What Conservatives See in Hungary
Hungary is the most controversial small nation on Earth. The headlines in the international media sound the alarm: Hungary represents the “death of a democracy,” the “rise of illiberalism in Europe,” and a “glimpse of our authoritarian future.” Viktor Orbán, the country’s prime minister, is described as a monster—the embodiment of nativism, nationalism, xenophobia, and fascism. Meanwhile, a faction of right-leaning intellectuals has heralded Hungary and its policies as a model for a new conservatism that asserts national sovereignty and uses state power to support families, civil society, and national identity.
Inside the country, the atmosphere is more normal than these polemics suggest. Life proceeds as usual: People spend the day working, political parties squabble, everyone is worried about inflation. Despite Orbán’s reputation abroad, most Hungarians support him and his Fidesz party; others oppose him, but with none of the fervor of American journalists and international NGOs.
Christopher F. Rufo is a senior fellow and director of the Initiative on Critical Race Theory at the Manhattan Institute and contributing editor of City Journal. He is the author of the new book, America's Cultural Revolution.
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