Left and Right

To save Hungary’s liberal democracy, centrists must work with the far right

This is more or less what I was saying 15 years ago in response to neocon hegemony in the US.

At the time there was growing dissident right that was opposed to the imperialist objectives of the neocons including paleoconservatives (the so-called “unpatriotic conservatives,” as uber-neocon David Frum called them), the Alex Jones-like conspiracy crowd, the Ron Paul-like libertarians, the Southern nationalists, the foundation of what later became the alt-right, etc. However, the populist-right has since become co-opted by the neocons via Trumpism, although some Catholic traditionalists may lament Trump’s vulgarity. The far right has since degenerated into a neo-Nazi and/or white nationalist circus act, and libertarianism has splintered into various wings of the Blue Tribe or Red Tribe. In short, the entire spectrum of the Right has shown itself to be completely worthless in terms of offering any real resistance to the ruling class.

Meanwhile, the anti-imperialist Left remains almost entirely non-existent in the United States. However, a happy exception can be found among some in the neo-Stalinist camp, such as the Workers World Party, or Russia Today commentator Caleb Maupin, much to the consternation of professional “anti-haters” like Alexander Reid Ross , “Three Way Fight,” and others who constantly raise the bogeyman of “red-brown alliances.” Of course, it remains to be seen as to whether the anti-imperialist Left would experience a rejuvenation if the Trump regime were to initiate war with Iran, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, or some other supposed “rogue state.” A revival of the antiwar Left could potentially take place if the identity politics-driven US Left felt it could get some anti-Republican mileage out of an antiwar position (which is what the Left attempted during the George W. Bush era).

By Cas Mudde

The Guardian

The only way to break Orbán’s stranglehold on Hungary’s dying liberal democracy is a tactical alliance between liberals and Jobbik – Hungary’s far-right party


Last Summer I gave a keynote lecture at a workshop on “Fighting Back: Liberal Democratic Responses to the Populist Challenge” at the Central European University (CEU) in Budapest, which has been the target of attacks by Victor Orbán and his Fidesz party since I worked there in the late 1990s.

I laid out my usual argument, which is that the populist radical right represents the loud minority rather than the silent majority, and that we should focus on strengthening liberal democracy rather than weakening the populist radical right.

Then I was asked what to do about Hungary, where the radical right is in power and liberal democracy has, by and large, been replaced by what Orbán officially refers to as an “illiberal state”. How can you strengthen liberal democracy in an illiberal state? Shouldn’t you first defeat the illiberal state before you can rebuild liberal democracy?

I argued that in such a case, liberal democrats should do everything to break the illiberal democrats’ hold on power, which includes working with other illiberal democrats. In the case of Hungary, I suggested that the liberal democratic opposition, splintered into various personalized and small political parties, should form a tactical alliance with the illiberal democratic opposition, united in the populist radical right Movement for a Better Hungary or Jobbik.

The air went out of the room as I saw many people in the audience violently shake their head. Working with Jobbik? Aren’t they worse then Orbán’s Fidesz? In theory yes, but in practice, no.

Although Jobbik is currently campaigning on a less populist radical right platform then Fidesz, a Jobbik government will almost certainly be even worse for liberal democracy than the current Fidesz government. But the point is, they are not in power, and have little chance at coming to power by themselves. Fidesz, however, is in power.

Fidesz has been consistently dismantling liberal democracy in Hungary since returning to power in 2010. He and his party have changed the constitution, appointed cronies to every new position, and have created an illiberal “Frankenstate”, as one of Orbán’s most astute critics, Kim-Lane Scheppele, has termed it.

1 reply »

  1. The mistake is believing the entire ruling class can be opposed by a prole movement as such. Proles, by definition, have neither economic nor political leverage in the amount required to compete with elite concensus. Successful prole revolts always combine the prole bloc with a few dissident elites who have their own reasons to oppose the consensus.

    Neoliberalism doesn’t simply ride over the left and right due to incompetence. It generates incompetence through supporting those, like Alex Jones, who discredit and muddy the water around potential prole catalyst issues. Eg. Discussion of the elite consensus must be lead or followed with discussion of alien invasion. The same process can be seen on the left to a lesser extent. The left tends to appear more competent due to the vast academic and beuracratic apparatus that ensures left consensus and reduces the need for circus acts. The latter though is materializing due to the left becoming too diverse for single messaging. You now have your Rachel Maddow and Young Turks filling essentially the same role as Alex Jones.

    Given the resource disparity between elite and dissident factions, it seems reasonable to assume that the latter will continue to fail to produce any meaningful action until such time as they gain a patron elite clique which agrees with some critique of the elite consesus.

    Of course, this is the strength of neoliberalism. By commanding nearly global resources, it has virtually everyone in a comfortable position willing to support even highly self-destructive behavior on the part of the neoliberal empire. Likely the only principle threat to the empire which could bring an elite cadre to support dissidents is the eclipse of the multicultural disintegrating west by the ethnostates of East Asia.

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