PM Viktor Orbán opens the first CPAC Hungary in 2022
“The sense of normality is still dominant” in Hungary. What do foreign conservatives see in our country? Christopher Rufo, a well-known opinion maker on the American right and a vocal critic of woke aspirations, seeks to answer this question in his in-depth analysis report – Mandiner reports.
Chris Rufo, American conservative activist and commentator, has written a long report and analysis on the discovery of Hungary by the Western right, and his own experiences in Hungary in Compact magazine.
Chris Rufo’s article, “What do conservatives see in Hungary?”, expresses his views on the coming together of international conservative circles and the Hungarian government.
Christopher F. Rufo. Photo: Facebook/Christopher F. Rufo
Rufo says that “Hungary is the most controversial small nation on Earth.”
While the international press is sounding the alarm about the death of democracy, the rise of European illiberalism and the advent of an authoritarian future, painting Viktor Orbán as a xenophobic, fascist monster, a section of the right-wing intelligentsia is raising Hungary as a shield, praising the policies of the right-wing government, defending sovereignty, families, civil society, and national identity.
Inside the country, the atmosphere is more normal than these polemics suggest,”
Life proceeds as usual: People spend the day working, political parties squabble, everyone is worried about inflation. Despite Orbán’s reputation abroad, most Hungarians support him and his Fidesz party; others oppose him, but with none of the fervor of American journalists and international NGOs, the American commentator writes.
The editor of compactmag.com traveled from Budapest to Miskolc, talking to diplomats, journalists, academics, officials, students, and ordinary citizens to get a more complex picture of our country’s politics.
Rufo was most interested in how, three decades after the collapse of Soviet communism, Hungary is trying to rebuild its culture and institutions, from schools to universities to the media.
According to Rufo,
Hungarian leaders are serious people who are fighting the same forces as Western conservatives: the erosion of national culture, leftist institutions, the rejection of sexual difference. “They may not win the fight, but their story is worth telling.”
Rufo recalls that Orbán and Fidesz have been in politics since 1989. As a young politician after the regime change, he saw how the former communists privatized national wealth and became the new oligarchs. They bought their villas in Buda, organized civil society, and sold their factories and media to the Germans, who left the former communist leaders in place. The Hungarians were then, according to Rufo, living in democracy, but not in freedom. The people of the old regime still controlled society. When Orbán first came to power in 1998, he had not yet been able to break the old order’s networks and lost the next election.
He realized he was in office but not in power. The young, naive orator saw through the surface and vowed never to play the fool again.”
Between 2002 and 2010, Orbán patiently built up Fidesz as a suitable opposition to the ruling Socialists. His greatest innovation was the creation of counter-institutions, including the media, which could stand up to the forces of the former communists.
Returning to power after eight years in the “wilderness,”
the second Orbán government immediately used its power to break the socialists’ soft power hegemony.”
The Fidesz two-thirds adopted a new constitution that declared Hungary a Christian nation, reformed the electoral system, and reduced the number of seats in parliament in a way that favored their party. They also introduced a single-rate income tax and a strict migration policy.
However, the author says that Orbán’s most significant act was one that is not so widely recognized abroad: he reshaped public and private institutions to create a conservative counter-hegemony. This included schools, universities, NGOs, the media, and government. The aim is to strengthen Hungary’s cultural foundation, family life, Christian faith, and historical memory,
by creating a conservative elite capable of sustaining all these.
As the author sees it: Fidesz leaders have made their compromises, but they are not authoritarian, anti-Semitic, or dictatorial.
According to Rufo, Hungary is not a model in all respects – the economy lacks innovation, the state controls the media too much, corruption is a persistent problem – but Fidesz’s cultural and family policies are worth considering.
Hungary is using progressive tools for conservative ends,”
concludes Rufo in his long report.
Featured image: clipping from a video on Facebook/Tiszta Amerika! CPAC Magyarországon