Elaborating on illiberal democracy, a term he coined in his 2014 speech, Prime Minister Orbán said in this annual address earlier today at the Bálványos Summer Open University and Student Camp that the most sensitive question is the word illiberal. For liberals have created an understanding of the word, he continued, as if it refers to a democracy that has become undemocratic. In fact, the opposite is true.
Once we reject the fundamental liberal tenet that a democracy can only be liberal, according to PM Orbán, we realize that while liberalism teaches that you can only be free once you have liberated yourself from everything that binds you somehow, the illiberal is about putting the common good first. The illiberal is the one who protects the borders, who protects the nation’s culture.
To take the wind out of the sails of liberal detractors, the prime minister said, we have to infuse the term illiberal with its positive meaning. In essence, he said, the idea of illiberal democracy is the idea of “Christian liberty.”
“The essence of illiberal democracy is Christian liberty and the protection of Christian liberty,” he said, adding that “the politics that works for Christian liberty works to protect all that the liberals despise.” But today, he warned, there are two attacks against Christian liberty: one from within and one from without.
There is the one from within, from liberals who want to abandon Europe’s Christian character. According to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, however, “liberal democracy was capable of surviving until it abandoned its Christian foundations,” and the irony is that “liberal democracy can exist in only those parts of the world where Christian culture existed before it.”
“The second one comes from without, in the form of migration, those who would destroy the Europe the way we know it today,” PM Orbán said. Both attacks have their origins in liberalism, therefore “our task will be to turn against liberal internationalism.”
Speaking about the ongoing debate in the EU, PM Orbán said that “it’s fine that they oppose what we represent and it’s natural that we are in a debate with one another,” but when liberals come after us “they are not debating. They hate us,” the PM said. “Why do liberals hate us?”
They hate us because “they think humanity is now stepping into the period of post-nationalism and post-Christianity,” PM Orbán said, “so they think that humanity needs a new principle for that, which it finds in liberal democracy.” And their program of liberal internationalism can only be true if it is true everywhere and to everyone. “They cannot even tolerate a little stubbornness which demonstrates that there exists a different way of organizing the community,” he added.
And they hate us because in Hungary a true, working model of an illiberal state has come together, our own Christian democratic state.
Stay tuned for more details from Prime Minister’s Tusványos speech here on About Hungary!