In 2020, after two years of research, the Equilibrium Institute has published its volume entitled Hungary 2030 – A Future Vision for Hungarians, which details our political, economic and social vision.
Our main objective was to stimulate public thinking and debate in Hungary, to enrich the national discourse with ideas that point beyond the bickering that characterizes everyday politics.
Hungary 2030 is not a conservative, socialist, liberal or green political manifesto; it is a forward-looking action plan for the future. It provides a pragmatic policy framework based on widely held values that anyone can relate to regardless of their political background – provided they share our interest in Hungary’s future and the commitment of the Equilibrium Institute’s team to actively help our country.
Our vision is based on three pillars: 1) The community of Hungarians 2) Clean Hungary 3) Smart country
- The community of Hungarians
A community is more than the sum of its individuals. A dense network of interpersonal relations and the ability to cooperate are historical assets, and mutual trust is essential for national success. In the 21st century, Hungarians need to relearn how we can conceive of ourselves as a community again. Hungarians need to transition from an agglomeration of inward-turning individuals devoid of mutual trust into a community teeming with dense networks of autonomous and proactive voluntary associations.
We need not be afraid of taking pride in our nation. National sentiment does not necessarily have to imply a myopic focus on the past, nor a belligerent or inimical attitude towards others – the sense of community which emanates from civic nationalism is based on shared ideals and common objectives. Successful nations do not live in their past, they look towards the future. Hungarians, too, need to learn to think in the future tense. We should not be defined by whom we hate or whom we are afraid of, but by who we would like to become! Let us hark back to the traditions of civic nationalism in the Hungarian Reform Era: We need values and goals which – if they are accepted throughout our national community – can serve as the new basis of our national consciousness.
Let’s make this our joint dream: That by virtue of our talents and knowledge we shall emerge as one of the winners of the major transformations that will define the coming century! Let us shift Hungary off the course of the perceived path dependencies that lead it down the wrong way, let’s leave our mediocre international position behind and join the top of the pack! Let us become a self-confident and smart nation that plans its future deliberately! A nation that has the courage to take pride in its common language, past and traditions, but which also isn’t afraid to confront its own weaknesses and to continuously search for new opportunities. A nation that bases its success on its most important resources, the talent and diligence of its citizens. The only path towards a Hungarian resurgence is that of a community of highly educated and skilled Hungarians, who are clever and have the ability to change and adapt.
- Clean Hungary
All of us share a natural desire for order, cleanliness and the transparent operation of the world around us. This is especially true of the 21st century, when our lives are marked by continuous changes and restructurings. Order and a secure life are not antithetical to freedom, in fact they are necessary preconditions that allow individuals to unfold their potential and ensure their mental well-being. Thus, as the foundation of our future, we need a comprehensive outlook rooted in the need for order. Starting with our everyday interactions with other people, from the operations of the state all the way to our sense of responsibility for the environment, the entirety of our lifeworld must be organized around the principles of order, transparency and cleanliness.
We need to clean up the operation of our public life. We need a state that manages our common assets responsibly and honestly. People’s welfare and happiness are closely enmeshed with the level of freedom they enjoy and the existence of a well-ordered and decently operating state based on the rule of law. So let us make sure that pride in a clean and well-ordered constitutional state that provides high quality public services becomes part of our common goals and identity!
We need to manage our natural environmental resources responsibly, too.
It is in Hungary’s most elementary self-interest to preserve our biodiversity, the quantity and quality of our aquatic resources, and to design sustainable waste management systems. We have the right to a clean environment, and in fact the obligation to ensure that that is what we leave behind for future generations. Hungary won’t save the Earth from the harmful impact of global climate change and environmental pollution. This does not exempt us from our responsibility to take meaningful action on this front, however. Let us accelerate our transition to a zero-carbon future! Let’s increase the share of renewables in our energy mix! Let’s brace ourselves for tackling the increasingly dire impact of the climate crisis! And as we do so, let’s make sure that the costs of the necessary changes won’t be borne by the most vulnerable and underprivileged strata in society!
In our century, economic success will become inseparably intertwined with sustainability. Early adopters who will arrive sooner than others in a cleaner and more sustainable future will become role models to emulate rather than followers. Creating a clean Hungary will be our single best chance for ensuring Hungary’s resurgence.
- Smart country
The most successful and happiest countries in the world do not set themselves apart from the rest of the world with their natural resources or favorable geography, but by recognizing in time that when it comes to strategically planning its path towards success, a country needs to primarily build on its citizens, their health, talent, knowledge and diligence. We, too, need to plan our future by vesting our hopes and ambitions in the potential of the Hungarian people. Anyone who claims that there are any type of successful economic policies today that do not center on investing in human resources are simply not saying the truth. And anyone who suggests that there is an easier or quicker way of improving our common situation is simply misguided.
The root cause of the majority of our problems is the Hungarian public education system, which routinely reproduces the lack of opportunities. We need an education system that allows everyone to unfold their inherent potential. We need to spur our children to think independently, to be cooperative and flexible! Let us give them the basic skills that can be applied to a wide variety of jobs and circumstances, so that they can manage better amidst all the new challenges. Let us create new opportunities for those who were born into underprivileged circumstances! The spectacular successes of our elite education prove that Hungarian children are talented and that there is no lack of professional expertise in Hungary. Ultimately, however, something that only benefits the elite won’t benefit anyone in the long run. Let’s make sure that a chance at success becomes a common experience for all! Let’s not waste a single talented Hungarian!
But all our “smart Hungarians” won’t be able to move us forward unless we give them the opportunity to perform useful work. Let’s make our labor markets more flexible! Let’s help bring those who want to work together with those who have jobs to offer. There are countless possibilities out there, from developing general skills, creating an effective adult education system, all the way to incentivizing geographic mobility and promoting part-time work and telecommuting.
This will require us to reconceptualize the role of the state. These days, the Hungarian state tends to be overly active in the areas where it can only do harm, while it is not active enough in the areas where its engagement would be desperately needed: in amassing human capital, above all in education and healthcare. We don’t need forms of state support that is allocated to a privileged few market players, as expressions of the government’s good graces, along with tailor-made legislation meant to benefit specific market players – we need a reliably and steadfastly operating state based on the rule of law; functional institutions; a competitive education worthy of the 21st century; and the door to social mobility thrown wide open. Not a regime of arbitrary exemptions, privileges and loopholes, but an appreciation and respect for talent and a recognition of genuine performance.
The knowledge-based society is not a mere grandiose commonplace but a fundamental reality of this age. The 21st century revolves around continuous renewal, mobility and creativity. As a “smart country,” we could emerge as one of the winners of this age by finally investing into people rather than objects and corporations. Let’s not waste this historic opportunity!