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Bloodshed and Dishonour

by DoDo Sat Feb 9th, 2008 at 02:02:48 PM EST

This afternoon, I was at a counter-protest on the sidelines of a skinhead rally.

Two Hungarian skins with Árpád-stripes armbands stand at the back of the rally; 88: alphabetic code for the initials of the Nazi greeting. Photo from HVG.hu

On 11 Fenruary 1945, at the end of the Siege of Budapest, the SS and Hungarian vassal troops attempted a break-out. A few years ago, the local branch of a worldwide skinhead group named for values it is the opposite of, Blood and Honour, got permission for a rally to 'honour the fallen heroes'.

Ever since, each year the skins look for ways to hold this rally, while authorities react lamely and as if this wasn't to be expected. While Blood and Honour has been banned since, its onetime leader declared this year's event as private person. The skins expected 1,000 participants, from across the world, but I estimated them at a few hundred (with a few hundred more symphatizers among the on-lookers).

The organisers of one counter-protest had the idea to stand with hands on heads as the victims of Nazism. Later, they were replaced by anarchist counter-protesters.

No, I am not visible here. Photo from from Index.hu

The citizen's way to deal with fascists taking on the streets is to block them with equal or larger-sized counter-rallies, as practised last year in Prague, or regularly all across (West) Germany. But here, the population is either complacent, apathetic (as in The Serpent's Egg, see ET Film Discussion Blog #1.), or even sympathetic, hence only these smaller-scale actions. Fortunately, they stole some of the media spotlight.

He may look 'silly', but turned up to protest. What excuse for normal people? Photo from HVG.hu

When I went to Heroes' Square, it was spring-like sunshine, a fair in the city park just next to it was filled with crowds of normal people. I saw skins walking up and down in groups of around a dozen. There were a lot of Germans, with old German flags. Would have been fun shouting Ausländer raus! (="Foreigners out!") at them... But they were apparently under strict orders to go out of the way of any conflict.

Skinhead internationale (left: war flag of the Second Reich, right: old Italian flag and Croatian flag, and a Spanish flag too). Photo from HVG.hu

The flashmob action was organised too late and too ad-hoc, we were maybe three dozen an hour after the agreed time, and it appeared to me that the skins were prepared (they surely knew, from troll comments on the flashmob-announcing webboard): 3-4 loose groups posted themselves at our agreed gathering place.

:: :: :: :: ::

The modern Right is aware of the phenomenon of the Overton Window, and knows how to move it. This is especially true for the various strands of neo- and post-fascists. This semi-annual (pending on permits) skinhead rally is a taboo-breaking in itself, but more potent was the work of another segment of the far-right spectrum: a group of far-right journalists who aligned themselves with the right-populist main opposition party Fidesz.

Also a few years ago, their weekly magazine had a frontpage story, trying to re-interpret the Nazi occupiers and their Hungarian vassals as valiant freedom fighters and defenders of Europe against the invading Russian hordes. But these people don't just influence the opinions of a few thousand jackbooted loons who are well below 5%. With Fidesz's refusal to clearly delimit itself from the far-right, they could achieve that this view is now acceptable for a large part of the Right.

As I tell ever more often, I have a Weimar feeling.

In other Hungary news: the first big referendum called by Fidesz on the government's 'reforms' is due 9 March. I think I will call you for suggestzions on what to do like redstar did on the US primaries...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Feb 9th, 2008 at 02:04:40 PM EST
The most outrageous is by the internet site of the third state TV, one which was created by a right-wing government as satellite television to cover the entire Carpathian Basin, and which remains right-wing-dominated -- however they weren't noted for far-right apologetics.

Yet, they report that "mostly black-clad youth" held a commemoration of fallen soldiers. No mention of skins, their extensive regalia, and the precedents.

A Fidesz-aligned radio station spins it another way: their title is "Foreign skinheads were in the majority". Which I think was plain wrong, even if there were a lot of foreigners among them, the Árpád-stripes guys were in majority.

Others resorted to quoting a wire service report, and not even put it on the front page.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Feb 9th, 2008 at 03:13:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
De Morgen: - Blood and Honour Vlaanderen stopt ermee (7/02/08) "De Morgen" : Blood and Honour Flanders stops activities (7/02/08)
De neonazistische organisatie Blood and Honour zegt haar activiteiten 'tijdelijk' op te schorten. 'Alle activiteiten van B&H Vlaanderen zijn geannuleerd' All activities 'temporary' postponed.

Among their cancellations a bus-trip to Budapest this weekend, so, we are glad there were no Flemish flags on that manifestation.
They ran in different troubles here, opposition on all fronts and even politicians spraking out loud against them.
Their 'image' in Flanders is very negative and they got a warning of B&H international to be 'not efficient', whatever that means.

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)

by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Sat Feb 9th, 2008 at 03:34:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We know that neo-nazim is alive and kicking in the West. What gobsmacks me is how active they are right in the Capital of Europe! Leaflets of xenophobic nature (in comic/cartoon form) are among the freeby literature that's stuffed in mailboxes (in France, the distribution of this sort of leaflets is illegal) and are distributed clearly to stir racial hatred.

This story was published in Le Monde. Les mésaventures d'un Américain juif dans la "ville accueillante" de Bruges (Misadventures of an American Jew in the "hospitable city" of Bruges)

Marcel Kalmann, un Américain de 64 ans, affirme ne pas avoir été servi dans un café-restaurant de la ville flamande de Bruges parce qu'il portait une kippa. "On ne sert pas les juifs ici. Dehors !", lui aurait lancé le serveur de ce célèbre établissement, situé sur la place centrale de la cité. Le touriste, professeur aux Etats-Unis, a alors quitté les lieux et s'est rendu dans un commerce voisin, d'où il a tenté d'appeler la police tandis que le personnel lui présentait des excuses. Un opérateur lui a indiqué que les patrouilles ne se déplaçaient pas pour une affaire de ce genre et l'a invité à se rendre au commissariat.

Rough translation (apologies, am not a professional translator): Marcel Kalmann, a 64 year old American asserts that he wasn't served in a cafe-restaurant in the Flemmish city of Bruges because he was wearing a kippa and was told "We don't serve Jews here. Out!" by a waiter of the popular establishment located in the central square of the town. The tourist, a professor in the United States, left the cafe and went to another cafe nearby where he tried to call the police while waiters (of said second cafe) offered apologies. A telephone operator told him that wouldn't budge for a so trite a reason and invite him to go to the police station instead.

by The3rdColumn on Sat Feb 9th, 2008 at 03:13:08 PM EST
Bruges, not Bruxelles! But I agree, far-rightism is a rather well-developed cancer in Flemish Belgium. I think Elco B had a diary on them.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Feb 9th, 2008 at 03:35:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Also in Bruxelles - extreme right wing reading paraphernalia are also distributed in letterboxes in Brussels.
by The3rdColumn on Sat Feb 9th, 2008 at 04:07:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This happens all over Flanders, usually once a month, some places once every three months.

The ultra-right-wing-racist party Vlaams Belang has a lot of money, so their propaganda machine is oiled.

They are one of the largest parties in Flanders: since voting here is mandatory they attract most of the protest-voters.

OTH, we still have the 'cordon sanitaire' in place which means no one party works together with them so in fact the 'Vlaams Belang' has no political executive power, neither federal, regional and local.

Latest polls suggest they are losing support fast.
Next elections here are in 2009 (regional+European) or in case the current government runs into troubles (there is a good possibility) this year new federal elections.

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)

by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Sun Feb 10th, 2008 at 03:13:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Latest polls suggest they are losing support fast.

That's good news! Could you quote them? (Or, even better, is there a site collecting polls for Belgium or Flanders, like pollingreport.com and wahlrecht.de?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Feb 10th, 2008 at 03:25:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
At the same time I'm impressed by civic consciousness in Belgium -- I've noticed more active action groups Brussels than in many arrondisements in Paris put together. There's a human rights action group that's particularly impressed me for being very active like Stop the Killings international movement. Also, have met young volunteer workers here similar to those of US Peace Corps; I must say for a small country, I am impressed with Belgian activism in terms of human rights that include members of Belgian parliament.
by The3rdColumn on Sun Feb 10th, 2008 at 03:32:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, keep in mind that Belgium is a very small country with 10 million people crammed on 30,528 sq km.

If we move 100 km we're in another country.(for me it is 7 km to France and 55 km to the Netherlands).

By train I can go to Paris, Amsterdam, London, Frankfurt in the morning to visit and be back at home 11PM the same day.

Brussels is an international city ( with the EU and NATO...) so we are used to meet 'foreigners'.

35% of the youth (-18) is member of a youth-organisation, thus plenty of people used to work together, organise, explore....

Even on the internet, activity is huge and the results on our petition so far demonstrates this (Where is France? they have 7-times more people than we do).

So indeed, we have lots of activism that's not narrow-minded.

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)

by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Sun Feb 10th, 2008 at 04:13:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
huge and speechless

A pleasur

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sat Feb 9th, 2008 at 04:55:45 PM EST
BTW, Aturem Blair! now up at StopBlair.EU, as is the link to it from below the logo here on ET.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Feb 9th, 2008 at 05:06:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We have a Scottish Gaelic main text, but no margin text yet...

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 9th, 2008 at 05:15:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
partly on topic; I sent you an e-mail...

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Sat Feb 9th, 2008 at 05:15:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]

I am waiting for someone else answer toc heck that no mistake was cmitted int he translation... Ortography is my nightmare... :)

but I guess nothing compared to the nightmare of being in that demonstration alone. Luckily you weren't.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sat Feb 9th, 2008 at 06:27:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you for the report, and also for goading me into looking up what an 'Overton Window' is, very valuable stuff.

Perhaps I'm being naive, but I always thought that these kinds of groups operated on a nationalist (and therefore ultimately ethnocentrist) view of the world. There has to be some kind of shared connection, some common bond between members of the group from a mythologised past, and also the creation of an enemy in order to better define themselves in opposition to it.

But which nation do these people think they're representing? They've mythologised the history of WW2, they've turned the Russians into the enemy, and honour 'defenders of Europe'. And look at all the different flags! It's odd to think that their common bond is being European, and that in some small way, they've negotiated part of our identity.

I'm probably wrong, but still, it made me think.

Member of the Anti-Fabulousness League since 1987.

by Ephemera on Sat Feb 9th, 2008 at 08:28:19 PM EST
There are multiple angles to that, I think.

One is the historical: the flags you see are those of the fascist allies in WWII. The original fascists, despite their ethnocentrism, were quite capable of forming alliances for power, based on similar ideology. Lest we forget, this began with the Spanish Civil War, when both the Italian fascists and the German Nazis sent fighting units to help Franco.

The original fascists made these alliances despite policies hitting their ethnic brothers: Hitler swallowed the treatment of German-speakers in South Tyrol/Alto Adige, the Croatian fascists and Italian fascists swallowed their disputes over parts of the Adriatic Coast, the Croatian-German alliance also overlooked Hitler's opinion and intents for Slavs, while the Hungarian fascists longed for Slovakian and Austrian territory formerly part of the Hungarian Kingdom which Hitler wanted, not to mention the entirety of Croatia.

A second angle is that maybe it isn't all about strict ideology for the skins: the whole totalitarian aesthetics from boots to strutting n military formation at grandiose places, the militarism and 'manliness', order (feelng lost in normal diversity), and hate for 'lowlifes' is what it's really about, something they share, whatever colours are on the flags and whatever is the name of the ethnic majority they count themselves into and the minorities they want out.

A third angle is that skins share another thing: being a dwarf minority with no chance at national power presently. Thus their opportunities for clashes of interest are limited.

Not that the far-right internationale doesn't fail now and again. For the skins, given their fishing for recruits among football hooligans, that's international football matches. For far-right parties, see the break-up of the far-right block at the European Parliament last year, after the Italian and Romanian parties got at loggerheads over the former's anti-Romanian-immigrants campaign.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Feb 10th, 2008 at 01:14:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for mentioning the Film Blog. I was hoping that it   would lead to an internal discussion of the signs of fascism and there was some of that by melo, and Turambar and perhaps some others but it was not picked up in detail there. So I'm glad to see this diary.

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Sun Feb 10th, 2008 at 05:59:17 AM EST
I wish I had no reason to associate it to current events...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Feb 10th, 2008 at 01:34:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
These bizarre ideas will stay in the background with these marginal people until times change for the worse, for example, a severe recession. Then watch out as the society lashes out looking for a scapegoat to blame their misery on. Who will be the scapegoat the next time around? There's not so many Jews left in Europe, save France, and even there far less than one million.
Human nature can, at times, be so shitty!

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Sun Feb 10th, 2008 at 01:36:24 PM EST

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