Viktor Orbán 0, Shakespeare 1

Mr Fido, who compensates for a distinct lack of charm with cunning a-plenty, has a piece in the Frankfurter Allgemeine. Called “Are you against peace?”, the customary response to awkward questions of Communist officialdom during the Soviet era and of EU officialdom now, he says that we should be worrying rather less about the future of the UK and rather more about that of the EU. To restore popular faith in the Empire, following the post-Lisbon democratic and economic disasters, he says that Europeans need two things: security, which he pronounces “fence”, and freedom, which he calls “voluntarism”, both translations to be understood in the context of the confrontation between Hungary and the German-driven European Council re mandatory migrant quotas, and now the imminent collapse of the EU’s migrant deal with Turkey. And, reïmagining Austro-Hungarian revivalism, he reminds readers of the importance of the German-Hungarian axis for both countries: money for Marca Orbanica.

Shakespeare didn’t recommend calling a spade a spade, though apparently some elderly Greek-Roman did say something similar about troughs – far from it. In Romeo and Juliet the Macedonians are precisely are barbarous because they do so (“Philippus aunswered, that the Macedonians wer feloes of no fyne witte in their termes but altogether grosse, clubbyshe, and rusticall, as they whiche had not the witte to calle a spade by any other name then a spade”), and showing Saussure the way, he goes on to say that linguistic form is arbitrary:

‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What’s Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.

Perhaps Orbán uses “Shakespeare” as a metonym for “Brits”, in which case he may be overestimating our chances post-Brexit.

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