The 'Illiberal State'
Writers specialize on aspects of their biography or they avoid the subject. Thereby, countries can be ignored to avoid the appearance of prejudice. Due to a turbulent past, your correspondent has several “like” countries he likes to avoid. Alas, one of these has gained international attention, which makes avoidance difficult. While her economic success is yet to be “discovered,” the response to mass migration brought her daily mention in Europe.
Hungary is run by a popular conservative party — expressed by a 2/3 majority. Yes, the left tags it as “rightist” — anything to the right of Marx qualifies — and as “populist.” One wonders why being popular by being outspoken is a crime. Whatever the curses, Europe’s governors face a confusing rebellion of their masses. Hungary’s “Young Democrats” (YD) closed their border to migrants that question their community’s right to exist. Furthermore, the — clearly “criminal” — goal is to govern without a deficit, and the YD is further incriminated by repaying the national debt.
Equally condemning is that, the YD took power from the “Socialists” that run much of Europe. Adding insult to the injury of “Incorrect Behavior,” they have ignored the IMF, lowered unemployment — and created a shortage of qualified workers.
Mr. Orbán, the Prime Minister, achieved notoriety when, responding to a terrorized population, closed his country’s within-the-EU borders, because the EU will not control its outside borders. After laments invoking “Hitler,” one country after the other — but hundreds of thousands of illegals later — applied the PM’s remedy. Even Austria does so. Weirdly, her leftist Chancellor was the loudest detractor of the “fascist” Hungarians. True, being PC-minded, Vienna chose to call her border fence “an entrance with extended (barbed wire) wings.” Equally odd is that the “fence,” which has the backing of the Visegrád Group (V4), is imitated without admitting whose policy is being copied.
As this is written, a new chapter of the tale “The People Against the EU” opens. Originally, Germany’s Merkel invited the Middle East for dinner. When it really came, she asked “Europe” to buy the food and cook the meal. Now, responding to that demand, Brussels asks that all EU members take in a centrally allocated contingent as immigrants. Resistance that goes beyond the V4 is forming. That insolence made the EU suggest that the unwilling pay $290 000 as a “solidarity contribution” for every refused settler. (Britain is not affected, but the plan tells what awaits her if Brexit fails.) Note: The expensive relief is only “temporary” in duration. No wonder that the uppity contemplate leaving the union as a response to the “extortion.”
Hungary’s retort is a plebiscite: “Do you want the EU to prescribe the mandatory settlement of non-Hungarians … without the consent of parliament?” The justification; a self-respecting people “cannot accept foreign countries imposing an immigration model that would change its cultural composition.”
PM Orbán provokes by being one of the “new men” that dare to think beyond the worn slogans that are the dogmas of the tradition-bound political old guard. As such, he is a starter of trends. If he would head a significant country, Europe’s political landscape would already be hanging upside down. Even so, the trend he started is followed — ever more so, as time passes.
However, the reason for Orbán’s “black sheep” role is more fundamental. In 2015 he dared to declare that Liberalism is failed and bankrupt. Those traits make it a poison that ruins nations. Therefore, Hungary, regards itself to be a “non-liberal state.”
Loudly, the term “dictatorship” echoed from the lofty peaks of PC politics to resonate in the deep public valleys. The closer the rudderless ship of traditional politics gets to the wrecking shoals, the louder the denunciation becomes. Knowing the etiquette of the political class that issues instructions about which bathroom to use, you suspect that the apostasy embedded in that pronouncement must be more solid than it is purported to be. What did Orbán actually say and mean?
First of all, Orbán did not separate from Locke, Burke, Bastiat, J.S. Mills, Hayek, et.al. He would agree that, by itself, nature makes man poor, brutish, and animal like. Nature’s predisposition is overcome through work. Society’s task is to assure that “work” — value creation — is rewarded according to the value that free agents attribute to it on the market. A successful community guarantees the fruits of that contribution by valuing property as a product of personal freedom and, therefore, protects it.
Mr. Orbán’s “work-based society” achieves successes. Unemployment could be reduced from 12% to 6% and is headed toward 5.3%. The national debt — mainly created by the Left — is being paid back, FDI grows, and the deficit is well below the EU’s limit — which few take seriously. Does this sound like classical liberal economics? Refuse to answer to protect yourself from excommunication.
If Orbán does not mean what he is supposed to have said, then what is the content of the Liberalism he renounced?
What calls itself liberalism at present, is a kidnapped version of the original idea. Cloaking dubious political forces, it advocates collectivism, big government, limited property rights, and the replacement of market forces with ordinances. Additionally, the practice that invokes liberalism is hesitant to defend the societies that are structured on the principle of liberty. Attempting to be fair, the blemishes of freedom’s systems are examined under a magnifying glass, while its foes transgressions are viewed through a reversed telescope — which diminishes sizes.
Political Correctness is a defining product of the relativism that had crept into liberal practice. It is a form of censorship — think of the Facebook case — which liberals used to reject but now practice to steer the “crowd.” PC “kills” for it distorts threats, and if it admits that a foe exists, it invokes self-blame for his hostility — as in “blame America first.” This defangs the self defense of the community that is entrusted to “liberal” rule.
The collapse of liberal-run Europe facing the — liberal generated — invasion of Moslem masses has made a point. In fact, it is this failure that enables most people to feel the difference between liberal slogans and reality. Practiced liberalism is self-disabled from protecting its public’s elementary interests. Real-existent liberalism sees weakness as a virtue and submission as an act of reason that serves “peace.” It facilitates this that, the liberals of all parties claim to be free to question everything. However, in practice, they only doubt themselves. So they tolerate, by “understanding,” anything as God given in case it is leftist, third world, or “enraged.”
Believing against the facts, and formulating policies that dodge problems, creates a gap between the reality preached and what the “barefooted” that walk on the ground perceive. The gap is wide enough — as in the recent case of Austria — for once grand old parties to crash after seventy years of rule. Convinced of their moral superiority, governing liberals attempt to overcome the immaturity of the mass by illiberally imposing centralism. The power that is flows from top down is, in the case of the EU, bureaucratic and blames for its reverses the subjects’ inclination to think in national and ethno-cultural terms. Centralism is meant as a tool to educate slow movers to agree to ride the beam that will propel blinded mankind into a bright future.
It is the failure-prone, detached, and centralizing derailment of liberalism that Mr. Orbán and his ilk reject. The motive is not — as charged — a craving for dictatorial power, but a commitment to the greatest freedom to the greatest number. That includes the right to diversity, a national culture, and the common sense driven citizen’s unalienable right to determine his fate.
There are peoples that treasure their — often newly regained — independence because they recall earlier servitude. Their preferred ways reflect that experience — and that puts them on a collision course with the office holding Eurocrats. The resulting restructuring of politics, the discard of the thread-bare, conventional approaches, is growing into a global phenomenon. This makes the unfolding events in America into a part of a trend that is now capable to cross oceans.