Hungarian Nation, Budapest, February 23, 2005 – Végh Alpár Sándor
The farmers are here. They warned they would make the trip one day. They were not believed. The Hungarian peasants are tolerant types; they put up with a lot. Head Office reckoned they would put up with the union [EU] too: with the fact that they would get only the downside of it. That had not bothered them particularly in 1956. It was perfectly possible to shut their mouths later, with re-domiciling. It is no big deal that they are now taking up one side of the road with their tractors bought on borrowed money. They'll go home once they're bored
But they are not going home. The Hungarian farmer has had enough. Yesterday they tipped only one load of manure in front of the ministry's gates. Soon they'll be targeting other gates. The despised, for the peasants, the farmers, have continuously, ever since Stalin, been hated and despised in Europe's eastern lands, are putting up with it no more.
I was in the Papa area just a year ago, when the first significant rumblings took shape. Among the demonstrators were people who put a yearly 50,000 chops on the market. This was not a cats' gambol. One man made the point that Austrian farmers, too, were shaken by the accession, but they had been prepared for it and knew what to expect. In this country neither the farmer nor the teacher nor the worker nor the forger were prepared in any way. "This demonstration is only the beginning", said the most distinguished of the bystanders, then added after the briefest interval: "But continuation could easily turn into a landslide."
For it to turn into that, the support of the intelligentsia is needed. Let it atone for its sins, for what it did or did not do since the regime change. Will there be someone who will stand up and say: Farmers, we will not only stand with you, but we will ensure that everyone who can see that this is not just about agriculture stands with you too!
It is not just the insolent prices the food halls pay for produce, and not just that, following the destruction of the Hungarian industry, it is now the turn of primary industry to be smashed. This has now become a matter of national sovereignty, of the nation's very survival. Can one even talk of such things when nearly everything is foreign owned and the uncertainty of survival is the clearest reality?
Whoever gestures dismissively at the farmers' demonstration gestures dismissively also at his own future. Those who feel like the supercilious spokesman for the government who on Monday declared before cameras that he does not know what the farmers are on about, should board a train or drive towards Nógrádba, or Somogyba or even Szabolcsba if they prefer those directions, and spend a day in the first village they happen upon.
Go into a shop. See the offerings. Will you find something on the shelves that fits the TV advertisements' worth of healthy eating recommendations? Peer into people's mouths. What condition are their teeth in? Ask them how many of their fathers got beatings during the Téesz organisations' era. Find out what the village youngsters do in their spare time.
Having had this experience, ask yourself how much money would induce you to live in one village or the other, where, according to the odd deluded intellectual, the air is clean and life idyllic. People in their millions live in Hungarian villages on meagre shavings of the sum you named. Yet they still strive, and they still trust not only in their willing pair of hands but also in the belief that a decent life might yet be their class heritage, even though they know that up there, in the capital, some of the government men who look after, or do not look after, their interests are raking in millions.
Precisely because of this, they expect that their lives, too, will be taken to what was written on the flag: `to Europe'. If the government of the Hungarian Republic were in a position to treat French farmers as it treats its own, their ministry building would be torched. And not just that. There would be fear and trembling. I hope there will be, as things are.
Translation courtesy: www.fpp.co.uk/online/05/02/Magyar_Nemzet.html
Last updated 27/02/2005