Long Live Orbán!Fri 4:48 pm Europe/London, 8 Apr 2022
When Viktor Orbán and his Fidesz-KDNP alliance swept to victory on Sunday, thereby guaranteeing the Hungarian premier a fourth term with a large parliamentary majority, it proved that a national conservative could win in a Western country. It is the greatest victory of national democracy that we may see in our lifetimes and a deserved defeat for the well-heeled, culturally radical advocates of “liberal democracy.”
This unhappy marriage has absolutely nothing to do with self-government and is in fact the polar opposite. Indeed, the now sacralized term rarely made an appearance before the 1960s, and its success has depended on how useful it has been for political and journalistic elites in their mostly unchallenged exercise of power. Liberal democracies do not exclude elections but make sure they take place between mostly indistinguishable candidates—like Obama and Romney, or Dole and Clinton—whom liberal democratic elites can easily control. When faced by a loose deck, as in the case of Donald Trump, who railed against the “lying media” and the “deep state,” the ruling class takes appropriate action.
In Hungary, those groups working to defeat Orbán put together a weird alliance of the united left with the neo-Nazis in the Jobbik Party. This anti-Orbán front embraced large corporations, LGBT activists, almost the entire Western media, and the sugar daddy of the cultural left, George Soros. Most of their attacks on Orbán were dishonest or hypocritical: e.g., that he inexcusably continues to buy energy from Putin’s Russia, that he didn’t give enough airtime on state TV to the opposition, and that he has been on friendly terms with both Putin and Trump. The money that poured into Orbán’s opposition from his corporate capitalist enemies, particularly from the overflowing coffers of George Soros, was far more than what the Hungarian premier could possibly raise. Further, Orbán’s enemies were given nonstop free PR by the international media, such that any airtime given to them by Hungarian state TV was pure bonus. It is also rich to hear those who defended and even participated in the instrumentalization of the American media as a means of undermining Trump’s presidency complain about the lack of airtime for the left anywhere on the planet. The fairness shown by our electronic media barons may compare unfavorably even to that of Hitler’s minister of propaganda.
The attacks on Orbán for continuing to buy gas from Russia border on the absurd. He is the premier of an energy-dependent country of 10 million (which has also been landlocked since the end of World War One). Orbán is not going to shut down his country to please the EU, and since the U.S. is no longer in a situation to export energy to Hungary (thanks to the victory of Joe Biden, whose election Orbán’s critics did all they could to ensure), he is doing what is necessary to allow the Hungarian economy to flourish. Moreover, since there are about 160,000 ethnic Hungarians living in the Transcarpathia region of Ukraine, Orbán is understandably concerned that the Russian air force doesn’t target his co-ethnics. That is one more reason that he maintains amicable relations with the Russian leader.
Orbán is also taking in Ukrainian refugees, along with other states that border Ukraine on the west and south. Given the almost uniform animus against him, he is rarely given credit for this kindness. Not surprisingly, the media have said little about the world’s “largest democracy,” India, also buying energyfrom Russia and remaining conspicuously neutral in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. There is a good reason for that lack of indignation. Since India is predominantly non-Christian, lies outside the West, and has a relatively dark-skinned population, the media is not going to hold that country to the same PC standard as a non-woke Western state.
The “liberal democratic” ruling class have gone after Orbán for other faux pas that have contributed to his reputation as an “authoritarian leader.” He doesn’t always take politically correct stands: e.g., not allowing his country to be inundated by Muslim migrants who could have provided “enrichment,” insisting to the indignation of The Guardian in April of 2020 that babies be registered according to their biological identities, and managing to get a referendum passed overwhelmingly against the LGBT indoctrination of Hungarian school children. Such actions attest to Orbán’s unfitness to belong to the liberal democratic community, although there is no evidence that the he even cares. We know that Joe Biden at least once referred to Orbán and the government of Poland as “totalitarian,” but considering the addlepated source of that insult, Orbán may feel free to ignore it.
All in all, Sunday was a splendid day for “democracy” and a deservedly bad one for “liberal democracy.”
Paul Gottfried is editor in chief of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is also the Raffensperger Professor of Humanities Emeritus at Elizabethtown College, where he taught for 25 years, a Guggenheim recipient, and a Yale Ph.D. He is the author of 13 books, most recently Fascism: Career of a Concept and Revisions and Dissents.