György G. Márkus

Political cleavages and anti-Semitism in Hungary [1]  


Executive summary


Anti-government riots and demonstrations protesting against restrictions in autumn 2006, spring 2007 were accompanied by direct and symbolic manifestations of anti-semitism. Empirical research in the past few years has demonstrated rather disturbing data. We assume the long-term continuity of national anti-Semitism. (Holz: 2001) In our paper we examine Hungarian political anti-Semitism in the theoretical framework of political cleavages. (Rokkan: 1999) The troubled history of repeatedly failing Hungarian state formation has resulted in the feeling of ethnic vulnerability and in the frequent emergence of political hysteria. Modernization has been semi-exogenous bringing about a marked Jewish role uneasily accepted by the historical upper and middle classes. The 1918/19 revolutions and first of all the trauma of the Trianon/Versailles peace treaty meant a blow for the “assimilation contract” for emancipated Jewry and was conducive to making anti-Semitism an official doctrine, leading to an alliance with Nazi Germany, to the Hungarian holocaust. Communist dictatorship contributed to anti-Jewish sentiments. Post-1989 New Capitalism brought about social nationalism, an identity based pseudo-response to socio-economic problems, a phenomenon emerging in a number of countries with a considerable share of losers of globalization. A cleavage structure -- reflecting historical contradictions between progress and nationhood -- frozen in 1998/99 1. with a dominant cultural-territorial Westernization/identity divide, 2. with a post-communist divide and 2. a socio-economic state-market divide in which cultural war replaces class struggle (Dauderstaedt – Gerrits -- Márkus: 1999) has created a situation in which high status groups attempt at transforming anti-semitism into a mobilizing cultural code. (Volkov: 1978, Kovács: 2006)


Political hysteria

The kind of political hysteria with a profound cultural split (Spaltung) of the country from, at least, mid-2002 to mid-2007 has brought about the massive reappearance of coded and open anti-Semitism. This hysteria which is by now one of the aspects of the Hungarian post-accession crisis (Ágh: 2006), has deep historical roots “in the misery of small East European states” and of Germany with a lasting contradiction between nationhood and progress in the long process of catch-up modernization, in the traditional historical confrontation between romantic patriots and radical Westernizing modernizers.  In the course of centuries, the political communities in  these countries have repeatedly brought about -- and this is the actual syndrome in Hungary --

·       the lack of realism

·        the lack of problem solving capacity

·        disproportional self-assessment

·        disproportional response to external effects. (I. Bibó: 1986)

It is worth while to note that analogous socio-pathological traits could be found for Austria, both countries surviving analogous collective traumas. Erwin Ringel, a psychiatrist by profession traced xenophobia and intolerance to a mixture of  complexes of superiority and inferiority making “the wounded soul of Austria”. (Ringel: 2002)


The presence of a so called 'Jewish question' is one of the traits of a culturally cleaved society in Hungary (torn politically from above) with two identity-centered camps, those of Westernizers and of national traditionalists, of openness and of closedness (with an increasing segment of people turning apathic towards politics and ideology). Political hysteria – contaminating people in both blocs -- has been accompanied in Hungary, too by the special role of modern national anti-Semitism (as described by Klaus Holz: 2001). This is the situation at least since the 2002 bitter and bewildered electoral campaign with mass mobilization resulting in the tight victory of the Westernizing social democrats and liberals and in the defeat of right wing Fidesz (Federation of Young Democrats – Hungarian Civic Federation) whose leader declared the concept of two Hungary-s: one genuinely national, the other not. As for the country of Christian Hungarianhood he pointed out: one is the camp, one is the flag. The nation – he told – cannot be in opposition.  Following the repeated defeat in the spring of 2006 he added a major point: stinking foreign money would not undermine Hungarian solidarity. (Márkus: 2006)  This implies not less that the boundaries between mainstream and radicals within the national-Christian camp are blurred and that the populist right is hardly distinguishable from the populist left. This was clearer than ever during the 2006 autumn riots and anti-government demonstrations. Árpád-striped flags, the symbol of the fascist arrow-cross movement --taking over the state in late 1944 -- have been massively, demonstratively present both in Fidesz-organized events and in  the course of 'spontaneous' actions. The Fidesz demonstrations and the upheavals of the right wing 'lunatic fringe' -- encouraged and instrumentalized by that party with the openly declared objective of overturning the government -- were the consequence of a catastrophic budgetary situation in front of the Maastricht convergence imperatives and were due to the restrictions foreseen by the reelected left wing government. All that was suppressed in the messages of the electoral campaign of the Socialists and the Liberals. Neither the measures, nor their acceptance strategies were properly prepared and communicated. The protest, focusing on a secretly taped and publicized speech of Prime Minister Gyurcsány (…we were lying and doing nothing…) was steered to centre on morality and 'the betrayal of the nation'. This was an ample evidence of cultural politics (Lipset : 1969) dominating political life for at least two decades, if not for centuries: the elevation of pragmatic, economic policy issues to the level of Weltanschaung, of cultural identity and moral. As we heard the rightist/! / slogan so often: privatizations were selling out the country to foreigners. (Márkus: 2006)

This flaming-up of political hysteria made – speaking with B. Brecht -- the womb fertile for giving rebirth to anti-Semitism. That attitude has not been, however, new neither in post-communist Hungary, nor in the region.


Some empirical data on anti-Semitism in Hungary

The surveyed share of self-declared right extremists in 2006 was 12 (doubled in one year), among young people more then 27 %. (data received from Pál TAMÁS). Xenophobia in general also reached very high values by 2007. According to a recent survey by TÁRKI 29 % would not let a single immigrant into the country, 10 % would let all asylum seekers in. Out of the selecting 61 %,   77 – 87 % would not let the Chinese, the Arabs, the Russians or the Rumanians in. Even the fictive “Piresians” would be rejected by 68%. (www.tarki.hu)


The anti-Semitism research conducted by András KOVÁCS in the mid-nineties found

29 % non-anti-Semites

17 % 'simple' anti-Semites

 8 % 'hard' anti-Semites (corrected later to over 10%)

32 % stereotype-thinkers (the Shylock-Jew)

14 % unidentifiable (Kovács 1999)


In 2002 (Enyedi et al.: 2004) three types of anti-Semitism were identified:

·        Christian antijudaism 17 – 18 %

·        Discriminative anti-Semitism 19,5 %

·        Political anti-Semitism 42,5.

Political anti-Semitism -- 'rationalizing' anti-Jewish sentiments -- involved among others agreement (and/or not knowing) with the following statements in %:

·        Jews profited even from their persecution

34 (20)

·        Jews control the press and the media

34 (24)

·        Secret Jewish plot to steer political and economic processes 22 (41)

·       They were who really profited from regime change 22  (23).


As to the Holocaust: 57 % stated that Hungarians suffered as much as Jews in WW2 (14 % did not know).[2]

As to the intensity of political antisemitism, it was pointed out:

·        It was much stronger in Budapest, than in the country-side,

·        Right-left partisan sympathies played an important role, Fidesz and far right (MIÉP) sympathizers being more hostile to Jews,

·       Education, age and even status played a minor role.

András Kovács's findings confirm that on one hand, radical nationalism (Klaus 2001) is the strongest explanatory factor for political anti-Semitism, on the other, he points out the role of high status intellectual groups transforming simple prejudices into a mobilizing, synthetic code. (See later our statements on cultural code.) He distinguishes neonazi, radical and mainstream conservative discourses with the possibility (tendency) of their linkage. (Kovács 2006)


Social Nationalism

In Hungary and in a number of transition countries we come across the old-new cliché of 'social nationalism', the anti-Semitic variant of which was formulated as early as in 1879 by O. Glagau: “Die soziale Frage ist die Judenfrage” (The social question is the Jewish question). The message was adequately understood as the general therapy for the status-threatened middle-classes: get rid of the Jews and the social question will be solved. (Gerlach). (in Volkov: 1978)

Radical protests against restrictions in 2006/07 were carried out under fascist Árpád-stripe flags, with nationalist, anti-communist, populist and anti-Jewish slogans including a kind of Da-ze-bao (wall paper), a long list  exhibited in front of the Parliament with names of /allegedly/ Jewish politicians.

The social-nationalist character of the Hungarian right is not new either. The 1939 elections expressed this orientation. (1939 was the year of the first “Jewish law” in xHungaryx.) The radicalized right wing “state party” took 72% of the seats. Parties of openly fascist orientation, first of all the Arrow Cross Party, collected 30 % of the votes. Many 'mainstream' rightist MPs sympathized with Arrow Cross ideas. The formerly (and later) classically red industrial district of the Island Csepel became a stronghold of fascists. The major factor explaining this ultra rightist breakthrough was the ability to combine social demands with racist, anti-Semitic and nationalist propaganda.

Social nationalism implying racism, xenophobia, fundamentalism and anti-Semitism is an identity and culture based pseudo-answer to real problems. As for the recent post-transition developments :

n     The socio-economic problems of broad segments are hard, amounting to

·        Loss of security,

·        Poverty,

·        Unemployment,

·        Sinking/threatened status etc.


§       The syndrome of socially rooted mental deviations:

·        Repeated disillusionment with regime change, governments of both colors, EU membership hoped for as panacea.

·        Anomie, frustration, aggression for its own sake.

·        Widely spread depression, alcoholism.

Xenophobia, racism, anti-Semitism, anti-roma attitudes play – among other things, with a “leader cult” on the right – the role of an Ersatz-therapy for mental and identity confusions, frustrations.


pThe increasing global presence of social nationalism

Social nationalism is not just a Hungarian syndrome. In a postmodern world with the compression of time and place (Harvey: 1994), in the risk society of the New (or 2nd) Modernity (U. Beck: 1993, Beck – Giddens – Lash: 1994), in a context of “resistance identity politics” (Castells: 2000), nationalism, religious fundamentalism, anti-Semitism may (and do) take over the task of regime criticism, opposition to domestic and global capitalisms.

Not only  -- the frequently diabolized -- S. Huntington (Huntington: 1996), but the highly respected Jaques Delors with many other progressive thinkers have pointed out that culture is increasingly in the centre of political conflicts in the 21st century. Stein Rokkan, a classic of political sociology developed the theory of a cyclical movement of cleavages: 1. With the fall of the supranational Roman Empire, territorial-cultural cleavages came to dominate 2. Following the industrial revolution, the pre-eminence of the economic (class) cleavage followed 3. With globalization a new central clash is emerging between “standardizing homogenization and cultural distinctiveness”. (Rokkan: 1999, Rokkan – Urwin: 1982)

As H.-P. Kriesi underlines that the globalization cleavage has two dimensions: the economic (losers – winners) and the identity-related cultural ones. These are not yet organically combined, but the tendency for their linkage – especially in recently emerging right wing populism -- is taking shape: the rich Cosmopolitans are confronted by the poor “patriots”. (Kriesi: 2003) The transformation of modernity, global capitalism -- leading to obsession with identity (A. Touraine: 1995) -- create opportunity structures for the emergence of social nationalism world wide (from Le Pen over the Kaczinskys to Zyuganov…)


    To sum up, the outlined identity based approach to the injustices of global capitalism with the transformation of modernity is to be structurally explained. An individualized network society replaces structured class society. (Beck: 1993, Castells: 2000) As to the chances for regime opposition, for taming New Capitalism helplessness prevails. No actors, no social basis are in sight:

·        No class structure, no “Klasse für sich”,

·        No genuine left of centre force is on the scene able to fulfill the “normal” mission of social democracy: pursuing “politics against markets” (J. Esping-Andersen 1985)[3]


Hungarian history and cultural politics

The strength of cultural politics in Hungary is paradoxically a sign of a new modernity, but also a product of a long troubled and often failed, traumatizing history of state formation and nation building (Márkus 1999), from the Turkish occupation to the peace Treaty of Trianon/Versailles followed by WW2 fought on the German side and than Communist dictatorship in the Soviet bloc, the defeat of the antitotalitarian uprising of 1956.

In Hungary, ever since the days of Joseph II, the enlightened Habsburg emperor, the response to the advance of the West has been divided along cultural lines. The division between those giving priority to the Fatherland or to Progress, between tradition and modernization, has always been a cultural division. (Bibó: 1986) From Germany to Russia, contradictory cultural and political currents - Slavophiles and Zapadniks, adherents and opponents of a German Sonderweg (a special national development path deviant from the universal Western-type of development) - emerged along this cleavage. This remained true even throughout and after the communist era.  Opposition to Communism was naturally organized and divided according to these complementary and contradictory principles of human rights and of collective memory (Touraine 1995): Sakharov and Solzhenytsin in Russia, the Polish Committee for the Defense of Workers (KOR) and the Church in Poland, two currents of opposition growing into a party system in Hungary the central cleavage of which continues the debate betweenurbanizers and populists.

In the 30s of the 20th century Hungarian cultural life was torn apart by the opposed currents of 'folkish' intelligentsia, on one side, turning to 'the genuinely national peasantry', standing for a third way between Western capitalism and Eastern communism and the “urbanizers”, on the other, Budapest based liberal/Leftist intellectuals with a significant share of assimilated Jews, committed to a Western model of socio-economic development. Post-communist party formation in which intellectual subcultures played a decisive role built this divide organically into the new party system, not without an edge of antisemitism. (Márkus: 1994, 1999, Kovács: 2005)

          A centuries-old  cultural struggle (Kulturkampf) along the lines of territorial and cultural cleavages is related to a particular (Hungarian and regional) type of social structure as a product of (semi-)exogenous modernization in the interface region of East Central Europe. (Szűcs: 1990) Hungarian sociologists and historians describe this pattern by the term dualist social structure, (Erdei: 1987)  meaning the functional coexistence and fight between a feudal or premodern traditional sector (including historical upper and middle classes, historical cultural elites) and a bourgeois sector (capitalist upper and middle strata, urban intellectuals and cultural elites) mainly recruited from ethnic subcultures. This kind of dualist society is typical of backward societies facing external challenges of capitalist development.

As S.M. Lipset has shown, cultural or ethnic minorities outside the national core group, groups of sociological deviants who have not been fully integrated into society, often play a strong innovative role when such challenges must be met, particularly when the ruling group is itself dominated by traditional values that contradict the requirements of economic, cultural and political modernization. This type of non-organic modernization is, however, extremely vulnerable to political attacks from those who maintain traditional values (Lipset 1969: 98).

          In Hungary the Jews first of all, then the German-speaking population and, to some extent, smaller cultural-ethnic minorities such as the Armenians and the Greeks became the equivalent of the innovative sociological deviants described by Lipset. The preconditions of the special role of Jewry in all fields of modernization were given in their inherited cultural traditions conducive to embourgeoisement, in their presence in the spheres of finance and commerce and in the free professions - as a result of their exclusion from the feudal and estate-centered society - and in their linguistic and cultural assimilation. We cannot leave unmentioned the involvement of many Hungarian Jews in radical progressive and leftist thought and political movements, especially manifest in the Jewish overrepresentation in the failed Soviet type Council Republic of 1919. The counterrevolutionary post-Versailles syndrome was conducive to the sanctioning of the national-Christian course of the Horthy regime with the components of

·       Territorial revisionism

·       The doctrine of the Holy Crown, a symbol of Hungarian supremacy

·       Christian nationalism standing against modernizing/revolutionary political ideologies

·       The historical guilt of penetrating Jewry.

This prewar anti-Semitism of the historical upper and middle classes could be kept alive by pointing to the Jewish composition of the Communist Party leadership between 1945 and 1956.[4]

These “archaic” and more recent topics returned in a number of social nationalist protest events in late 2006, early 2007.


Cleavage structure

The above mentioned tendencies with strong traits of historical continuity continued to define the general cleavage structure, practically 'frozen' (stabilized) (Lipset -- Rokkan: 1969) since the early beginnings of the postcommunist party landscape in 1988/89. We point out three sets or families of cleavages present and intertwined in Hungarian politics (Márkus: 1994) leading to a polarized party system offering opportunity structures for political anti-Semitism.

  1. The family of territorial and cultural cleavages:

This type of cleavage is decisive for the approach to modernization. Traditionalist forces stress historical continuity, are preoccupied with boundaries, with ethnocentric or cultural nationhood, favor community over society, prefer a strong authority, often in conjunction with a strong church. Their value orientations are particularist rather than universalist. They have a romantic inclination 'to love the rural', even if they are urban. Radical traditionalists are anti-modern, anti-Western, racists, while democratic moderates look for an 'organic' national path of modernization. Westernizers are outward-looking, urban, in favor of catch-up modernization, individualism, and multi-cultural diversity. They – in the tradition of Enlightenment -- stress secularism and human rights.

  1. The family of post-communist cleavages has several dimensions: an ideological dimension of anti-communism which can be based either on national or religious identities or on the universalism of individual human rights and rationality; a political dimension expressed in the relationship to the successor party; a power (political, cultural and economic) dimension of competing elites and of the re-definition of the rules of the game beyond and within politics; a structural dimension reflecting the new form of dualism of the present society with a sector rooted in late communism and a sector of emerging capitalism; an emotional and biographical dimension with a population split into those who feel their conditions were better in the last years of 'real socialism' and those who do not. On the left, paradoxically, radically pro-market ex-functionaries may demand a rupture with ancient regime mentality defended now by right wing populism.
  2. The family of socio-economic cleavages has two poles. At one end: adjustment to global capitalism, the extension of the logic of self-regulating markets to society, culture and health care, radical neoliberalism, fast deregulation and privatization, a market-led distribution of wealth and incomes with significant inequalities. At the other end: the limitation and the regulation of markets, an active and strong interventionist nation state helping (allegedly) the losers, enhancing mobility and broadening the “national” middle classes. (Dauderstaedt – Gerrits – Márkus: 1999)


Table one

Three axes of party competition

·       Cultural/territorial cleavage

National traditionalists                                    Westernizers            

historical community of destiny                     ethos of Human rights

homogenization                                                      multiculturalism

collectivism                                                                self-realization

clericalism                                                                  secularism

authoritarian rule                                           consensual democracy

 exclusion                                                                   inclusion

emotion                                                                        rationality


·       Regime cleavage

Continuity/discontinuity of Kádárian communism


·       Socio-economic cleavage

state intervention                                                       marketization

losers                                                                          winners



We witness a polarized party system based on mutually reinforcing cleavages and two opposed political cultures. The romantic defenders of cultural identity, of historic continuity mobilizing through affective anticommunism and quasi-socialist rhetoric war with radically westernizing-globalizing libertarian, but also neoliberal forces respecting 'Sachzwaenge' and bearing strong elements of personal continuity with the ancient regime. In a society of “new capitalism” with great inequalities and insecurity, class struggle  becomes dressed up as nationalist  and anti-communist Kulturkampf.


Is anti-Semitism becoming a cultural code?

Shulamit Volkov demonstrated that in the late 19th ct. in French and German societies – with the “Jewish question” becoming the symbol of two polarized political cultures – different concepts and attitudes became linked by anti-Semitism as a code, by anti-Semitism as a catch-word. It was the sign through which the two camps, that of progress, emancipation and that of  aggressive nationalism, anti-modernity were distinguished. (Volkov: 1978)[5]

In Hungary – based on the outlined structure of mutually reinforcing, culturally dominated cleavages – we also witness a deep division (Spaltung), not only of politics, of regions, but also of society, of cultures. Symmetrically to a “cultural left” representing multiculturalism and libertarian values simultaneously with pro-market (neoliberal) “right wing” policies, might a strong and active xenophobic right emerge in Hungary open to anti-Semitism with pseudo-socialist positions?  As to the center of (the right), we doubt (though theoretically do not fully rule out) this development. There are at least three Gestalten presenting a plurality of personalized/symbolic cultural foes (Feindbilder) on the right.

1.     One is the exploiting multinational capitalist (like G. Soros) and/or the leaders of the EU or of the IMF.

2.     Foreign financial capital is served by the “Bolshi”, the Communist, the post- or ex-Communist, like prime minister F. Gyurcsány, the anti-national traitor.

3.     Hungarianhood, community is undermined by the out-group alien, “the other”.

The three elements lend themselves to a synthetic centrality of each, but it is open and changing, which will be the 'enemy number one'.

There are analogous Feindbilder spread on the other side: 'the fascists', 'the antidemocrats', the real heirs to communist mentality.


Shulamit Volkov describes the gradual, but swift cognitive process of symbol creation with the centrality of a symbolic hate of Jewry being the abstraction of everything contradicting to Deutschtum. (Volkov: 1978) In his concept of national anti-Semitism Klaus Holz, through his internationally comparative hermeneutic analyses, pointed out the image of the Jew as a universal “non-identity” vitally threatening/destroying all particular identities and communities (Gemeinschaft). This is the background for the  change of the positions of the victim (in this interpretation: the nation)  and the Jew, the perpetrator). (Taeter-Opfer-Umkehr). (Holz 2001)

Will thus anti-Semitism – on the background of a cleavage structure with the main divide between universalist Westernization and particularist nationalist self-defense –   become the cultural code playing a central role in political mobilization in Hungary? Viktor Karády's position is clear: In a broader context, i.e. far beyond anti-Semitism as such, in the context of the historical Jewish role in the process of Westernization,  the relationship to Jewry seems to be for him one of the main sources of the present ideological division. (Karády: 2001: 67 – 69) András Kovács, in commenting this view, points to the hypertrophic role of intellectual subcultures in the Hungarian party formation. In this sense we referred to the formation of milieu parties. (Kovács: 2005, 2006, Márkus: 1994). We see a mutual reinforcing of these argumentations.

Our impression, however, is that the central Feindbild (foe) for the leadership of Fidesz, the mainstream right is, at present, not the Jew, but the “komcsi”, the Bolshi. “The” (main) opposition party Fidesz, integrated into the European family of the Peoples' Party is mostly cautious to voice openly anti-Semitic statements, several times it even encourages some anti-anti-Semitic actions. There are, however, signs of a double-speak, an affinity, a similarity of language, a routine of friendly communication with openly anti-Semitic forces, actors. (Marsovszky: 2002)


In some rightist movements whose adherents are close to or even under the umbrella of Fidesz – as we saw it in the course of mass mobilization events and in the apology of the Árpád-striped flag as a national symbol by key politicians of Fidesz – anti-Semitism is the essential cultural code. There are quite a number of phenomena illustrating the activity and the partial success of those intellectual groups who spread an anti-Semitic language as a general framework for a symbolic interpretation of the world and as a sign of choice, of belonging to a cultural and political camp. (Kovács: 2006)


Will Europe  rescue us from anti-Semitism?

It is good news that the Union pursues a no-tolerance strategy fighting discrimination, racism with measures, legislative norms on the community level. European legislation will help or even force the Hungarian courts to sanction – much more seriously as is the case now -- racist hate-speech and Auschwitz-Lüge.

We get, however, an ambivalent impression, if we examine the empirical data on anti-Semitism in the EU. On the level of European member (and non-member) states empirical research points out the continuity (or revival) of anti-Semitic prejudices. We refer here to the results of a recent comparative project of the Anti-Defamation League (www.adl.org)

Table 2

FINDINGS for 12 European countries in 2004:

Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Hungary, Italy, Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, UK


More loyal to Israel   Europe  Hungary Germany Poland

                                    43             55          20             43

Too much power on    32              55          24             43

global financial markets

Too much talk             42              46           48            52


Responsible for the

death of Jesus             20              20             18             39


We also witness a measure of anti-Zionist and anti-Israeli bias in European politics and – even more -- in mass media (the climate is reflected in Eurobarometer surveys pointing out  that a majority of Europeans look upon Israel as the number one threat for world peace.) According to a research of the BBC World Service comprising 27 countries and 28 000 questioned, 56 % meant that the effects of Israel upon the world were mainly bad. (www.index.hu, 06.03.07.)

There are partial, but not insignificant attempts by some European politicians and journalists at constructing anti-Americanism compensating the weakness of European identity. Some observers point out that this way of thinking have anti-Semitic connotations. (Markovits: 2007)


Discontents of Hungarian Jewry

There is a more than 140 years old “assimilation contract” (Karády: 1993, 2001): on one side, the Hungarian state/nation not only emancipates the Jews, but grants opportunities for their advance in the social and economic field, Jews, on the other side, undertake cultural Magyarization. This was – in multiethnic k.u.k. Hungary -- also intended by the historical ruling classes to demonstrate a desirable model for nationalities threatening the integrity of Great Hungary. After the traumatizing peace treaty of Versaille/Trianon bringing about a significant measure of ethnic homogenization, the “national-Christian course” of the Horthy period elevated anti-Semitism to the level of a dominant ideological doctrine accompanied with 'adequate' anti-Jewish measures, legislation– in spite of a resisting and helping minority – with the Hungarian participation/indifference in the Holocaust demanding nearly 600000 victims.

Around 100 000 Jews still live in Hungary and the majority continues one or another version of an assimilation strategy. The recent open manifestations of anti-Semitism did not change this, but brought about a significant stress. What I experience, as a response to (and a part of) political hysteria, is anxiety, fear, frustration in the older and middle generations. But there are also signs of political or identity based opposition among the young.


Elements of therapy 

How can be anti-Semitism in Hungary mitigated? My fragmented answers, my points are tentative and probably subjective.

·       “Education, education, education…” -- taking into consideration that hardly any Vergangenheitsbewaeltigung (coming to terms with the past) took place neither to recent, nor to the more distant history.

·       Reshaping, “Europeanizing” the mainstream right is a very urgent, but very difficult task implying a break both with the pre-war völkish heritage and postmodern populism.

·       The former changes could open the long way from confrontational to consensual politics crowding out Feindbilder and scape-goating.

·       More attention is to be paid to the social consequences of reform policies. We need as much taming of capitalism as possible – involving a transformation of an excessively pro-market Left -- in spite of the constraints (Sachzwaenge) posed by global capitalism allowing only for a limited scope of a politics of taming.

·       On the EU-level, we need less national egoism, more empathy of European (EU-15) citizens and elites for the newcomers. One ought to de-tabooize the re-thinking of the Maastricht criteria.



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www.tarki.hu (2007): Nőtt a pírézekkel szembeni

[1] Paper presented at the conference of the Elie Wiesel Holocaust Institute in Bucharest and of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, May 15 2007.

[2] These findings induce the author to paraphrasing the statement of Zvi Rex, an Israeli psychologist: /One part of the/ Hungarians could never forgive the Jews for having deported them to Auschwitz

[3] The Scandinavian countries may be – for cultural reasons – an exception.

[4] We have to stress here, at the same time, a significant weight of Hungarian Jewry in the 1956 revolution and in the later anti-regime opposition.

[5] E. Castells in his comprehensive work on the information age also stresses the renewed centrality of cultural codes. (Castells 2000)