Is Hungary A Model For The American Right? – OpEd

In recent years, my homeland, Hungary, a small country in central-eastern Europe, has captured the attention of the American public, particularly those on the political Right. Led by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s government has championed a somewhat “Pat Buchanan” style of conservatism, with a strong emphasis on putting the interests of Hungarian families first and resisting supranational political powers, such as the federalist bureaucrats of the European Union, globalist nongovernmental organizations like the Open Society Foundation backed by George Soros, mass immigration, and other threats to its national sovereignty. Viktor Orbán’s unapologetic embrace of right-wing sovereigntism and noninterventionist foreign policy offers valuable lessons and points of inspiration for the American Right. However, like all states, Hungary is far from being a perfect model; thus, Americans should be cautious when trying to learn from it.

Dispelling the Smears

First, it is unfortunately necessary to address and dispel at least some of the most common smears perpetuated by leftists in mainstream Western media. Hungary’s leader, Viktor Orbán, is often portrayed as a puppet of Russian president Vladimir Putin, a narrative that conveniently overlooks the geopolitical realities of the region. While Orbán does maintain good diplomatic relations with Russia—as do many other nations—insinuating that he is under Putin’s thumb is just as unfounded as was the Trump-Russia hoax.

The reality is that there is a historical minority of about one hundred twenty-five thousand Hungarians living in Transcarpathia, a territory that was unjustly taken away from Hungary after World War I and is currently being occupied by the Ukrainian regime. As any sober-thinking person would realize, Orbán is understandably making sure that the Russian artillery and Air Force do not target his people. Furthermore, Hungary has been dependent on Russian natural gas ever since the communist era, a fact Orbán has endeavored to change. Orbán, being the leader of Hungary and not Ukraine nor the European Union, is first and foremost responsible for the well-being of his people and is completely in the right when refusing to satisfy the absurd demands of the Western Left in Washington and Brussels about completely cutting its diplomatic relationships with Russia.

Moreover, even though Orbán could have refused to take in refugees from Ukraine, a country that has been terrorizing its Hungarian minority for decades, he decided to provide refuge for the innocent civilians trying to flee this war. But, of course, almost no one in the West gave him credit for his actions. As Paul Gottfried rightly pointed out,

The media have said little about the world’s “largest democracy,” India, also buying energy from Russia and remaining conspicuously neutral in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. There is a good reason for that lack of indignation. Since India is predominantly non-Christian, lies outside the West, and has a relatively dark-skinned population, the media is not going to hold that country to the same PC standard as a non-woke Western state.

But Viktor Orbán, as the leader of a white Christian country, is, of course, held to different standards; but what is this double standard if not antiwhite racism?

Orbán’s Success

Viktor Orbán’s success in winning elections through populism cannot be ignored. His ability to tap into the concerns and aspirations of ordinary people has been a driving force behind his political longevity. Moreover, after winning elections, he was able to institute meaningful reforms.

Since taking office in 2010, Orbán has quickly restored public order from the chaos that the social democrats created. He also instituted a more just and reasonable flat tax than the previous “progressive” tax policy that punished success. Orbán’s government also passed an income tax break for young people under twenty-five and tax relief that increases with the number of children raised by the family. Moreover, he built a fence on the southern border of the country to keep out the masses of invaders coming from the Middle East and Africa. Although receiving massive international attacks for doing so, Orbán has not shied away from confronting the agendas of powerful figures like George Soros, whose funding of leftist NGOs has been a toxic intrusion into Hungary’s domestic affairs. On the war question, Orbán consequently held a “Hungary first” position, advocating for peace and staying out of the Ukraine-Russia conflict, not sending soldiers, weapons, or ammunition. Also, in the European Union parliament, Hungary has been a frequent solo veto against economic sanctions that hurt its people. Orbán also bannedLGBTQ propaganda from schools, putting an end to the “drag queen story hour” before it even really began.

Orbán’s government has effectively grabbed power by recognizing the concerns of ordinary people and unapologetically pointing out who the enemies are: leftists, socialists, the bureaucrats of the European Union, Soros-backed nongovernmental organizations, warmongers, and more. Thus, by not being afraid to use his political power against the Left, Orbán was able to implement policies that have positioned him as a champion of national sovereignty.

Proceed with Caution

While Hungary’s successes under Orbán cannot be understated, American right-wingers must proceed with caution before embracing it as a flawless model. Like any nation, Hungary has its share of challenges and imperfections, many of which are legacies of its communist past and the social democrats that came after it and before Orbán. Also, since Orbán must play by the rules of the game—that is, a democracy—he has to appeal to a population that grew up in socialism; thus, often, even though he most likely understands how some of his policies are detrimental to the economy, he has an election to win in order to make any reforms and thus has to embrace bad economic policies to please the Hungarian public. Nevertheless, high taxes, massive bureaucracies, inflation, economic regulations, price controls, subsidies, protectionist trade policies, and the promotion of green energy are all things that exist under Orbán and greatly hinder economic prosperity.

Moreover, the extreme regulations on gun ownership and the effective impossibility of obtaining permits to carry firearms for self-defense are not something that we, Hungarians, can be proud of either. Additionally, Orbán’s government sadly also passed a new Public Education Law that extensively regulates private schools, effectively bans homeschooling, and makes kindergarten mandatory from age four.

Learning from Each Other

In considering Hungary as a model, the American Right should recognize both its strengths and weaknesses. Orbán’s strategic approach to politics and his ability to enact meaningful policies that protect Hungary’s sovereignty and identity from global leftist hegemony offer valuable lessons. However, blindly adopting all aspects of Hungary’s governance would be shortsighted. Americans should be selective, taking inspiration from Orbán’s successes while remaining vigilant against policies that undermine liberty and prosperity.

Additionally, Hungary could benefit from observing the American Right, especially paleolibertarians, particularly in areas such as free-market economics, sound money, the importance of the right to bear arms, and the sovereignty of parents over their children’s education. By learning from each other, both Hungary and the American Right could greatly benefit. To ensure that both sides only learn from each other the good and not the bad, it is vital to keep in mind the words of Saint Basil the Great in his “Address to Young Men on the Right Use of Greek Literature.” In it, Saint Basil the Great of Caesarea gave guidance to the Christian youth about whether they should read literature from pagan sources, such as the great Greek philosophers. St. Basil instructed them to do so but with caution, only taking the good and leaving the bad:

Now, then, altogether after the manner of bees must we use these writings, for the bees do not visit all the flowers without discrimination, nor indeed do they seek to carry away entire those upon which they light, but rather, having taken so much as is adapted to their needs, they let the rest go. So we, if wise, shall take from heathen books whatever befits us and is allied to the truth, and shall pass over the rest. And just as in culling roses we avoid the thorns, from such writings as these we will gather everything useful, and guard against the noxious.

In conclusion, Hungary under Viktor Orbán presents a compelling case study for the American Right, showcasing the power of right-sovereigntist populism. However, it is essential to approach the Hungarian model with wisdom. The relationship between Hungary and the American Right should mirror the wisdom of Saint Basil’s counsel on using Greek literature. Just as bees selectively gather nectar from flowers, Americans should selectively adopt elements from Hungary’s model that align with its principles and goals while guarding against those that may be detrimental. And we, as Austrians and paleolibertarians, must be ready to point out when fellow right-wingers are about to take “poison with honey.” By doing so, the American Right can continue advancing its vision for a better future, guided by wisdom and discernment.

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