Budapest Forum 2023 - Opening keynote discussion with Margaret Eleanor Atwood



  • Margaret Eleanor Atwood, Poet, Novelist, Literary critic
  • Márton Gulyás - moderator, Partizán

Main takeaways

  • Attacks happen on democracy when people in charge, on the one hand, start to lose faith in the system and, on the other hand, want to stay in control.
  • Throughout the improvement of democracy, people who were formerly excluded from democratic rights - e.g. women – get involved, which is also constantly changing democracy itself.
  • Women’s rights have changed, and women have become more powerful since the middle of the ‘60s, starting with birth control pills, and later with women’s movements and more independence.
  • The financial system became top-heavy, and as a consequence, the situation of the people at the bottom of the pyramid gets worse, and the middle class erodes. This makes a lot of people angry and vote for an autocrat with nice promises who, in reality, serves the wealthy part of society.
  • Controlling what can be said is necessary, but the question is who is allowed to define what can be said. When state power is involved in this question, there is a political agenda, not just a „politeness agenda”. Authoritarian regimes also aim to control what can be said and also use it to destroy their political opponent by accusing them of having said the wrong thing.
  • The core beliefs of Christianity, such as loving your neighbour and doing others what you wish they do to you, are in contradiction with populist authoritarian leaders who pose themselves as Christians. According to Jim Wallace, even though a lot of these people speak about the renewal of Christianity, they are not Christian.
  • Viktor Orbán should consider the parable of the Good Samaritan, which would be a great start to acting truly Christian.