Recently, Viktor Orbán delivered a speech to Hungarian students at a summer university conference, outlining his Christian nationalist reforms and vision for Hungary, which he places in its historical and contemporary political context. In this two-part series, we will cover this historic speech, highlighting its strengths, analysing some of its weaknesses and addressing its implications for Hungary and the Western world in general.
Orbán starts off by noting that he believes that 2011 marked the start of a new era in Hungarian history. In that year a new constitution was accepted “based on national and Christian foundations.” With a new era, however, he does not mean a new political era, but rather a new “spiritual order”, with the task of government being the embedding of “the political system in a new cultural era”. This understanding of the Hungarian Sitz im Leben reflects a covenantal paradigm rooted in historical Christianity, where the epistemic or belief-system is always determinative for the well-being of the political order and not vice versa.
Orbán points to the socioeconomic advances made by his government over the past eight years in government: wages increased by 60%, the national debt dropped from 85% of the GDP to 71%, the fertility rate increased from 1.25 to 1.5, and crime dropped by half. But the work isn’t done yet. He still has big dreams for the country:
By 2030 we want to be among the EU’s five most competitive countries. By 2030 we should halt our demographic decline. By 2030 we should physically link Hungary within its present-day borders with the other areas: motorways and dual carriageways should extend as far as the state borders. By 2030 let Hungary become independent in terms of its energy supply, which has become an important dimension of security. Let us complete the Paks nuclear power development, and start using new energy sources. We should suppress widespread illnesses, build the new Hungarian Defense Force, and set about building up the economic structure of Central Europe.
One of Orbán’s aims is building up the culture of Central Europe, which he sees in contradistinction with Western European culture, in order for the region to become the cultural, economic, and political stronghold of the continent. He outlines five tenets of this project. Central European countries should:
- Defend its Christian culture, and reserve the right to reject multiculturalist ideology.
- Defend the traditional family model, being entitled to assert that every child has the right to a mother and a father.
- Defend nationally strategic economic sectors and markets.
- Defend its borders, and reserve the right to reject immigration.
- Insist on the principle of one nation, one vote on the most important issues, which right must not be denied in the European Union.
“In other words,” says Orbán, “we Central Europeans claim that there is life beyond globalism, which is not the only path. Central Europe’s path is the path of an alliance of free nations.” Orbán accurately identifies the issues at the heart of the battle for survival that every white nation faces today.
Speaking on geopolitical developments, Orbán exhibits a positive attitude regarding cooperation with both Russia and the United States, and earnestly yearns for complete peace between these two superpowers. He also rightly notes that stability in Turkey and Egypt is vital for stemming the flow of Islamic immigration towards Europe. It must be said, however, that his claim “Without Israel a geographical area of radical Islam would develop, which Europe could only see as a threat” seems far removed from reality. The opposite may in fact be true. The same goes for his affinity towards NATO or the idea of a combined European Armed Forces as necessary measures of defence. I do not see the threat that makes either of these necessary.
Orbán continues to speak on the decline of European civilization:
If we look at one civilisation or another from a spiritual perspective – and there is a branch of literature devoted to this – we can conclude that civilisations are comprised of four things. Civilisations are entities of a spiritual nature. They are formed from the spirit of religion, the spirit of creative arts, the spirit of research and the spirit of business enterprise. These are the spirits that can form a civilisation. If now we look at our Europe, in terms of the spirit of religion we see that it has rejected its Christian foundations. In terms of the spirit of creative arts we see that there is censorship, and political correctness is forced upon us. In terms of the spirit of research, we can say that the US has overtaken our Europe, and soon China will also have done so. And as regards the spirit of business in Europe, we can say that instead of the spirit of business, today Brussels and economic regulations are ruled by the spirit of bureaucracy. These processes, Ladies and Gentlemen, started long ago, but they only became sharply defined against the background of the 2008 crisis. The gravity of the situation – the gravity of the situation of European civilisation – has been revealed by the migrant crisis. Let me take a complex thought and simplify it: we must face up to the fact that Europe’s leaders are inadequate, and that they’ve been unable to defend Europe against immigration.
Orbán is here brilliantly echoing classical counter-revolutionary political theory, applying it to our contemporary context and the state of the West. And he is spot-on in his analysis. He also implicitly references that valuable corpus of Christian traditionalist literature that consists of the likes of Burke, De Bonald, Le Maistre, De la Mennais, Groen van Prinsterer, and later figures such Rushdoony and Buchanan.
In the second part of this series, we will take a look at how Orbán sees the outworking of this societal decline in the Western World in our contemporary context and, more importantly, how he seeks to address in in his own country.