For the last few years, in the late summer Gates of Vienna readers could expect to see a subtitled video of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s annual “state of the nation” speech. Mr. Orbán customarily makes his remarks each year at the Bálványos Summer Open University and Student Camp in Tusnádfürdő (Băile Tuşnad), in the ethnic Hungarian region of western Romania. However, this year COVID-19 reared its ugly head, forcing the prime minister to write an essay instead.
Together we will succeed again!
by Viktor Orbán
There is no Tusnádfürdo [site of the annual workshop of the Bálványos Free Summer University]. There is no Kötcse [site of annual Civic Picnic]. There is no transit (traffic). There is an epidemic. The virus has also decimated summer meetings of workshops on political thinking. And there would be something to think about and discuss. Something and in some manner which would be impossible in the parliamentarian jostle and inside the frames of modern communication. So what remains is writing instead of speaking, an essay instead of a lecture.
Illiberal, conservative, Christian Democrat, liberal. Our struggle for intellectual sovereignty and intellectual freedom, which was launched years ago in Tusnád(fürdo), is slowly coming to fruition. Political correctness, that is, the rebellion against the classical liberal doctrines — ways of speaking, and dictates on style — is expanding. More and more people courageously step out of the stall of the already stiflingly narrow single correct way of speaking, the only correct concept of democracy, the only correct interpretation of Europe and the West. The attempt to escape is not easy in itself; the risk of punishment is significant. Expulsion from academic life, job loss, stigma, running the university gauntlet — examples are slowly becoming commonplace. But even if we manage to get over the well-paid and round-the-clock watching knee-jerk liberal* border guards, we also have to deal with the deep-seated reflexes of any well-meaning audience. Despite the sophistication of reasoning, the praise of nationalism shakes the German stomach, even if it was written by Professor Hazony from Jerusalem. And no matter what velvety tone we use to talk about illiberal democracy, it sounds awful to German and Anglo-Saxon ears. Even today.
The rebellion against liberal spiritual oppression is not only widening, but also deepening. There are more and more compelling essays; thorough studies and inevitable monographs come to light. Even if they don’t confess it in the Brussels bubble, we can already see that the emperor is naked. The doctrine of ‘democracy can only be liberal’, the untouchable idol, the big fetish has fallen, we just have to wait for the stirred-up cloud of dust to settle, and then we will not only know, but see. It seems that conservative and Christian Democratic parties, political movements can escape the life-threatening embrace of liberals. “There’s no such thing as an illiberal democracy,” and similar sentences are now being recorded in the book of political nonsense, no matter where they come from. Conservative political thinkers have finally summoned up the courage to justify, by outlining with the elegance of mathematical proofs, that liberalism and conservatism represent two opposing positions in political theory. They have shown that the arguments of those who want to shove conservatism under the big umbrella of liberalism are wrong. Those who argue that the separation of powers, civil and political freedoms, the protection of private property and constrained governance — that is, the rule of law — can only be conceived within the spiritual framework of liberalism and only through the means of liberal democracy, they are wrong to stick to this benevolent explanation. Of course, we also know Hungarians who have solved this task in the past, but have realized, how much more pleasant it is to collect appreciative shrugs in Brussels, accompanied by the gentle smiles of lukewarm liberal salons, than to squeal like a black lamb at home in Budapest. That little nauseating bad feeling there in the region of the stomach doesn’t even seem like such a big price. Although today the temperature, furniture and elegance of Central European salons are less and less behind the Western ones, not to mention the cuisine. Crawling back will soon begin. As happened from Moscow once upon a time.
Today’s confusion of conservatism and liberalism can be traced back to the fact that in the great battles against totalitarianism, conservatives and liberals set aside their essential and then still obvious differences. They set them aside and made an alliance against the common enemy. An alliance against Nazism and Communism, Nazis and Communists. It was a long, centuries-long struggle, and the severity of the Allies’ thoughts, arguments, and fundamentals became apparent only when the Alliance lost its meaning with the fall of the Berlin Wall in the West and the withdrawal of the Soviets in the East.
Politicians, journalists, and even scholars easily alternate between conservative and liberal ideas and concepts. For a long time — too long, about two decades — it seemed that there was nothing wrong with that; even if it was intellectually inaccurate and remiss, no serious damage came from it. This was also thought by the Anglo-Saxon conservatives and the European Christian Democrats. However, the situation has now changed. Things have gotten serious. What used to seem like a slight mental defect, poor posture, a tolerable disorder, now prevents us from seeing clearly on important issues. It obscures the fact that the biggest challenge and opponent for conservatives and Christian Democrats today and again is liberalism and liberals. The principles of Christian Democrat and Liberal thinking are in stark contrast, and in the crosshairs of Liberal attacks are all that is most important to us: the cornerstones of the desired political order, the center of the Conservative-Christian Democratic tradition, religion, family.
The recognition that, if it goes on like this, Christian-Conservative forces will assist in weakening nations, eradicating religious traditions, and downgrading, mocking the family, here in Central Europe, has risen to the level of public and state politics. Here the red light came on, here we applied the emergency brake, and here, mainly in Poland and Hungary, we sounded the alarm bells. There was enough force here to pull back the European political home of the Christian Democrats and Conservatives, the European People’s Party, from the edge of the abyss. There was enough instinct and volume here to say that we could not risk the future of European Christian democracy for the sake of an understandable German demand for the Brussels coalition party to have its pattern to coincide with Berlin’s, as this is the easiest way to create harmony between the two centers of power.
So if the Christian Democrats enter the coalition with the left in Berlin, so should the EPP in the European Parliament. If we follow this trail, after the German elections, we can also get to know the beauties of the EPP and the coalition with the Greens, as it has already been already “tasted” in the laboratory in Vienna.
In Central Europe, however, not only good taste is rebelling against the idea of such perversion, but also common sense. The differences between liberal and Christian Democratic political theory are important not only in the world of university departments. They also have serious practical political consequences.
Liberals, for philosophical reasons going back to Kant — which I will not detail here — believe that every country, even those that are governed today as a non-liberal democracy, should be forced to accept this form of government. Christian Democrats, on the other hand, reject such a foreign policy because they believe that societies are held together in different ways and in peace. As the Arab Spring recently proved, liberal democracy can bring collapse and chaos, causing more harm than good. That is why we also support Donald Trump’s victory, because we are well aware of the foreign policy of American democratic governments based on moral imperialism. We were forced to taste it, but it didn’t taste good, so we don’t ask for a repeat.
Our policies are also intertwined on that topic, which is commonly referred to as “subsidiarity” in Brussels. Liberals say it is good to transfer as many national governmental powers as possible to international organizations. That is why they clap their hands politely; that is why vision is veiled and the heart beats faster when any international organization is given a new competence, a task and, of course, a horse and a weapon, as this gives universal ideas — European values, universal human rights — more encouragement and recognition.
However, the enthusiasm of Christian Democrats is less bubbly, because they see that such organizations are inevitably prone to arbitrariness, which those organizations tend to call the “rule of law”, which is merely a rule of blackmail, vulnerable to Soros’ network-like intrusion attempts, and if choices have to be made between the citizens of national communities and the big dogs of global capitals, in the end they always choose the latter. The citizens of European nations soon realized that today’s European institutions did not serve them, but the interests of George Soros and his ilk. They refuse to swallow the BS of Brussels, that a financial speculator, enriched by the destruction of others, is lurking in the corridors of Brussels to offer his selfless help to Europe.