Fiction: « Orbán discovers Degrowth »

This text is a transaltion of an article published in Hungarian on the 15th of April: « MESE VIKTOR ÉS A NEM-NÖVEKEDÉS TALÁLKOZÁSÁRÓL » on VS.HU. Its autor, Vincze Szabo, imagines Viktor Orban wiking up after the 6th of April elections in opening his eyes…

The crowing of the coq woke Viktor up. With great difficulty he gets up and peering through the window, he watches the dawn dancing on the thatched roofs. Yesterday’s Hazi Palinka does not sit well but the odious heaviness of the mind is compensated by a great victory: the revolution initiated in 2010 through the ballot box is confirmed: absolute power. Again. Institutions have been reformed, a great change, a true change is finally initiated unlike in 1990. Against all odds, Hungary, this small Central European country, has successfully faced up to the external complot attempts by the banks, the corporations, the Troika, and the Westerners have not been able to turn the Hungarians away form their history. These Liberal puppets that have brought the country down during the 2000s are so discredited.

Whilst he is rearranging an anarchic mop of hair in front of the mirror, Viktor is thinking about the four long years ahead. What should he do? Hungary, this small, misunderstood country, this isolated island in the middle of Central Europe, is at a crossroads.

After all, has not Viktor already paved the way to heterodox measures that were violently decried at the start of the crisis? Yet, the results are in. Growth is here. Hungary this great inventive, creative country is about to become the engine of Europe. An opening to the East brings in massive investments to complement Brussels’ investments. 

Viktor did not have time to open all the presents that had been bestowed on him throughout his campaign. He comes across a book protruding from a handbag and grabs it to read its title: “Small is Beautifulby Ernst Schumacher. Could that be another provocation against the great Hungary? He is annoyed, Viktor does not like, does not like anymore, neither provocations nor contradictions… He sits on his bed and reads the first pages. On the wall clock above the bed, time goes by, and nothing can stop his fingers to turn the pages compulsively. It is a revelation! Small scale, community, harmony with the earth, the sense of limits, self-sufficiency, autonomy… the phone rings. Eventually Viktor decides to answer, most probably, out of a sense of responsibility. People are waiting for him in Budapest. The trip won’t interfere with his reading. 

Hungary will be great if it is beautiful… if it is small. 

In the minibus that takes him to the capital, he reaches the chapter on nuclear energy. Nervously, he sits up on the rear leather couch. Another plot from the Westerners, the Hungarians have developed nuclear energy and the pact with Moscow guarantees the energetic independence of Hungary… 

During a few minutes, he stops reading and he peers through the window at the rural sceneries unfolding under his gaze. In this fine spring morning, the light on the great Hungarian plains is magnificent. Farmers ride to their fields. He remains pensive. Lost in his reading, he is surprised to find himself in Budapest’s traffic jams when he finally takes time to raise his head. These commercial suburbs where the Western decadences are there for all to see: Ikea, Auchan, Tesco, Decathlon…. A strange feeling came over him, some kind of nausea…

The day passes by. Viktor fulfils his national obligations graciously. The new government is unveiled. But, despite being absorbed by the continual movement around him, he cannot put the book down. Exhausted by this long journey, he goes to bed but he cannot sleep.

He gets up discreetly and sits in front of his computer. He punches “Ernst Schumacher” on his search engine. He clicks. He surfs. Little by little, he finds himself on the great Karl Polanyi’ s Wikipedia page. He is the author of ‘The great Transformation’. Another Hungarian, another forerunner. Hungary is a country that started its industrial revolution late. On the subject Polanyi talks of an anthropological mistake. We must reposition the economy in its due place. During his first mandate, he refused the diktat of the banks and the market, going as far as re-appropriating the Central Bank with his friend György. May be we should go a bit further? Life is far more valuable than homo economicus.

But what is bothering Viktor the most, it this story about the nuclear. Continuing his research, he comes across an article in the Guardian announcing the end of uranium.

« As the British and American governments signal their renewed commitments to nuclear power as a clean, abundant source of energy that can fuel high growth economies, a new scientific study of worldwide uranium production warns of an imminent supply gap that will result in spiralling fuel costs in the next decades. »

Total nonsense…

He ends up finding a video: “There is no tomorrow” that confirms the Guardian article’ s thesis. He is falling asleep but, inflexible, he hangs on to the mouse: a study financed by NASA is about to announce the end of our industrial societies. Reducing inequalities, getting out of our dependence on fossil fuels and out of productivism and consumerism, getting out of capitalism! For him who wants Hungary to become the launching pad of a European industrial revival…

After two fruitful hours, eyes half shut, exhausted, Viktor goes back to bed.

Days go by. Months fly by. European funds are flooding in as well as from the East and the Middle East. For the first time in a long time, Hungary is admired by all Europe. People come from Berlin, Paris, London, Rome and Madrid to observe, like a rare bird, the economic revival so expected in the countries engulfed in austerity and misery. But in Viktor’s country, hope is restored and so are the great projects. Hungary is an immense construction site.

Nevertheless, Viktor still feels uncomfortable. Where is happiness in these big projects? Where are poetry, harmony with nature and the Hungarian soil? Hungary this great leisurely country is back at work. Ill-being and the loss of meaning are growing exponentially.

During all that time, Viktor has not abandoned his readings, even if he never discovered who had put the book in the bag. Pursuing his research, he is gobsmacked when he comes accross this title reminding him of Schumacher’s one. “Jólet gazdasági növekedes nelkul”… “The good life without growth, A Degrowth project”…

He gets the book. There is a little bit of himself in the chapters about the whole powerful financial system in this critic of the European construction and the power of economic institutions. A sense of limits and humility has always been part of the Hungarian teachings. Her history, but, above all, the good life, solidarity, conviviality, the traditions that have allowed this language and these isolated people to survive throughout centuries of foreign dominations.

Viktor wonders: what meaning are we giving to our lives in our Western societies? A bridge between the East and the West, Hungary will be the engine of a renewal instead of this decadence.

Since Hungarians have invented everything they will invent tomorrow’s society: sustainable, autonomous and convivial. Viktor has decided and Viktor will deliver….

One more time Hungary becomes misunderstood. … This is even worse since she has become a model for all to follow…

The European Union has decided to implement Orban’s heterodox policies, policies that are misunderstood at the beginning, decried, and appraised in the end. Viktor is considered for being the head of European Union. Banks and financial products are taxed, access to energy and water markets is strictly regulated, the European Parliament takes over the control of the Central Bank, and money creation runs thin. Big investment projects start again. Unemployment decreases and, under the impetus of Hungary, growth restarts and, with it, the destructions and unnecessary projects, degraded working conditions and ill-being, stress and individualism. Unbridle consumerism is rampant…

To the great surprise of his colleagues, Viktor bursts out at the European Parliament and he virulently attacks these inconsiderate policies: climate change, production peaks for oil and other fossil energies, as well as metal, growing pollution, soils engineering, agricultural impasse, untenable inequalities, always wealthier oligarchies… All his friends turn against Viktor who had always dreamt of becoming a great European or world statesman! He even falls out with Putin when he announces the end of the construction of two new reactors at Paks. Hungary will become the forerunner for Degrowth: open re-localisation, autonomy, conviviality, new agricultural industries: agroforestry, agro-ecology and permaculture, sharing the national pie by instituting a dignified minimum income under which no one should have to live and a maximum income threshold beyond which we fall into hubris.

Viktor’s readers keep on deepening his thinking. He launches a vast programme of citizens’ debates on basic needs, common goods, the meaning of our lives and productions: what are we producing? How? For what purpose?

After the revolution through the ballot box, it is a citizens’ revolution! 

All the unnecessary projects are immediately abandoned. Finished the soccer stadiums, Felcsút airport and the highways. Viktor turns down European funds that are perverting Hungarian society. Advertising is banned. The army is disbanded. In Hungary people are starting to work less to live better.

Viktor wants to see for himself all these new practical alternatives that have sprung here and there in the country. He supports and promotes them. From localised small islands, these alternatives start to multiply: urban community gardens, eco-villages, cooperatives, local currencies, time banks, recycling workshops, participative bike repair workshops, artisanal productions, free goods exchange spaces. The creative and romantic Hungary is back!

To the chagrin of his past friends, Viktor is working on the creation of a maximum income. Hit by this policy, the Janos, Lajos and Antal join the MSZP (Hungarian Socialist Party). Viktor goes even as far as re-distributing the land equitably.

Thus, prompting a fall out with Lörinc his good friend since childhood. But it does not matter, it is a necessary step, popular support is massive. A great unusual Russo-European coalition is set up to counteract Hungary: gas supply is cut off and raw materials imports are blocked. We have an embargo! 

But the transition has been initiated anyway: Hungarians invent, experiment and are setting up tomorrow’s agriculture totally autonomous and carbon free. A partially demonetarised Unconditional Autonomy Allowance is voted in and it is immediately implemented. Ingenious local and decentralised systems are popping up everywhere in the country. Solidarity is strengthened, intergenerational relations resume. Schools are teaching non-violent communication, citizenship, self-management, gardening, sewing, but also art, literature, poetry, political sciences, ecology, multiculturalism and foreign languages. This innovation surge reaches as far as the territories unjustly lost with the Treaty of Trianon. Soon Transylvania secedes. The revolution is underway… 

Slowly, Viktor withdraws. The autocrat is no more. Happy to enjoy free moments, he spends his time hunting butterflies and on his long-lasting passion: soccer. Hungary is decentralising, Hungarian people are rid of the dictatorship of indifference they have been subjected to for centuries.

At the same time, whilst Viktor is quite proud of having caught a big fish, the West is in a terrible impasse due to the lack of energy and raw materials, great unnecessary projects stand still, agriculture, so dependent on oil, is unable to feed the populations from its depleted soils. Unemployment explodes. Violent uprising multiply: eco-fascism is slowly taking hold… 

Hungary, eternally compromised is more isolated than ever. Never mind, she knows she is on the right track. Here people eat well, live well and old, they dance, sing and drink.

This country invented all, even defeat, she has found her right place again by paving the way for tomorrow’s world, thanks to Little Viktor. Gee, his country is so small … but so beautiful.

Vincze Szabo

See also: « A Degrowth Project » : Yesterday’s utopia has become today’s reality!

Ce contenu a été publié dans A Degrowth Project. Vous pouvez le mettre en favoris avec ce permalien.