Csíkszereda Musings

My life in and around Csíkszereda, also known as Miercurea Ciuc.

Archive for the ‘nationalism’ Category

Life as a blogger

Posted by Andy Hockley on 7 March, 2008

Every now and then for my pains I get a tirade of abuse from some rabid nationalist psycho. This can appear in the form of a comment on the blog, an email to me, or in some occasions a post on another blog which I have to discover by accident. These come from both Romanian nationalists and Hungarian nationalists, which to my mind means I’m getting it just about right (I recognise that this is not a very scientific way of deciding that, but it’ll do).

A couple of months ago, for example, I received the following email from someone called “Radu B”. I did try to engage Domnul B in debate but he didn’t respond, so I feel that it’s OK to taunt him here. The italicised bits are Radu, and the non-italicised bits are my sneering response. In the interests of fairness I have quoted the entire email just so you know not I’m not taking any of this out of context.

Dear Mr. Andy H, while I have no idea about your ethnic(I’m assuming you’re British), social or professional background (and quite frankly I don’t care about either), I have stumbled upon your blog. I appreciate you have chosen my country to work in and I do hope you are having a good time there.

This is a fair enough opening. I don’t really care much about Radu’s background either. Not quite sure why he needed to say this however. But there you go. Interesting use of the word “there” which implies that while he is obviously Romanian, he’s not actually living here. This is somewhat interesting given what comes later.

However, I do know that Mc. Ciuc is a Romanian city, in a Romanian county, in a Romanian province, and guess what! The official language of Romania, regardless of the ethnic make-up of the area in which you find yourself is – you guessed it!- Romanian.

He’s clever, is that Radu. Again I’m not sure why he is quoting undisputed facts at me, but once again, who can ever really know the mind of another.

For that reason, I find the URL of your blog (szekely) and the fact that you keep calling the city by its equivalent name in Hungarian and the fact that you chose to learn Hungarian first and then Romanian, highly offensive.

Highly offensive! It is highly offensive to actually use the word “Szekely”! Not quite sure how Radu would like to proceed with this ethnic group – deny their existence totally? Now I do recognise that it bothers some people that I call this town Csikszereda more frequently than I call it Miercurea Ciuc, and while I think they’re being a bit over sensitive, I at least see where they’re coming from (and I hope that in turn they understand why I choose one over the other for the most part). It’s also highly offensive that I chose, on arrival in Romania (yes Radu, I know I am in Romania) to attempt to learn the language of my wife and (especially) step daughter first. Very odd. (In fact I kind of wish I had had the opportunity to learn Romanian first since it seems so much easier than Hungarian, but I think my reasons for choosing the option I did are clear – and in fact 100% correct)

You are not only offending some Transylvanian (myself) through your actions, but also our forefathers and the sacrifices made to liberate the province from Hungarian occupation.

We’ll gloss over the whole “Hungarian occcupation” thing since we’re never going to resolve that here. As for offending someone, well whatever I do I will offend someone. So, I think I can live with myself on that one too.

I remind you once more that you are living in Romania, not Hungary.

Thanks Radu. I have to confess I keep forgetting which country I live in. That’s why I wrote “A small town in the Ciuc Depression, Romania” at the top of this blog just in case it escapes my attention and I suddenly imagine myself living in Hungary.

I’m convinced your ethnic Hungarian friends are absolutely extatic about your choices,

What choices? The one to live here? I hope some of them are vaguely happy about it, yes. I like to think my wife is very happy, and even possibly ecstatic, but I don’t think most people really care that much what I call my blog, to be honest.

and that they add fuel to their erotic dreams regarding autonomy for that part of Romania,

Those dreams are erotic? Wow, no wonder people like them. I’m not sure if I want an erotic dream involving Marko Bela though.

but if you like their language and culture so much, I cordially invite you to cross the border and immerse yourself in the culture Attila’s heirs have created in the Pannonic Plains.

And so it closes, with the traditional “Why don’t you fuck off to Hungary” line (and let’s not be distracted by the “cordial invitation”, we all know what that means). I assume Radu is “inviting ” me to Hungary anyway – he seems to be somewhat confused by who the Hungarians actually are – the Magyars are not thought to be directly connected to the Huns (and thence Attila), by the way Radu.

Sometimes I think I ought to write a manifesto for this blog so I can just direct people like Radu to read that, but at other times I think that that would probably be a bit over-the-top and self-important. So, at least for now, I won’t bother.

So, anyway, thanks Radu for the laugh, and for the material for this blog post. I realise this was somewhat gratuitous, but you know, I think ridicule is all that nationalism and bigotry deserves.

I, at least, feel better for writing that, even if it hasn’t improved the lives of any of my readers one iota. Sorry all. I’ll post something a little less obnoxious next time.

Posted in nationalism, xenophobia | 14 Comments »

Irony

Posted by Andy Hockley on 8 January, 2007

With much of the far right of (old) Europe convulsed by the threat of the vast number of Romanians (read: gypsies) flooding across the continent, it seems that Romania has given those scummers something to be glad about: “Romania’s first gift to the European Union” is apparently Vadim Tudor and his coterie of extremist nationalist wankers, making up the numbers for the European Parliament to have a neo-fascist caucus.

(But what I don’t understand is that this is possible because this bloc now has enough MEPs in it to be formed – but Romania has never had any MEP elections – where are these MEPS from? Can anyone help?)

Posted in EU, nationalism | 4 Comments »

Irony

Posted by Andy Hockley on 8 January, 2007

With much of the far right of (old) Europe convulsed by the threat of the vast number of Romanians (read: gypsies) flooding across the continent, it seems that Romania has given those scummers something to be glad about: “Romania’s first gift to the European Union” is apparently Vadim Tudor and his coterie of extremist nationalist wankers, making up the numbers for the European Parliament to have a neo-fascist caucus.

(But what I don’t understand is that this is possible because this bloc now has enough MEPs in it to be formed – but Romania has never had any MEP elections – where are these MEPS from? Can anyone help?)

Posted in EU, nationalism | 4 Comments »

Carrying on Ceausescu’s work

Posted by Andy Hockley on 12 December, 2006

During the Ceausescu years, there was an official policy of “Romanianisation” of various towns and cities in Transylvania. This was effected by barring Hungarians from buying property in the cities in question and bringing in Romanians from other parts of the country. One good example of this is Marosvasarhely/Targu Mures which went from being a predominantly Hungarian city to being around 50:50 Hungarian/Romanian today. When Erika was growing up it as more like 75:25 and when her father was young it was even more predominantly Hungarian. This much is undisputed and a matter of historical record. (And of course, before someone mentions it, there was also a similar-and worse- policy of Magyarisation in Transylvania in the late 19th Century).

Now, however, in the post Ceausescu world, this kind of divisive and oppressive policy is no longer possible. In a democracy such a policy of forced Romanianisation could not be allowed. But to imagine that it doesn’t still happen in some way would be a mistake.

Regular readers of this blog (both of you) may have noticed that I’m not much of a fan of organized religion. It’s the religious institutions that I have a problem with, not the people who attend the churches themselves, who as far as I am concerned can believe in whatever they like. In particular I think many churches (or “religious institutions”, to be more inclusive) have a tendency to encourage the use of religion as a form of nationalistic identifier. At best they do not discourage this role, and at worst they are active in seeking it out. I don’t think the institutions themselves are responsible for the conflicts in Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Lebanon, India/Pakistan etc, but I also think they have contributed to those conflicts by their actions (or inactions). And so, it will possibly come as no surprise to learn that my subject for today is the role in the continuing attempts to Romanianise areas of Transylvania played by the Romanian Orthodox Church (which from this point onwards I’ll refer to as the ROC for ease of typing).

It is a well known fact in this town that if you have some property to sell the ROC will offer to buy it. This doesn’t apply to apartments so much, but houses or other buildings. Obviously they have every right to do so if they so desire, but it’s somewhat sinister when you delve below the surface. What the ROC does, as a very very rich organization, with seemingly bottomless pockets, is to make unrefusable offers to people for their property. They then use this property to house Romanians from poor villages in the back of beyond as their first step to building a new life here. Once again, not really something that can be criticized – they are after all giving people with very few chances in life a big chance. But why? Other than all church’s supposed role in being charitable, what else is behind this activity? Basically it (the ROC) acts in this way to attempt to dilute the Hungarian-ness of the city and the region in general. The objective is ultimately to create enough of a Romanian community in this area to ensure that any talk of autonomy is never feasible. They are in effect, and quite legally, carrying on the policy of forced assimilation that was in effect under Ceausescu. They are, in so doing, continuing the sorry tradition of religious institutions in other countries of acting as a conduit for nationalism. They don’t for example, to my knowledge, do the same thing in “safe seats” like, I dunno, Vaslui or somewhere. It’s just an act reserved for Székelyföld. [To give an example, the parents of a friend are currently engaged in selling their property, which is a house in the centre of town – the ROC has approached them and said “Name your price, and we’ll pay it”. This leaves them in a quandary – obviously such an offer is very attractive, but they also don’t want to facilitate this Romanianisation which they know full well is the point of this offer. They are caught between a ROC and a hard place, you might say (at least if you were as bad a punner as I)]

Likewise the tourist in Romania is liable to notice a vast number of monasteries. Some of them, like the spectacular ones in Bucovina have been there for centuries, while others have been there for a little less time. In fact many in Transylvania seem to be brand new, and I’d hazard a guess that more than half were built in the last 15 years. They are continuing to sprout like mushrooms (as the Hungarian phrase has it). They are not, it should be noted, housing vast numbers of Romanian Orthodox monks who need more and more monasteries to be monkish in. The ROC actually has problems with recruitment in general as in this case where the priest who crucified a nun was in fact some bloke who’d barely managed to scrape his way out of school, so desperate were the church for members. (I visited one of these new monasteries in Maramures, and while it was very beautiful, there was no sign of any actual monks anywhere to be seen – and tourists were allowed to visit all parts of the complex –after paying an entrance fee and a “photography fee”).

So, why then are these monasteries appearing? The cynical might suggest that their purpose is to firmly stamp the region as Romanian through and through (after all if there are so many Romanian Orthodox monasteries, then surely this must be thoroughly and historically Romania). It is, perhaps, another example of this slightly odd tendency to “Magyarphobia” exhibited by certain Romanians. That is, the fear – real or stirred up – that the Hungarians are champing at the bit to reclaim Transylvania, and that all Romania’s Hungarians are desperate to overthrow rule from Bucharest and install some form of anti-Romanian independent state.

Now, before it comes up I want to make it clear that I have absolutely no problem with Csikszereda having Romanian residents (or indeed an increasing number of Romanian residents). In fact one of the things I most like about Transylvania is this diversity of cultural influences – and one of the things that I find most tragic in the recent history of this region is the fact that by and large all the German population has left. It would be great if the influences of the groups that have made this region what it is – Magyar, Romanian, Rroma, Saxon, Schwab, Szekely, et al – could all be recognized and could create a greater whole. But this ROC desire (supported by extremist right wing shitbags such as Gigi Becali) to Romanianise Székelyföld and other Transylvanian areas is not driven by a love of diversity, but by a desire to eventually rid Transylvania of its Hungarian culture altogether (or at the very least to reduce the Hungarian influence and culture to the role of mere museum piece). It is an attempt to homogenize the nation to create a country which is entirely Romanian and untainted by “foreign” cultures. It is, in short, anti-diversity.

Posted in csikszereda, nationalism, transylvania | 21 Comments »

Carrying on Ceausescu’s work

Posted by Andy Hockley on 12 December, 2006

During the Ceausescu years, there was an official policy of “Romanianisation” of various towns and cities in Transylvania. This was effected by barring Hungarians from buying property in the cities in question and bringing in Romanians from other parts of the country. One good example of this is Marosvasarhely/Targu Mures which went from being a predominantly Hungarian city to being around 50:50 Hungarian/Romanian today. When Erika was growing up it as more like 75:25 and when her father was young it was even more predominantly Hungarian. This much is undisputed and a matter of historical record. (And of course, before someone mentions it, there was also a similar-and worse- policy of Magyarisation in Transylvania in the late 19th Century).

Now, however, in the post Ceausescu world, this kind of divisive and oppressive policy is no longer possible. In a democracy such a policy of forced Romanianisation could not be allowed. But to imagine that it doesn’t still happen in some way would be a mistake.

Regular readers of this blog (both of you) may have noticed that I’m not much of a fan of organized religion. It’s the religious institutions that I have a problem with, not the people who attend the churches themselves, who as far as I am concerned can believe in whatever they like. In particular I think many churches (or “religious institutions”, to be more inclusive) have a tendency to encourage the use of religion as a form of nationalistic identifier. At best they do not discourage this role, and at worst they are active in seeking it out. I don’t think the institutions themselves are responsible for the conflicts in Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Lebanon, India/Pakistan etc, but I also think they have contributed to those conflicts by their actions (or inactions). And so, it will possibly come as no surprise to learn that my subject for today is the role in the continuing attempts to Romanianise areas of Transylvania played by the Romanian Orthodox Church (which from this point onwards I’ll refer to as the ROC for ease of typing).

It is a well known fact in this town that if you have some property to sell the ROC will offer to buy it. This doesn’t apply to apartments so much, but houses or other buildings. Obviously they have every right to do so if they so desire, but it’s somewhat sinister when you delve below the surface. What the ROC does, as a very very rich organization, with seemingly bottomless pockets, is to make unrefusable offers to people for their property. They then use this property to house Romanians from poor villages in the back of beyond as their first step to building a new life here. Once again, not really something that can be criticized – they are after all giving people with very few chances in life a big chance. But why? Other than all church’s supposed role in being charitable, what else is behind this activity? Basically it (the ROC) acts in this way to attempt to dilute the Hungarian-ness of the city and the region in general. The objective is ultimately to create enough of a Romanian community in this area to ensure that any talk of autonomy is never feasible. They are in effect, and quite legally, carrying on the policy of forced assimilation that was in effect under Ceausescu. They are, in so doing, continuing the sorry tradition of religious institutions in other countries of acting as a conduit for nationalism. They don’t for example, to my knowledge, do the same thing in “safe seats” like, I dunno, Vaslui or somewhere. It’s just an act reserved for Székelyföld. [To give an example, the parents of a friend are currently engaged in selling their property, which is a house in the centre of town – the ROC has approached them and said “Name your price, and we’ll pay it”. This leaves them in a quandary – obviously such an offer is very attractive, but they also don’t want to facilitate this Romanianisation which they know full well is the point of this offer. They are caught between a ROC and a hard place, you might say (at least if you were as bad a punner as I)]

Likewise the tourist in Romania is liable to notice a vast number of monasteries. Some of them, like the spectacular ones in Bucovina have been there for centuries, while others have been there for a little less time. In fact many in Transylvania seem to be brand new, and I’d hazard a guess that more than half were built in the last 15 years. They are continuing to sprout like mushrooms (as the Hungarian phrase has it). They are not, it should be noted, housing vast numbers of Romanian Orthodox monks who need more and more monasteries to be monkish in. The ROC actually has problems with recruitment in general as in this case where the priest who crucified a nun was in fact some bloke who’d barely managed to scrape his way out of school, so desperate were the church for members. (I visited one of these new monasteries in Maramures, and while it was very beautiful, there was no sign of any actual monks anywhere to be seen – and tourists were allowed to visit all parts of the complex –after paying an entrance fee and a “photography fee”).

So, why then are these monasteries appearing? The cynical might suggest that their purpose is to firmly stamp the region as Romanian through and through (after all if there are so many Romanian Orthodox monasteries, then surely this must be thoroughly and historically Romania). It is, perhaps, another example of this slightly odd tendency to “Magyarphobia” exhibited by certain Romanians. That is, the fear – real or stirred up – that the Hungarians are champing at the bit to reclaim Transylvania, and that all Romania’s Hungarians are desperate to overthrow rule from Bucharest and install some form of anti-Romanian independent state.

Now, before it comes up I want to make it clear that I have absolutely no problem with Csikszereda having Romanian residents (or indeed an increasing number of Romanian residents). In fact one of the things I most like about Transylvania is this diversity of cultural influences – and one of the things that I find most tragic in the recent history of this region is the fact that by and large all the German population has left. It would be great if the influences of the groups that have made this region what it is – Magyar, Romanian, Rroma, Saxon, Schwab, Szekely, et al – could all be recognized and could create a greater whole. But this ROC desire (supported by extremist right wing shitbags such as Gigi Becali) to Romanianise Székelyföld and other Transylvanian areas is not driven by a love of diversity, but by a desire to eventually rid Transylvania of its Hungarian culture altogether (or at the very least to reduce the Hungarian influence and culture to the role of mere museum piece). It is an attempt to homogenize the nation to create a country which is entirely Romanian and untainted by “foreign” cultures. It is, in short, anti-diversity.

Posted in csikszereda, nationalism, transylvania | 20 Comments »

Irredentist

Posted by Andy Hockley on 4 October, 2006

Today’s word of the day is Irredentist. It has absolutely nothing to do with the person who fixes your teeth.

ir•re•den•tist
n.
One who advocates the recovery of territory culturally or historically related to one’s nation but now subject to a foreign government.
________________________________________
[Italian irredentista, from (Italia) irredenta, unredeemed (Italy), Italian-speaking areas subject to other countries; see irredenta.]
________________________________________
ir re•den tism n.
ir re•den tist adj.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2003

As you can see it’s quite posh, and dead clever, and being able to use it (and use it correctly) bestows great kudos on the user. It has the added cachet of being derived from an Italian political movement, which obviously means the word has a certain style and élan.

Now the reason it has come to my attention is that I’ve recently found myself marveling open-mouthed at the behind-the-scenes pages of Wikipedia. When you look at something on Wikipedia, you see something akin to an encyclopedia entry, explaining and outlining a concept, person, place, or what have you. We all know that it’s edited by users and therefore you have to be a little bit careful with the information contained therein, but in general I reckon it’s a pretty good resource. However, when you look at an entry there, you may not have noticed the little tabs at the top of the page through which you can look at the history of a page and the discussion surrounding what’s gone into the entry. Here, for example, is the entry for Harghita County. Clicking on the tab marked “Discussion” will lead you into a strange nether world of pedantry, nerdiness and (in the case of all Wiki articles on places in the Hungarian speaking part of Romania) nationalism.

This is where I have encountered the words “irredentist” and “irredentism”. They are usually used as the last resort in an argument on a Wiki page, when nothing else makes sense, the loser will shriek something like “Well, I don’t care. It’s irredentism”. An example of something that is “irredentism” in this way is the alternate (ie Hungarian) spelling of the name Harghita as Hargita. Now the argument seems to go like this (and this is repeated all over Wikipedia articles for this region):
A: The county is Harghita. That’s the spelling recognized by the Romanian government.
B: Yes, it is, but the majority of the people living in the county spell it Hargita (since they are Hungarian)
A: Ah, but it’s a Romanian county – and it wasn’t even invented as a county until the 1960s so it has never existed as a Hungarian county
B: yes, but it has a Hungarian spelling which the population use because the county is named after a mountain (which has been there since before the 1960s)
A: But what does it add to the article to give it two different spellings? How is this useful?
B: Well, it’s supposed to be an encyclopedia right? Are we rationing knowledge/information now?
A: Well, I don’t care, as far as I’m concerned it’s irredentist.

Thus, in the hope of A, bringing the argument screeching to a halt and allowing him to walk away the victor for using a big word and stating opinion as fact. Obviously utter bollocks.

People like A, and I’m mentioning no names, but you can find some if you spend long enough looking through these dark-side-of-the-wikipedia pages, would have you believe that me calling my blog Csikszereda Musings is in fact irredentist. i.e. That I am concerned with returning Transylvania to Hungarian control, and that my decision to refer to the town in which I live as Csikszereda is proof of that. So, lest I be accused of irredentism, I would like to make it plain that I have no desire for Transylvania to be ruled from Budapest, and furthermore, know nobody who does (I suspect there are a few people in Hungary who advocate for it, but I’ve met no-one in Transylvania that way inclined). I just call this town Csikszereda because that’s what everyone else calls it here, because that’s what it’s called in their language. We all recognize that the Romanian name is Miercurea Ciuc, of course (a name which is directly derived from the Hungarian name), but frankly both names are equally valid. I, in short, am no form of dentist – either irre- or otherwise.

Now, this use of a word as an attempt to silence argument is not new. Those of us on the left are often rightly accused of throwing out the word “fascist” at anything we disagree with. Which is obviously just as bollocks as the use of irredentist for similar purposes. (Intriguingly, fascism is another word which has its origins in an Italian political movement. What is with Italy and these words?). The right has recently cottoned on to this “soundbite argument” style and has started throwing around the word “Islamofascist” in an attempt to lump wars on Arabs and other Muslims together with the war on Nazi Germany. It’s all bollocks.

Anyway, to sum up, arguing that Transylvania ought to be a part of Hungary = irredentist. Calling Miercurea Ciuc Csikszereda = not irredentist.

(I ought to point out that most of the people who edit and then discuss edits on Wikipedia seem to be perfectly normal reasonable individuals (if a tad obsessive and pedantic), and that indeed there is a refreshing amount of agreement between most Hungarian and Romanian editors. It’s just one or two mad ones. And if you thought the “discussion” pages were seriously manic, then try out the Mediation cabal pages. Blimey.)

Posted in hungarian, intercultural communication, nationalism, romanian | 4 Comments »

Irredentist

Posted by Andy Hockley on 4 October, 2006

Today’s word of the day is Irredentist. It has absolutely nothing to do with the person who fixes your teeth.

ir•re•den•tist
n.
One who advocates the recovery of territory culturally or historically related to one’s nation but now subject to a foreign government.
________________________________________
[Italian irredentista, from (Italia) irredenta, unredeemed (Italy), Italian-speaking areas subject to other countries; see irredenta.]
________________________________________
ir re•den tism n.
ir re•den tist adj.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2003

As you can see it’s quite posh, and dead clever, and being able to use it (and use it correctly) bestows great kudos on the user. It has the added cachet of being derived from an Italian political movement, which obviously means the word has a certain style and élan.

Now the reason it has come to my attention is that I’ve recently found myself marveling open-mouthed at the behind-the-scenes pages of Wikipedia. When you look at something on Wikipedia, you see something akin to an encyclopedia entry, explaining and outlining a concept, person, place, or what have you. We all know that it’s edited by users and therefore you have to be a little bit careful with the information contained therein, but in general I reckon it’s a pretty good resource. However, when you look at an entry there, you may not have noticed the little tabs at the top of the page through which you can look at the history of a page and the discussion surrounding what’s gone into the entry. Here, for example, is the entry for Harghita County. Clicking on the tab marked “Discussion” will lead you into a strange nether world of pedantry, nerdiness and (in the case of all Wiki articles on places in the Hungarian speaking part of Romania) nationalism.

This is where I have encountered the words “irredentist” and “irredentism”. They are usually used as the last resort in an argument on a Wiki page, when nothing else makes sense, the loser will shriek something like “Well, I don’t care. It’s irredentism”. An example of something that is “irredentism” in this way is the alternate (ie Hungarian) spelling of the name Harghita as Hargita. Now the argument seems to go like this (and this is repeated all over Wikipedia articles for this region):
A: The county is Harghita. That’s the spelling recognized by the Romanian government.
B: Yes, it is, but the majority of the people living in the county spell it Hargita (since they are Hungarian)
A: Ah, but it’s a Romanian county – and it wasn’t even invented as a county until the 1960s so it has never existed as a Hungarian county
B: yes, but it has a Hungarian spelling which the population use because the county is named after a mountain (which has been there since before the 1960s)
A: But what does it add to the article to give it two different spellings? How is this useful?
B: Well, it’s supposed to be an encyclopedia right? Are we rationing knowledge/information now?
A: Well, I don’t care, as far as I’m concerned it’s irredentist.

Thus, in the hope of A, bringing the argument screeching to a halt and allowing him to walk away the victor for using a big word and stating opinion as fact. Obviously utter bollocks.

People like A, and I’m mentioning no names, but you can find some if you spend long enough looking through these dark-side-of-the-wikipedia pages, would have you believe that me calling my blog Csikszereda Musings is in fact irredentist. i.e. That I am concerned with returning Transylvania to Hungarian control, and that my decision to refer to the town in which I live as Csikszereda is proof of that. So, lest I be accused of irredentism, I would like to make it plain that I have no desire for Transylvania to be ruled from Budapest, and furthermore, know nobody who does (I suspect there are a few people in Hungary who advocate for it, but I’ve met no-one in Transylvania that way inclined). I just call this town Csikszereda because that’s what everyone else calls it here, because that’s what it’s called in their language. We all recognize that the Romanian name is Miercurea Ciuc, of course (a name which is directly derived from the Hungarian name), but frankly both names are equally valid. I, in short, am no form of dentist – either irre- or otherwise.

Now, this use of a word as an attempt to silence argument is not new. Those of us on the left are often rightly accused of throwing out the word “fascist” at anything we disagree with. Which is obviously just as bollocks as the use of irredentist for similar purposes. (Intriguingly, fascism is another word which has its origins in an Italian political movement. What is with Italy and these words?). The right has recently cottoned on to this “soundbite argument” style and has started throwing around the word “Islamofascist” in an attempt to lump wars on Arabs and other Muslims together with the war on Nazi Germany. It’s all bollocks.

Anyway, to sum up, arguing that Transylvania ought to be a part of Hungary = irredentist. Calling Miercurea Ciuc Csikszereda = not irredentist.

(I ought to point out that most of the people who edit and then discuss edits on Wikipedia seem to be perfectly normal reasonable individuals (if a tad obsessive and pedantic), and that indeed there is a refreshing amount of agreement between most Hungarian and Romanian editors. It’s just one or two mad ones. And if you thought the “discussion” pages were seriously manic, then try out the Mediation cabal pages. Blimey.)

Posted in hungarian, intercultural communication, nationalism, romanian | 4 Comments »

It’s Tough Kid, But It’s Life

Posted by Andy Hockley on 12 July, 2006

And so begins a month or so of fairly intense travelling. Erika left this morning for Barcelona, leaving me in sole charge of Paula, much to my enthusiasm and her anxiety (Erika’s anxiety that is, we haven’t been able to access Paula’s feelings on the matter). However if I post something completely incoherent and hagard sounding on Friday or Saturday you’ll know why.

She’ll be back Sunday evening and then on Monday morning we set off early for a Holiday in Bulgaria (I am unable to say, think, or -apparently- write those three words without instantly breaking into mental song to the tune of The Dead Kennedys’ “Holiday in Cambodia”). A week by the Black Sea, but, crucially at a slightly different point on the coastline from where we have been the last two summers, and then home again. A few days back in Csikszereda and then it’s my turn to go to Barcelona for work for a week. Back again for a couple of days before a two week holiday in England (hence my recent visa experiences). It’s all go.

Meanwhile, I’m troubled as to how devilishly clever those Russians are. You see, according to noted scientific expert Cornelius Vadim Tudor, they have been launching a meteorological attack on Romania – but so good at it are they that they have managed to avoid Bulgaria, Moldova and other nations nearby.

In other news of rubbish and nutty nationalists, some Romanian software company is releasing a game called something like “Kill all the non-Romanian rubbish cluttering up our country”, which is nice of them. That’ll improve the cause of tolerance. More worryingly, Slovakia’s new coalition government includes a party headed up by a man who wants to sterilise Roma, and has referred to Slovakia’s Hungarians as “Lumpen Elements” and has said that “We will get in our tanks and crush Budapest.” At least CVT hasn’t actually got any power, not like this bloody nutter.

[Oh, and I have no idea why the little weather tracking thing on the right appears to be switching randomly between showing the weather for Csikszereda and Targu Mures. It’s a rum do.]

Posted in nationalism, travel | 5 Comments »

It’s Tough Kid, But It’s Life

Posted by Andy Hockley on 12 July, 2006

And so begins a month or so of fairly intense travelling. Erika left this morning for Barcelona, leaving me in sole charge of Paula, much to my enthusiasm and her anxiety (Erika’s anxiety that is, we haven’t been able to access Paula’s feelings on the matter). However if I post something completely incoherent and hagard sounding on Friday or Saturday you’ll know why.

She’ll be back Sunday evening and then on Monday morning we set off early for a Holiday in Bulgaria (I am unable to say, think, or -apparently- write those three words without instantly breaking into mental song to the tune of The Dead Kennedys’ “Holiday in Cambodia”). A week by the Black Sea, but, crucially at a slightly different point on the coastline from where we have been the last two summers, and then home again. A few days back in Csikszereda and then it’s my turn to go to Barcelona for work for a week. Back again for a couple of days before a two week holiday in England (hence my recent visa experiences). It’s all go.

Meanwhile, I’m troubled as to how devilishly clever those Russians are. You see, according to noted scientific expert Cornelius Vadim Tudor, they have been launching a meteorological attack on Romania – but so good at it are they that they have managed to avoid Bulgaria, Moldova and other nations nearby.

In other news of rubbish and nutty nationalists, some Romanian software company is releasing a game called something like “Kill all the non-Romanian rubbish cluttering up our country”, which is nice of them. That’ll improve the cause of tolerance. More worryingly, Slovakia’s new coalition government includes a party headed up by a man who wants to sterilise Roma, and has referred to Slovakia’s Hungarians as “Lumpen Elements” and has said that “We will get in our tanks and crush Budapest.” At least CVT hasn’t actually got any power, not like this bloody nutter.

[Oh, and I have no idea why the little weather tracking thing on the right appears to be switching randomly between showing the weather for Csikszereda and Targu Mures. It’s a rum do.]

Posted in nationalism, travel | 5 Comments »

March 15th

Posted by Andy Hockley on 10 March, 2006

Next Wednesday is March 15th, which is a big day here, and this year promises to be a bigger day than normal. March 15th is the national day of Hungary ( I think, though I’ve also heard it referred to as the national day of Hungarians living outside Hungary.) Anyway, it’s marked on all the calendars, and for many here it’s an official holiday. It’s a bit nationalistic, but then all national days are a bit nationalistic, and so in essence it’s not greatly different from December 1st.

This year, however, some Hungarian nationalists have taken it upon themselves to make trouble. They have organised a rally in Udvarhely (Oderheiu Secuiesc) to proclaim the independence of the Szekely region and launch some kind of autonomous entity that presumably will exist only in their heads. This event (as I understand it) has been championed by the Mayor of Udvarhely, who has just been described to me as a Hungarian version of Vadim Tudor (leader of the extremist Romanian nationalist party). [Udvarhely, by the way, is the most Hungarian city in all of Romania, being 98% Hungarian].

Now, frankly, the best way to deal with this kind of provocative rubbish is to ignore it. A few hundred blokes gather in a field, proclaim independence and drink palinka, and go home feeling proud of themselves while the world pays them no attention or at best laughs at their delusions of grandeur. But this, sadly, will not happen next week. Because of course, never shy of taking an opportunity to make himself look important, and full of hysterical rhetoric, Vadim Tudor has sent out a call for action from proud Romanians everywhere, and asked for 100,000 people to descend on Udvarhely to stage a counter demonstration. (Romania has a less than proud tradition of violent outsiders being bussed in to start fights and suppress dissent – In the early months of the post-Ceausescu regime, a group of miners were bussed in by Iliescu (allegedly) to violently bust up a student protest; and in 1990 in Targu Mures a Romanian nationalist group stirred up anti Hungarian feeling in the villages and bussed in an angry mob to attack a group of Hungarian students demonstrating for a Hungarian language faculty, resulting in riots and deaths)

And thus, the situation could become tense, and, in the worst case scenario, violent. And once again the fact that broadly speaking Hungarians and Romanians live together fairly successfully and without rancour, will be obscured by a bunch of nationalist scum – Vadim Tudor will get his publicity, as will the Szekely Autonomists, and everyone on the extremes is happy. Everyone caught in the middle gets screwed. Of course the media will be complicit in the whole affair and will send camera crews to whip the thing up even further. And while it won’t start a civil war, it will put the cause of equality and understanding back a good decade. Nationalists, eh? Wankers, all of them.

Wih luck it will be a completely freezing day – two days ago here it was -24 again, only to be back up to zero again the following day, which is an insane temperature swing – and everyobody will stay home and the camera crews can just film the normal people of Udvarhely celebrating their national day with no politics attached.

Posted in hungarian nationalism, nationalism, transylvania | 17 Comments »