Remnants of the Warsaw Pact were evident as soon as we passed into Slovakia and Hungary. Decaying, twelve story housing projects from the Soviet era loom above city suburbs. Ashen, dormant factories crumble along the Danube River. They are conspicuous reminders of a society quite removed from the billboards and big box stores that now often occupy the same landscapes. The degree of commercialization we’ve seen in these former satellite states seems to indicate few reservations about practicing capitalism.
It was during a conversation with a Hungarian journalist, however, when we learned that not everyone’s satisfied with the direction things have gone in the last 22 years; there is still an older population who misses the communist regime for its sense of job security and national power, as well as a younger generation who has become disillusioned by the promises of capitalism and direct democracy.
Our thought was, how can there still be people who advocate communism after the failure of the Soviet Union? We decided to reach out to the president of Hungary’s hardline Communist Party, Gyor Thurmer, for a firsthand account.
The meeting was surprisingly easy to set up – which made more sense once we learned the party only represents about 0.5% of Hungarian voters, and is essentially barred from most media outlets. Nevertheless, Mr. Thurmer offers interesting points, with the language of communism adapted to the 21st century economy.