The Vision Of Viktor Orbán
Extraordinary speech by Hungarian PM shows why he is a Thatcher figure to a future Ronald Reagan
Late last week, the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban gave a long, off-the-cuff discourse to a large group of Hungarians gathered in what used to be Hungarian-owned Transylvania (now part of Romania). I wasn’t there, but I heard from friends who were that his remarks were very strong. (If you speak Hungarian, here is the YouTube link to his address.) This morning someone present sent me a full transcript. This is as clear a portrait of Orban’s vision of where the West is today, and where his country fits into it, as I’ve seen. In a couple of weeks, PM Orban will be in Dallas to keynote CPAC Texas. My guess is that a lot of what’s in that Transylvania talk will find its way into the Dallas one.
Let’s hit some highlights. Here is Viktor Orban:
When one observes the world, what is most striking is that the data suggests that it is an increasingly better place; and yet we feel the opposite to be true. Life expectancy has reached seventy years of age, and in Europe it is eighty. In the past thirty years child mortality has fallen by a third. In 1950 the world malnutrition level stood at 50 per cent, while now it is at 15 per cent. In 1950 the proportion of the world’s population living in poverty was 70 per cent, and in 2020 it was only 15 per cent. Across the world, the literacy rate has risen to 90 per cent. In 1950 the average working week was 52 hours long, but this has fallen to 40 hours per week today, with leisure time increasing from 30 hours to 40 hours. I could continue the list at length.
And yet the general feeling is that the world is steadily deteriorating. The news, the tone of the news, is getting ever darker. And there is a kind of doomsday view of the future that is growing in strength. The question is this: Is it possible that millions of people simply misunderstand what is happening to them? My answer to this phenomenon is that this winter of our discontent is a fundamentally Western attitude to life, which stems from the fact that Western civilisation is losing its power, its performance, its authority, its capacity to act. This is an argument that the západniks – that is to say, the natural born Westernisers – tend to sneer at: they say that it is boring, that Spengler wrote that the West was in decline yet it is still here, and that whenever we can we send our children to universities in the West, not the East. “So there is no great problem here.” But the reality is that a hundred years ago, when there was talk of the decline of the West, they were referring to spiritual and demographic decline. What we are seeing today, however, is the decline of the Western world’s power and material resources. I need to say a few words about this to enable us to accurately understand the situation we are in.
It is important that we understand that other civilisations – the Chinese, the Indian, let’s say the Orthodox world, and even Islam – have also undergone a process of modernisation. And we see that rival civilisations have adopted Western technology and have mastered the Western financial system, but they have not adopted Western values – and they have absolutely no intention of adopting them. Nevertheless, the West wants to spread its own values, which is something that the rest of the world feels to be humiliating. This is something which we understand, as sometimes we also feel the same way. I recall an episode in the life of our Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó, some time around 2014, under a previous US administration. A visiting US government official casually pushed a sheet of paper in front of him and simply said that the Hungarian Constitution should be amended on the points it contained, after which friendship would be restored. So we understand this resistance from the rest of the world to the West’s propagation of values, to its export of democracy. In fact I suspect that the rest of the world has realised that it needs to modernise precisely because it is the only way to resist the export of Western values that are alien to it.
Can you believe that? That the Obama administration wanted to force the Hungarians to change their constitution to suit American values, as the price of normalizing good relations? I can believe it, certainly. Anyway, Orban goes on to talk about the material losses:
The most painful thing about this loss of territory, this loss of power and material territory, is that we in the West have lost control over energy carriers. In 1900 [corrected from “1990”] the United States and Europe controlled 90 per cent of all oil, natural gas and coal supplies. By 1950 this figure had dropped to 75 per cent, and today the situation is as follows: the US and Europe together control 35 per cent, with the US controlling 25 per cent, while we control 10 per cent; the Russians control 20 per cent; and the Middle East controls 30 per cent. And the situation is the same with raw materials. In the early 1900s the US, the British and the Germans held a considerable proportion of the raw materials needed for modern industry. After the Second World War the Soviets stepped in; and today we see that these raw materials are held by Australia, Brazil and China – with 50 per cent of Africa’s total raw material exports going to China. But looking to the future, what we see does not look very good either. In 1980 the US and the Soviet Union dominated the supply of most of the rare earths that are the basic materials for industries built on modern technology. Today the Chinese are producing five times more than the US and sixty times more than the Russians. This means that the West is losing the battle for materials. If we want to understand the state of the world, if we want to understand the state of the Westerner in the world, our starting point must be that much of the world’s energy carriers and energy resources lie outside Western civilisation. These are the hard facts.
Here Orban discusses the hypocrisy of the United States, attacking Russia for using energy policy (oil and natural gas) as a foreign-policy weapon, when the US in fact has been doing exactly this:
Within this our situation – Europe’s situation – is doubly difficult. This is the reason that the United States has the strategy that it has. The year 2013 is one that has not been noted or written down anywhere by anyone. But this was the year in which the Americans launched new technologies for extracting raw materials and energy – for simplicity’s sake, let us call it the fracking method of energy extraction. They immediately announced a new US security policy doctrine. I quote from it, it runs as follows. This new technology, they said, would put them in a stronger position to pursue and achieve their international security objectives. In other words, America made no secret of the fact that it would use energy as a foreign policy weapon. The fact that others are being accused of this should not deceive us.
It follows from this that the Americans are pursuing a bolder sanctions policy, as we are seeing in the shadow of the current Russo-Ukrainian war; and they have set about strongly encouraging their allies – in other words us – to buy supplies from them. And it is working: the Americans are able to impose their will because they are not dependent on energy from others; they are able to exert hostile pressure because they control the financial networks – let’s call them switches for simplicity – for sanctions policy; and they are also able to exert friendly pressure, meaning that they can persuade their allies to buy from them. A weaker version of this policy was seen when President Trump first visited Poland, when he just talked about the need for them to buy “freedom gas”. This US strategy has only now, in 2022, been complemented with the sanctions policy. This is where we are now, and it would not surprise me if uranium, nuclear energy, were soon to be included in this sphere.
That passage reminded me of sitting in my Budapest apartment a week or two after the Ukraine war started. I watched Russian propaganda on my laptop, from RT, and knew I was being propagandized. Then I turned CNN on via cable TV, and … knew I was being propagandized by my own side. But it ain’t propaganda when we do it, right?
Now we come to what to me is the most important part of the talk: Orban’s cultural vision. I saw on Twitter some left-wing agita over Orban saying that he didn’t want Hungary to be a “mixed-race society.” A concerned friend asked me what he meant by that. I told the friend that I do not trust Western reports, that I would need to see the transcript myself. Well, here is the remark, and its context:
Following this, allow me to say something about us Hungarians. What questions must Hungary and the Hungarian nation answer today, how and in what order must we answer them? These questions are like the layers of a dobostorta [Hungarian layered sponge cake], stacked on top of each other: the most important at the bottom, the lighter and tastier morsels on top. This is the order that I will follow now.
The first and most important challenge, Dear Friends, continues to be population, or demography. The fact is that there are still far more funerals than baptisms. Whether we like it or not, the peoples of the world can be divided into two groups: those that are capable of biologically maintaining their numbers; and those that are not, which is the group that we belong to. Our situation has improved, but there has not been a turnaround. This is the alpha and omega of everything: if there is no turnaround, sooner or later we will be displaced from Hungary, and we will be displaced from the Carpathian Basin.
This is something that the liberal West cannot bear to imagine: that its people might cease to exist in their homeland. No people anywhere have ever welcomed that — except liberal Westerners, who are so full of self-hatred they are talking themselves into their surrender and annihilation.
The second challenge is migration, which you could call population replacement or inundation. There is an outstanding 1973 book on this issue which was written in French, and recently published in Hungary. It is called “The Camp of the Saints” [Le Camp des Saints], and I recommend it to anyone who wants to understand the spiritual developments underlying the West’s inability to defend itself.
Migration has split Europe in two – or I could say that it has split the West in two. One half is a world where European and non-European peoples live together. These countries are no longer nations: they are nothing more than a conglomeration of peoples. I could also say that it is no longer the Western world, but the post-Western world. And around 2050, the laws of mathematics will lead to the final demographic shift: cities in this part of the continent – or that part – will see the proportion of residents of non-European origin rising to over 50 per cent of the total. And here we are in Central Europe – in the other half of Europe, or of the West. If it were not somewhat confusing, I could say that the West – let’s say the West in its spiritual sense – has moved to Central Europe: the West is here, and what is left over there is merely the post-West.
A battle is in progress between the two halves of Europe. We made an offer to the post-Westerners which was based on tolerance or leaving one another in peace, allowing each to decide for themselves whom they want to live alongside; but they reject this and are continuing to fight against Central Europe, with the goal of making us like them. I shall leave to one side the moral commentary they attach to this – after all, this is such a lovely morning. There is now less talk about migration, but, believe me, nothing has changed: Brussels, reinforced with Soros-affiliated troops, simply wants to force migrants on us.
They have also taken us to court over the Hungarian border defence system, and they have delivered a verdict against us. For a number of reasons not much can be said about this now, but we have been pronounced guilty. If it were not for the Ukrainian refugee crisis they would have started to enforce this judgment on us, and how that situation plays out will be accompanied by a great deal of suspense. But now war has broken out and we are receiving arrivals from Ukraine, and so this issue has been put aside – they have not taken it off the agenda, but just put it to one side.
It is important that we understand them. It is important that we understand that these good people over there in the West, in the post-West, cannot bear to wake up every morning and find that their days – and indeed their whole lives – are poisoned by the thought that all is lost. So we do not want to confront them with this day and night. All we ask is that they do not try to impose on us a fate which we do not see as simply a fate for a nation, but as its nemesis. This is all we ask, and no more.
Very strong words — but truthful ones. Viktor Orban knows what the leaders of Western Europe cannot bring themselves to face: that the future of the West is in doubt now because of mass migration from the non-Western, non-Christian world, happening at the same time as the collapse of the West spiritually and morally. He says that the borders of “the West” now fall between Central Europe (Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and others in the post-Communist bloc) and the West — precisely because the former Communist countries are not yet overrun with demographic outsiders. I gave an interview a couple of months back to a Western journalist, in which I told him that there is a good reason that Hungary doesn’t have a problem with anti-Semitic violence: because Hungary does not accept large numbers of Muslim immigrants. He was shocked that I said so — not because it’s a lie, but because I bet he had never allowed himself to confront this fact.
The European Union’s own survey shows that most anti-Semitic acts in the EU are committed by Muslims, followed by left-wing extremists. Right-wing extremists are in third place. Did you know that? I bet you didn’t. The European governing establishment prefers to keep quiet about that, because it destroys their open-borders liberal globalism. Do you know who has spend much of his fortune trying to compel Hungary to open its borders to Islamic migrants? George Soros. This is why Hungary is both the most anti-Soros country in Europe, and the one safest for Jews.
Here Viktor Orban grabs the third rail and gives it an Indian burn:
In such a multi-ethnic context, there is an ideological feint here that is worth talking about and focusing on. The internationalist left employs a feint, an ideological ruse: the claim – their claim – that Europe by its very nature is populated by peoples of mixed race. This is a historical and semantic sleight of hand, because it conflates two different things. There is a world in which European peoples are mixed together with those arriving from outside Europe. Now that is a mixed-race world.
And there is our world, where people from within Europe mix with one another, move around, work, and relocate. So, for example, in the Carpathian Basin we are not mixed-race: we are simply a mixture of peoples living in our own European homeland. And, given a favourable alignment of stars and a following wind, these peoples merge together in a kind of Hungaro-Pannonian sauce, creating their own new European culture. This is why we have always fought: we are willing to mix with one another, but we do not want to become peoples of mixed-race. This is why we fought at Nándorfehérvár/Belgrade, this is why we stopped the Turks at Vienna, and – if I am not mistaken – this is why, in still older times – the French stopped the Arabs at Poitiers.
Today the situation is that Islamic civilisation, which is constantly moving towards Europe, has realised – precisely because of the traditions of Belgrade/Nándorfehérvár – that the route through Hungary is an unsuitable one along which to send its people up into Europe. This is why Poitiers has been replayed; now the incursion’s origins are not in the East, but in the South, from where they are occupying and flooding the West. This might not yet be a very important task for us, but it will be for our children, who will need to defend themselves not only from the South, but also from the West. The time will come when we have to somehow accept Christians coming to us from there and integrate them into our lives.
This has happened before; and those whom we do not want to let in will have to be stopped at our western borders – Schengen or no Schengen. But this is not the task of the moment, and not a task for our lifetime. Our task is solely to prepare our children to be able to do this. As [House Speaker] László Kövér has said in an interview, we must make sure that good times do not create weak men, and that those weak men do not bring hard times upon our people.
See, this is why I am glad I waited to read the full context of Orban’s remarks before I reacted against the “mixed race” line. He is clearly not talking about genetics, but about culture. He said, “in the Carpathian Basin we are not mixed-race: we are simply a mixture of peoples living in our own European homeland.” This would not have been a true statement one thousand years ago, when the Magyars arrived in the Carpathian Basin. But it is today. What Orban is saying is that Europeans want to live with and mix among other Europeans, because that is what keeps the peace. He is using the term “race” as a symbol of religion and culture (and I wish he would not have done that, because it makes it hard to explain what he means). Orban is saying that if Europe continues to allow mass migration from the Islamic world, the religion of Europe for 1,500 years will be displaced, and with it, the culture. He is not putting down non-European religions or cultures; he is only saying that if we want to keep what we have, we cannot have mass migration.
Is there any more obvious geopolitical truth than that? Is there a more obvious truth that the Left and the establishment Right cannot accept? See, the Left is so caught up in its self-hatred that it condemns people of European ancestry when they move into black neighborhoods (“gentrification!”), and when they move away from black neighborhoods (“white flight!”). The only core principle driving the left is that whatever white Europeans do must be evil. As Orban wisely understands, no civilization on earth believes what the West is selling. All these other civilizations believe in themselves. As they should! We in the modern West are totally abnormal. We think we are free from history.
Notice the bluntness of Orban’s historically-informed words: Europe will have to once again defend itself from Islamic invasion, though the real fight will fall to the grandchildren of the current leadership. And notice this: he says that this time, the Islamic invasion will also come from the West — and Hungarians should prepare themselves to receive Christian refugees from Western Europe, and integrate them into the life of the Hungarian nation.
Hungary is not “anti-immigrant”. It is receiving Ukrainian refugees, and finding work for them. It is against allowing in a population that does not share the ancestral religion of the Magyars (or Judaism, which has been in Hungary for as long as there has been a Hungary). In fact, Hungary specifically rejects Islamic migration, not out of any special hatred for Muslims, but because Hungary once lived under Islamic occupation, and knows what that is like. Hungary actually has exceptionally good relations with Turkey, and would not expect that Islamic country to fling its doors wide open to non-Muslim migration. Why should they?
This is very hard for Americans to grasp, in large part because we are a nation of immigrants. Assimilation is relatively easily accomplished in the US. But this is emphatically not true for Muslims in Europe. There are several reasons for it. For one, unlike the US, where geography means that Islamic immigration is a matter of allowing in more educated Muslims, in Europe this is not the case. For another, it’s hard for anybody to assimilate to European life. The ways of life are so deep here. A Frenchman can move to America, and before long he will be accepted as American; I know this because I know many such Frenchmen. But an American, no matter how well he speaks French, and how much he loves France, will never be taken as a Frenchman in France. Other countries in Europe are like this too. This is simply a fact of life, and it is what gives these countries the kind of beauty and particularity that we admire. But that comes at a price, and that price is that it is much harder to assimilate.
(On the other hand, I have read recently that Turkish and Iranian migrants to Germany assimilate far better than those Muslims arriving from other countries. I would like to know if that is true, and if so, what accounts for it. It is certainly the case that the Muslim world is not one thing, any more than the Christian world is one thing.)
Anyway, it seems clear that Viktor Orban thinks that the West is lost, and that Hungarians in a few decades’ time will be fighting for the survival of what remains of the West. He sees the task of Hungarians to prepare their children to defend the West. Last year, I wrote something here calling Viktor Orban “the leader of the West,” and I’ve been mocked by progressives for that. I stand by it. He is the only national leader who can see the world for what it is, and who has the courage to say it plainly.
Finally, here is a passage about gender ideology. You may not be aware that the EU is slamming Hungary hard for its law forbidding the presentation of LGBT propaganda to minors. Of that, Orban said:
We are asking for another offer of tolerance: we do not want to tell them how they should live; we are just asking them to accept that in our country a father is a man and a mother is a woman, and that they leave our children alone. And we ask them to see to it that George Soros’s army also accepts this. It is important for people in the West to understand that in Hungary and in this part of the world this is not an ideological question, but quite simply the most important question in life. In this corner of the world there will never be a majority in favour of the Western lunacy – my apologies to everyone – that is being played out over there. Quite simply, Hungarians – or the sons of some other peoples – cannot get their heads around this. …
American readers should understand how much a majority of the peoples of Central Europe — Hungarians, Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, and Romanians — resent the hell out of the US and Western European governments shoving LGBT down their throats. It is cultural imperialism, straight up. If you, American, believe yourself to be fighting for the natural family, understand that you (we) have lots of allies in this part of the world. You need to understand that America used to be seen as a land of freedom, and of goodness — but now it is seen as a hostile, anti-Christian, and anti-family hegemon. I’m not kidding. I’ve had so many conversations in this part of the world with older people who lived through the Cold War, and are visibly confused and disheartened by what has happened to America. But we cannot live in the past. It is vital that we Americans understand now what our country stands for on the world stage, and why people who believe normal things about the family, about men and women, about Christianity, about the meaning of nations — why they now look at America as increasingly hostile.
Orban again, speaking the truth about how the most important factors determining our future are gender ideology and migration:
So I ask you not to be misled, not to be deceived: there is a war, an energy crisis, an economic crisis and wartime inflation, and all of this is drawing a screen in front of our eyes, a screen between us and the issue of gender and migration. But in fact it is on these issues that the future will be decided. This is the great historic battle that we are fighting: demography, migration and gender. And this is precisely what is at stake in the battle between the Left and the Right.
I will not mention the name of a friendly country, but just refer to it. There is a country where the Left has won, and where one of its first measures has been to dismantle its border fence; and the second measure has been to recognise every “gender rule” – not only same-sex marriage, but also such couples’ right to adopt children. Let us not be fooled by current conflicts: these are the issues which will decide our future.
He’s talking about Germany. Germany has decided for itself the way it wants to go: towards national decline and fall. Hungary has chosen an alternative path, and it is being made to suffer for it. Orban then pivots to talking about the importance of having allies. There’s a lot more he said about the Ukraine war, but I’ll save that for a separate post. Let me simply say here that I deeply hope that Viktor Orban talks about these things at CPAC, and that whoever runs for US president in 2024 on the GOP ticket will recognize that we need to be very close to Hungary and to Poland, and to any European nation that recognizes, as Orban does, that we are fighting for the future of the West — whether we want to be or not.
As I see it, Viktor Orban is a Margaret Thatcher to some emerging Ronald Reagan. That is, he is an iconoclastic visionary politician of the Right who understands the current times, and what it takes for his nation — and for our civilization — not only to survive in them, but to thrive.
UPDATE: One more thing to understand about the “mixed-race” controversy. Hungary is a small nation of nine million, with a unique language and unique culture. They feel the precariousness of their own nation more than the French, Germans, or British do, because there are so few of them, and because nobody else speaks their language. You don’t have to agree with the Hungarian viewpoint to understand why they feel so strongly about these things.
Also, I know that many of you will have some reaction to this post, but will not have bought a subscription to TAC, so will be unable to comment. If you wish to comment, send your remarks to me at rod — at — amconmag — dot — com, with the word “COMMENT” in the subject line. I can’t promise to publish everything, but the longer and more substantive your comment, the greater the likelihood that I will post it as an update here.