Monday, December 12, 2011

Rhyming History

People often forget the number and kind of fascist regime that rose in the inter-war period. It wasn't just Italy and Germany. The new democracies created by Versailles didn't last long and, indeed, the war really didn't stop in 1918. Fighting in the east, between freikorps and commies, between indigenous fascists and commies, and so on, continued and relatively rapidly fascist movements sprang up from Finland to Portugal and, in many cases, rose to power. Salazar was no more an outlier than Mussolini.

One of the hallmarks of a fascist party is its reliance on brute force. All the fascists had some kind of a paramilitary force, brown  or black shirts for example, on which it relied to beat up opponents and generally stop the mouths of critics. Right now the 3rd largest party in Hungary has this:

Yes that's right a paramilitary force associated with a legitimate, in the sense that it garners votes, political party. Worse still even yet 
[o]n May 14, 2010, Gábor Vona, the chairman of Jobbik, was about to make an appearance at the Hungarian parliament, whose seat is probably the world’s most beautiful parliament building, a domed, neo-Gothic structure protected by bronze lions. Everyone was concerned that Vona would appear dressed in a fascist uniform from the past. As it happened, he showed up in a black suit, to the relief of many in the audience. But shortly before the swearing-in ceremony, the radical right-wing politician threw off his jacket to reveal a vest reminiscent of the uniforms of the Arrow Cross Party. Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung described it as “sort of a Nazi outfit.”
 The far right ruling party recently passed legislation that granted it unusual censorship powers and, in general, things look to be going to hell in a handbasket.

Why bring this up? Hungary is a member of the EU and NATO. Right now either or both of those institutions could act to isolate an increasingly undemocratic state in a way that makes it clear that Hungary's future in both or one or the other hinges on a re-commitment to democracy and  rejection of both authoritarianism and its near cousin technocratisme.

What, you wonder, is the likely outcome? Given that the democratic United States and the democratic, kind of, EU are pushing for an expansion of technocratisme and are rejecting democracy, I'm going to go out on a limb and predict nothing consequential.


  1. I am pretty sure the only thing the U.S will do is try to sell them different forms of crowd control, all tested on occupy protesters.

  2. I think Hillary Clinton offered a strongly-worded dressing down. That ought to show them

  3. Yeah, I think the U.S has sort of lost the moral high ground, once you torture a few people and start a couple of wars, plus, do just about everything you can to stifle free speech in your own country, any thing you say about human rights is suspect.

  4. Beyond having lost or thrown away the moral high ground, the US has lost interest in substantive democracy. The existence of elections, howsoever farcical they may be, is sufficient.