LEAVING aside the straw man – Carlson hasn’t advocated Hungarianisation – it’s genuinely tragic to see a conservative/libertarian defence of America so shot through with denialism about what the country has become under a dictatorship of left-wing relativism. If Orbán is an illiberal dictator – rather than, say, a nationalist as jealous of Hungary’s culture as Daniel Andrews is of a ‘safe’ picnic – he differs from Joe Biden only insofar as he’s in charge. When the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff works for the Chinese Communist Party (and is celebrated for it), state powers are no longer separated the way they used to be.
Hungary’s Orbán is the champion of what he has dubbed “illiberal democracy.” This form of government is characterized by an explicit support of nativist Christian policy enacted through authoritarian measures. Yet conservatives who place their hopes in this philosophy are misguided. Disregarding the fact that recreating the U.S. in the image of Hungary is practically impossible, this notion misses the entire point of the American experiment.
While you could technically call Hungary a democracy, it lacks basic protections and separation of power which we take for granted in the U.S. Orbán has consolidated power over the three branches of government within his party, Fidesz. He controls large swaths of the press. The economy is also an expression of cronyism, with valuable grants awarded to the party faithful. He has also used the courts to punish rival political parties.
The root of Hungary’s appeal to American conservatives is that Orbán has successfully countered progressive ideas and laws in the country. Essentially, some conservatives are willing to give up freedoms in order to counter what they see as the ascendant progressive project.
The concluding argument is interesting as a challenge. Are there freedoms that Brexiteers, Trump fans, “blue tide” Latin Americans or their 11 or so Australian equivalents want to “give up” to beat leftism? I can’t think of any. To play any sort of meaningful role in saving liberty, libertarians have to stop begging the big questions. Controlling borders and the ethnic/religious make-up of a nation is not giving up a freedom. Nor is free speech. Nor is re-empowering traditional families, marriage, schools, Judeo-Christian culture, the Western canon, businesses, markets or private associations. The ‘freedom’ cherished by the left is the unchallenged one to go on laying waste to all these things, all these people. This is not freedom to give up but viciousness to root out.