Academic journal article East European Quarterly

The Thousand-Year Old Hungarian State: Historical Considerations(*)

Academic journal article East European Quarterly

The Thousand-Year Old Hungarian State: Historical Considerations(*)

Article excerpt

Here, now and somehow. We must make a decision. We are facing the absolute necessity of a decision.

In the life of an individual, as well as of a community, there are moments, days, or, perhaps, even quickly passing years, when action must be taken. Taken at a time when there are alternatives still available and not just a single path of necessity. When the postponement of decision means the final and complete loss of possible alternatives.

The Hungarian nation, at this moment, is facing such a time and must decide among possible alternatives. It must decide at the millennium of our first settlement in Europe. Decide it must at the time when we are celebrating the first millennium of the establishment of a new religion and the first institution of community-organization, the Christian state. We are celebrating and continuing to live with the hard lessons of a thousand years. Is this an accidental happening? The question can rightly be raised. There are, indeed, accidental occasions in the life of the individual and of men in general. This is the reason why it is a more difficult intellectual task to study human societies as compared with the scrutiny of nature governed by laws.

A new age has come to dominate the world, East-Central Europe, the peoples of the former Soviet Zone including us, the Hungarians. The global industrial, technological, technical and information revolutions provide new means for humanity to exploit. As a result of the blessings of the extension of global communications, of transportation, of television and radio, of the internet, the telephone, the individual's radius of travel and means to acquire information have tremendously increased. Humankind is reformulating inter-human relations. Moreover, this process is extended to nature, to the flora and fauna of the globe and, indeed, to the entire universe. Simultaneously, technological as well as cultural and anthropological revolutions are taking place. Individuals, small communities, nations or even entire continents with thousand-year cultures, must now rethink their purposes in life. This is a task that our Judeo-Christian culture, as well as that which Islamic, Buddhist or even atheistic communities must undertake. We are seeking our place in the new world as Europeans, as one of the peoples living on the eastern borderlands of the continent, the small Hungarian nation, who have experienced the impact of the cross-currents of various cultures for a thousand years.

We change our ways with difficulty. We have lived for half a century in a zone dominated by a great power and, in the last decades of that half-a-century, we have become accustomed to living in a "survival-mode." We have made a necessity of inactivity. We have become used to "waiting it out," to "slowing it down." We have put the breaks on the dynamism of an expanding great power. We were protecting our centuries-old national and social values. This was passive resistance indeed! During the last century and a half in the life of a small nation, this method has often led to successful, but also questionable behavior. Consequently, the ingrained behavior patterns of our current intellectual generation can no longer be followed by the entire nation. Our craftsmen-teacher friends and students are raising the question: "Survival, but in whose interest?" "`Waiting it out,' but for what purpose?" And they are impatiently criticizing us by saying; "the wise program of passive `waiting' nowadays disguises nothing but monotony and drabness." A drabness that is negating creativity and action for the future. What we need today is wisely considered action. Otherwise we will lose.

We are not going to be physically destroyed, a fate that threatened us in the age of Western and Eastern dictatorships between 1920 and 1990. But we will lose out in the competition in the global intellectual marketplace. Small societies and their small cultures are being threatened in the global competition in the 21st century not by physical destruction, but by cultural-social backwardness. …

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