Decline and Fall
Viktor Orban and Realism
The Western ruling class is approximately to discover that when moralistic idealism clashes with reality, the effect is tragedy
Among those European leaders pictured above understands the planet since it is. It isn’t the first choice of the stronger, richer, bigger country.
Everybody in the national security class and allied journalists are thrilled by the recent Ukrainian victories on the battlefield. In a single sense, it’s hard never to be. Russia deserves to possess its nose bloodied, and worse, for what it did to Ukraine. Watching videos of Ukrainians exhuming bodies from the mass graves of Izyum would be to bear witness to Moscow’s evil.
Yet, we’d be moralistic fools to trust that war is some type of novel, where in fact the plot could be wrapped up tidily. Remember how great it felt to view Iraqi mobs tear down the statue of the tyrant Saddam in the immediate aftermath of the united states victory in 2003? Would that that were the final chapter! But we realize what happened next — also it discredited the complete US nation-building mission. As it happens that all the amount of money and all of the firepower on earth cannot develop a peaceful liberal democracy out of individuals who either don’t want to buy or don’t possess the capacity for this. When idealism crashes into reality, you obtain tragedy.
This, I believe, is where in fact the West is headed with Ukraine. It’s where we’ve been headed since virtually the start — and alone among Western statesmen, Hungary’s Viktor Orban has grasped the truth of most this. He gave a short interview recently to Sohrab Ahmari, who wrote it up here. Excerpt:
If someone believes it is possible to beat Russia, and change things in Moscow, this is a pure mistake, Orbn told his partys grandees in Ktcse, speaking forthrightly concerning the wars military endgame.
His attitude isnt born of any deep love for Moscowimpossible, given half of a century of Soviet occupation and the premiers belief that Russian civilization is fundamentally not the same as Europes. Rather, it originates from the realism and cold rationality that Hungarys historical and geographic circumstances have imposed on her behalf.
Realism: The Russians have utterly confounded the power sanctions intended effects, whether by selling their reserves to the Chinese, who then resell to the Europeans at a markup, or simply by selling less of the stuff at higher prices developed by sanctions. In the case, the war and the sanctions have buoyed the ruble to historic highs.
Realism: Wanting to beggar their giant neighbor to the east, the Europeans have beggared themselves. Fuel lines are actually a standard sight in Poland and elsewhere. Manufacturers have shuttered production in Germany and across a lot of Northern Europe. Energy bills already are unsustainable for British smaller businesses, and winter isnt even here yet.
Realism: Central and Eastern Europe, Hungary quite definitely included, risk serious developmental backsliding, just once the region is poised to become net contributor to the EU budget. As Orbn thought to me, the war and the sanctions prosecuted by the West may cause the region to reduce all of the gains its made in accordance with Western Europe.
All of this raises a vexing question for American policymakersat least those ready to listen, instead of mindlessly dismiss Orbn as illiberal. May be the USA really ready to see Europe turn itself into a power and economic basket case for no tangible gains against Moscow? Would it not be desirable for an incredible number of German workers laboring in high-end manufacturing to become listed on jobless rolls? Is mass Polish poverty worth appeasing Warsaws insane and hopeless determination to fight an apocalyptic war against Russia on Ukrainian soil?
Orban hasn’t justified Russia’s invasion, but he’s got said repeatedly that the West ought to be pushing for a few type of negotiated peace settlement between Kyiv and Moscow, prior to the war expands right into a much bigger conflagration. This is simply not a proposal that feels good — what feels good would be to place it to the Russian aggressor — nonetheless it is really a proposal which has the virtue of keeping Europe, America, and Russia from stumbling right into a far, far worse situation.
This week at the NatCon conference in Miami, a wealthy American observer, upon hearing that I’m going to be moving to Budapest this fall to just work at the Danube Institute, said that I was lucky to be headed to a country governed by way of a man who cares more about their own people than he does concerning the European Union’s ideology. This is right before an EU committed declared that Hungary is not any longer a democracy, but instead an “electoral autocracy,” for various reasons, including its law avoiding the propagandizing of children with LGBT ideology. In accordance with Brussels, when Hungarians vote for Orban’s party — because they overwhelmingly did this spring — it isn’t a democratic act. Funnily enough, in the town of Budapest, that is a majority-left city, Brussels sees no issue with democracy there.
This is exactly what the Eurocrats did a few decades ago when recalcitrant European national populations balked at the EU project: declared the vote rejecting the EU invalid, and keep voting before population chooses correctly, then — whaddaya know! — democracy!
You watch, my fellow Americans: this is actually the same playbook that the ruling class will use against us soon. Whenever elections produce results that the elites can’t stand, it’ll be declared undemocratic — and the ones who advocate for the winning side will undoubtedly be deemed by Washington and the tech and financial elites as “threats to democracy.” You saw the Biden speech. It’s coming.
Exactly the same European leadership class that declares Hungary to be no more democratic, as the Hungarian folks have the audacity to desire to believe they ought to run their very own affairs, in addition has led the self-destructive crusade to punish Russia because of its Ukraine imperialism. A couple of things could be true simultaneously: that Russia was wicked to invade Ukraine, and that continuing to push this proxy war with Russia will probably destroy Europe economically, or worse. Later this terrible winter, when vast crowds of cold and angry Europeans fill the streets of European capitals, demanding the heads of the leaders who brought them into this dark wood, Viktor Orban will undoubtedly be seen as the only real statesman who saw what Europe was doing to itself, and tried to avoid its collective suicide.
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Or, more darkly, the European ruling class and the media will try to make him and Hungary a scapegoat for his or her total failure.
I strongly encourage my American readers to cover more focus on this story (and to sign up to the pungent and provocative Substack newsletter of the Croatian right-of-center analyst Niccolo Soldo). AMERICA, by pushing European governments to go balls-to-the-wall against Russia, is creating among European populations an immensely powerful reserve of anti-Americanism. It could be the case that one Europe were foolish to possess allowed themselves to become so influenced by Russian energy supplies, but wagging our Yankee fingers at the Europeans and demanding they freeze at night to punish Russia won’t be considered a popular position among European publics once the lights venture out and heat turns off in January.
If Orban is right, and Central Europe loses thirty years of economic growth due to this Washington-and-Brussels-led aggression towards Russia, what sort of sentiment towards America do you consider will emerge from those peoples? Do you consider elites condemning them as Not Democratic will matter one damn bit?