He spends a month in Hungary. What is the reason for this long visit?
I received a scholarship from the Danube Institute to give lectures and attend a conference on the topic of international patriotism between the institute and the MCC. As I see it, life takes place in Hungary, so I didn’t want to miss the opportunity.
Aren’t you afraid that the Hungarian government will use you to justify its own policy?
I’m not worried about that because I can’t be used. I have an independent opinion, I have never supported or opposed political parties. In the United States, for example, several journalists have asked whether I support Donald Trump or Joe Bident in the presidential election. To this I have always replied: I am not an American citizen, that is, I am not competent in the matter. Of course, this does not mean that there are no specific areas of Hungarian politics that would not be of interest. Immigration policy, for example, is one of them.
By the way, do you support the Hungarian government’s immigration policy?
I would say that what Hungary stands for in terms of immigration is closer to reality than what we are experiencing elsewhere in Europe. Here it is worth recalling, for example, the reaction of the German government to the 2015 immigration crisis. In politics, I find it particularly exciting for those who, although they are the first to respond correctly to a problem, have still been judged unfavorably. There were such in the Cold War, the so-called early anti-communists: although they were the first to see danger in the Soviet Union in the spread of far-left ideas, posterity still refers to them as fascists to this day. Take, for example, the initiative of French President Emmanuel Macron in the European Council, which would essentially tighten the conditions for immigration. If we take it that way, France has confirmed the position that the Hungarian government has been taking for years. This begs the question: when will this be recognized? Monsieur Macron, shouldn’t that have been said as early as 2015? So the answer to your question is yes, there are a number of points in the immigration policy of Viktor Orbán and Fidesz that I agree with.
So Macron got on a platform with Orbán. Meanwhile, however, Democratic candidate Joe Bident was elected in the United States, which the international press commented on: the twilight of illiberal democracies has come.
I do not think it is fortunate to approach world politics along the left and the right. This is the narrative of Anglo-Saxon, liberal papers, but these processes are much more complicated. Brexit, for example, has nothing to do with Donald Trump, despite The New York Times writes that both Boris Johnson and Trump have funny hair. Brexit was a matter of sovereignty, while there were other, also complex processes behind trumpism. What is happening in Central Europe is yet different, but it is not possible to equate what is happening in Hungary or in Slovakia. If we look at the U.S. presidential election as a stand for or against the decisions made in the Trump era, we do not see a clear victory. The election result is still disputed by many.
Have you seen Idiocracy?
I’ve heard of it, but I don’t remember it. What was it about?
The story takes place in the future. People are no longer able to think, they make all their decisions on an emotional basis. Don’t you feel like the Western world is heading for a similar future?
There must be quite a few problems. In the United States, a number of decisions have been made over the past four years that the Trump government has been unable to implement. Simply because the president was not a good organizer, he couldn’t put together an effective team in four years. There were hardly any people who could work with him for more than six months. By that, of course, I’m not saying Trump was an idiot, but it was a blatant lack of serious design skills. It also failed in the coronavirus epidemic. True, most countries in the Western world have serious problems with this. We seem unable to balance the health threat posed by the epidemic with the mitigation of economic damage.
States are primarily trying to deal with the problem through closures, and, as he mentioned, they are not very successful. Could it not be that we could try to entrust the decision to individuals, to communities, instead of to an overgrown state?