Despair about Hungary :(

Despair about Hungary :(

Hungary is heading towards the brink, both politically and financially and it’s so hard for me to watch, yet I continue to watch as I have strong ties and cannot avert my eyes…

The Viktor Orban led right-wing government is doing enormous damage to democracy. Using their overwhelming 2/3 electoral victory Fidesz declared a ‘booth revolution’ and promptly went about re-writing the constitution of the country, muzzled the constitutional court which used to be one of the cornerstones of democracy there. The supreme council and budget council have also lost their roles and power. Media has been systematically silenced by a new media authority, currently they are at work shutting down the last opposition radio station that 1/2 million people listen to (Klubradio).

A new generation of right wing judges, headmasters and hospital directors have taken up their post. Some 39 fundamental laws have been changed from taxation to electoral law, and they have all been ‘fortified’ so that only a 2/3 majority will be able to change them again in the future. This effectively ‘concretes in’ the power of Fidesz for potentially many many years to come.

The new constitution will potentially limit human rights and Amnesty International and others have already sounded the alarm. Fortunately the English language based international media is slowly waking up to this crisis after the German language one has been paying attention in the last few months.

Fidesz flirts with the ultra right and gives them concessions in country areas where the ultra right have already been killing and intimidating Roma. The institution of the family has been re-defined to include only married male-female couples with children, and no other family formation will be protected under law, making Hungary head back to the 19th century in terms of social norms reflected in law. Embryos may become protected more than women’s own health based on the new definition of personhood starting at conception. Even a conservative US state managed to refuse such a regressive re-definition, whereas in Hungary the conservative government just went ahead without much fanfare.

What’s more, Orban has been working hard at alienating all allies from UN to IMF to EU. Currently Hungary is on the brink of financial bankruptcy after its credit rating was downgraded to junk status. The Forint has been falling sharply since. I’m just hoping the EU’s potential bailout will come with heavy strings attached: namely to re-write media and other legislations that directly contravene both EU laws and human rights laws. This might be the only chance for the EU to force changes in Hungary, so progressive Hungarians are now finding themselves in a very conflicted state, hoping for bankruptcy only to achieve political change eventually.

Last week Green MPs were chaining themselves to Parliament in an effort to stall sweeping legislative change in Parliament that was going to be sneaked in a day before Xmas. In the end the Green MPs and the ex prime-minister were taken away by police. They were let out, while activists are still rotting in there. Also, the laws were passed anyway, just to bring an even more depressive Xmas to Hungarians, many of which are struggling in deep poverty with little hope.

Another desperate attempt is ahead in front of the state television station: media workers are on hunger strike in order to force changes as they were required to selectively report events and of course, there are the new media laws that would force all media workers to divulge all their sources, which is clearly anti-democratic. In the last few days govt workers decided to torment the hunger strikers with light and music on loop, with now both sides seeking legal remediation of the situation.

The charismatic nationalistic anti-EU ‘fuck you all we’ll run to China’ rhetoric can only last so long with a drastically diminishing support for the government (going from 67% to now 20% acc to polls). Yet Orban and his increasingly insane juggernaut are hurtling ahead full speed, possibly towards a cliff. What will happen after that? Noone knows.

An orange revolution that ends up solving nothing a la Ukraine quickly sliding into authoritarianism and constitutional dictatorship? A more Russian style totalitarian sham-democracy? EU playing hardball with the Hungarian govt and achieving minimal concessions and the right-wing govt continuing to erode democracy and making millions of lives miserable until at least 2014 (next election)? How long can Hungarians put up with this and what the hell can they actually do short of a revolution?? Who is going to help? (My guess, noone) It’s all very very sad… I was hoping for a way better future for my home country, but the hopes are diminishing each day…

In other news, Radio Free Europe might be re-starting its broadcast after shutting down decades ago. This is very sad, but perhaps a necessary step in order to enrich media diversity, though I doubt in the age of the internet the govt can truly shut down the public sphere short of what China and other repressive states are doing.

Also read the Guardian’s ‘Hungary playing chicken’ article.

Other English language articles:

‘Hungary steps out’ in The Economist

‘This Hungarian hangover could cost the EU more credibility than a failed euro’ in The Guardian


Article in The Australian

Article in The Australian

A couple of weeks ago there The Australian weighed into the gay marriage and plural marriage debate and I took the opportunity to sway a conservative article towards the progressive side… and I’m proud to say I think I was successful too! 🙂

The article wanted to frame gay marriage in the slippery slope argument to which potential polyamorous, plural marriage, would be the ‘goat’. Let me go back a step: the slippery slope argument states that gay marriage is dangerous because if you give same-sex couples the right to marry, then there’ll be 3 people marrying next, and then people will start marrying their goats or their bicycle.

The Australian’s ‘Three in marriage bed more of a good thing’

I wanted to go ahead of this argument and instead talk about the irrational fear or this, especially in light of how much polyamorists in Australia currently NOT WANTING plural marriage rights. Unfortunately the conservative journalist wanted to hear the opposite and managed to twist the words of another brave poly soul who put his hand up for being interviewed.

But doesn’t matter, because the article wasn’t going to end there and I knew that the journo desperately needed more grabby lines in order to finish his article for a very close (within 24 h) deadline. So I grabbed the opportunity and slammed in some very positive sentences about how polyamory is the outcome of more equality and opportunity and how monogamy has never been ‘natural’ either in the evolutionary sense or in the anthropological sense.

The article never really coheres and the paper was published on the Saturday with an unattractive picture on the cover with an older man with identical looking female partners. But the positives weigh more: we (the 3 polys who talked to the journo) managed to get some of the most progressive lines in about polyamory; we demonstrated that polys are sane, rational and nice people; and there’s even a poly glossary at the end of the article, which means this piece has managed to introduce the very subverstive view of positive multiple relationships to a semi-conservative national audience.

There was a lot of kerfuffle in the poly community about whether engaging with The Australian was a good idea to start with. Here are arguments to the affirmative (yes, we need to engage in order to break through) and to the negative (we mustn’t engage on their turf as we’ll pander to their agenda). I reserve the right to decide which strategy is best in each case. With the conservative press it is a difficult game: you want to be able to control the material but without any assurance that your words will be taken in good faith and in context. After more than half a dozen media interviews and articles I’ve written I think I’m capable of this balancing act 🙂

For the progressive lines, and for the whole article, please go to the source… and make up your mind yourself!

the Hitch

the Hitch

It’s a sad day when an intellectual giant dies and you know there won’t be any more commentary from them ever again.

Christopher Hitchens has departed at the age of 62 and we have lost a formidable political journalist, a masterful rhetorician with savage wit, a fearless chronicler of events and a contrarian who relished challenging moral and political orthodoxies.

I had the pleasure of watching, reading and following him for well over a decade as he criss-crossed political lines, chose fascinating intellectual battles and established himself as an always fresh and daring voice with not only panache and a wondrous command of the English language, but also a commentator with serious research behind him.

Some quality obituaries can elaborate better than I can:

Christopher Hitchens on Lateline

Washington Post obituary

Vanity Fair obituary

NPR obituary

I’m also going to include some wonderful videos here in coming days…

Frozen planet

There’s a new Attenborough narrated BBC produced nature doco out there and it’s brilliant.

It’s called Frozen Planet and it looks at the frozen parts of Earth: from vast tundras, to precarious life in cold climates, dramatic arctic seasons, underwater worlds and the melting poles that are as remote as they are central to the future of Earth’s climate.

The crew are at their best in every sense, this was a vast specialist undertaking. The results are truly breathtaking. Just in the first episode we get to watch polar bear rituals, vast polar landscapes, the world’s biggest glaciers from inside out, ice crystals forming, complex orca hunting tactics, strange life on the seabed and caves inside an arctic volcano.

You’ll want to get your hands onto this whichever way you can!