Dear Editor - Budapest Times
I read with interest both Júlia Lakatos’ piece (“All for one or one for all?”, Centre for Fair Political Analysis, The Budapest Times, 25-31 May 2012) and Nicholas Ryan’s indignant rejoinder (“Shame on you for publishing that propaganda”, The Budapest Times, 1-7 June 2012). I tend to agree with Mr. Ryan about the government’s action on pensions but on the broader issues he seems to have succumbed to the massive propaganda emanating from the opposition. It appears to be axiomatic among people who think like Mr. Ryan that any article which dares to offer an analysis that fails to parrot the hostile views of the opposition must be propaganda paid for by the government.
His petulant final sentence expresses the hope that your journal will ensure in future that no articles that differ from Mr. Ryan’s favoured party line should appear. Indeed left-liberals and liberals have virtually succeeded in excluding any such analyses in the Western media. It is certainly ironic that those who have made such a fuss about the Fidesz government’s press law, in particular its demand for “balanced” reporting, should be so anxious to ensure that only their viewpoint is heard. On the substantive issues Mr. Ryan seems to think it reprehensible that, for example, banks have been held to account in Hungary for their previous mis-selling, from which they profited handsomely. However we have heard less about this allegedly unacceptable behaviour by the Orbán government in the Western press since international banks were forced to take a 70 per cent “haircut” on Greece – the “haircut” on foreign-currency mortgages taken out in Hungary was negotiated at about 25 per cent. The flat tax has been introduced in Hungary without enough safeguards for lower-income groups but it has proved a remarkable boost to post-communist economies elsewhere, for example in the Baltic region and in Slovakia. Mr. Ryan, sticking to his propaganda script, is too anxious to present each and every policy of the Fidesz government as malign. Perhaps he imagines Hungary should simply have continued with the stewardship of the Socialist and Liberal parties that drove the country into bankruptcy, and that were indeed friendly, undiscriminatingly so, to powerful foreign companies? One need not agree with all the points made by Júlia Lakatos to see that in some respects she is merely recording what is actually happening. There is increasing unease, even in the mainstream media and mainstream politics, at the imposition of policies by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund which kill the possibilities for growth. After all, growth is ultimately the only way out for insolvent or near-insolvent states and their banking sectors. It is at least arguable that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was prescient in seeing that the current situation was unsustainable. Likewise the flow of “hot money” into emerging economies and its attendant corruption is certainly something that all except neo-Liberals accept must be addressed. Mr. Ryan should move beyond his comfort zone of selective outrage and look at the problems of Hungary in a wider context than that of liberal propaganda designed to obscure the opposition’s culpability for much of the present mess. Sincerely,
Nicholas T. Parsons Vienna/Budapest