To begin with, let’s concede that Jobbik, Hungary’s extreme-right parliamentary party is not immediately responsible for the actions of Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik. To accuse them of having any agency in Breivik’s actions would truly be absurd. Let’s also skip their indignity over the charge: if that is what they think caught the eyes of many Hungarians in connection with this affair, they are attacking a straw man.
The fact that Breivik listed Jobbik as a potential ally in the pan-European movement he predicted would spring into action following his deeds piqued the interests of many Hungarians, even if Breivik’s reference to the party is too generic to prove that he knew anything specific about Jobbik’s politics, for different reasons. There is a different sense of the word “responsible” – most especially as it appears in the phrase “responsible” behavior – in which Jobbik’s responsibility is indubitable.
The massacre that took place in Norway was a crime against humanity, Jobbik’s leadership hastened to point out soon after the tragedy. Gábor Vona, the party’s president expressed his condolences to the families of the victims and wished a quick recovery to the survivors at his press conference on July 25. He also added that he is hopeful that, with European co-operation, the process [presumably the process that produces home-grown right-wing terrorism] may be stopped.
Vona’s argument points out a well-known (but nevertheless consequential) difference between Western- and Eastern-European neo-nazism. While typically the Western-European extreme right organizes around anti-Muslim causes, Eastern Europeans neo-nazis and far-right radicals engage in anti-Roma and anti-semitic propaganda and violence. Breivik himself makes remarks about this important difference in the introductory remarks he attaches to his compilation of Eastern-European far-right organizations (the same list in which mention of Jobbik is found).
This important division between East and West in the ultra rights circles of Europe is not altogether surprising: it is merely a natural consequence of other geopolitical factors, such as, for example, that Eastern European countries are much more closed to processes of globalization than their Western counterparts, or that, as such, they are not directly exposed to an influx of Muslim immigrants. Instead, they might be called the “classicists” of the European far-right, in so far that they have revived a 1930s style totalitarian worldview. In their theories, racial belonging is much more important than one’s ideological or religious commitments. For this reason, their Western European counterparts look down on them, and their contempt is returned by the Eastern Europeans, which need not strike us as peculiar either. The problem with keeping a company of criminals, after all, is that sooner or later, everyone in the company will become victims of a slight or injury. (In Plato’s lengthy argument about justice, someone at some point proposes that likes should always be with likes, e.g. good persons with good persons, and criminals with criminals. This is impossible, objects Plato’s proxy Socrates, because criminals would end up killing each other if they only had the company of each other. This is why they prefer to live with good people.)
Nobody knows how difficult it is to navigate this specifically West-East divide better than Krisztina Morvai, Jobbik’s representative in the European Parliament. Just recently, she fancied joining a coalition of parties founded by the Austrian ultra-right party FPÖ officially known as the EAF, the European Alliance for Freedom, an openly anti-immigration, anti-Muslim and euroskeptic parliamentary coalition of far right parties in the European Parliament. FPÖ is openly opposed to Jobbik’s policies, precisely because of the rift I describe above: because they consider Jobbik’s revival of anti-semitic and anti-Roma sentiments an affront to enlightened thought.
This fierce disagreement between the Austrian and the Hungarian far-right parties is certainly puzzling. In terms of their significance in national politics, and their distance from the political center, the two parties are like two peas in a pod, so perhaps only Plato can explain why they can never become true friends. In the meantime, threatened with being excluded from Jobbik, however, Morvai was forced to backtrack from joining EAF (Jobbik’s three members of the European Parliament therefore remain “independents” – i.e. without any coalition affiliation). In fact, to prove that she toes the official Jobbik party line, Ms. Morvai appeared in a television interview on Hungary’s public television channel to explain to the Hungarian public why there is absolutely no reason to find any connection between Jobbik’s politics and the Norwegian gunman.
“It would belong in the category of dark humor if anyone wanted to forge a connection between Jobbik and the Norwegian deranged madman, just like the Hungarian Socialist Party is not to be implicated in the death of 110 million victims of communism,” Morvai said. In response to the question of whether there were any formal or informal connections between Breivik and Jobbik, she answered that Breivik would have bet on the wrong horse if he had tried anything with Jobbik, because they stand on opposite platforms. The Norwegian man was a supporter of Israel, a zionist, not something of which Jobbik is known.
Mark her words: they stand not only on different, but on opposite platforms. How is this possible, I would have asked, but the reporters took the explanation for granted, because really it is just a reiteration of what has already been pointed out above: that an extremely significant difference exists between Western- and Eastern-style extreme rights politics, such that the Westerners are anti-muslim, while the Easterners borrow Hitlerian thoughts about a worldwide zionist conspiracy.
Therefore – and from here on hold on close to your logical reasoning skills, because this is going to be a wild ride – the Eastern-European extreme right has nothing against the Muslim immigrants of Europe, because parties like Jobbik are anti-semites. One of the things anti-semitism entails is an opposition to the human rights violations Israel commits against Palestine. That is the very opposite of making the life of refugees from the Arab world and South-East Asia impossible, as neo-Nazis do in Western Europe. The political platform of Western-European extreme right parties therefore amounts to supporting the Jewish state. Consequently, the pitiful individual responsible for the death of at least 76 people in Norway is a zionist. Even more importantly, Jobbik, Hungary’s anti-Roma, anti-Jew, anti-homosexual, etc. party stands on a platform completely opposite to him.
Before we all come to believe that there is in fact no party in this whole world more humanistic, tolerant and peace-loving than Hungary’s Jobbik, could we please snap out of the belief that haters of one part of Europe are substantially different from haters in other parts of Europe?
When one is the kind of person who likes to join forces with other gang thugs, does it really matter whether they beat up strangers because they look or act different, one ends up committing the violence against Romas, Jews, homosexuals, transsexuals, Arabs, Blacks, Asians, Muslims, or any other minority? When one pursues the same “ideals” via political means, does it matter which specific group of people he or she rails against in cleverly crafted speeches and insidiously written legislative proposals? In either case, one discriminates against a certain group and punishes individuals who have the right to be treated and rewarded on the basis of their own actions and achievements, and not based on the ethnic, sexual or religious minority in which they belong.
On one side of the argument is a simple argument from genus to species. Birds of a feather flock together, to remain with the biological spirit of this simple step of reasoning. Standing against it is an argument as non-sensical and as full of holes as the long-winded explanation Morvai offers about why Jobbik has done nothng whatsoever to be linked with the likes of Anders Behring Breivik. As if they did not make it their explicit political agenda to create an atmosphere of intimidation in Hungary, as if their rhetoric had nothing to do with the emergence of a culture of violence in Hungarian politics, as if they were not themselves terrorists – terrorists of the commonest kind.