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Thursday, 26 May 1983
Page: 1100


Dr KLUGMAN —by leave-I was only able to go to Hungary after the Inter- Parliamentary Union Conference. The most interesting thing about Hungary was its so-called new economic mechanism, which lays stress on what we call capitalist attitudes to production. Hungary is very keen on supply and demand, on profit and incentives, and to some extent its political authoritarianism has decreased. It has developed an unreal belief that incentives and capitalist incentives will solve their problems, which seems to be just as silly as the belief of some of our simpletons that nationalisation is the answer across the board. Hungary has certain problems and I do not think they will be solved simply by bringing in incentives. Half of Hungary's gross domestic product allegedly is derived from international trade, and half of that international trade is with the non-Soviet bloc. I wish Hungary well. Certainly in private conversations the Hungarians seem to have a fairly anti-authoritarian attitude. One of the things that surprised me about them was their very strong historical sense. They seem to emphasise their relationship with the old Austria-Hungarian empire. They seem very proud of that, which comes as a bit of a surprise because it is, after all, a socialist republic. I think they were upset when some of us lumped them in with the so-called Eastern Europeans. They consider themselves to be Central Europeans rather than Eastern Europeans, and dissociated themselves from what are generally considered to be the attitudes of the so-called Eastern European states. To conclude, I would like to tell a quick joke which is told by two stand-up comedians. It shows their new attitude as far as political satire is concerned. The two comedians are standing together and the first one says: Isn't inflation getting terribly bad'. The other one says: 'Why?' The other one says: 'Well, the Hungarian Communist Party newspaper Magnar Nemzet costs 8 forints whilst Pravda, the newspaper of the Russian Communist Party, costs only 4 forints'. The second one says: 'What about the cost of translation?' I think that sort of criticism of their Soviet Communist Party probably would not have been allowed until fairly recently. I was certainly pleased to hear that the Hungarians have a sarcastic attitude about the Soviet Union.