Orbán in Washington

Victor Orbán was at the White House yesterday meeting with the President, on the 20th anniversary of Hungary’s membership of NATO. He has the reputation of a bad boy in Europe. Is it justified? Let’s look.

Richard M. Reinsch II writing in Law and Liberty tells us about how Orbán has reinjected politics into the cool managerial EU.

Whatever geopolitical issues will be discussed, the meeting will be covered as a summit of populist leaders who consistently besmirch the values of post-1968 America and Europe. Nothing good can come from those two talking to each other. Those values in Europe have largely become the unquestionable system of individualism, egalitarianism, secularism, and multiculturalism, secured by rule-of-law governance directives from European Union bodies in Brussels. I use the term governance because the rules handed down by Brussels can claim only the patina of democratic legitimacy. It’s not government achieved by politics in any recognizable sense. Governance is what happens when debate is over or isn’t even allowed to begin; it is nothing more than the management of predetermined outcomes.

Many have noted this, but it was Orbán who has taken matters to the next level one might say. To the insistence of EU officials that there is nothing really left to argue about because the abstractions of rights, equality, and diversity are universal notions available to human beings as such, Orbán reintroduces politics. That is, he insists that his nation order itself by a different notion of the common good, one that is no less European.

Orbán’s infraction, according to Frank Furedi in his 2017 invaluable book, Populism and the European Culture Wars, was to reintroduce into this European settlement of supposedly politically sterile transnationalism, historically-rooted cultural and moral foundations for law and politics. Furedi notes two points of departure that define Hungarian politics in the 21st century: The Crown of St. Stephen, which in 2000 became the National Symbol almost by a popular uprising, and the Fundamental Law of Hungary, its new constitution that was ratified in 2012. These political markers legitimated the Hungarian regime in the hearts of its people. Why is Hungary, among other Eastern European nations such as Poland, willing to buck Brussels and earn its undying enmity, particularly amongst much of the pro-EU press?

The key to Furedi’s analysis is how Hungary and other nations of Eastern Europe approvingly view their culture and inheritance in the face of the intellectuals’ contempt toward and dismissal of the past and the traditions of the West. The fundamental dividing line of Europe is the general openness to reappropriate a cultural, political, and religious tradition that was denied the East by the Soviet Union versus the desire of EU leaders, technocrats, and judges to critique and distance themselves from their own tradition.

Do keep reading, and in its outlines, this is pretty much what I see, different from but also similar to what the British people are injecting.

Marc F. Plattner also at Law and Liberty argues that Orbán misapprehends Liberalism. I’m not so sure that he doesn’t understand it fine, but finds it simply wrong. and I wonder if he doesn’t have a point. A bit from the article.

Today, of course, the situation is very different. Liberalism is widely attacked and authoritarianism is surging. One clear indicator of this shift is the fact that “illiberal democracy” has been transformed in some quarters from a term of denigration to a proudly proclaimed slogan. This has largely been the work of the man visiting with President Trump in Washington today, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who as early as 2014 began embracing “illiberal” as a positive description.

More recently, Orbán boldly stated that “there is an alternative to liberal democracy: it is called Christian democracy.” And Christian democracy, he added, “is not liberal. Liberal democracy is liberal, while Christian democracy is not liberal; it is, if you like, illiberal.”

Orbán cites three key issues to explain how his brand of “Christian democracy” differs from its liberal counterpart: 1) Liberal democracy favors multiculturalism, while Christian democracy “gives priority to Christian culture”; 2) liberal democracy is pro-immigration, while Christian democracy is anti-immigration; and 3) liberal democracy “sides with adaptable family models” rather than with the Christian family model. With respect to each of these three issues, Orbán emphatically states that the Christian view can be categorized as an “illiberal concept.”

By drawing this sharp distinction between liberal and Christian democracy, Orban wishes to make support for liberal democracy seem inseparable from support for multiculturalism, open immigration policies, and nontraditional family structures such as gay marriage. Historically, of course, this has not typically been the case. Until the last half-century, many liberal democracies tended to be fairly strict in terms of family law. Apart from settler countries such as the United States, Canada, and Australia, liberal democracies were not very welcoming toward immigrants, and the countries that did accept large-scale immigration tended to favor assimilationist rather than multicultural approaches to integrating newcomers. Even today, substantial numbers, if not majorities, of voters oppose multiculturalism, gay marriage, and lax immigration policies but continue to support liberal democracy.

Read it all, but it seems to me that what conservatives in the US are pretty much on the same page as Orbán is. It also strikes me that quite a few Britons are in much the same place, and probably a fair number of others in Europe. Because if ‘liberal democracy’ is one thing it is the antithesis of the ordered liberty our founders fought for.

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13 Responses to Orbán in Washington

  1. Nicholas says:

    I believe Orban is a Protestant of some description, possibly Lutheran.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Scoop says:

    It seems to me that Orban speaks plainly those things many people still believe but are afraid to say in “polite society”, as it is unfashionable to be so “rigid” and backward looking in respect to the progressive forward looking lunacy.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. audremyers says:

    Not to the extent laid out in both the quoted material and ‘Nebraska’s” comments, I did know that Hungary was making a line in the sand – ‘beyond here we will not go’. It’s exciting to me that the people of the nations are striving to, if not reclaim, then strengthen and support their histories, cultures, traditions. The UK’s efforts to, indeed, reclaim their sovereignty resonates with the rest of the EU countries. You cannot denude a nation of people of all they hold dear and suddenly make them clones and objects of an assembly-line manufacture. And it can’t be done in a slow and insidious manner, either, as has been the modus operandi of the EU. What an exciting and nail-biting decade to live in!

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      It surely is, and yeah, that’s what I see i Britain and in the east including Hungary. When you hear me say, as I often do that the EU is doomed, this is why.

      Liked by 1 person

      • the unit says:

        You know history so much better than I do. So anyway…
        When I first read internet recorded history of the founding revolution years ago now, it was said only 5 percent of the people supported it. Now I read 25% did who were here and 25% didn’t who also were here. Then the other 50% who also didn’t, 25% went to Canada and 25% went back to England.
        How EU going to split percent wise and where are those doing the going going to go? Bezos has a Mars plan. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          I’ve pretty much always heard about 1/3 for, a third against. and a third Neutral. And yes, a lot of what we call ‘Tories” not to be confused with the British party, wen to Canada, and some to Britain. The neutral as far as I can see sucked it up and got with life. But I doubt anybody really knows. 🙂

          The EU really won’t have much of a problem that way. Think about it if we broke up now (inconceivable when we were young, not so much now) most of us are already where we are comfortable, so like the neutral just plod on, Unless you are really on a different side. I think, maybe! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • the unit says:

          Yeah, I think it meant 5% were ready to fight.
          Me? I not Sam Whittemore. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          Nor am I, sadly. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • the unit says:

          I be more likely to gum the effort up. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          Indeed, I know the feeling. 🙂


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