Hungary’s students are making a last stand against Viktor Orbán’s power grab

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      The campaign against the arts was initiated by Fidesz in 2006 when it gained control of the municipalities and declared that it had had enough of the old liberal order. It was, the party stated, their time now. The directors and boards of provincial theatres were sacked and replaced by local Fidesz-appointed figures.

      It’s not just theatres, of course. Having assumed office in 2010, the Fidesz government, led by Orbán, immediately looked to seize control of any and all public institutions by much the same method of appointing governing bodies that could grant or withhold funds according to the willingness of organisations to toe the party line. The system has worked with dramatic efficiency. Hungarian society has no modern tradition of organised resistance. With individuals scared of retribution in the form of loss of income, effective solidarity is impossible.

      In 2008, a new organisation for the supervision of theatres was established, the Magyar Teátrumi Társaság or Hungarian Theatre Society. It was generously funded and entrusted with the responsibility of carrying forward Fidesz’s programme. At its head was Attila Vidnyánszky, a brilliant provincial director. Vidnyánszky embodied the government’s enthusiasm for patriotism and a nominal Christianity. He more or less runs Hungarian theatre now.

      Until recently, universities were independent, state-funded entities from which it was difficult to withhold financial support. Fidesz’s strategic aim became to privatise the universities and, as had proved so successful with other enterprises, impose a board of government-appointed trustees to determine policy, not just in spending, but appointments, the curriculum and all other matters, on an ideological basis.

      Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction

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