20 years


The story of the last twenty years, of the period since the “change of regime” introducing a genuinely democratic system of government, is a novel one for Hungary. Yet, it is a very old story. God freed the Israelites from bondage in Egypt in order that they should thenceforth have no other God but Him: they must obey the law, so that they should no longer be enslaved to a despot. There was much rejoicing among the people to begin with. But when things did not go as smoothly as they had imagined, they immediately longed to be back with the fleshpots of Egypt and started worshipping the golden calf. That, in a nutshell, is also what has happened to Hungary over the last twenty years. Those who have directly known servitude and oppression, and for whom freedom is the greatest value and gift, have not ceased rejoicing to this day. I myself am of that camp. Regime change, as far as I was concerned, was a miracle that one hoped for but did not expect to see, and a miracle it has remained. What- ever has happened since will not alter that. As János Vajda might have written in “Twenty Years On,” his poem of 1876: whatever the woman he apostrophised may have done over the past twenty years, she was still the woman he had given his love to for ever. All I can hope – to stay with János Vajda – is that we too shall be able to produce an equally fine tale under the title of “Thirty Years On”.

more from Eurozine here.