Friday, 1 August 2014

Can EU stand by Hungary's totalitarian aims?

I am grateful to Liberal International for drawing our attention to this speech by the Hungarian prime minister. One might take it to be an exercise in irony, were it not for Viktor Orbàn's record in politics. Some excerpts:

 the Open Society Foundation published a report – this happened quite recently – in which it analyses Western Europe and makes statements such as the fact that Western Europe is so busy finding a solution to the situation of immigrants that it has forgotten about the white working class. Or the British Prime Minister says that thanks to the changes that have occurred in Europe, many people have become freeloaders on the backs of welfare systems.

 the most popular topic in thinking today is trying to understand how systems that are not Western, not liberal, not liberal democracies and perhaps not even democracies, can nevertheless make their nations successful. The stars of the international analysts today are Singapore, China, India, Russia and Turkey. 

 the new state that we are constructing in Hungary is an illiberal, a non-liberal state. It does not reject the fundamental principles of liberalism such as freedom, and I could list a few more, but it does not make this ideology the central element of state organisation, but instead includes a different, special, national approach.

what I see is that we are dealing with paid political activists. And in addition these paid political activists are political activists who are being paid by foreigners. They are activists who are being paid by specific foreign interest groups, about whom it is difficult to imagine that they view such payments as social investments, and it is much more realistic to believe that they wish to use this system of instruments to apply influence on Hungarian political life with regard to a given issue at a given moment. And so, if we want to organise our national state to replace the liberal state, it is very important that we make it clear that we are not opposing non-governmental organisations here and it is not non-governmental organisations who are moving against us, but paid political activists who are attempting to enforce foreign interests here in Hungary. This is why it is extremely justified that the Hungarian Parliament has formed a Committee to regularly monitor, record and make public foreign influence so that all of us, including you, can know precisely who the real characters are behind these masks.

I admit to highlighting the most threatening of Orbàn's pronouncements. Parts of his analysis are seductive, much as that of Mussolini's was in the 1920s and 1930s. Some of Orbàn's countrymen have drawn the same comparison, and with that of an inter-war Hungarian fascist, Gyula Gömbös.

For a number of years here and there one could find references to the similarities between the ideas of Prime Minister Gyula Gömbös (1932-1936) and those of Benito Mussolini. As prime minister of Hungary, Gömbös made great strides toward establishing a fascist state in Hungary. József Debreczeni, an astute critic of Viktor Orbán who uncannily predicted what will happen if and when Viktor Orbán becomes prime minister again, quipped at one point that comparing Orbán to Horthy is a mistake; the comparison with Gömbös is much more apt.

No doubt Farage and Cameron would applaud Orbàn's rejection of what they would see as the imposition of foreign values over the national will. Are they, however, really ready to accept a large free trade area which includes xenophobic and totalitarian states?

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