Recently, Viktor Orbán delivered a speech to Hungarian students at a summer university conference, outlining his Christian nationalist reforms and vision for Hungary. See the first half of my review of Orbán’s speech here.
Orbán continues his speech by describing the implications of apostasy for Europe today:
Now we should ask ourselves why the European elite – which today is exclusively a liberal elite – has failed. The answer to this question – or at least this is where I look for the answer – is that first of all it has rejected its roots, and instead of a Europe resting on Christian foundations, it is building a Europe of “the open society”. In Christian Europe there was honour in work, man had dignity, men and women were equal, the family was the basis of the nation, the nation was the basis of Europe, and states guaranteed security. In today’s open-society Europe there are no borders; European people can be readily replaced with immigrants; the family has been transformed into an optional, fluid form of cohabitation; the nation, national identity and national pride are seen as negative and obsolete notions; and the state no longer guarantees security in Europe. In fact, in liberal Europe being European means nothing at all: it has no direction, and it is simply form devoid of content.
Orbán has a bad habit of associating ideas such as philo-Semitism and gender equality with Christianity. These are liberal ideas which he conflates with Christianity, but for the rest of the quote he is absolutely correct.
Orbán critiques liberals for their censorship of the media, specifically for restricting negative reports on immigrants:
Liberals’ vision of press freedom reminds us of the old Soviet joke: “However I try to assemble parts from the bicycle factory, I end up with a machine gun.” However I try to assemble the parts of this liberal press freedom, the result is censorship and political correctness.
But there is hope:
The European elite is visibly nervous. It is nervous because a result in the upcoming European elections which is to our liking could derail the plan for the comprehensive transformation of Europe: the Soros Plan. In the European Parliament election, the great goal of transforming Europe and moving it towards a post-Christian and post-national era could be blocked, Ladies and Gentlemen. And it is in our fundamental interest to block it.
Employing a fundamentally counter-revolutionary Christian historical trope, Orbán explains that Europe, over the past century, has been shaped through a battle between those “based on the continuing foundations of Christian tradition – let us call them Christian democratic parties” and, on the other side, “organisations of communities that question and reject tradition – let us call them left-wing liberal parties.” This dichotomy is a fantastic micro-application of the covenantalism inherent in Christian historiography to recent history.
He then explains how the liberal side strategically employs Islamic immigration to achieve its goals:
But, Dear Friends, a situation can arise in one country or another whereby ten per cent or more of the total population is Muslim. We can be sure that they will never vote for a Christian party. And when we add to this Muslim population those of European origin who are abandoning their Christian traditions, then it will no longer be possible to win elections on the basis of Christian foundations. Those groups preserving Christian traditions will be forced out of politics, and decisions about the future of Europe will be made without them. This, Ladies and Gentlemen, is the situation, this is the goal, and this is how close we are to seeing it happen.
Orbán then proposes Christian democracy as an alternative to liberal democracy:
Christian democracy is not about defending religious articles of faith – in this case Christian religious articles of faith. Neither states nor governments have competence on questions of damnation or salvation. Christian democratic politics means that the ways of life springing from Christian culture must be protected. Our duty is not to defend the articles of faith, but the forms of being that have grown from them. These include human dignity, the family and the nation – because Christianity does not seek to attain universality through the abolition of nations, but through the preservation of nations.
This, dear readers, is genuine Christian ethnonationalism. Not quite at its best, I may add, because I believe the idea of democracy is one that we can best be rid of. I tend towards more hierarchical, traditional forms of government. Nonetheless, the Christian democratic ideal of Orbán is one we must appreciate, especially because of his understanding of it as fundamentally “illiberal”. He explains:
Having got to this point, there is just one trap – a single intellectual trap – which we must avoid: … it is the claim that Christian democracy can also, in fact, be liberal. I suggest we stay calm and avoid being caught on that hook, because if we accept this argument, then the battle, the struggle we have fought so far will lose its meaning, and we will have toiled in vain. Let us confidently declare that Christian democracy is not liberal. Liberal democracy is liberal, while Christian democracy is, by definition, not liberal: it is, if you like, illiberal. And we can specifically say this in connection with a few important issues – say, three great issues. Liberal democracy is in favour of multiculturalism, while Christian democracy gives priority to Christian culture; this is an illiberal concept. Liberal democracy is pro-immigration, while Christian democracy is anti-immigration; this is again a genuinely illiberal concept. And liberal democracy sides with adaptable family models, while Christian democracy rests on the foundations of the Christian family model; once more, this is an illiberal concept.
Orbán concludes his brilliant speech to the Hungarian youth by declaring that the time of the elite of ’68 has come and gone and that the generation of the ‘90s must replace them: “In European politics it is the turn of the anti-communist generation, which has Christian convictions and commitment to the nation.”
Along with Orbán’s phenomenal speech that marked the celebration of 500 years of the Reformation last year, this is among his best orations. A personal friend of mine, a journalist in Budapest, recently told me that he sincerely believes that Orbán is a true Christian. If he continues to put these words into practice, Hungarians can certainly expect some serious blessings coming their way in future.