Viktor Orban Evangelizes CPAC
Dispatches from the end times
“This is why we have always fought: we are willing to mix with one another, but we do not want to become peoples of mixed-race.”
-Viktor Orban, July 23, 2022
On August 4th, Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban walked onstage at CPAC Dallas to rapturous applause. He is an affable tomato of a man: were his white hair green the illusion would be complete. When he speaks, he likes to address the audience as “my friends” with a warmth that makes me feel that he believes it. He wields self-deprecating humor like a scalpel–emphasizing Hungary’s small stature in comparison to the United States and claiming a tendency to bore his audience that I have never personally witnessed.
Migration has split Europe in two – or I could say that it has split the West in two. One half is a world where European and non-European peoples live together. These countries are no longer nations: they are nothing more than a conglomeration of peoples. I could also say that it is no longer the Western world, but the post-Western world.
-Viktor Orban, July 23, 2022
Orban did not discuss the perils of race-mixing on the CPAC stage, though he referenced it several times. “I think you managed to confuse a lot of people by inviting me,” he told them. “I can already see tomorrow’s headlines. Far-right, European racist, an anti-semite, strongman fan of Putin holds speech at conservative conference.”
“I tell you the truth,” he says. “In Hungary, we introduced a zero policy on racism and antisemitism. So accusing us is fake news.”
Good to know.
“Around 2050, the laws of mathematics will lead to the final demographic shift: cities in this part of the continent – or that part – will see the proportion of residents of non-European origin rising to over 50 per cent of the total. And here we are in Central Europe – in the other half of Europe, or of the West. If it were not somewhat confusing, I could say that the West – let’s say the West in its spiritual sense – has moved to Central Europe: the West is here, and what is left over there is merely the post-West.
-Viktor Orban, July 23, 2022
Yesterday’s speech was not Orban’s first appearance at a CPAC event. He was the star of the show at CPAC Hungary earlier this year. In the conference’s opening speech, “Defeating liberal-progressivism: the 12 teachings of Orban,” the Prime Minister told eager conservatives how they could follow in his footsteps and purge liberalism from the country. Tips and tricks include “have your own media,” “have faith,” and “not only break down today’s taboos, but also tomorrow’s taboos.” “Here in Hungary we expose what the Left are preparing before they even take action,” Orban explained. “At first they will deny it, but success is all the sweeter when it emerges that we were right all along.”
On the subject of having one’s own media, Orban is a certified expert. Over the past few years, news outlets critical of the prime minister found themselves with changed ownership and changed politics. Three years ago, dozens of media companies kindly and simultaneously donated their outlets to a coterie of Orban’s closet friends.
“My friend Tucker Carlson stands alone and immovable. His show has the highest audience figures,” Orban told CPAC Hungary a few months ago. “What does this mean? It means that there should be shows like his day and night – or, as you say, 24/7.”
Most Americans do not follow Hungarian politics, nor do they pay much attention to conventions held beyond the borders of the United States. The average person at CPAC Dallas likely does not know very much about Orban aside from the fact that the liberal media dislikes him and he says a lot of things they are more than happy to hear. It is enough.
Here’s how things went yesterday when Orban walked to the podium, smiled tomato-like at his rapt audience, and began to speak:
The man knows his audience. Orban opens by comparing Hungary to Texas. Both, he says, share the same values. “My country Hungary is the Lone Star state of Europe!”
He introduces himself as a proud father of five children, the longest-serving Prime Minister in Hungary, and “the leader of a country that is under siege from progressive liberals.” For Orban, the cold war never ended. The communists simply allied with the liberals to subvert the West from the inside. “If somebody has doubts whether progressive liberals and communists are the same just ask us Hungarians, who saw them both. And I can tell you they are the same.”
This message fits so well with conservative talking points it might as well have been written by American Conservative Union chairman Matt Schlapp himself. For much of the conservative movement there is no difference between liberals, progressives, socialists, and communists. It is comforting to hear from an expert that their instincts on this are correct.
How do we save America from the communist menace within? “First and foremost, we have to trust our Judeo-Christian values,” Orban says.
For Orban, this is not merely nationalism vs communism but Christianity vs atheism. The forces that aim to secularize what Orban would term Western society are part and parcel of the enemy plot.
"We have to be brave enough to address even the most sensitive questions,” he says. “Migration, gender, and the clash of civilization.”
“Don't worry,” he adds with a smile. “A Christian politician can never be racist."
Bulletproof logic. The crowd cheers.
"If you separate western civilization from its Judeo-Christian heritage... Let's be honest. The worst things in history were carried about by people who hated christianity. Don’t be afraid to call your enemies by their name. You can play safe, but they will never show mercy!”
When one is engaged in a struggle to the death, one does not play fair. You gouge eyes and bite hard because you do not want to die. For Orban, and for many people in this audience, the conservative movement is in exactly this kind of death-struggle with “progressive liberalism.”
"Politics, my friends, are not enough. This war is a culture war!” Orban’s face grows redder as he proceeds. “[The liberals] are in total attack, so we need a total defense. You have to be brave. If you feel fear, you have a job to do. The only thing the Hungarians can show you is how to fight back by our own rules.”
I am a leftist. I fall heavily into the category of progressive liberalism, but I do not recognize myself in Orban’s words. I have no desire to destroy America, though I do want to change it to more closely conform to my understanding of the American dream.
I am a leftist who writes about the conservative movement for liberal publications, which is already a rather delicate balance to maintain. The real difficulty lies with my intended audience, which is always people right of center. I want to create things that they can read. Even if they disagree with every part of my analysis I want them to at least recognize themselves within the story. To feel like I told the truth about who they are rather than rendering them caricatures. Most of my extended family is conservative, for God’s sake! They are real people, human beings, they deserve to be presented as they are.
Orban is getting down to brass tacks: how the Good People ought to fight this fight to the death. No immigration for one thing–none. 160,000 attempts every year and zero successes, he says. Asylum seekers can apply, but any attempt to cross the border illegally must be stopped.
But Orban spends considerably more time pushing back against liberal progressive efforts to destroy the Christian family. “In Europe, they say that there is no such thing as family because love is love. And family is family. If you cannot define family, nothing is a family!”
“We know that family is the place to transfer the values of parents to the next generation,” Orban continues. “If traditional families are gone, that is nothing that can save the West from going under.”
And how do we protect families?
We have arrived, as one often does, at birth rates.
Orban spends 6% of GDP on incentivizing reproduction. Tax breaks for couples the moment they conceive. Student loans forgiven after your third child. After your fourth, you are exempt from taxes forever.
There are capitalists in this room–free market enthusiasts, acolytes of the Invisible Hand. Orban is not one of them. This is socialism–the actual thing he pretends to oppose–but the national kind. National socialism.
If only we had some kind of word for that.
It is not enough, of course, to incentivize human breeding. Orban pivots seamlessly into the “communist trick” of acknowledging “gender ideology.” In America, that phrase usually denotes acknowledgement of the existence of trans people. It means something much broader for Orban. Any discussions of sexuality in schools: banned. Gay marriage? Out of the question. A family is one man and one woman. Period.
“To sum up: the mother is a woman. The father is a man. And leave our kids alone!”
The crowd is on its feet: easily the loudest and longest cheer Orban receives all night. People shouting their vociferous agreement.
I suddenly remember my Twitter feed two months ago, filled with arguments about the corporatization of Pride. Worries about the mainstreaming of queerness.
I do not think we will need to worry about that shortly.
"We believe there is no freedom without order,” Orban says. “Without order you get chaos.”
The speech goes on. The prime minister boasts of the Hungarian flat tax of 15% which everyone pays, regardless of income. He declares his eternal support for Ukraine, then urges a settlement with Russia to stop the bloody, grinding war–and the refugees it generates.
“Dear friends,” Orban says at last, “I think I have provoked you long enough. So before Matt Schlapp takes my microphone, let’s come to a conclusion.”
Hungary looks to America, he says. The whole world does. There is truth to this. My mouth is dry.
“We in the West have not faced a crisis like this for a long time,” Orban thunders. “The ideological wars of the 20th century against the totalitarian powers of Nazi Germany and the Soviet union were terrible, but the democratic West rallied and defeated them both. Now the West is at war with itself.”
“We have seen what kind of future the globalist rolling class has to offer. But we have a different future in mind. The globalists can all go to hell: I have come to Texas!”
Indeed he has.
The crowd is rapturous.
Orban wants allies–not the traditional military agreement but a spiritual union. The fight for nationalism is, ironically, global. A war for the future of the world.
“You have two years to get ready,” he tells the audience and that timeline feels correct to me as well. 2024 is the year when everything happens. A wall that separates our future from our past.
As the crowd once again stands and cheers for this man I find myself wondering how much longer I will get to do this–my favorite thing to do. Going to these events. Getting to know the people here. Trying to understand them and then writing about them.
If the American Conservative Union gets serious about this, I will be unwelcome here. It will become dangerous for me.
I find myself thinking about forced teaming and unforced errors. For years now I have railed against the flattening of the right by those left of center. Just as conservatives see everyone to the left of Mitt Romney as communists, far too many liberals see everyone to the right of Biden as fascist. They have used this language, repeatedly, for years.
And it is inaccurate, this language. Not everyone in here, cheering for this textbook fascist, is in fact fascist, though it matters less and less. Our use of that word has done nothing to stop the spread of this ideology; it has enabled it. It allows a real fascist to slide into the room, throw a friendly arm over your shoulder, and laugh about the way the left talks about the right. “They say you’re a fascist, they say I’m a fascist. If you’re not a fascist, I can’t be one either!
“I am the enemy of your enemy. I must be your friend.”
It is too late now, of course. The window has shifted, continues to shift. We cannot unshift it.
The woman next to me, I am pretty sure, does not know Orban from Adam. But she cheers when he says the words she recognizes, the talking points. Latches onto the messages that conform to what she believes so that the rest can slip in unnoticed.
Later that evening I will have a delightful conversation with two attendees from Texas–gentlemen in their 50s. I am upfront about who I am and my beliefs, and after a few minutes of awkwardness we manage to find some common ground. We discuss our mutual enthusiasm for guns and our shared disdain of Kamala Harris’ inability to speak in coherent sentences when a camera is present.
I ask them about Orban.
Both of them thought he was great. Especially the stuff about immigration and family.
I asked if they had seen the June 23rd speech–the one I quoted at the beginning of this article. They had not. I pulled it up on my phone and handed it to them to read. They skimmed the part I pointed out.
It looks bad, one of them acknowledged. But it was probably because Hungary just doesn’t have a lot of non-European people trying to come in. It just doesn’t come up for them, he reckons. And just like that, the world made sense again.
I wonder if sailors saw the Sirens for the monsters they were, when they swam close. Realized, flickering, that the words which had entranced them had led them to an ugly and dangerous end. Did they recoil in revulsion? Scream as they drowned and died? Or did they choose to listen just a little bit harder, lose themselves entirely in the music, and remain at peace?
This was really good. Upsetting......but beautifully written.
This might be the best thing I've read in a long time about where we are... Sadly, I anticipate it will age regrettably well.