful opposition-led assembly of well over a hundred thousand. (For the text of the original survivor’s report, it appears below.)
Today’s center right government has a two-thirds majority and it regards itself as the heir of those that shook the “Evil Empire” in 1956.
This year, the reigning “Young Democrats” (YD) called for a commemorative celebration. It was to be a march from a scene of heavy fighting in ’56 to end at the square before parliament.
Significantly, that locale happens to be the venue of a massacre whose perpetrators remain unpunished. At least four hundred thousand gathered and filled not only the square but also the avenues leading to it. At the same time, the “opposition”, convened by the descendant of the Stalin era’s and the post ‘56 Kádár restoration’s bosses, held their own conclaves elsewhere.
Besides the “history”, there has been a political reason for asking the citizens for a show of support. The motive is to reduce the ability of the Left to influence the foreign Media and the European Union to suppress reality and to cover it up by their distortions. The purpose of that libel is to discredit those that must cope with a debt created by the Socialists who bought those that accept dependency. One of the maligning pretensions is that the YD’s are dictatorial and that it is losing support. Unmasking the last allegation has been the intent of the marchers and of those that asked them to fill the streets.
First, to the size of the crowd. The foreign press liked to talk of “tens of thousands”. That might generously describe the Socialists’ event. Calling those that appeared in favor of the YDs, “tens of thousands” might be mathematically correct. Four or five hundred thousand consists of X times ten thousand. But why not talk about “several dozen”? Obviously, the count intends to cover up a reality that is, to the left-leaning media, an undesirable fact. Furthermore, the term equates the show of the Socialists with the mobilizing power of the YDs. This is done because what counts is not what “is” but what people are led to believe.
The skewed depiction has produced another “beauty”. Even the reputable “Economist” detects in the two gatherings evidence that Hungary’s society is “split” in the style of the “Disunited States of America”. True, the competing assemblies indicate a division. However, contrary to the insinuated partition into two halves, the discrepancy of the numbers is evidence that society is, to the enormous surprise of this writer, united.
A reason for calling out the masses had to do with the need to show “Brussels” that a claim of Leftist Eurocracy is wrong. The claim meant is that the YDs have lost their support. Indeed, Hungary is bombarded with the allegation that it is a right-wing dictatorship and that, consequently, even small stand-by credits to her must be withheld. The intent is to extort and to nudge the voters to dismiss the YDs in exchange for praise and money. Earlier this year, to prove their legitimacy, the YDs have already asked for a march to reaffirm the election’s results. Hundreds of thousands followed that call. A recent survey confirms a majority-based legitimacy. 36% sympathize with the YD. The Left achieves 12%. As an indication of political analphabetism and reacting to provocative scolding from abroad, the genuinely “wrong right” scored 11%.
The reader might have concluded that the ritualized condemnation of Hungary is politically motivated bad-mouthing. The inference should not be that this is the unique problem of a country that is easily ignored. The case presented here is not an isolated one but a typical sample from a thick file. A number of countries, many public persons, and numerous parties, are regularly subjected to public flagellation. More often than not, the reason for denunciation resorts to trumped up charges. These are raised because those censured strive for goals that contradict the accuser’s ideology. The strategy is that, when arguments are lacking, then facts may be invented to make us forget what we perceive and to believe what we are told instead.
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November 1, 2006
The Un-erased Communist Past is Back to Rule the Present
By George Handlery
I went to Budapest to celebrate an occurrence of a half-century ago that, regardless of its defeat, led to the re-establishment of democracy. What I witnessed suggests that the substance of democracy has still not arrived.
This is about more than a country that has the misfortune to be the scene of the events to be presented. This piece is about the symptoms of an ailment, re-labeled Communism that is “democratic” only as long as it can camouflage a dictatorial core with democratic theatrics.
Fifty years ago an anti-Communist uprising shook the world. Soon thereafter, the impotent international community overcame its shame by forgetting about the criminals and their victims it had pitied before discovering that giving sympathy is easier than it is to help.
On October 23, 1956, a small country, Hungary, challenged the post-war status quo in East Europe. The attempt to cast off a yoke, even if crushed by Soviet armor, left a fungus behind that caused the dissolution of the Red Empire’s core. In ’56, Hungary showed the resentment of captive peoples and suggested to the eager appeasers that challenging Moscow spontaneously is forlorn. In 1968, the CP-led Prague Spring demonstrated that Party-led reforms also fail. 1989 proved that the “system” could only be reformed by first demolishing it.
To participate in the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Revolution this writer returned to Budapest. The purpose was to pay homage to a seminal event of our time and the defining episode of his personal life. To thank for having survived a role in the line of fire by not being around to be hanged, an essay “about it all” had been planned. Accordingly, this contribution was prepared by posting two preparatory pieces. Stunning events have superseded the plan and proved that history is about more than the past’s extension into the future. History is the unfolding of the unpredictable and its evolvement implies the lack discernible antecedents — until after the event.
I went to Hungary to participate in a heart-wrenching homage to a historic cause. What I experienced proved to be a shocking transmission of the totalitarian past into the dictatorial present.
Two separate commemorative events were scheduled for the 23rd of October. One was the official homage put on by the governing Socialists that few, besides the representatives of foreign governments, had attended. Those identifying with the revolution knew that from the Prime Minister down, the VIPs would be the descendants of the Communists who fought then what opportunism now forces them to cheer. Naturally, the Left also stayed away because it had no inclination to bow to something that had imperiled it. It did not suffice to overcome these reservations that the PM’s party claims was a “Socialist revolution” because it made out of the subsequently executed Imre Nagy — an avowed Communist – a Prime Minister. The masquerade had another irritating aspect for those who rule Hungary. Medals were to be handed out at the state-venue. However, many of the decorated refused to shake hands with the PM — who is additionally tainted by a fresh scandal through his admission that he has been lying “morning, noon and night” to be elected.
The Young Democrats, the opposition, scheduled what became the “main event” weeks ago. The writer attended this gathering. About a hundred thousand, oldsters, families, the young, many people in their Sunday best, came to pass a balmy afternoon at a key intersection of Budapest. Much of the rather flat program was not audible as — not by accident – choppers kept hovering over us. Mr. Orbàn’s speech — he had served as PM and leads the YD’s presently – came last. My interest was great as he is often described as a charismatic right-wing extremist. Here was my chance to experience the devil in person. Orbàn’s address was lukewarm. (He might be holding back to overcome the image of the orator who is too clever.) So, no hurricane fanned the waves and there was a mention of the need to be non-violent. Once Mr. Orbàn was done, we were asked to sing the national anthem. Then the big screens went dark. We started for home — and stumbled unintentionally to an “interesting” experience.
At this stage, I was about a hundred yards from the front of the crowd. Having turned, I saw that beyond the people now ahead of me, 3-500 yards of the street ahead is empty. Beyond that, there were police to whom I did not pay much attention. As we moved a few yards, the impossible happened. Without any warning mounted police charged with swords drawn. Being unable to believe what was happening we were paralyzed. Once they were upon us, their water cannon sprayed an itching green liquid and we took volleys of rubber bullets and tear-gas grenades. The shock of the attack, the missiles — some fired from rapid-fire launchers – created a panic. Even as we ran, the shooting continued (proven by wounded backs) and in pursuit grenades were propelled into the houses in which we fled. Visually the bleeding made a great impression and for the hard-boiled, there was the nauseating gas reinforced by blows for those who could not duck. (Our group of six got home hours apart and in four units.)
With some luck I managed to land in a side street in front of a synagogue — Europe’s biggest I heard. While trying to save myself I had to think of a young woman with a baby hung in her front and one in a cart who was near me when all this started. As I tried to escape by moving away from the direction of the attack, I ran into people trying to flee to where I ran from. It soon became clear that at least riot (ing) police blocked several of the four streets leading to the crossing where we had been addressed. Therefore, it is surprising that the confusion and the panic did not escalate into a blood bath.
A few details might be given emphasis here. For one thing, this was not a demonstration but an act of homage — with a priest included. Yes, there was shouting demanding the resignation of the lying PM but this hardly amounts to sedition. The government alleges that further ahead of us hooligans were active. Had the police wanted to maintain security it could have blocked the boulevard to channel the crowd through the side streets located along our intended path. Had dispersing the crowd been the goal, one only had to let it go home which it set out to do. The actual concept of the operation is revealed by a new report I have. Around 8 p.m. — therefore hours after the troubles began — police burst into an upscale restaurant. The guests were asked for their papers. Then they — including foreigners and the cook – were beaten. One man will need weeks to heal his fractured skull and his smashed hand. Once done, the riot police tear gassed the establishment and closed the doors.
Now, to the means used by the riot police. The gas seems to have been more intensive than anything I have ever experienced. The bullets penetrated clothing and created rather large wounds. Furthermore, regarding the use of these means, some oddities emerge. The grenades were not fired ahead or above the crowd but aimed right into it. Also, the rubber bullets were not directed at the legs but at the heads of the assembled. The press reports that one man had five wounds on his back. The injuries in their extent and number correspond to the use of the weapons. The abuses were hardly the result of individual excess. The thesis of a planned action is substantiated: while the display of identification is a prescribed part of the uniform, our masked tormentors wore none. Later the authorities explained that only uniforms must have an ID but not combat outfits. Erasing “fingerprints” is obviously of concern. Some who were detained and clobbered were released a day later only once they signed a waiver that they have no claim against their captors.
There is more. The “day after,” Budapest’s Chief of Police gives an interview. He is asked about the use of a special baton called “the viper.” Vipers are illegal. We do not use them. “Show me just one!” Next morning pictures appear — of viper-swinging riot police. (The Chief is still in office.) This performance is not less than that of the PM on the same day. In parliament, he announced that there is in Hungary’s public life no place for violence. The “demonstrators” wanted to take the anniversary away “from the people” and tried to take the country “hostage.” The mike of a respondent was cut off before he could finish.
Three cases of atrocities deserve special mention. An MP used a moment of calm between the police and the crowd. Waving his ID identifying him as a parliamentarian he went to the policemen. They looked at the ID and beat him up. A fractured bone, a bandaged head — he has a memory loss – and an arm in a cast were the price he paid. The second case is that of a priest. He tried to calm the parties. The police got an order to club him. One cop exclaimed “but he is a priest!” The more so, let him have it, was the answer. In at least one case, a whole volley was fired on and into a Red Cross rescues van and hit its crew that was loading the injured. TV showed several scenes documenting atrocities. In a typical one, a man is holding a flag and stands alone in a street. Four men tackle him. Heaved over, on the sidewalk, a mass of police pounces to beat and kick him. Understandably, TV crews got special attention expressed in the form of rubber bullets. A Polish crew located the beaten Jesuit and tried to interview him. Riot police ordered them to leave, as they had no permit. The Poles meant that in an EU-country one does not need a permit. Most revealingly, the police retorted, “there is no EU here.” The statement of fact raises a good question: where is the EU, and where is the otherwise so easily outraged international press?
My experiences proved that what was supposed to be “history” is alive enough to be repeated and suggest disheartening insights. The attack on the gathering had no other discernible purpose than to humiliate the participants and the parties who held the ceremony. Taking revenge for being ignored at the official celebration and the refusal of the PM’s hand by some participants adds revenge as a motive. Soon the bankrupted country will experience economic tightening and the standard of living, including that of those who voted for the Socialists’ promises, will fall. Demonstrating now the rulers’ resolute strength against a disarmed society might dampen the courage to protest later on.
To Budapest, I went to celebrate an occurrence of a half a century ago, that, regardless of its defeat, had led to the re-establishment of democracy. What I witnessed suggests that the substance of democracy has still not arrived. Meanwhile, to create a basis of legitimacy, Hungary’s “Socialist” rulers claim ’56 for themselves as a socialist revolution. However, the Stalinist features that emerged once the mask slipped down revealed a different image. The glimpse suggests that these people would have acted, had ’56 comeback by a time machine, exactly as their political ancestors did when the country dared to rise against Communism’s shackles. Conclusion: they have not changed, only the circumstances have been altered and with them the tactics of domination.
Alas, and tellingly of a basic problem, the documented unwarranted and excessive violence applied has not caused the national outrage called for. In fact, the Socialists’ support rose from 18 to 24%. Nevertheless, it safe to predict that the economic crisis will soon hit the apathetic who care mainly about getting beer and sausages. The resulting discontent will cause a devastating defeat of the “Socialists” on the national level. It might be worse than the rout in the local elections on October 1st. Having witnessed the extent of turpitude to which the Socialist-Left-Liberal government is willing to go, a question looms large. Will the votes cast and the official majority proclaimed be allowed to correlate? After all, even with regard to the last national election, some doubts exist about the closeness of the interrelationship between ballots cast and the results.