Thursday, May 10, 2007

Hatred, betrayal and long shadows

GM Tamás writes (Hatred and betrayal, The Guardian, 9 May):
Eastern European nations still see their politics, 60 years after the end of the second world war, essentially as a confrontation between communism and fascism. So when a former dissident such as myself denounces the desecration of the grave of a former enemy, I am not joined by members of the politburo, still very much alive among us. Perhaps they are too busy on the stock exchange. And so the danse macabre continues.
This reminds me of observations by Istvan Deak (Scandal in Budapest, NYRB, 19 October 2006):
Hungarians continue to face a troubling moral dilemma. Was it right to work within an oppressive system so one could try to encourage reforms or was it better to remain an outsider and thereby condemn oneself to political and professional irrelevance? At what point must one take a stand against oppression even at personal peril? One day each one of us might be forced to make such a decision.
See also Deak's thumbnail description of the historical context:
Perhaps the best way to explain Hungarian history between the collapse of democratic and Communist experiments in 1919 and the reestablishment of democracy in 1989 is that during that period, the country experienced two authoritarian regimes and two tyrannies. The conservative nationalist government of Miklós Horthy between 1919 and 1944 and the greatly relaxed Communist system of János Kádár after 1963 were authoritarian. The far right governments between March 1944 and January 1945 were responsible for the wartime destruction of the country and the killing of a majority of the country's 800,000 odd Jews: the hard line Communist regime between 1948 and 1963 imprisoned thousands and executed many real and imagined enemies.

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