Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Look, the rabbit wears no hat! - notes on exceptionalism III

For years Hungary was treated as the sick man of ECE, a country in wich the necessary political courage for thorough reforms, following the models of Slovakia, Romania, late Poland or the Czech republic do not exist. The result was - at least for the critiques - evidently the weak economic performance and they usually tried to drive the country's elite to refomrs pointing out the perceived successes Slovakia. Even in the Slovak public opinion prevailed the view that their country is the new model for economic reforms while Hungary is nothing else than the horrific example for the results of recklessness and fear from the publics reaction for hardships due to the necessary changes. This assumption was so widespread that it is almost exclusively accepted by analysts, economists etc.

But the ideas of exceptionalism and national pride was able to twist even this very simple and straightforward view in the case of Robert Fico, Slovakia's prime minister. Fico, how is allegedly a leftist politician governs in a coaltion with the former premier Vladimir Meciar, a populist and autocratic politician and Jan Slota and his extrem nationalist Slovak National Party. Slota'S favourite passion is making invectives against Hungary and Hungarians in Slovakia. Fico himself is not free form such emotions and he has rightful share in the deterioration of the relatioship of the countries as well.

This time Fico simply turned upside down the typical assessment of the economic performance of the two countries (more precisely the factors behind them) when he, while attending a conference organized by the Slovak foreign ministry, attacked the allegedly neoliberal politics of his predecessors and as examples for the afilure of neoliberalism he used not only the Baltic states or Ireland, but even Hungary. "Look, very attentively, how the teachers of our predecessors, in Ireland have fallen, or how who admired together the neoliberal economic practices, in the Baltic states or in Hungary have fallen. It is not a coincidence that these countries have a significantly worse situation than Slovakia." (Well, Fico's populism was clear from the following remarks epxressing his opinion that the crisis, even if he is not adherent of conspiarcy theories, offers an extraordinary possibility for redistribution of wealth, as it happened in the privatisation process of the '90's, but it is not tightly connected to this post.) Anyway, as we can see, Hungary has no chance to escape its fate and being treated as the source and exapmle of all sins. The country is denounced eithr as too reluctant, its elite too coward, or too neoliberal. Ironically, Hungarian politicians and intellectuals very eagerly use Slovakia as an example of outstanding reforms to follow. Our country became similar to the rabbit in the joke, who after fulfilling every demand of the to villains, the fox and the wolf, was beaten up becasue he wore no hat.

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