Is there censorship in Hungary?

 

 
 
Is it true that works are excluded in Hungary because of their political tendency? 
 
Yes, they are excluded.
 
Are works suppressed because of their social content?
 
Yes, they are suppressed.
 
Does the above happen to authors too?
 
Yes, it does happen.  But in the same way as the old Soviet joke:  Is it true that they are distributing Mercedes in Leningrad?  The Yerevan radio responds:  Yes, this is true, but in Moscow, not in Leningrad, and not Mercedes but Moskviches, and they are not distributing but stealing them.
 [untranslatable:  nem osztagatnak, hanem fosztogatnak, (not distributing, but stealing)-tr.]
 
If we look at history, we can determine that censorship was customary in the socialist period, too, although a special individual censor did not exist.  The office and person blended with theatre and exhibition directors, editors of newspapers and magazines, the film industry, television, and radio, and the higher-ranking employees whose primary task was to nip in the bud any attacks on the taboos, such as the Soviet Union (SU), Communism-Marxism, Comecon, Warsaw Pact, Party, progressive artistic ideals, for example, socialist realism—socreál.  National institutions were almost exclusively headed by high-ranking party officials or Interior Ministry functionaries.  They dealt with culture on the basis of the three “T”s designated by György Aczél:  Támogattak, Tűrtek, Tiltottak [Supported, Tolerated, Banned]. The first category was obvious.  The authorities supported them openly, giving their pets good positions, awards, organising for them introductions abroad, particularly in the West (!). The Tolerated, primarily young people, were placed intentionally at the edge of this circle; they were to be tamed, trained, and won over.  The list of the Banned, “consultation list” was announced, but only orally, at the editorial meetings held at the Party centres!  The last category included to this day, even after their death, the two most outstanding Hungarian thinkers, Béla Hamvas and Nándor Várkonyi, or the eminent member of the Roman School, Sándor Wrábel who painted a picture of ’56, as well as the “defectors to the West,” and the naughty ones who stayed at home, such as Sándor Csoóri.  Others—György Konrád, Ágnes Heller, etc.—were given passports to the West.  Those who stayed home were deprived of their livelihood without the verdict of a judge, and without the least possibility of defending themselves.
 
After the1990 election, 95% of the daily press that was in the hands of the Party was sold to western companies. It was stipulated in the agreement that the editors-in-chief would remain where they were for three years and could prove themselves.  That was what happened.  Most of the directors of the state radio, television, national weeklies kept their jobs, although from the first moment they began to vilify what was perhaps Europe’s most democratic, most honest, and most naïve Prime Minister, József Antall, even calling him a fascist.  Many among the influential circles of the EU believed the defamatory slander, while they held councils in Brussels in, the József Antall wing of the EU Parliament, without giving the matter a second thought…
 
In Hungary after the 1990 election György Konrád’s party, the Szabad Demokraták Szövetsége [Alliance of Free Democrats] or SZDSZ was grievously offended that they didn’t get into government and they launched the cultural war.  They changed the first letter of SU to E, and  the Reform Communist-Marxist to Liberal.  Meanwhile the “socreál” brought up to date turned its coat to post-modern, and the old-new estheticians began to sift the arts in accordance with the new system.  New winds blew from the old holes.  There were again the Supported, Tolerated, and Banned.  For the most part—not any more in age but intellectually—they were the same!  Some of the persecutors and persecuted of last year embraced each other, and turned against the “remainder”.
 
The more intelligent of the young Tolerated became enthusiastic post-moderns and became the Supported, primarily through the backing of their western comrades and the György Soros foundation.  The foreign—now only western--appearances, exhibitions, and introductions remained in the hands of censors.  Even famous writers gave their assent to them.  In 1999 when Hungary became the honoured guest at the Frankfurt Book Fair, a group of the writers who are busy vilifying Hungary today came forward personally and announced, as censors, that they would boycott the programme if the writers they didn’t like were included.
 
From 1991-92 on the Hungarian Radio and Television  commissioned hardly any works from the “remainder”. Naturally, the publication, distribution, critics, in a word, the “art industry network” remained in the hands of the old-new persecutors.  Many of our recognised authors have been excluded for two decades!   
 
The left-liberal publications, which pay princely fees from the money they receive from foundations, also shut out the “remainder”.  Partly as authors, partly as existents.  In Hungary the press is perfectly free legally and politically, only those publications that accept the persecuted pay with a warm handshake.  By the autumn of 1990 the persecutors restored virtually within weeks the iron curtain between them and the “bumpkin” remainder.  You couldn’t even go play soccer with the other side, much less exchange ideas or debate.
 
Hungarian culture has never been so cruelly divided and closed off into air-tight compartments.  Where will we end up with a divided brain and heart?
 
Many people are guilty for this situation.  But none of the “remainder” have dared go so far as one of the outstanding writers who belongs among the persecutors, Mihály Kornis, who announced in public:  “We hate you much more than you hate us.”  The responsibility lies mainly with those who stole the freedom of the Hungarian press.  It is not József Antall, or today’s 2/3 government of the “remainder,” which cannot really be accused of having a definitive artistic policy or even a cultural vision.
 
Hungarian intellectual and artistic freedom has been expropriated by those who, as the successors of György Aczél’s cultural policy, hate their country.  With their lives, their works, their manifestations, they respond affirmatively to the three questions raised at the beginning of this article, in the first person singular.
 
 
Gábor Czakó
     
Translated by Elizabeth Csicsery-Rónay
 

2012-07-05 00:00:00 - Vissza
 
© 2009 CzSimon Bt.