The strong have become weak, the weak have turned strong – Speech by Viktor Ofrban, Prime Minister of Hungary, at the China – Central and Eastern European Countries Economic and Trade Forum in Budapest, 27 June 2011 – Published on Current Concerns no. 10, July 19, 2011.
… The western financial-economic crisis and the ensuing economic lapse and stagnation have brought about a new world. The strong have become weak, the weak have turned strong. Transformation is happening in front of our eyes with astonishing speed. Within a short period of time it will be decided who will be on the winning and who will find themselves on the looser side of the transformation.
The task is clear: to understand what the new world is going to be like, what rules will govern it and who can be its champions? Every mainstream economic analysis mentions the guest of honour of our conference today, the People’s Republic of China in the first place among the champions. How can it be possible? What does China know, what is it that Chinese people know better than others? Is it enough to say that they are more numerous, that China has a huge territory and population; that it has a huge internal market?
Looking from Hungary it seems that this in itself is not enough for an answer. From the Western, the European and Hungarian perspective it seems that what was needed was China’s loyalty to a few principles, which we here in the West have turned our backs on in recent times. I am thinking of very simple, yet important principles. Fundamental truths, like we cannot continuously consume more than what we produce. Or that the basic building block of the economy is value created by work, that – whatever tricks we deploy – we cannot create value from nothing, that once the illusion has passed, someone always has to perform the work, someone has to pay the price at the end of the day, if not us, then our children or grandchildren.
The West knew this well, just like Europe, the cradle of the Western civilization. It is enough to recall that the words “sin” and “debt” in the original text of the Lord’s Prayer were still synonymous with each other. It was this knowledge and this understanding that made the West great and successful. Abandoning this rational thinking, the birth and destruction brought about by new ideologies and utopia that caused us to stumble from one crisis to the other during the past decade. The time has come for us to draw the appropriate conclusions. I believe that the centre of Europe, our great common region, Central Europe is capable of doing this. Understanding the new world, the new rules seem to be something that people in this part of the world are especially good at. Perhaps it is because the abundance of God’s punishments and historic storms have taught us that if need be, we should be able to change without hesitation and to be open to accepting new rules and new truths. One could debate for long about the causes, but one thing is incontestable: Centraleurope cannot be disregarded; this region has not carried so much promise and hope for decades as it does now … (full long text).