Monthly Archives: October 2023

Dismissal of (Professor) Adam from Paradise Corvinus

The fate of the wistleblower

Corvinus University has fired Professor Zoltán Ádám on murky grounds that we are given to understand to be violations of internal university rules pertaining to co-operation.  As the Orban regime is confessedly a system of National Cooperation on the national level (NER is the acronym we use here in Hungary), non-cooperation may well be a valid ground for dismissal from the workplace.  University officials have stated that the termination of Professor Ádám’s employment for cause was ‘one hundred percent’ lawful. As we have expressed this in an earlier post, we have no reason to question the lawfulness of this action, and many other similar actions. The final say over lawfulness or lawlessness in this country is in the hands of those university big wigs who make, or simply implement, this very decision: the man must go.

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Economics 101

The last of the free market

The streets of Budapest are teaming with homeless people. All of them at varying stages of disintegration. All this despite many draconian efforts by the city administration and the national government, who have gone as far as enacting an amendment to the substitute Constitution, effectively outlawing homelessness. But while legislatively everything was done against homelessness, at the same time maintaining a home has become ever more difficult. The rents and overhead expenses have been rapidly rising in the city.

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Some Commemorate to Remember, Some Remember to Forget

1956, Revolution and national holiday

On October 23, Hungarians commemorate the heroic revolt of the ‘people’ in 1956 against the Hungarian-Communist rule backed by the Soviet Union.

The revolt, which did enter the annals of history as the Revolution, had been crushed by Soviet tanks on November 4.  János Kádár was installed by Soviet party bosses as the new gauleiter; and thereafter, for almost a decade, the dark days of the Kadar regime loomed over this country.  In the weeks following the defeat of the revolt, more than 200,000 Hungarians left the country, mainly through Austria, to the many host countries that received the Hungarian ‘freedom fighters’ and simple refugees with open arms.  The Communist leader of the short-lived new Government, Imre Nagy, was tried for treason and hanged in June 1958.

I am at loss when I want to tell my foreign audience what specifically Hungarians do to commemorate this day.  Around 1989 and 1990 it was relatively clear – a revolt by the people against a brutal and oppressive regime.  Since then, the memory is fragmented.  This would be fine, as truth is fragmented in our world; however, the message of the 1956 Revolution is increasingly tailored to contemporary political agendas.


Recently, when Russia comes across as a decent supplier of oil and gas, the ugly historic record with Russia and the Soviet Union has been forgotten in the narrative of present-day Hungarian leadership and its supporters.  In sharp contrast to prior years, this year Viktor Orbán will not appear in public at a carefully orchestrated public demonstration in Budapest.  His spin doctors have not yet invented a new narrative for a Russian friendly message for October 23.

The ‘people’ who do not buy this nasty propaganda and just want to remember the many colors of the revolt, resort to simply recollecting their own private stories.  So does my fellow editor Sándor in his unique post and podcast.

I have my own stories of those chilly October days.  I was 5 years old, at the beginning of childhood.  Half the age of Sándor in 1956.  Our Buda house was far from the battles and violent skirmishes, but not so distant that we could be spared from congregating in a cellar apartment from day three or four of the eleven-day revolution.

We spent the first days in one room of our apartment.  My father was on the streets, he delivered the university students’ pleas for reform to Communist Party headquarters where he was injured on his leg by the shards of a hand grenade.  He was treated in hospital for a few days.  I recall the Hungarian Radio’s program on October 23, there was little news, if any; mostly Beethoven’s Egmont Overture was played for hours.  For many Hungarians the revolt is still associated with this musical experience.  When we had just had enough of Egmont, I would ask for playing a vinyl record which, on the A side, had Isaak Dunayevsky’s light composition that I still call Red Poppy.

The children of six families spent a few days in a cellar apartment which served as an air raid shelter.  We loved those shelter days, as no one asked us to stick to our daily routine.  We had limited facilities for cooking, even fewer supplies, but somehow, we found a small cookstove on which red bean and leftover goose leg was prepared as cholent.  I have not had any better cholent since those days.  We played a bit, talked a lot, and there are odd erotic experiences from those nights that come out of the dark cellar of my memory.  The only thing I can say after all these years is that something happened.  So, I would often call these days the best times of my childhood.

My father came home in the last days of October; he decisively turned his back to his Communist years, and then the drab years of the Kadar era began.

From “darkness at noon” before 1956, Hungary entered the era of drab greyness day and night.

András Hanák

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Ecstasy in the fall

1956, Revolution and national holiday

As we are sliding towards the national holiday of 23. October, I am being washed over by memories.

On the 22nd of October, 1956, the day before the Revolution, nothing was different from any other dull, gray days that were the norm in those years. Lining up at stores for the most basic food stuffs, hanging on the outside of street cars that were always too jammed, and the struggle of my parents to maintain our barely tolerable existence. We were the unwitting victims of the postwar poverty and the murderous communist terror, living in fear and deprivation. Of course, I knew nothing about those dire conditions, because despite it all, I was in the midst of a relatively happy childhood. However, the atmosphere of those days and years was stifling, filled with dread and hopelessness. That was on the 22nd.

The following day, on the 23rd  the weather was better, people were milling about and walking on the streets, and those who came to us reported that the youth are marching; and soldiers are tearing the red star from their head gears, throwing them on the ground, and joining the demonstrators. The pall of hopelessness was lifted in one instant, my parents were smiling and my grandmother was so touched by the events that she was shedding tears.

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Jeszcze Polska nie zginęła

“Poland is not yet lost”

So goes the opening line of Poland’s Mazurka style national anthem.  As long as we live Poland will not be lost.  And this is how much we know for sure about the Parliamentary elections in Poland held on October 15.

Furthermore, and quite honestly, this is the takeaway from a European perspective.  The final result will eventually allow three opposition parties to form a coalition government, which will end two dark four-year terms of the Law and Justice Party (PiS) rule in Poland.  Poland would once again play a constructive role in the European dialogue for a more perfect Union.  The country of almost 40 million population may take its decisive role in pursuing a constructive European agenda.

From the Hungarian perspective, there will be a host of other conclusions and takeaways as to how all this may impact Hungarian politics and public discourse about the restoration of a democratic order.  Our Hungarian Perspective will attempt to address some of the ramifications of the defeat of the born-again nationalist PiS rule.  Our Blog will assess the outcome of the Polish vote and the prospects of the new government in other posts too, soon to come.

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A strange week

Like never before

Not only a strange but also an unprecedented week was the last one.

On Monday, around 11 AM came a casual announcement in the news that the medical Nobel Prize was awarded to Katalin Karikó, a Hungarian researcher.

It came as a tease after the last few years, when we all, or most Hungarians were receiving the news with indignation around this time of the year that the Prize was again denied to our personal candidate in favour of someone we never heard of, denying it from the truly deserving candidate, the tenacious and and deserving Katalin Karikó. What can be the problem, we wondered, that prevented the Karolinska Institutet of Sweden from recognising the true candidate deserving the Prize she so reachly deserved, after all that she has done for humanity and for defeating the Covid-19 virus? Not to mention the invention of a new kind of method of delivering medicine into the human body, so simple and so ingenious that the likes of it had not been invented since Salvarsan, if you know what I mean. But the Karolinska Institutet, the august body entrusted by Alfred Nobel himself with the awarding of the Prize, was not about to be pressured, or rushed into any decision; just overlooked our Hungarian candidate. Many people regarded this as some kind of revenge for not voting on Sweden’s accession into NATO by the Hungarian Parliament, a kind of subtle tit for tat.

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It is depressing but might not be as dark as it seems.

The Slovakian situation

For quite a few of my Slovakian friends the outcome of Saturday’s elections came as a shock.

While most polls predicted the victory of Robert Fico, the old strongman deposed as a result of the “gentle revolution” of 2018 following the murder of investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée. But there were some exceptions favoring the liberal Progressive Slovakia (PS) party; even on election night exit polls suggested that the liberals would win. This did not happen, as Fico’s right-wing pro-Putin nationalist party, the SMER-Social Democracy Party, garnered 22,89% of the votes, with the PS ending up in second place, with 18% of the vote, and Hlas (‘Voice’), a somewhat more decent group of SMER dissidents, in third place with 14.7%.

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