‘Race’, ‘Nation,’ And Modern Times
Twenty more thoughts about the Viktor Orban controversy over ‘mixed race’ — including things that hadn’t occurred to you
A few more thoughts about Viktor Orban’s controversial remark saying that he didn’t want Hungary to become a “mixed-race nation”.
- Again, I don’t read him as making a statement we regard as racist, in the sense of saying that one race is better than other races. Maybe I’m wrong about that, but I truly believe that the concept of race is seen so differently here in Europe, and in Central Europe, than in the US. In America, given our history, to protest against “race mixing” has a clear and unambiguously ugly meaning, one that decent people must reject. It is unfair, though, to apply the American framework to Europe, which has a very different history.
- Before I say anything else, let me say emphatically that I have no interest in hearing a lecture from leftists who believe that it’s fine to have race-exclusive commencement addresses and academic meetings, as long as the race being excluded are white ones. For example:
UCSD is against “race mixing,” flat out, when it comes to people of color (but not Asians!) mixing with whites. I think this is un-American and wicked. For many years, as longtime readers will attest, I have been warning that the Left’s embrace of racial identity politics unavoidably justifies the same thing on the Right, with white people. You can’t have it both ways.
3. I spent much of today at the National Museum in Krakow, called in Polish the “Muzeum Narodowe w Krakowie”. The Slavic root word narod means “race” or “people”. It occurred to me that we Americans think that “nation” is a synonym for “country,” and use it that way all the time. But that is not so in Europe. The concept of “nation” here in Europe is synonymous with “tribe” and “race”. This is a hard thing for Americans to understand, given that our country has always been mixed-race, and was not based on a sense of tribe. In Hungary, for example, the word for “Hungary” is “Magyarorszag,” meaning literally, “the nation of the Magyars” — the Magyars being the tribe that settled in the Carpathian basin roughly a thousand years ago. When we Americans hear the phrase “the Jewish nation,” we think of the State of Israel, naturally, but for the most part, the idea of there being a Jewish “nation” prior to Israel — a concept that was uncontroversial in Europe — is hard to grasp. Hungarians — like Poles, Armenians, and many other peoples — consider all those who share their tribal and cultural ancestry as somehow being part of their discrete “nations.” The idea that “race” is a synonym for “nation,” “tribe” and “people” is not new.
4. Language frames concepts. The word “race” is so loaded in American discourse that you have to be very, very careful in using it. I am told by a two Hungarian-speaking friends that the word Orban used in his speech the other day — faj — is a delicate term in Hungarian, and that the prime minister ought to have used a more neutral one. One friend who is an Orban supporter expressed frustration that he used that word, saying that this is like his 2014 use of the term “illiberal democracy” to describe his favored political model; the friend said that Orban made an essentially defensible concept harder to explain and defend by deploying a controversial term when others would have worked.
5. Nevertheless, he said what he said, and has to own that. But there are plenty of people who are eager to think the absolute worst of Viktor Orban. I regret that at best, he made their job easier. But for those who are fair-minded, there are some interesting things to think about — things that cannot easily be dismissed with the usual lazy-liberal claim of, “THAT’S RACIST!”
6. I have said before on this topic that the Hungarians are WAY more sensitive to preserving their identity among the nations because there are so few of them. A Polish friend explained to me today, “There are not even ten million of them. Survival for them as a people is much more paramount than for Poles, who are part of an ethnic group of 150 million people.” I am sympathetic to the Hungarians on this point, as I would be sympathetic to any people threatened with extinction of their identity through assimilation or some other means, though it must be said that the different nations/peoples/races who lived under Hungarian domination prior to World War I and the Treaty of Trianon, which rewarded those “nations” with territory taken from Hungarian lands, might not be. I have read about forced Magyarization on subject peoples in the past, and it is not a pretty or admirable history.
7. Again, modern Americans — with the vivid exception of Native Americans! — really cannot understand this without effort. Maybe the Cajun people of my native Louisiana can. Their distinct culture has been under assault, both actively (in the past) and passively, by the dominant English/American culture. There are still some elderly Cajuns alive who can remember when they were punished in school for speaking French. But American pop culture has managed to do what the persecution of Cajuns by the English majority could not do: erode Cajun language and identity. If a Cajun Orban had warned in 1930 against French-speaking Cajuns mixing too much with English-speaking non-Cajuns, who make up the majority in Louisiana, out of fear of losing their culture and identity, what would people have said? From the point of view of 2022, he would have been right — but it’s too late. The Quebecois of Canada, this is what their obstreperousness on the question of language is all about. Can you blame them? Sometimes they come across as bigoted about their French identity, but given how hard it is for Francophones to resist Anglophone culture, it’s not hard to sympathize with them.
8. Modern liberals (in the sense that all of us are liberal), especially Americans born after 1960, tend to think strongly in terms of individuals, not races. I think this is mostly a good thing, and certainly a necessary thing, after segregation. But then, we Americans share a common language and culture to the extent that European peoples simply do not. Both Spaniards and Slovaks are European, but they are very different, compared to, say, an Oregonian and a Floridian. As someone who travels a lot in Europe, I cherish that difference. I’m in Krakow now, and really appreciate the particularities of the Poles.
9. Now, if one likes the particularities of the Poles (or the Italians, the Dutch, the Swedes, et al.), then one should be interested to know how we can preserve those particularities in an age of mass homogenization. This is not something that people in larger nations have to worry about as much as people like the Hungarians do, with their small numbers and unique (and notoriously difficult) language. It is a chronic concern of Hungarians, though. My guess is that because they are so few, they are more acutely aware of the challenges to national identity and cohesiveness than those who live in much larger European nations. They have to think about things that most of us Americans don’t.
10. For example, I did not realize until I began traveling extensively in Europe how profoundly Protestant — and English Protestant — the United States is. When I read Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington’s controversial 2004 book Who Are We?, which is about the roots of American identity, I came to understand in a more intellectual way what I had only intuited before from my European travels: that despite out superficial diversity, the American identity is built on an English Protestant conception of the world. Even our Catholics and Orthodox have been Protestantized, because they live in a Protestant nation, for better or for worse. When in earlier decades we Americans insisted that immigrants assimilate, what we expected them to assimilate to was a culture based on English Protestant values, which were the values of the country’s founders. Huntington’s concern in that book was that we Americans no longer had the cultural confidence to compel the mass waves of Latino migrants to assimilate to the foundational culture, and that therefore we were inviting political and cultural division into the country. Huntington was widely assailed by liberal bien-pensants for his opinions, which ran counter to standard liberal dogma.
11. Viktor Orban regards the mass migration of Muslims into Europe as an existential threat to the distinct culture of Europe. He was asked why Hungary was so willing to accept Ukrainian war refugees but not those from the Islamic wars of the last decade. He said it’s simple: Ukrainians live right next door, and broadly share European faith and culture; Muslims from the Middle East and Afghanistan do not, and would find it far more difficult to assimilate. He might have also said that if Hungary did develop a sizable Muslim minority that did not assimilate to Hungarian norms, then it would inevitably have to accommodate them by changing its own laws and cultural norms. Why should Hungarians who like to keep things the way they are agree to that?
12. Plus, it is agonizingly obvious from reading the news about cultural clashes and crime in European countries with sizable Islamic migrant populations that importing large numbers of people who carry radically different cultures in their heads is a recipe for civil strife. Why should any nation want that, if it can avoid it?
13. Moreover, Viktor Orban is a Calvinist Christian, like 25 percent of the Hungarian population. The rest of the Christians there are Catholic. Forty years of state-sponsored atheism left Hungary as not a very religious country. Orban has said in the past that he hopes to re-Christianize Hungary, to encourage Hungarians to return to their ancestral faith. He surely understands that as difficult as that task is today, in post-Christian Europe, if a sizable Islamic minority came to live in Hungary, it would be impossible. Now, for Westerners who don’t care about religious faith, or who think of it as a lifestyle accessory, this is hard to comprehend. But for people who believe it is the truth, and that the eternal fate of souls depends on religious belief, they cannot afford to be indifferent to it. No devout Muslim could, for example, remain indifferent to the future of his own Islamic country, if given the choice of whether or not to import a large number of Christians.
14. Does proving one’s own liberal bona fides require one to surrender his country’s religious, cultural, and ethnic identity? That is a hell of a big ask. Again, it’s hard for Americans to understand how this question sounds to people from other countries, because ours is a nation of immigrants — immigrants who manage to get along, more or less, because everybody has historically been assimilated to Protestant norms, if not the Protestant faith. I wish Orban had not favorably cited Jean Raspail’s racist 1973 novel The Camp of the Saints — even though, as I wrote here in 2015, there is some valuable truth in that ugly book. The most important thing is that it’s not really a book about Third World immigrants; it’s a book about the total spiritual and moral collapse of Western elites. The real villains of that novel are the governmental, religious, media, academic, and other elites of France, who are exhausted, and who welcome their replacement and domination by the Other.
It’s a horrible book, as I’ve said, and it is to Orban’s discredit that he cited it. I don’t think the one good point it makes redeems its flat-out racism. You can read a far less nasty version of the same argument in Michel Houellebecq’s novel Submission, which is not really about Islam per se, but about the decadence of contemporary French society and culture. The French of that novel are so demoralized that they turn to French people with a strong culture — French Muslims — to lead them. Houellebecq’s point — though he is an atheist — is that no society can do without a religion, and that godless France will eventually either recover its faith, turn to a different established faith, or (as he has written about elsewhere), invent a new one.
15. A Christian friend chastising me for mostly defending Orban said that why should I care if the West collapses? Isn’t it already too late to shore up the imperium? My answer is that the West, for all its problems, is my home. Why did I care when the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris caught on fire? Why was that fire more meaningful than a Costco burning down? Christianity was not born in Europe, but Europe is where Christianity was chiefly formed, and grew. It matters to me whether or not people go to church here, and practice the faith. It’s hard to be hopeful about Europe returning to the faith right now, but for those European people and leaders willing to defend what they have, why should Christians not support them (unless they engage in immoral acts in so doing)? At the moment, Christianity is in a bad way in most of Europe. Here on the streets of Krakow, in the most religious country in Europe, I’ve seen more young people in the past day with occult tattoos and sigils around their necks than I have anywhere else, ever. Something is happening, and it’s not good. If Europe loses its Christianity for good, then it will have lost itself. There will still be people of European genetic stock here, but it won’t be Europe, in the cultural and spiritual sense. I honestly don’t understand why it is considered a bad thing to love and to defend what is your own?
16. Americans too lack any sense of history regarding Europe’s centuries-long struggle with Islam. Europe hasn’t had to worry about it since beating back the Ottomans at the gates of Vienna in 1683 — this, as part of a war that saw Christian forces drive the Ottoman conquerors out of Hungary. If you think Europeans today shouldn’t worry about a reconquista from the Islamic world, you’re fatally naive as to how historical memory works. But this is how moderns think: anything that happened the day before yesterday might as well not have happened at all, unless it is useful for gaining political power today (cough, cough, 1619 Project).
17. Over at The Bulwark, Cathy Young lays into me and other supporters of Orban (but mostly me) for supposedly favoring “ethnonationalism.” Bill Kristol tweets his agreement. This is curious, and not just because I reject the idea that the United States is or should be ethnonationalist. It’s because both Young and Kristol are Jewish, and supporters of the State of Israel and its right to exist, as am I. In what sense, then, are they not in favor of ethnonationalism? Is it only okay to think of your people as belonging to a nation that has a right to exist on its own terms if you’re Jewish, but not if you are Magyar?
(Side note: Why don’t Young and Kristol care about the fact that Hungary is one of the safest places for European Jews to live — versus the more liberal France, Germany, and Belgium? As Laszlo Veszpremy writes in Newsweek today:
This accusation [that Hungary is anti-Semitic] is inaccurate, and it only serves to whitewash the dire situation of Jews in certain Western and Northern European countries. These countries struggle to confront their own antisemitism because acts of Jew-hatred there are most frequently committed by immigrants from the Islamic world. By contrast, Hungary, which has a very small number of those immigrants, is one of the safest places in Europe for Jews to live.
The 2018 data provided by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) can be taken as the baseline; the agency explored, by conducting surveys in local Jewish communities, the extent to which Muslim extremist immigrants were represented among antisemitic assailants. It is important to note that the numbers below were reported by the members of the communities themselves and were not disclosed as official statistical data. In France, those “with a Muslim extremist view” were reportedly responsible for 33 percent of antisemitic attacks, in Germany, 41 percent, in the Netherlands, 35 percent. In the U.K., they were responsible for 22 percent of all attacks, which earned this group “second place”; radical left-wing perpetrators “won” with 25 percent.
Veszpremy, by the way, is a historian of the Holocaust.)
What about the Japanese people, many of whom believe that their island nation ought to remain either exclusively Japanese, or at least heavily dominated by Japanese? They might be wrong about that, but for heaven’s sake, the way those people view their relationship to their tribe and its land is totally normal in human history.
For that matter, the Left now has this penchant for ritualistic tribal land recognition. Of course it’s true that European settlers wrested tribal lands from Native peoples. I don’t oppose reckoning with that, though I think these are silly gestures that do nothing but signal progressive virtue. But those who believe in such things should explain why it was bad for whites to displace Indians in their historic lands, but not bad for migrants from elsewhere to displace European peoples in their historic lands.
18. A Hungarian friend who used to live in the American South messaged me today:
Yeah, as I keep telling people, don’t believe what the Western news media tell you about Hungary. Go see for yourself. It’s not at all what they say. Of course it’s not paradise, and has its own problems, like any country. But there is a reason Davos Man and his minions single out Hungary for special abuse: it is a country whose democratically elected leadership is unapologetically in favor of the natural family, a traditional Judeo-Christian moral framework, and defending national identity, even if it means controlling borders. I believe that Orban did not mean with his comment what his critics say he meant, though I fully acknowledge that his favorable mention of The Camp of the Saints makes my defense of him difficult. But assuming the worst — that his remark was racist, and that he meant it to be — I still think it’s crazy to dismiss the entire speech on that basis alone. Read it for yourself and see if you agree.
19. Finally, this question of whether or not people of a single nation/tribe/people have a particular right, moral or otherwise, to keep those who don’t share their ethnicity/religion/culture from occupying the same place of land, is a lot more complicated than most of us think. Consider, at a hyperlocal level, the question of gentrification. The Left hates gentrification, seeing it as a process whereby wealthier people — white people, usually — buy housing from poorer people of color, and gradually displace them. It is seen by many on the Left as a form of white supremacy. On the other hand, the Left also despises white people who move out of neighborhoods where gentrifiers-of-color are moving in. The only solid principle seems to be: whatever the whites are doing to benefit themselves must be wrong.
That said, what we call “gentrification” is a tough issue to be on the right side of. I’ve written in the past about how I was once a gentrifier in Old East Dallas. When we moved to Dallas in 2003, we didn’t have much money. We bought a house we could afford, in a gentrifying neighborhood. (One of my wife’s uptown friends said, “Y’all live where our maid comes from.”) We loved the house, and didn’t mind being close enough to hear shots fired a few blocks away on cold nights. Our next-door neighbors were a retired Hispanic couple, wonderful people that we befriended. They told us eventually how much nicer the neighborhood was with “all the new people” (read: middle-class whites) moving in. They said that in the 1980s and 1990s, our street was a big drug market, and it was too dangerous to sit on your front porch at night, for fear of being hit by a drive-by drug-related shooting. In fact, one of the previous tenants of the renovated house we bought, they told us, was a junkie who would pass out from heroin on the front porch. Gentrification really improved the neighborhood in tangible ways, as well as saving an architecturally significant part of the city from ruin.
However, the poor and working class Latinos who lived there were undeniably being driven out. I say “driven out,” but I don’t mean mobs of whites leaned on them to make them go away. They were offered good prices for their houses that were falling down, and that were too expensive to fix. Why shouldn’t they have sold out and moved away? It seems to me that in a liberal democracy, people have to be free to buy and sell housing wherever they like, and that things like restrictive covenants (barring sales to Jews and people of color) were evil, and are rightly done away with.
Nevertheless, can we really say that something of value isn’t lost when communities where people feel united to each other are dispersed, even if it can’t be helped? I’ve written before about a taxi ride I had in Washington DC in or around 1992, when I first moved there. The city was in the throes of a massive crime wave. I took a taxi from Dupont Circle back to my apartment on Capitol Hill. My driver was an older black man, a DC native. We drove through a part of the city which at the time was one abandoned block after another. When he found out I was new to the city, the old man told me stories about how all these streets used to be home to thriving black-owned businesses. He began to wax nostalgic for the days of segregation, because, he said, black folks had real community. I didn’t take him at all to be wishing that segregation was back, but rather bearing witness to the tragic result of ending segregation: the destruction of a cohesive community for black Washingtonians like himself. That thought has sat with me for a long time, and I still struggle with it.
20. One of my favorite essays ever is this 2012 piece by Will Wilkinson on the culture of country music. Excerpts:
Now, conservatives and liberals really do differ psychologically. Allow me to drop some science:
Applying a theory of ideology as motivated social cognition and a ‘Big Five’ framework, we find that two traits, Openness to New Experiences and Conscientiousness, parsimoniously capture many of the ways in which individual differences underlying political orientation have been conceptualized. . . .
We obtained consistent and converging evidence that personality differences between liberals and conservatives are robust, replicable, and behaviorally significant, especially with respect to social (vs. economic) dimensions of ideology. In general, liberals are more open-minded, creative, curious, and novelty seeking, whereas conservatives are more orderly, conventional, and better organized.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I score very high in “openness to experience” and worryingly low in “conscientiousness”. (When I was first diagnosed with ADD my very concerned psychiatrist asked “Do you have a hard time keeping jobs?”) This predicts that I’m extremely liberal, that my desk is a total mess, and that my bedroom is cluttered with books, art supplies, and “cultural memorabilia.” It’s all true.
Is country music really conservative music? It’s obvious if you listen to it, but here are a couple telling tables from Peter Rentfrow and Samuel Gosling’s fascinating paper “The Do Re Mi’s of Everyday Life: The Structure and Personality Correlates of Music Preferences“:
As you can see, country is the most “upbeat and conventional” genre of music. A preference for “upbeat and conventional” music is negatively correlated with “openness” and positively correlated with “conscientiousness,” and so, as you would then expect, self-described conservatives tend to like “upbeat and conventional” music (more than any other kind), while self-described liberals tend to like everything else better.
Again, those low in “openness” are less likely to visit other countries, try new kinds of food, take drugs, or buck conventional norms generally. This would suggest that most conservatives aren’t going to seek and find much intense and meaningful emotion in exotic travel, hallucinogenic ecstasy, sexual experimentation, or challenging aesthetic experience. The emotional highlights of the low-openness life are going to be the type celebrated in “One Boy, One Girl”: the moment of falling in love with “the one,” the wedding day, the birth one’s children (though I guess the song is about a surprising ultrasound). More generally, country music comes again and again to the marvel of advancing through life’s stations, and finds delight in experiencing traditional familial and social relationships from both sides. Once I was a girl with a mother, now I’m a mother with a girl. My parents took care of me, and now I take care of them. I was once a teenage boy threatened by a girl’s gun-loving father, now I’m a gun-loving father threatening my girl’s teenage boy. Etc. And country is full of assurances that the pleasures of simple, rooted, small-town, lives of faith are deeper and more abiding than the alternatives.
My conjecture, then, is that country music functions in part to reinforce in low-openness individuals the idea that life’s most powerful, meaningful emotional experiences are precisely those to which conservative personalities living conventional lives are most likely to have access. And it functions as a device to coordinate members of conservative-minded communities on the incomparable emotional weight of traditional milestone experiences.
But why would you want your kids to grow up with the same way of life as you and your grandparents? My best guess (and let me stress guess) is that those low in openness depend emotionally on a sense of enchantment of the everyday and the profundity of ritual. Even a little change, like your kids playing with different toys than you did, comes as a small reminder of the instability of life over generations and the contingency of our emotional attachments. This is a reminder low-openness conservatives would prefer to avoid, if possible. What high-openness liberals feel as mere nostalgia, low-openness conservatives feel as the baseline emotional tone of a recognizably decent life. If your kids don’t experience the same meaningful things in the same same way that you experienced them, then it may seem that their lives will be deprived of meaning, which would be tragic. And even if you’re able to see that your kids will find plenty of meaning, but in different things and in different ways, you might well worry about the possibility of ever really understanding and relating to them. The inability to bond over profound common experience would itself constitute a grave loss of meaning for both generations. So when the culture redefines a major life milestone, such as marriage, it trivializes one’s own milestone experience by imbuing it was a sense of contingency, threatens to deprive one’s children of the same experience, and thus threatens to make the generations strangers to one another. And what kind of monster would want that?
Country music is a bulwark against cultural change, a reminder that “what you see is what you get,” a means of keeping the charge of enchantment in “the little things” that make up the texture of the every day, and a way of literally broadcasting the emotional and cultural centrality of the conventional big-ticket experiences that make a life a life.
A lot of country music these days is culture war, but it’s more bomb shelter than bomb.
Read the whole essay — it’s fascinating.
What does this have to do with Hungary and Viktor Orban? You should know that Orban does not do well with voters in big Hungarian cities. These are places full of high-openness people. His voters are rural and suburban — low-openness people. We have the same thing with the rural-urban divide in American politics. I want you to think about this line of Wilkinson’s: “What high-openness liberals feel as mere nostalgia, low-openness conservatives feel as the baseline emotional tone of a recognizably decent life.”
This tells you a lot about why certain people hate Viktor Orban, and others love him. What high-openness liberals feel to be a racist attitude towards immigration, low-openness Hungarian conservatives feel as the baseline state policy of a recognizably decent life. In France, you hear and read lots of older French people complaining that they don’t recognize what their country has become, in large part because of mass migration. Western liberals — including people like Kristol and Young — sneer at these people as bigots who don’t appreciate that particular blessing of liberty, and you know, maybe these people do hold sinful attitudes towards those of other races. But maybe too, to borrow from Wilkinson’s analysis, the loss of the ability to bond with one’s neighbors and one’s children, over profound common experience, constitutes a grave loss of meaning — one that’s not coming back.
High-openness individuals don’t understand that, and react with accusations of racism, et cetera, to people like Orban and his voters. High-openness individuals are also the kind who are likely to have risen to positions of power in Western cultures. But low-openness people have rights too, you know — including a right to be taken seriously, and considerately.
I say that as a high-openness person myself, one who has suffered personally from rejection by my low-openness birth family. They rejected me when I came back home in 2011 because in their view, I had followed my high-openness desires, moved away, and became the sort of person with whom they could not share the most important aspects of life. I firmly believe they were wrong about this, and I very much hate the actions they took. Ironically, having been a high-openness conservative for most of my life, I am able to understand where they are coming from, even as I judge them wrong for their conclusions and actions. My family was caught in a culture of high mobility, and had never had to deal with a family member who moved away, or who even thought and lived differently from them. Their anger at me, and their sense of betrayal, was a function of their grief over the fact that to them, I was lost. Their mistake was assuming that because I wasn’t entirely like them, they couldn’t have meaningful communion with me and my family. Their low-openness ended up causing the family to disintegrate.
But here is what I learned from that. Communities are like families: organic and fragile. They have to be tended. I learned from my own bitter experience that negotiating the shared space between high-openness and low-openness people is really hard. Too much of either can destroy community, as it can destroy family. If you want to keep a family, a community, or even a country together, you have to figure out how to balance the needs and desires of both kinds of people.
And, it is a demonstrable fact that high diversity within a limited geographical area diminished social capital. This is what Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam, a liberal, found in his massive 2007 study on how diversity affected community cohesion. As John Leo write at the time:
Putnam’s study reveals that immigration and diversity not only reduce social capital between ethnic groups, but also within the groups themselves. Trust, even for members of one’s own race, is lower, altruism and community cooperation rarer, friendships fewer. The problem isn’t ethnic conflict or troubled racial relations, but withdrawal and isolation. Putnam writes: “In colloquial language, people living in ethnically diverse settings appear to ‘hunker down’—that is, to pull in like a turtle.”
In the 41 sites Putnam studied in the U.S., he found that the more diverse the neighborhood, the less residents trust neighbors. This proved true in communities large and small, from big cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Boston to tiny Yakima, Washington, rural South Dakota, and the mountains of West Virginia. In diverse San Francisco and Los Angeles, about 30 percent of people say that they trust neighbors a lot. In ethnically homogeneous communities in the Dakotas, the figure is 70 percent to 80 percent.
Diversity does not produce “bad race relations,” Putnam says. Rather, people in diverse communities tend “to withdraw even from close friends, to expect the worst from their community and its leaders, to volunteer less, give less to charity and work on community projects less often, to register to vote less, to agitate for social reform more, but have less faith that they can actually make a difference, and to huddle unhappily in front of the television.” Putnam adds a crushing footnote: his findings “may underestimate the real effect of diversity on social withdrawal.”
Neither age nor disparities of wealth explain this result. “Americans raised in the 1970s,” he writes, “seem fully as unnerved by diversity as those raised in the 1920s.” And the “hunkering down” occurred no matter whether the communities were relatively egalitarian or showed great differences in personal income. Even when communities are equally poor or rich, equally safe or crime-ridden, diversity correlates with less trust of neighbors, lower confidence in local politicians and news media, less charitable giving and volunteering, fewer close friends, and less happiness
So, where does that leave us? One conclusion to be drawn is that Viktor Orban is a provocateur who might hold objectionable, illiberal views about race. But he is also a leader who is capable of drawing obvious conclusions from the terrible experiences with migration in other European countries, and who is willing to act to preserve the stability of his country and the happiness of the majority of his own people (who, after all, elected him). We in the United States are not governed by leaders, Republican or Democratic, who are capable of going against the high-openness liberal view of migration, even when a majority of their own people want them to. So naturally our ruling class denounces Viktor Orban.
The interesting thing is, Orban himself is likely high-openness — you don’t get to be leader of a modern European democracy if you aren’t — but he understands that he was elected to serve people who are, on the whole, low-openness, and who are that way in part because they have a legitimate fear of being assimilated out of existence. Imagine that: a Hungarian leader who puts Hungary and Hungarians first. Whoever heard of such a thing?!