Manuel Mireanu

This paper takes up the emergence of far-right patrols in Hungary in 2011 and provides an interpretation that is centered on security as a need, a practice, and a discourse. The argument is that these patrols used a logic of spectacle in order to legitimize their security agenda, an agenda that was driven by both symbolic and explicit violence. The patrols emerged in the context of a steady growth in and acceptance of far-right ideas and practices in Hungary. These practices and ideas were focused mostly on the ‘Gypsy problem,’ which in Hungary has been articulated as a threat posed by Roma communities. This is a perceived threat to the safety and national and cultural integrity of the Hungarian population, and as such, the far-right groups chose to tackle this threat through security measures. The patrols emerged in the Hungarian countryside as a way to increase the security of the ‘Hungarian’ population vis-à-vis the ‘Gypsy crime’ problem. This paper argues that the violence that these patrols used in their security struggles received a great deal of legitimacy through a combination of security and spectacle. Thus, the patrols were more than thugs and militias: They were reiterating an idealized glorious past, with which every Hungarian could identify. In addressing and illustrating these issues, the paper uses the ‘security-scape’ of Gyöngyöspata, the village where most of the patrols were conducted.