I call it Orbánophobia, and sometimes it makes for some strange bedfellows. Communist collaborator Paul Lendvai’s newest book and the praise it has received from the Financial Times are the latest examples. Orbanophobia, it seems, brings together communists and globalists.
“No EU national leader reigns supreme in the way that Viktor Orban is lord and master of Hungary,” reads the first sentence of this Financial Times article promoting Paul Lendvai’s new book entitled, Orban: Europe’s New Strong Man.
That sounds like an exaggeration, says the sophisticated reader, who knows that Viktor Orbán, a veteran of Hungarian politics, has been elected prime minister three times over the course of his 30 years in politics. Those who “reign supreme” as well as “lords and masters” – all monarchical terms – do not have to win democratic elections.
Reading a little further, it soon becomes clear that this is more than just a book review. Prime Minister Orbán, we learn from FT, “cocked a snook at the EU.” Apparently, in the eyes of FT, if a democratically elected prime minister of an EU member state opposes certain policies driven by Brussels, then that’s not an expression of faithful service to his voters but an expression of contempt for Europe. Sad.
According to Lendvai, as quoted in the article, Orbán “has contributed more than any other Hungarian politician since 1989 to the disastrous political, moral, economic and cultural polarization of Hungarian society.” For Lendvai, former communist and leftist leaders do not contribute to disastrous polarization, not even Socialist Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány (2004-2010), who was caught on tape admitting to lying to secure reelection and later gave his tacit approval to police using physical force against peaceful demonstrators. Or, Socialist Prime Minister Péter Medgyessy (2002-2004), who was exposed as an agent of the communist-era security services. No, those figures are not polarizing.
How did Viktor Orbán, this disastrously polarizing figure, become “lord and master” of Hungary? According to the FT and Lendvai, it’s thanks to “Mr Orban’s dark talents.” Really. No discussion here of the sorry shape that the country was in when Fidesz won by a landslide in 2010, elections that saw dramatic decline in what was once one of Europe’s strongest Socialist Parties and the dissolution of the liberal Free Democrats. Nor any discussion of the dramatic economic recovery, including record low unemployment, that Hungary has seen since Viktor Orbán become prime minister again.
It’s not a serious discussion, so why would the FT promote it? The answer is simple: the salmon-pink globalist newspaper has developed an unhealthy obsession with Orbán that Lendvai has held for years. It’s more than political bias, it is a phobia. Orbánophobia.
Lendvai has become notorious for his polemics against Orbán, struggling to ground his sensational claims in facts and deliberately omitting important details. In his 2012 book, Lendvai calls Fidesz “a charismatic Fuhrer party,” and this was regarded as “gloves-off political writing at its best” in the Financial Times review on that work.
“In any case,” writes the FT based on this latest book, “Mr Orban amended the electoral law in 2012 (sic) in a manner blatantly favourable to his ruling Fidesz party. This secured Fidesz an overwhelming majority of seats in the 2014 elections and will surely produce much the same outcome in 2018.” Neither Lendvai nor the FT would be able to show objectively how the changes to the electoral law “blatantly” favored Fidesz. Nor would they be able to show objectively how it secured Fidesz an overwhelming majority.
In 2012, the Financial Times considered it worth mentioning, although very softly, that Paul Lendvai, a Hungarian emigrant to Austria, willfully cooperated with the communist leadership in Hungary back in the day. In fact, he reported on Hungarian anti-communists who trusted him, passing on information about their plans to officials working in the Vienna embassy of the communist People’s Republic of Hungary in order to receive small gestures and favors from the leadership. Documents proving this fact are publically available, as well as accounts of Lendvai boasting to the communist-era Hungarian ambassador about how he promoted the interests of the authoritarian Hungarian state’s interest in the Austrian public media.
Interestingly, this last detail was deleted from the online version of the article after Lendvai denied that he was a communist agent. Fact is, both could be true. Maybe he wasn’t an agent in the strict sense of the word, but the documents clearly show that he was a snitch, seeking personal favors from the communist regime.
It is possible that the editors of FT did not know about Lendvai’s double life before 1990, but as one of the pre-eminent media organs of capitalism and globalism, they could have retired him when the news surfaced.
They didn’t. And the reason for that is they found a new ally in Lendvai, feeding the irrational contempt and ideologically driven criticism of Prime Minister Orbán. Orbánophobia creates strange alliances. In this case, it has united a communist sympathizer and globalist media.