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Left in search of an identity

September 1st, 2014

A right-wing commentator and a left-wing analyst agree in finding the Left unable to formulate what it stands for, but disagree on the substance. The former thinks the Left is a disoriented troublemaker, while the latter believes that it should become the saviour of this country.

In Demokrata, Gábor Bencsik suggests that the Left loses one election after another because it is waging a desperate war against a virtual enemy, rather than addressing the problems of the real world. Since the change of regime, the Hungarian Left has failed to perform the intellectual effort without which no real and sustainable political movement can exist. It has not defined what it stands for and what it thinks of the great issues of our era, from globalization to the crisis of traditional values. Instead, its intellectuals have produced an imaginary Right, consisting of Nazi Zombies and Russian mercenary Darth Vaders. Their politicians have taken that image for real and go to war against it brandishing their laser swords. “No wonder Fidesz wins again and again.”

In Élet és Irodalom, Zoltán Lakner paints a fairly similar picture, technically speaking. He also believes that the Left hasn’t done its homework, first of all in analysing its own position vis-a-vis the Orbán regime, which he describes as one whose main concern is to perpetuate its own rule while forcing alternative groups “out of the system”. Under such conditions he ponders whether the Left should not boycott the forthcoming municipal elections, at least partially, to show that it does not intend to legitimize that system. First and foremost, however, he thinks it should work out the model of the future society it wants to build and which could attract and unite potential sympathizers. Viktor Orbán invested 15 years of hard work in building his regime, he warns. Nor will it be a short term project for the opposition to pull itself together. “But it would be a shame not to try”, Lakner concludes.

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