by Curt Mills
Wednesday, 4
August 2021
Reaction
14:02

Why national populists love Hungary

Tucker Carlson's visit is the latest in a long line of American malcontents
by Curt Mills
Which way western man?

He couldn’t meet with Vladimir Putin, so he had to settle for Viktor Orban.

A visit this week to Hungary by a jubilant Tucker Carlson makes him the latest in a line of American malcontents looking East. Steve Bannon was perhaps the first to make the voyage during the Trump years. At the time, it was just another tour date on the former White House chief strategist’s wild, wacky and very pre-2020 travels in Europe. More recently, my colleague at the American Conservative, the celebrated author Rod Dreher, has been there all summer. 

Now it’s Carlson’s turn. On his shows this week, the Fox News host highlighted several items for praise. 

First, Carlson likes the architecture. He hailed the neoclassical style of the government buildings, a clear sop to the Right and its proclivity for more traditional design. There was, of course, that short-lived executive order in the Trump administration on this front. 

But the Fox journalist highlighted buildings for another reason — those still visibly pockmarked with bullet holes. They stand as a reminder of the country’s dual invasions by the Nazis and the Soviets. For Carlson, such adjacency to violence is healthy, a reminder of how close any society is to sudden, previously inconceivable oppression.  

Those smitten with Orbán are often mobbed up in the still-nascent movement called “national populism,” or “national conservatism,” set to formally reconvene in October in Orlando under the leadership of Yoram Hazony. Like Hazony’s native Israel, Hungary has proven a rare success in reversing some of the problems that have dogged western democracies — reversing the plummeting birth rate, for one — and having done so without resorting to theocratic authoritarianism. 

But to his critics, Orban’s little better than Putin — although most people concede that he is far less malevolent (and murderous). Still, that hasn’t stopped Never-Trumpers like David Frum warning that the Hungarian PM is a “huge crook” and that citizens “fear for their jobs, not lives” — an irony not lost on American conservatives.

Moreover, as pointed out by wonky, if glib, progressives like Matthew Yglesias, the small EU nation hardly provides a fully transferable model to the most powerful empire in history. “I feel like we should all talk more about how conservatives’ dream is to make America more like this much poorer, rinky-dink little country in Central Europe,” the pundit tweeted. 

But in spite of the naysayers, it looks like the conservative interest in Hungary is set to last. After all, many feel that the country provides something that America lacks — a spine, or a genuine belief in a transformative mission. According to Dreher, he and Carlson agreed “that it is an example of a country where — unlike our own — conservatives have successfully fought against wokeness and other aspects of the liberal globalist agenda.”

One thing’s clear: the historical dynamics have shifted. American conservatives now look to post-communist Europe with envy — and at the home front with escalating embarrassment.

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Simon Denis
Simon Denis
1 year ago

A wobbly sort of article, this one – laced with a few sneers against Carlson and Orban – but ending on a note of disingenuous neutrality. The sneers must be addressed however. In the first place, because a journalist wishes to interview two men, it does not follow that he approves of each equally or at all. Second, the casual equation of Orban – a parliamentary leader with no record of war or slaughter, with Putin – a dictator in all but name, with expansionist aims, ruthless methods and blood on his hands, is irresponsible and dishonest. One wonders how long it will take young, metro journos to realise: Orban’s immigration policy is normal. It applies across the non-European world and applied in Europe until yesterday. Unimpeachable pillars of the democratic west, Churchill and de Gaulle, approved in principle of such controls. The morbid policy is the one foisted on the wider west thanks to a massive “trahison des clercs” in the educated and administrative classes. It is perhaps summed up in the recent leftist attack on a German war memorial, leaving it with the message that “Germany must die”. In fact, the left is murdering Europe.

Ri Bradach
Ri Bradach
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

I wonder how long it will take UnHerd to lose subscribers when they allow this kind of piffle to be published, lowering the wider tone unacceptably into Twitter/Guardian territory.
UnHerd, as a subscriber I enjoy reading a diverse set of well written articles. I appreciate having my views challenged by well written and cogent essays. That quality is FAR more important than quantity, which can be the only excuse for this immature 14 year old’s politics GCSE essay being published.
I can read Guardian style rubbish for free on the Guardian’s website.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago
Reply to  Ri Bradach

“reversing the plummeting birth rate, for one “

“and having done so without resorting to theocratic authoritarianism. “

WTF?

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

The meaning is pretty clear to me. Italicising various paragraphs and swearing, as if you are making some profound point, isn’t clever.

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
1 year ago
Reply to  Ri Bradach

UnHerd doesn’t seem to know what audience it wants.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
1 year ago

It wants a plurality. Good.

Dean Ethridge
Dean Ethridge
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Yes, we have to settle for the fact that, on balance, he makes a good case for Hungary. He feels obligated to quote people we disdain, relating their ad hominem attacks. I suspect he wants his larger community of journalistic colleagues to know his article is just a chronicle of “cultural currents” pertinent to Hungary. He feels compelled to be “thoughtful” but “neutral”. It’s somewhat aggravating to some of us. We have to settle for the fact that an intellectually honest assessment of his factual information favors Hungary.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Dean Ethridge

What on Earth is the problem with a journalist being thoughtful and writing facts. This includes citing views he may (possibly) strongly disagree with but without always shouting ‘I hate those views’ at every turn. In fact ideally we should not be able to discern the political views of the author from an honestly written factual piece.

But in fact the author is complimenting Hungary, as far as he is commenting on that country. But the article is actually ‘about’ American conservatives.

I kind of resent the implication that Unherd should be solely kind of ‘anti-woke’ culture war forum with no dissident voices.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

The author made no such equation. I do wish commentators on here could understand the elementary distinction between an author’s own views, and those of others that he is citing. The words ‘to his critics’ should be a pretty clear highlight of the distinction.

Without that distinction we can have no rational discussion about any subject. The failure to do so puts us in the same category as extreme Islamists.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew Fisher
Diana Durham
Diana Durham
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Precisely

Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
1 year ago

Wow. Just…wow. I don’t believe I’ve EVER seen such a concentrated jollup of sneering leftist condescension floating so directionless in such an utter vacuum of self-awareness as this piece. Awesome.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago

It is sort of like a Guardian article, but cheerful and light.

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
1 year ago

…the problem is guys in the media like Curt, are so gun shy about talking plainly and directly about the facts of life being conservative, that they have to assume this silly craven world weary ‘sort of’ tone, towards anyone or any thought not mainstream woke.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago

Wow, you people really must be extremists, seemingly unable to actually read the meaning of words on the page and presumably only satisfied with an endless parroting of favoured obsessive talking points. Quite how a positive mention of Hungary can justify this bile is beyond me. (He could have mentioned the corruption, court packing, elevating of party hacks etc) .

But the article was about the outlook of American conservatives (of which the author is one!) rather than Hungary in itself. Self awareness? How hilarious to mention that.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 year ago

The bullet holes on the buildings in Budapest are more likely to come from the 1956 uprising than anything to do with the Nazis.
I can’t say I “like” Viktor Orbán much but I am quite fascinated by him and how he has made the journey from anti-Soviet young liberal freedom fighter to a fighter against the prevailing liberal order. At what point did that liberal dream become a nightmare?

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

The liberal dream became a nightmare when the definition of liberal changed?

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago

Liberalism and its twisted destructive powers, just as we see them now, were talked of by Orwell! As he went from a hard Socalist because of USSR realities, he also saw the death head of modern ‘Liberalism’ in the pretty mask it presents its self with.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

It is a Western ‘Cultural Revolution’.

Jordan Peterson, talking with the North Korean woman who escaped and ended up in Columbia University where she says it is like North Korea in how much one must say lies endlessly or be kicked out and shunned. She tells of it, and what a waste of money and time it was because the 100% PC gone Mad, coupled with total authoritarianism. How basically evil modern liberalism in education is.

Jordan, who Loves University, cries at one point – the video is called ‘End of Universities?’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dncyXvPR8uU

If you know ot The Frankfurt School – that Weimar Republic, Marxist, intellectual group who created Critical Thinking and Post Modernism were out to destroy the West by destroying the Middle Class (Bougies, same as Marx said was necessary) by destroying family and education and society – well they moved to Columbia University in 1980, and thus it was the gateway to USA for this SICK Liberalism. This disease so much worse than covid in the harm it will do, and spreads like RO of 100…..It escaped from the Lab of Columbia University where gain of function expierments had made it utterly pathological and virulent….

Search Frankfurt School, and also the 11 points….

Ri Bradach
Ri Bradach
1 year ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I often refer to the “Frankfurt School” in the context of “blockchain” or, more accurately, distributed ledger technology protocols.

Small wonder too that almost none of them actually understand the subject matter in which they are self appointed experts – this would run counter to their object of using “blockchain” as a means of asserting their cancer into the financial system.

They are the most extreme and anarchistic. They are also great fans of (and admired by) the European Commission.

Little wonder then that their passion is for a return to a fascist state: state chosen champions who have signalled their virtue and EU credentials consistently with any and all others reduced to servitude. The state itself should be one of self appointed technocrats beyond the base rabble’s sight or account.

EC is VERY fond of this with the whole European Innovation Council directed toward favouring select incumbents rather than the creation of new competitive challengers. More obviously, the European Commission considers democracy an irritation and national constitutional courts as unconstitutional should they consider themselves distinct to and thus not subservient to the ECJ.

This is the very same school whose adherents run the European Commission Blockchain Observatory and who sustain a sycophantic media circus around them.

Should any of those platforms give an airing of my views – I am a deliberate target for these groups given that I call them out as frauds and bluffers – they are demonetised.

Ri Bradach
Ri Bradach
1 year ago
Reply to  Ri Bradach

.

Last edited 1 year ago by Ri Bradach
Ron Bo
Ron Bo
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

The EU a liberal dream? Orban is right on the money.Eastern Europe is defending European values.

Dave Lowery
Dave Lowery
1 year ago

I have visited Budapest, near Christmas time in 2018. The Christmas markets were thriving, and I noticed something missing. No big bollards. No steel barriers. No armed guards. Nobody seemingly concerned about a possible Jihadi attack.
There were no burkas to be seen (A lack of burkas is not the right phrase).
Yes, please.

Ron Bo
Ron Bo
1 year ago
Reply to  Dave Lowery

After the Nazis and Soviets surely a bit of cultural enrichment wouldn’t go amiss?

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
1 year ago

It comes down to ‘human nature’ which the Left with all its utopian ideas and visions, rails against & denies to its own detriment. Humans usually want to procreate, live peaceably and not have to worry about safety. Joe Biden’s ‘open border’ policies and Democrat-run cities which are hosting more violence than ever are not only not appealing to most people, but they threaten their happiness & very existence. ‘Defunding the Police’ is hardly the answer. For sure, Democrats have lost the plot. Tucker’s journey to Hungary is rather fascinating; if anything, he’s highlighting a system which could be simply saner, a foil to America’s Progressive moment.

Last edited 1 year ago by Cathy Carron
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago

I’d have Orban as UK PM tomorrow

Matt M
Matt M
1 year ago

I have thought since November that Tucker Carlson will run in 2024. Is this part of the early ramp up?

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt M

No, and Tucker has said so himself. Look toward DeSantos, who just yesterday told Biden publicly that he wouldn’t be listening anymore to his inconsistent covid policy, Biden’s drivel. Don’t count Trump out either, Harris is gone, buried by complaints from her own staff; She’s a loser, completely ineffective.

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
1 year ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

Harris will probably be president within 4 years.

Jenn Usher
Jenn Usher
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt M

Of any of the potential presidential candidates, Tucker Carlson is by far the most informed, articulate and expressive.
In a presidential debate it would be almost morbidly fascinating to watch Biden being dissected with surgical precision by Tucker.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jenn Usher
William Hickey
William Hickey
1 year ago

They’re trying the Trump-Netanyahu treatment of death by judicial indictment on Orban. “He’s corrupt!” It’s the Free World version of a “color revolution.”

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
1 year ago

What evidence is there that Tucker Carson and others are ‘American malcontents’? And how does this author know that Tucker Carlson will never interview Putin? What a disjointed bit of writing.

Last edited 1 year ago by Cathy Carron