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Preface “It is impossible to establish a personal relationship—never mind a policy— with a regime that has no name. If we are incapable of conceptually grasping our own reality, then we will become the prisoners of the reality of others” claims Bálint Magyar when providing reasons for the introduction of the concept of the post-communist mafia state to describe the nature and operations of the current political power structure in Hungary. Magyar—one of the editors of this volume and the author of one of its studies—first wrote about the first Fidesz government that was in power between 1998 and 2002 in a 2001 article titled “Hungarian Octopus: The Organized Surface World,” illustrating that government’s dismantling of the democratic institution system and its use of mafia methods in the pursuit of its political and economic interests. In 2010 Viktor Orbán returned to power, this time backed by a twothirds majority in parliament. Orbán, the prime minister and leader of Fidesz, quickly announced the construction of the National System of Cooperation, which was in fact the arrangement of a post-communist mafia state as described by Magyar. The expression alludes to the environment from which the regime emerged, i.e., a process called “the regime change” through which in 1990 state-ownership monopoly and single-party dictatorship in Hungary was replaced by a Western-style, liberal democracy based on private property, a market economy, and parliamentary democracy . The mafia state has characterized the operations of the regime that developed under the Orbán governments. The essence of this is that in i6 Maffia II 00 book.indb 9 2016.12.07. 15:47 x Preface the mafia state—as opposed to the traditional (Sicilian) mafia, which uses underground organizations, tools, and methods and employs its octopuslike tentacles to encircle the state and its institutions to serve its economic interests and attain political influence—the in-power “organized surface world” presses the entire state institution system, from the legislature to armed forces, from tax authorities to the prosecutor’s office and the secret services, to serve its own interests and those of the members of the political family in its sphere of interest, primarily their material enrichment. That is to say, the state is itself the mafia, which, from above, in its position of power and maintaining the institutions of parliamentary democracy for mere decorative purposes, spreads its tentacles and forces submission and a vassal system onto society as a whole. The use of the term mafia is not self-serving given that the regime’s construction and spread truly follow the classic mafia model: it is defined by familial and friendship relations and shared business and wealth accumulation interests, built in a pyramid-like hierarchical order through a family network that weaves through society, and is headed by a head of family or “godfather” in one person. The accepted members of the family, from oligarchs to simple entrepreneurs , are loyal to the head of the family/godfather and his party, and they receive material and interest privileges in return for undying obedience and omertà (silence). This all takes place at the national level: those who do not conform to the mafia state regime are excommunicated from the nation itself. As such, the Orbán regime cannot be described using the traditional set of dictatorship–democracy concepts, cannot be characterized with markers like authoritarian, illiberal, etc., and cannot be compared to other contemporary or earlier authoritarian regimes. Thanks to its unique features described above it is a new form of autocracy: a mafia state. Magyar analyzes all the above in a significant study, and well-known Hungarian liberal intellectuals—including economists, legal scholars, philosophers, sociologists, and journalists—explore the operation of the mafia state in areas like the economy, society, institutions, culture, education , and media. Since 2013 these studies have been published in three volumes under the title “Hungarian Octopus: The Post-communist Mafia State,” with a total of seventy contributions covering 1,500 pages. These collections of studies have been very successful and garnered attention both in Hungary and abroad, with the first volume selling 15,000 copies. The regime-describing terminology used in the studies has become an integral part of public and scientific discourse in Hungary. Magyar’s essay has i6 Maffia II 00 book.indb 10 2016.12.07. 15:47 xi Preface been published in English and Hungarian as a stand-alone book.1 In this volume we have selected...


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