Fidesz and the language of love and unity

How can one use the language of “love,” “cooperation” and “unity” to bring masses of people into a frenzy and to make them obedient? András Göllner, the founder of the Canadian Hungarian Democratic Charter, explores this question in an essay published in HFP’s sister paper, the Kanadai Magyar Hírlap (KMH). For those HFP readers who are proficient in Hungarian, we strongly recommend Dr. Göllner’s exploration of the Orbán government’s political communication, which it has employed not only in Hungary, but also abroad, in Hungarian diaspora communities. The very clear suggestion in this essay is that the most committed supporters of Fidesz–in Hungary, but also in the United States, Canada and in other countries with significant Hungarian communities–behave almost exactly like members of a religious cult. And, indeed, Fidesz’s methods of communication are quite similar to what the Moonies (the Unification Church) would engage in, when it convinced young men and women in the United States to attend remote retreats during the sixties and seventies, for the purpose of indoctrination. They would “bomb them with love.” You can read more on the type of “love bombing” practiced by Moonies here, and see how similar it is to the methods used by Fidesz.

Illustration: Jon Herr.

Illustration: Jon Herr.

In order to truly understand how Prime Minister Viktor Orbán managed to solidify and extend his power, and turn Hungary from a liberal democracy that many saw as a regional role model–especially compared to the Slovakia and Romania of the 1990s–into an authoritarian and illiberal state, one must go back in time to the writings of a handful of thinkers in the sixties and seventies, including Richard Bandler, John Grinder and Milton Erickson. But, as Dr. Göllner points out, we should go back even further to 18th century Scottish philosopher David Hume, who dared to question the cult of rationalism espoused by most Enlightenment thinkers and noted that the Enlightenment ultimately underestimated the power of emotion in how people develop, grasp and process knowledge. Dr. Göllner notes that thinkers in the 1970’s “showed how reality could be rewritten by playing on emotions, how one could gradually push out facts and intellect from the mind, thus achieving either on an individual level or en masse the end result of having them become obedient.”

Let’s summarize a few key findings and conclusions in English:

  • Fidesz uses the language of love to sideline rational thinking among its supporters;
  • Fidesz tolerates absolutely no dissent;
  • Fidesz perceives competition as a type of self-harm and thus is to be avoided at all cost. Mr. Orbán already confirmed this in 2002, in a speech given in Budapest’s Castle district, shortly after his electoral defeat at the hands of the Socialists. He declared that his party is the embodiment of the homeland and the nation. The nation cannot be in opposition. As such, for three years, he boycotted parliament. Then between 2006 and 2010, he deliberately left the chamber each time his main opponent, Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány, would rise to speak.
  • Fidesz manages to bring its supporters into a “light” hypnotic trance.

More recently, it appears as though Jobbik is using the communications strategy employed by Fidesz for years to give Mr. Orbán’s party a real run for its money. “Jobbik has long appropriated these linguistic secrets. After all, Jobbik was raised in Fidesz’s nursery, it hatched from Fidesz’s nest. And by now, Jobbik is increasingly confident in circling the skies over Tapolca and other cities in Hungary,” writes Dr. Göllner in KMH.

Dr. Göllner’s essay aims to deal with an aspect of Fidesz’s communications strategy that has been neglected. It is crucial for us to be conscious of this strategy, if we are to understand the workings of Mr. Orbán’s illiberal state.


  1. I think it came at the best time, I mean that is printed out in Hungarian language. Best time. Very long but I will read it.

    “Fidesz manages to bring its supporters into a “light” hypnotic trance.”

    Light? Light? Something that I want to learn more about. I thought it was not so light. I mean it looked to me like a kind of post-hypnotic suggestion, like a virus for piggyback another message onto them at any time. Who planted the virus? I think Orban only re-activated it. He himself look to me totally mind controlled. Big game isn’t it? Where did he learn that technique, who gave him the code?

    Anyway, I am not an expert of hypnosis techniques I better learn about it. But even at my level, admittedly not too high, I would second that. Surely, they are hypnotized. For me Orban has always been a second class magician. I don’t know why but from my early childhood I could see through the magician tricks therefore I never liked them. Never understood how people cannot see through cheap tricks and illusions like David Copperfield’s stuff. Orban is a cheap magician. All he does are magician tricks and sadly only a few people can see them through. Maybe now. They have to wake up.

  2. Orban’s Language of Love for the Drowned Immigrants

    Hundreds of immigrants perish in the Mediterranean.

    Orban, in need of another popular distraction from his imploding pyramid of corruption, the populace clamoring for referenda on his mounting misgovernment, offers them one:

    Out of Carpathian compassion for the drowned victims, a Hungarian referendum on mobilizing the army to keep immigrants out.

    And the most pathetic thing of all: This kind of cynical, mean-spirited ruse plays well with the Pannonian populace.

    • ‘Cos that’s the only language they are conditioned to understand and accept. But when it comes to hypnosis no amount of truth or wisdom will awaken them, only the specifically formulated code words for the specifically designed mind control program.

      Let us be optimistic that it is only a black magic without using hardware. But can we afford being that optimistic? Even a second class magician uses accessories. I believe that specific language is firmly supported by a powerful hardware installation. When it doesn’t work out any more than will come the army. Against the evil immigrants at first and when the projects ends successfully their camps will get empty only to liberate some space for the inner “enemies” of Hungary. Did Orban learn something about the FEMA project?

      That’s the populace and the language. Works on a populace that has been kept in stupor and will never get out of it without someone throws them a lifeline. Never seen anybody getting out of this kind of trap on their own. Impossible.

      • Bravo for Professor Göllner’s insightful analysis of Orban’s brainwashing tactics. The question is whether they would work equally effectively on any population, or Hungarians have a particular cultural affinity for them…

        • My question is what would happen if yes. Whether Hungarians have affinity for the truth?
          They ate up Orban’s song demonizing the left and Gyurcsany with outstanding appetite and grateful heart. Or would the terminally ill patient say “don’t cure me too fast it would kill me. I couldn’t stand being pulled through and getting healthy so fast” ? And if yes and their new awakened life didn’t get any better without paying more efforts would they be the first to blame Professor Göllner for that? Then I can’t help thinking more on this “particular cultural affinity”. Effect on it? Yes, but what kind of effect? Then I think the question “equally” is righteous. It is worth considering.

  3. Avatar András Gollner says:

    To Prof Harnad

    According to the father of Flow Theory, and positive psychology, the US Academic Mihály Csikszentmihályi, who was born in Hungary, and whose methods of social mobilization have been followed by Fidesz for at least 25 years – Hungarians are temperamentally the most responsive people in the world to his ideas. As soon as Fidesz came to power, it awarded Csikszentmihályi with one of the highest state awards – The Széchenyi Prize, and not because of the color of his eyes, but in recognition of his contribution to Fidesz’s 2010 electoral victory.

    Those here, who do not read Hungarian – an english version of the article I published in KMH will be available shortly on these pages as well, along with a sequel, which will look at how Fidesz uses the Hungarian tongue in Canada (RCA Viktor: His Master’s Voice in Canada) .The latter is dedicated to the Friends of Hungary worldwide.

  4. Pingback: John Grinder | NLP boeken

  5. A Plea for Onomatous (Non-Anonymous) Postings

    It is fully understandable, and fully justified, that those who live in Hungary or have family in Hungary and fear reprisal for openly criticizing Orban or Fidesz should post anonymously.

    But for those not at risk of reprisal, it is important now that we post openly, reinforcing with our names and reputations the views we post and the information we provide, as Eva Balogh, Kim Lane Scheppele, Andras Gollner, Christpher Adam, Gyorgy Bognar, Gyorgy Lazar and others have been doing all along).

    To post anonymously, needlessly, is to play into the hands of Orban/Fidik’s insidious regime’s tactic of secrecy and fear.

    (Stand prepared for the usual FUD attacks by Fidesz and its trolls, inventing and spinning disinformation to seem to discredit you — — but publicly eliciting and exposing these tediously predictable smear campaigns will do far more to harm and discredit Fidesz than its targets.)

    Stevan Harnad
    Canada Research Chair in Cognitive Sciences, UQAM
    Canadian Hungarian Democratic Charter
    External Member, Hungarian Academy of Sciences

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