Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns


A reader brought to my attention this piece on Hungary by Richard Bernstein in The New York Times. It is not a propos anything, save the fact that next May Hungary will join the European Union, along with nine other countries, most from the former Eastern bloc. The piece is OK, perhaps a bit prosaic. If you want more detail for a country that (as Berstein says) "hums with a kind of ardor, an avidity for new prospects that one seldom feels in the take everything-for-granted countries further west," you might want to go to the CIA World Factbook. Not to throw cold water on Bernstein’s optimistic tone, yet I bring to your attention the seemingly natural (read ancient) pessimism of the Hungarians as reflected even in the first paragraph of their anthem (adopted in 1844):

"God bless the Hungarian,
With good cheer, and abundance,
Extend to him a shielding arm,
If he battles with the enemy;
Torn by ill fate for too long,
Bring onto him joyful year,
These people have expiated,
The past and the future!"

The word "expiated" is awkward (in Hungarian it is "megbunhodte") and it means that they think they have already made ammends or atoned for all their sins (past and future). You get it? You can hear the melody by clicking here.

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