Text by Gábor Schein, writer, critic, literary historian, translator and member of the Society of Hungarian Authors
„Europe is György Soros‘ gas chamber: toxic gas flows from the capsule of a multicultural open society, deadly for the European way of life, while we, the nations of Europe, are doomed to fight for the last breath of air, trampling and clambering over each other. The Liberaryans now want to exclude Poles and Hungarians from a political community where we, as members, still have rights. We are the new Jews. No matter whether these verbal bludgeons are called open society, the rule of law, or solidarity, they all serve as tools of disenfranchisement. By questioning the will and ability of Hungarian voters to choose how they want to live and who they want to see in power, they actually say that we have a big nose, we stink and we have lice.” (Szilárd Demeter, origo.hu)
Just as a reminder: the person who had the nerve to put these sentences on paper, and who coined the word “Liberaryans”, is not a nobody in Hungary. Szilárd Demeter is Viktor Orbán’s most important confidant in cultural policy. Institutions such as the National Széchenyi Library, functioning as the state archives, and the Petőfi Literary Museum, preserving documents of modern Hungarian literature, are under his direct control. He also controls the popular music life and is a member of the so-called National Cultural Council operating around Viktor Orbán. His voice belongs to those who receive power from the state to speak today in Hungary. He needs to resign because he openly speaks the language of Nazis, but his resignation doesn’t change anything. What happened, happened, and followed from the logic and rhetoric of the Orbán-system.
A speech that equates the rule of law with gas chambers, solidarity with the deprivation of rights, and the European Union with Hitler’s Third Reich, erases the language itself. These words appeared on the origo.hu website only a week after the centenary of Paul Celan’s birth, on the Saturday before the beginning of the Advent period. The voice that Orbán’s cultural chief speaks, whether he is aware of it or not, floods a thousand darknesses of speeches that bring death. When this language refers to the right to national self-determination, the freedom of lifestyle, or when it speaks of Christianity, it immediately gives itself away. Yes, ultimately, it is murder and the evil that has become routine, that speaks this language. Those who negotiate with, bargain with, or accept support from this language, need to know this.
This language is not identical with Hungary. Today, there is once again dictatorship in Hungary. Voters did not authorize this. Laws, and even the constitution itself, are being rewritten or repealed overnight. It is not possible or requires a disproportionate effort to create, distribute and represent symbolic truths other than those of the power. The symbolic truths of power, on the other hand, are born as lies from the outset. Moreover, the lie is not enough for the lie itself. It has to keep raising the bet, because like all such attempts, this one, too, is ultimately in a terrible battle with the empty sky, not realizing that it itself is making the sky an empty wasteland. This happens day by day, tiring people out, driving them to despair, and rendering them hopeless. Priests and churches, of course, are silent, as their leaders have long since not believed in the Saviour, but are afraid of losing the graces received from the state, and, as they do not believe, they cannot be free either.
In Hungary, the hope of regaining language, truth, and human dignity is a hope beyond hope. The sentences quoted may warn that Europe is still a post-Holocaust continent. And Hungary is still in a post-Holocaust state. The hope of the continent and the country is identical: a wise and understanding hope, adhering to their values, somewhere beyond hopelessness.
Gábor Schein, writer, critic, literary historian, translator
member of the Society of Hungarian Authors
The Society of Hungarian Authors is a community of creators with a broad vision, acceptance, and healthy irony. Safely and merrily aware of this, we have always tried to formulate our statements, sometimes inevitably political, in this spirit. At the same time, the by now regular and clearly provocative manifestations of Szilárd Demeter have also put our patience and creativity to the test in recent times, and after his last writing, fair deliberation has become utterly impossible. A radical escalation of the war of words leads to a sudden first shedding of blood. The life-threatening system of rhetorical tools that Demeter is now reaching for is unacceptable, even if it was an obvious and desperate compulsion to comply that evoked it in the author. Those who lost their real lives in real gas chambers, the survivors, the relatives, the language, the humane thought, and respect towards acceptance and responsibility are what will not allow our common human tragedy to depreciate to a selfish journalistic tool in the hands of an irresponsible politician. The last statement of the director-general of the Petőfi Literary Museum is one of the symptoms of the long and difficult agony of the system; not the first, but the most penetrating so far.
The Society of Hungarian Authors 1) calls on Szilárd Demeter to make an apology, 2) finds it evident that the decision-makers shall immediately announce a new, open tender for the position to head the Petőfi Literary Museum, and 3) proposes the establishment of a professional committee with a balanced composition that can help rebuild the literary and cultural life of Hungary that has quickly become a battlefield, in the name of justice, solidarity and shared responsibility.
The Board of the Society of Hungarian Authors