f_0020483_17245 - 2010 World Policy Institute 99 The Roots...

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Unformatted text preview: 2010 World Policy Institute 99 The Roots of Hate Michael J. Jordan heves, HungaryThe past few years have been turbulent for Szabolcs Szedlak, far worse than most Hungarians could have imagined two decades ago, when they tore a hole in the Iron Curtain and changed their world. Szedlak, 34, came of age during the tumult of the post- communist transition from dictatorship to democracy. Back then Hungarians were told, and many believed, theyd become like neighboring Austriansa BMW in every driveway. Just dont remind folks of those daydreams in this bleak corner of northeastern Hungary. Szedlak and his family live in Heves, a small, quiet town of 11,000 on the great Hungarian plains. Szedlak was born here, in the heart of the countrys most depressed region. Twenty years ago, the sudden and unexpected exposure to free markets ravaged the state-controlled mines, industries and agriculture that were staples of the communist system especially in this region. Successive governments have failed to fill the void with new jobs or re-training. Unemploy- ment in the region now approaches 50 percent among those aged 25 to 40, feed- ing widespread anger and disillusionment with Hungarys brand of democracy. As joblessness soars, so has support for a new style of politics that harkens back to a bygone era, snuffed out by communism: Right-wing extremism is on the rise. Ac- cording to one survey, it has doubled here since 2003. Hungary, once dubbed the happiest barrack in the Soviet camp, is arguably the unhappiest of the 10 ex-com- munist members who have since joined the European Union. Count Szabolcs Szedlak among the disgruntled. Michael J. Jordan has written about Eastern Europes post-communist transition since 1994. He was first based in Budapest, Hungary, and now lives in Bratislava, Slovakia. WORLD POLICY JOURNAL FALL 2010 100 For ten years, Szedlak toiled in a furniture store before deciding to chase the capitalist dream. He bought the store from his boss in 2005, but high taxes choked the life out of his business. It fold- ed in June 2008. At the same time, his wife gave birth to their first child. With a second on the way, this spring he found a job as a maintenance man at a local kindergarten. Unable to afford their own place, the couple now lives with Szed- laks parents. Szedlak has taken whatever work he can find, from painting houses to selling watermelons. Despite family and financial pressures, Szedlak still finds the time to volunteer. Politics has become his passion, and his bitter disenchantment led him to help form the Heves chapter of Jobbik, the most dynamic new far-right party in all of Europe. The anti-western, anti-minority Job- bik boasts a red-and-white-striped sym- bolknown as the ancient Hungarian Arpad coat of armsthat also resembles the emblem of the murderous Nazi-era Ar- row Cross Party. This group, which briefly held power from 1944-45, was responsible for killing thousands of Hungarian Jews...
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This note was uploaded on 02/01/2012 for the course POLS 494 taught by Professor Garymoncrief during the Fall '11 term at Boise State.

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f_0020483_17245 - 2010 World Policy Institute 99 The Roots...

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