Disobedient Hungary: From the Soviet to the European Union
CNN recently discovered a paradox. How was it possible, they asked, that in 1989, Viktor Orban, at the time a Western-acclaimed liberal opposition leader, was calling for Soviet troops to leave Hungary, and now that he is Prime Minister, he is cozying up to Vladimir Putin?
For the same reason, dummy.
Orban wanted his country to be independent then, and he wants it to be independent now.
In 1989, Hungary was a satellite of the Soviet Union. Whatever Hungarians wanted, they had to follow directives from Moscow and adhere to Soviet communist ideology.
Today, Hungary is ordered to follow directives from Brussels and adhere to the EU ideology, a k a “our common values”.
But what exactly are those “common values”?
Not so very, very long ago, “the West”, that is, both America and Europe, claimed devotion to “Christian values”. Those values were evoked in Western condemnation of the Soviet Union.
That is out. These days, indeed, one of the reasons why Viktor Orban is considered a threat to our European values is his reference to a Hungarian conception of “the Christian character of Europe, the role of nations and cultures”. The revival of Christianity in Hungary, as in Russia, is regarded in the West as deeply suspect.
So it’s understood, Christianity is no longer a “Western value”. What has taken its place? That should be obvious: today “our common values” essentially mean democracy and free elections.
Guess again. Orban was recently re-elected by a landslide. Leading EU liberal Guy Verhofstadt called this “an electoral mandate to roll back democracy in Hungary.”
Since elections can “roll back democracy”, they cannot be the essence of “our common values”. People can vote wrong; that is called “populism” and is a bad thing.
The real, functional common values of the European Union are spelled out in its treaties: the four freedoms. No, not freedom of speech, since many Member States have laws against “hate speech”, which can cover a lot of ground since its meaning is open to wide interpretation. No, the obligatory four freedoms of the EU are free movement of goods, services, persons and capital throughout the Union. Open borders. That is the essence of the European Union, the dogma of the Free Market.
The problem with the Open Border doctrine is that it doesn’t know where to stop. Or it doesn’t stop anywhere. When Angela Merkel announced that hundreds of thousands of refugees were welcome in Germany, the announcement was interpreted as an open invitation by immigrants of all sorts, who began to stream into Europe. This unilateral German decision automatically applied to the whole of the EU, with its lack of internal borders. Given German clout, Open Borders became the essential “European common value”, and welcoming immigrants the essence of human rights.
Very contrasting ideological and practical considerations contribute to the idealization of Open Borders. To name a few:
- Economic liberals maintain that because Europe is aging, it needs young immigrant workers to pay for the pensions of retired workers.
- Many Jewish activists feel threatened by national majorities and feel safer in a society made up of ethnic minorities.
- More discreetly, certain entrepreneurs favor mass immigration because growing competition in the labor market brings down wages.
- Many artistically inclined people consider ethnic diversity to be more creative and more fun.
- Certain anarchist or Trotskyist sects believe that uprooted immigrants are the “agent” of the revolution that the Western proletariat failed to produce.
- Many Europeans accept the idea that nation states are the cause of war, concluding that every way of destroying them is welcome.
- International financial investors naturally want to remove all obstacles to their investments and thus promote Open Borders as The Future.
- There are even a few powerful schemers who see “diversity” as the basis of divide and rule, by breaking solidarity into ethnic pieces.
- There are good people who want to help all humanity in distress.
This combination of contrasting, even opposing motivations does not add up to a majority in every country. Notably not in Hungary.
It should be noted that Hungary is a small Central European country of less than ten million inhabitants, which never had a colonial empire and thus has no historic relationship with peoples in Africa and Asia as do Britain, France, the Netherlands, and Belgium. As one of the losers in World War I, Hungary lost a large amount of territory to its neighbors, notably to Romania. The rare and difficult Hungarian language would be seriously challenged by mass immigration. It is probably safe to say that the majority of people in Hungary tend to be attached to their national identity and feel it would be threatened by massive immigration from radically different cultures. It may not be nice of them, and like everyone they can change. But for now, that is how they vote.
In particular, they recently voted massively to re-elect Victor Orban, obviously endorsing his refusal of uncontrolled immigration. This is what has spurred scrutiny of Orban’s leadership for signs of incumbent dictatorship. The EU is taking steps to strip Hungary of its political rights as a result. On September 14, Victor Orban made his position clear in a speech to the (largely rubber stamp) European Parliament in Strasbourg:
“Let’s be frank. They want to condemn Hungary and the Hungarians who have decided that our country will not be an immigration country. With all due respect, but as firmly as possible, I reject the threats of the pro-immigration forces, their blackmail of Hungary and the Hungarians, all based on lies. I inform you respectfully that however you decide, Hungary will stop illegal immigration, and defend its borders, against you if necessary.”
This was greeted with outrage.
Former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt, currently president of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Group in the European Parliament and an ardent European federalist, responded furiously that “we cannot let far right populist governments drag democratic European states into the orbit of Vladimir Putin!”
In a tweet to his EP colleagues, Verhofstadt warned: “We are in an existential battle for the survival of the European project. … For Europe’s sake, we need to stop him!”
CNN approvingly ran an opinion piece from Verhofstadt describing Hungary as a “threat to international order”.
“In the coming weeks and months, the international community — and the United States in particular — must heed our warning and act: Hungary’s government is a threat to the rules-based international order,” he wrote.
“European governments and the US have a moral obligation to intervene”, Verhofstadt continued. “We cannot stand aside and let populist, far-right governments drag democratic European states into Vladimir Putin’s orbit and undermine the postwar international norms.”
Next come sanctions: “Political and financial costs must be attached to governments pursuing an authoritarian path and support provided to civil society organizations…”
Verhofstadt concluded: “This is not in the interests of the people of America or Europe. We need to stop him — now.”
Verhofstadt’s appeal to America to “stop” the Hungarian prime minister sounds like nothing so much as appeals to Brezhnev by hard-line communists to send the tanks into reformist Czechoslovakia in 1968.
However, this appeal for intervention was not addressed to President Trump, who is in the same doghouse as Orban among the Atlanticists, but rather to the deep state forces which the Belgian fanatic assumes are still in power in Washington.
At the start of his CNN article, Verhofstadt paid tribute to “the late, great, John McCain, who once described Orban as ‘a fascist in bed with Putin’…” That is the McCain who went around the world as head of the Republican branch of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) encouraging and financing dissident groups to rebel against their respective governments, in preparation for U.S. intervention. Oh Senator McCain, where are you now that we need you for a little regime change in Budapest?
Orban’s reputation in the West as dictator is unquestionably linked to his intense conflict with Hungarian-born financier George Soros, whose Open Society foundation finances all manner of initiatives to promote his dream of a borderless society, notably in Eastern Europe. Soros operations could be considered privatized U.S. foreign policy, along the same lines as McCain, and innocently “non-governmental”. One Soros initiative is the private Budapest-based Central European University whose rector is open society advocate Michael Ignatieff. Hungary recently imposed a 25% tax on money spent by nongovernmental organizations on programs that “directly or indirectly aim to promote immigration,” which affects the CEU. This is part of a recently adopted package of anti-immigration measures known as the “Stop Soros” bill.
Hungarian measures against Soros’ interference are of course denounced in the West as a grave violation of human rights, while in the United States, prosecutors search frantically for the slightest indication of Russian interference or Russian agents.
In another blow against the international rules-based order, the Hungarian prime minister’s office recently announced that the government will cease to fund university courses in gender studies, on the grounds that they “cannot be justified scientifically” and attract too few students to be worthwhile. Although privately funded and thus able to continue its own gender studies program, the CEU was “astonished” and called the measure “without any justification or antecedent.”
Like the Soviet Union, the European Union is not merely an undemocratic institutional framework promoting a specific economic system; it is also the vehicle of an ideology and a planetary project. Both are based on a dogma as to what is good for the world: communism for the first, “openness” for the second. Both in varying ways demand of people virtues they may not share: a forced equality, a forced generosity. All this can sound good, but such ideals become methods of manipulation. Forcing ideals on people eventually runs up against stubborn resistance.
There are differing reasons to be against immigration just as to be for it. The idea of democracy was to sort out and choose between ideals and practical interests by free discussion and in the end a show of hands: an informed vote. The liberal Authoritarian Center represented by Verhofstadt seeks to impose its values, aspirations, even its version of the facts on citizens who are denounced as “populists” if they disagree. Under communism, dissidents were called “enemies of the people”. For the liberal globalists, they are “populists” – that is, the people. If people are told constantly that the choice is between a left that advocates mass immigration and a right that rejects it, the swing to the right is unstoppable.