Mr Orbán said that the dominant liberal ideology had weakened Europe while preserving its wealth. “The most dangerous combination known in history is to be both rich and weak,” he argued. “It is only a matter of time before someone comes along, notices your weakness, and takes what you have.”
“The liberal philosophy is a result of a Europe which is weak and which also wants to protect its wealth; but if Europe is weak, it cannot protect this wealth.”
Mr Orbán also attacked the liberal imperialism of military intervention, asserting it has been based on fundamental hypocrisy and simplistic Manichean thinking:
The bulk of the speech follows below.
Kötsce Civic Picnic, 5 September 2015
My position is that we are experiencing now is the end of an era: a conceptual-ideological era. Putting pretension aside, we can simply call this the era of liberal babble. This era is now at an end, and this situation both carries a huge risk and offers a new opportunity. It offers the chance for the national-Christian ideology, way of thinking and approach to regain dominance – not only in Hungary, but throughout the whole of Europe. This is the opportunity. […]
What was the situation in the past?
In the past, people running for their lives and people in distress sought refuge beyond the nearest available state border; there they hunkered down in safety, expecting to return, because they wanted to go home at some time. Only the truly persecuted did not want to go back: those in danger mostly for political reasons and for the ideas they represented. They were the ones who had no future in that region in the foreseeable future, and who indeed wanted to leave the countries they had fled as political émigrés – perhaps for life.
The majority of ’56-ers were like this. They, by the way, did not march through Austria – there was no question of that. They had to gather in a camp: there they had to wait, there they had to be registered, and there they had to make their requests for where they wanted to go. They had to wait until the countries in question assessed their cases, and when they were granted permission they could move on.
The current situation is different. Now we are inundated with countless immigrants: there is an invasion, they break down fences, and it is clear to us all that they are not seeking refuge, and are not running for their lives.
In Turkey, in Turkish refugee camps, nothing threatens their lives; and neither is there any danger in Greece, Macedonia, or the area around Belgrade. There is no danger in Budapest, and yet they are not rushing to come here. They do not want refugee status: they want to be refugees in Germany. This is quite a different story.
In fact it is not refuge in a life or death situation that they are seeking, but a better quality of life. In truth, they are not seeking safety. What is happening is just the opposite. In fact, they are endangering their lives.
What I am about to say might seem harsh, and I apologize if anyone is offended. We all saw the picture of that little boy on the beach. No heart could remain unmoved, but still we must ask: who killed that little boy? His parents! No one forced anyone out of a Turkish refugee camp – where life is not like that in Germany, but where there is no threat to one’s safety. No one was forced to gather up their children, and take to the sea in a flimsy dinghy in the hope of a better life somewhere, risking their own and their children’s lives.
This is the truth! One cannot talk like this in Europe today, but this is still the truth. And so these people are not seeking safety, but just the opposite: they are risking their existing safety, taking on huge risks in dinghies, refrigerated trucks, and the Channel Tunnel. In the process their children are dying, and even this does not stop them. This is the truth!
It seems that they want our lifestyle, they want the life that we have. They want lives like the ones which we live. The only question is why we should be surprised.
Well for years we have taught them and told them that in fact this world is a global village: a global village in which it is no big deal to move from Alszeg to Fölszeg [one neighbourhood to another]. We told them that there are universal human rights which apply equally to everyone, whatever corner of the Earth they may be in. We forced on them our ideology: freedom is the most important thing. Then, whoever would not accept this ideology, we bombed: Libya, Syria – when and whatever was in our interest.
We created the World Wide Web, announcing freedom of information to the world, and we said that every human being must have access. Immediately! Everything must be immediately available everywhere. We sent them our TV series, and they are watching what we are watching.
We bought their most talented athletes and performers. We sold them our football clubs, whose Arab and Asian owners now wear the shirts of a variety of English and French football clubs. Then from the money we made from selling our clubs, we send them back the product, the matches themselves via satellite, for which they pay us. We have involved them in the business.
After having proclaimed global, universal human rights, having forced our ideology on them and having elevated freedom of information above all else, having sent our celebrities into their homes, now we are surprised that they are knocking on our door.
When Europe guaranteed freedom of movement, it did so in a period when few people wanted to make use of it. The situation has changed, because poor multitudes now want to move. They see our way of life, we advertise it on their TVs, they know our celebrities; they feel as though they are sitting with us in our living rooms, because the gap between the real world and the reality on the screen seems so small. They are in the same virtual space as we are. They think that the virtual space is theirs as well as ours, and that in this virtual space everyone can meet everyone else. If this is something natural, then why can’t everyone meet everyone else physically?
The question is very easily put. In such a global village, in such a shared world, why should one person live in better conditions than another? If we are so close to each other, if we can so easily share their things, why shouldn’t we do that? In part because of the culture lent to them or forced upon them, these people are no longer bound to their land and their past as strongly as they once were. A new common, global bond or shared reference point has been established to which we are all connected: a common “mindset”, as they say in English.
And if their living conditions suddenly change, because a war breaks out, or if their lives collapse for any other reason, it is logical for them to think of immediately setting off, to seek imaginative escape routes; then they are no longer seeking safety, but seeking to acquire the life which we have in reality, and which they have hitherto only shared with us in virtual reality. In other words, those who are coming today want a future, and the future that they want now is one like that which we have. This is the question we are confronted with: militarily, politically, and morally.
I think that the phenomenon I’ve just described is no more or less than identity crisis. This seems to be bad news, but it is the first good identity crisis I’ve ever seen. Earlier we have talked about identity crises among ourselves: the Christian identity crisis, or the national identity crisis. But now we are witnessing the liberal identity crisis.
Viewed from the right perspective, the whole issue of asylum and mass migration, the whole problem of economic migration is nothing more than the identity crisis of liberalism. I’ll try to broadly summarize what it consists of.
People in general – not only Europeans, but definitely Europeans – want to see themselves as good; but people can define “good” in a wide variety of ways. Liberals also want to see themselves as good. They also have an idea of what it means to be a good person. And liberals can only live with themselves if they see themselves as good people.
However, the liberal notion of what is “good”, as I described earlier, only exists at the level of phenomena: freedom of movement, universal human rights, and so on. Now this is producing disastrous consequences. But the particular quality of liberals is that while they want to be good people, they do not want to see their levels of welfare spending and standards of living falling; and so a crisis develops.
This is the truly great challenge facing liberalism today: how to see themselves as good people according to their own principles, and at the same time how to protect the standard of living which they have achieved so far.
I am convinced that it is no longer possible in Europe to both see ourselves as good in the liberal sense and to live in prosperity. I might say that the most dangerous combination known in history is to be both rich and weak. There is no combination more dangerous than this. It is only a matter of time before someone comes along, notices your weakness, and takes what you have. This will definitely happen if you are unable to defend yourself. The liberal philosophy is a result of a Europe which is weak and which also wants to protect its wealth; but if Europe is weak, it cannot protect this wealth.
There is of course also a Christian misunderstanding. Like a sixteenth-century heretic, I must be careful in my comments on this, because I do not want to run the risk of offending our Catholic brothers and sisters [Ed.: Mr Orbán is from Hungary’s sizable Reformed Protestant minority]; that would not be right, but all the same, if I consider the truly Christian voices – the really powerful Catholic voices – from the viewpoint of economic logic they confuse two different things.
For if someone gives someone else something from their personal wealth, this is not only morally right, but it will not weaken the national economy. So to give someone something from my personal wealth will not cause economic problems. But if instead of giving from my personal wealth, I want the state to give something – for it to give care, welfare, jobs and benefits, and to guarantee a certain level of prosperity – I am ruining that which is ours, and I am likewise ruining our prosperity. Because the state has to either raise taxes or make cuts elsewhere in the usual social, welfare, cultural or other budgets; and the result of this is a shrinking economy.
Helping others from one’s own pocket can also benefit the economy, but if we look to the state for this, and if we want redistribution by the state – shifting funds away from the state’s productive sphere and its economic resources – there can be no other result than weaker economic performance.
Therefore those Christian demands which are currently expressed as spiritual obligations are in my opinion correct when directed at citizens, but mistaken when directed at the state. And unfortunately I do not see a recognition of this difference in most of the statements from our spiritual leaders.
Yet this is an important distinction, because the liberals are seeking to make sure that financial and moral expectations placed on individuals are instead placed on the state; this would, however, crush and destroy these states. It is therefore important to distinguish between personal, individual responsibilities, and those which belong to a modern state. We need to draw this boundary, because morally we will not find our way – we will not be able to both fulfil the Christian duty to help others – while at the same time expecting our state to defend what we have.
The point is that today liberals dominate Europe; make no mistake, the conservatives in Europe today are also liberals: not willingly, but by yielding to coercion. Because today a very large proportion of the channels through which the thoughts and policies of conservatives are interpreted and mediated are in the hands of liberals.
This is not new for us, as we have experienced this in Hungary after 1990; but the situation here has changed, and so they do not like us. Elsewhere the situation has not changed, and it remains as it was. Therefore, if a conservative chancellor or a conservative prime minister takes office, they can do nothing but to some extent (and this extent is not a small one) adapt to the system which is in the hands of people who are ideologically different from them. The European right suffers as a result.
Well, the fact is that liberals should ask themselves who they really are. Because if you cannot be good in the liberal sense while maintaining current existential needs, you need to solve this dilemma somehow. Poor liberals do not get any help from their politicians in this regard. This is what is missing in European politics. There is no vision, and indeed even expressing these questions in these terms is not allowed in European politics, and is almost life-threatening.
This is a totally Hungarian luxury. It is possible to do so to a small extent in other Central European countries, but not very much. The fact that we are sitting here, and we can talk like this about these issues cannot happen anywhere else in Europe. Such a meeting could not be convened in Germany, where it would not be possible to say such things; nor could it in France – and it is even risky in Poland.
Overall, therefore, the question is one of who in the end will tell the liberals who they really are. I am not sure if we were completely right, but I don’t think we were far wrong when we thought that modern liberalism is a form of hypocrisy. At all levels. Now I am not referring to the fact that at some level we are all hypocritical: that in every person there is the instinct to try to present themselves as being a little bit better than they really are – at least just a little bit. That is a fault which we all have, but it is at an individual level.
Liberalism, however, is an intellectual area which organizes hypocrisy as a system. It seems that at an individual level they are also hypocrites. How many liberals do we know who, for example, present themselves as good people by taking a few people into their home, and acting as if they had no thoughts of political gain by doing so, while in fact they obviously do? [Ed.: A reference to disgraced ex-PM Ferenc Gyurcsány taking refugees into his home.] There is no one among us sitting here who would say that such actions are sincere, is there? The question does not arise. A liberal person who does something in order to present themselves in a good light knows full well that they are in fact a hypocrite. Please don’t misunderstand me – I’m not talking now about the grand old liberals like Lajos Kossuth, Deák or Graf Lambsdorff; but we have always thought of the modern left-liberal school of thought – alongside which we live and which is dominant – as hypocrisy organized into a system at the individual level and at state level.
When we talk about Hungary, and about immigrants, and all of a sudden money needs to be distributed in Europe, we note that although most of the immigrants will come to Hungary, the Italians still get eight times as much money as we do, and the Greeks twice as much. Good-for-nothing liberal European immigration policy!
Let us boldly state that liberal foreign policy at the world political level is nothing more or less than organized hypocrisy. And if you do not believe me, then read a couple of studies written by Mária Schmidt, who regularly proves that it is an oversimplification of world political conflicts to say that there is a “good” side – usually the United States and its allies – and a “bad” side, which is to be defeated. In the end it has always turned out to be about money, oil, raw materials and something completely different; and it was not really about doing good when they saw fit to bomb Iraq or indeed Syria, but the worst that was possible – all the while insisting that the world recognizes them as the good guys, the ones on the side of good. This is the essence of liberal foreign policy – it is organized around this.
Since we cannot assume the difficult job of answering for the liberals the question of who they are in this new situation, I think we should take the opportunity of saying who we are. Because we face a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Bad things have never emerged with such overwhelming force as now, and as they will emerge in relation to immigration over the weeks and months ahead.
If we step back from the whole issue and its specific features and conceptually reflect on what is happening, then we see that we have a huge opportunity, if we fight well in this debate, to restore the prestige and appeal of national identity and Christian identity, in opposition to the liberal identity. The question is whether we are capable of doing this.
Of course the good Lord will help the person who fights for good causes, because in such times it turns out, for example, that the Hungarian constitution – adopted at a time when an immigration crisis was still nowhere to be seen – is superbly suited to strengthening this Christian and national identity in the eyes of all and in opposition to the ruling liberal identities in Europe today.
It is enough for me to refer to József Szájer’s wise choice of words for the title of one of the most important chapters: “Freedom and Responsibility”; this conveys all that is good in liberalism – freedom – and places it alongside all that without which freedom is meaningless. In this sense, it lays the foundations of a Christian and national identity, and there it is, in our Constitution.
Then came the need to incorporate another word, another term alongside Christian compassion: the expression of responsibility. It should be clarified that we did not do this from a liberal point of view – we know that the liberal feels responsible for the whole world because they are a good person, everything happening in the world causes them pain, and their soul feels heavy with the burden.
In opposition to this approach, how does our identity stand up? I think that the Christian identity – although there are some here who can express this with greater theological accuracy than I can – reveals to us a completely clear order of importance or priority.
First of all, we are responsible for our children, then for our parents. This comes before all else. Then come those with whom we live in our village or town. Then comes our country, and then everyone else may come.
Christian thinking is not reflected in the kind of politics which invokes compassion and understanding, but which does not recognize this order of priorities; it is not reflected in the kind of politics which, in the name of responsibility for the world, destroys that which we can nurture in our children, the dignified old age we can give our parents, and, when possible, the protection we can give our country and culture.
Here, on our side, we live in a world which is constantly examining itself and the correctness of its actions. I also try to somehow review the things I do in order to be able to judge it not only according to its success, but also according to its justice and rightness. I have been involved in this for years; I am not a beginner, but see how difficult it is for me to sort these things out.
The liberal approach and way of thinking has permeated even us to such an extent that, when we are faced with a new situation, we are hard pressed to put our own thoughts, feelings, and actions in order, so that they can at once be morally right, fair, generally acceptable and effective. And so it can be seen what an opportunity this whole immigration problem offers to finally clarify these questions and to reverse those general European conceptual trends which have led here.
So what follows on from all this now? In my opinion there are four things.
The first thing which must be said is that a country with no borders is not a country at all. It is therefore in the community’s fundamental interest, if there is country, and if they want it to remain, that it must be able to defend its borders. This is non-negotiable, and there is no situation which would permit us to set aside our right to say when and where our borders may be entered.
Until we are able to restore this situation no proposed solution will work. What is the point of thinking about quotas and the distribution of people arriving, if we do not know how many will come in? And they are coming in as they please. It is like our throwing valuables into an empty sack. This is the first lesson in the current situation: the borders must be protected at all costs. At this moment we are unable to do this. If Parliament decides to adopt one or two laws, perhaps by mid- to late-September the Hungarian state will be in a position to protect its own borders, and say who may enter and leave, where and when.
The second lesson: Hungary – and now I do not want to speak for other countries, but I would like to think that most of Europe thinks as we do – must protect its ethnic and cultural composition. This needs to be explained, because in the eyes of liberals today this is the main sin.
Allow me to mention a conversation I had with a talented, experienced, but not very hopeful European politician, who was no longer in frontline politics, and who asked me to explain what I meant when I said that we do not want a significant Muslim community in Hungary. I said that the meaning of this sentence was the normal, everyday one. The reply I received was that one cannot say such a thing. I asked why not. Why can we not talk about the right of every state and every nation to decide on whom they want living on their territory?
In Europe, many countries have decided on this – for example the French or the British, or the Germans with regard to the Turks. I think they had the right to make this decision. We have a duty to look at where this has taken them. We cannot even say whether the results are good or bad. We only have the right to say that this is something which we do not want – but we do have the right to say this. And we can say that we like Hungary just as it is. It is colourful and diverse enough.
I am convinced that Hungary has the right – and every nation has the right – to say that it does not want its country to change. One can argue whether or not this is the correct position; on whether or not this is fair; on whether or not this is humane. One can argue about many things. But we should not argue about whether a community has the right to decide if it wants to change its ethnic and cultural composition in an artificial way and at an accelerated pace. And if Hungarians say that they do not want this, no one can force them to do so.
In the end – and keep this in your sights – in the very end this will be the battle which we must win. The question is whether there will be enough of us in Europe who say that every country has the right to change its ethnic and cultural composition as it likes, and no country or the Union has the right to force others to do this.
We are now in a good position, and we must defend this position. In the end this is what will decide this entire battle. It is therefore very important who comes in. In the modern spirit of the age, if someone has come in and if you have let them in, from that point on what they represent is seen as a value. You will have to relate to the new situation, you will have to live with it and establish a form of coexistence, and you must also respect it and accept life alongside it.
So the borders must be protected, ethnic and cultural composition must also be protected, and enforced change must not be accepted.
The third thing is that you must stay economically successful, because in the modern spirit of the age, even if you are right, or closest to a morally perfect position, if you are not economically successful you will be trampled underfoot. So even if it is not top of the class, Hungary must maintain but its position as a well-performing European economy.
This is not about money or the economy, but about our sovereignty. If we are unable to say “yes, we are attacked for a lot of things, but we are successful according to their economic criteria”, and if we cannot stick to our guns, then they will destroy us, and this will have all kinds of consequences. Therefore I think that in the modern world neither justice nor identity can work without economic success, and we must take note of this.
Finally, the fourth thing, which I think follows on from all this. Do not misunderstand me when I put it like this: everyday patriotism. This is not something of an intellectual nature, but a vital instinct, a daily routine: going into a shop and buying Hungarian products; when I want to employ someone, employing a Hungarian.
It will not work if we cannot make this an everyday instinct, and if it simply remains a spiritual need for our national-minded intellectuals on the right. It will not work without you, of course, because for something to become everyday, it must be formulated to a high degree, something which can be expressed, and which will give us, its representatives, dignity, strength and self-confidence. But then it must be implemented on a daily basis, as I said: in workplaces, in shops, in conversations, and so on. I do not know in how many areas we have retreated; I do not know where, instead of healthy patriotism, some unrestrained, liberal, confused babble has taken over, and where we ourselves are unable to say why we make the decisions we do, rather than right, patriotic, national everyday ones.
The bad news is that when we do this, it must be characterized by the following words: modern, cool, trendy, sexy, upmarket. If we also try to cultivate everyday patriotism in language to the same level as that we use when talking to each other here, then the correct etiquette would be for us to all make the sign of the cross and simply look forward to the afterlife. But this is about the young generation. Our generation is fine the way we are, thank you very much, we have survived; but the situation is different for those coming along after us.
If we cannot bridge the communication, cultural and other gaps, and if we cannot make everyday nationalism attractive to young people, rather than something chaotic, smelling of bad breath and the radical right, which sends shivers down people’s spines and puts them in a bad mood, if we cannot make it different from this with fresh and youthful language, then this is a battle we will not win.
This is the biggest task. I cannot say exactly who is able to do this, because if I could, we would have already done it over the past few years; but the truth is that in this regard we have achieved the least success. We do not speak this language, this culture as we should, and those coming after us are somehow not strong enough or – heaven knows why – not effective enough.
In this world, patriotic, nation-based, everyday life instincts, life advice and thoughts – together with the public opinions based on them – are not present in the debate. But we cannot avoid this battlefield, and if we do not rally to the call, it will be decided on the battlefield anyway. We must rally, go there and win!
This will be a programme for many years to come, and together with you I can only hope that the older among us will also be needed.