The Rise of the Real Right — Lecture at George Soros’ University
I held a lecture at the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary on August 1st 2016. The lecture, including the questions and answers session at the end, amounted to almost three hours in total. Therefore, we decided to publish a shorter video of highlights, as well as the full lecture in text format below.
Hi everyone. My name is Daniel, and I am going to talk to you about the rise of populism and nationalism in Hungary — as well as the rest of Europe and the US, to put the Hungarian situation in a broader context.
First of all I would like to thank the organizers for giving me the opportunity to speak here today. And I find it especially enjoyable to speak here at CEU — which is a university founded by George Soros.
Let me begin by introducing myself.
I am a Swedish businessman and part-time expat, having lived in Hungary periodically for two and a half years. I have an MBA from the University of Gothenburg, and a professional background as a University researcher within the field of social capital, a business analyst, management consultant — as well as having held several management positions in a multitude of business sectors — from manufacturing via the mining industry to media and publishing.
More importantly however, I have been involved in what I call ”the real right” — which is the populist, conservative and nationalist right — on an international level for 20 years as an activist, writer, author and publisher. This has given me some level of insight into the Right’s history and development during that time, something I intend to share with you in this lecture. I’m sure we will have a lot of fun.
During my time here in Hungary, I have also gotten to know a lot of interesting people both within the media and in politics, and so I’ve achieved some level of insight into the Hungarian political situation, which I find highly fascinating and quite unique.
This lecture consists of five parts, plus time for questions at the end. Since I suspect that what I have to say might raise a lot of questions and comments, this might very well prove to be the most interesting part for both of us.
2. Background: The Global Return of the Real Right
The Real Right is currently gaining ground all over the World.
In Europe, we have national-conservative, populist and anti-immigration parties growing at a record pace, and in some countries like Hungary, such parties are in governing positions.
This is however not restricted to Europe. In the United States, we are currently witnessing the unprecedented events of the Donald Trump phenomenon. In India, we have the Hindu nationalist, conservative BJP, which has been in power since 2014. In the Philippines, they recently elected Rodrigo Duterte as president, who has been described as the Donald Trump of Asia. In Brazil, we are witnessing the rise of the nationalist and conservative presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro. And this is just to name a few. Suffice to say, what we are seeing is a global trend, perhaps with its epicentre in Europe and the US. It is important to understand this phenomenon in order to put the Hungarian political development into proper context.
For that reason, we will begin this lecture by looking at the bigger picture.
First of all though, let’s have a look at how I define ”the real right” so that you’ll have an understanding of what I’m referring to.
* * *
After the Second World war, the Right, for obvious reasons, suffered a severe problem in terms of how it was perceived. Nationalist movements all across Europe were tainted by their association with the Nazis, and even those groups which had not been collaborators were often found guilty simply by virtue of the fact of standing for what it was claimed were similar ideas. This problem was not limited to Europe, since even many Right-wing groups and figures in the US and elsewhere outside of Europe found themselves stuck with the Nazi label, a term which has served ever since to shut down any debate from a genuine Right-wing perspective.
After more than half a century of retreat, marginalisation, and constant concessions to an ever-more aggressive and demanding Left, the true Right is returning with a vengeance. This is happening not a day too soon; Europe faces a long list of problems, not to mention threats. As I see it, there is no question of the Left or the liberal Right possessing the will or the ability to solve these problems ndeed, they are the two main problems. The return of the ideas of the traditional Right is, indeed, something that concerns us all.
The Fall of the Old Right
The Left’s advance during the second half of the twentieth century was made possible by three main factors:
After the Second World War, as I’ve already mentioned, the Right was associated with the losing side, most especially Nazism. The fact that concentration camps and systematic political persecution were prevalent to the same degree, if not more so, in the victorious Soviet Union, as it had been in the earlier French Revolution which first gave rise to liberalism, was much more effectively dealt with by the revolutionary Left than the reactionary Right, as the Left’s apologists managed to effectively sweep all of their own crimes under the carpet.
In Western Europe and North America, the Left undertook a long march through the institutions, to borrow the Italian Communist Gramsci’s term. This escalated during the 1960s and ’70s, and culminated in their usurpation of the media, cultural institutions, and educational systems n other words, those pillars of society which shape people’s thoughts and opinions.
The Left which developed in Western Europe and North America under the guidance of figures such as Herbert Marcuse took on an eccentric shape. In this new form of the Left, the European working class was dismissed as incurably reactionary, and was replaced in its previous role as the revolutionary subject by sexual and ethnic minorities. This coincided with the rise of powerful, new economic and political interests and tendencies in the West. The beliefs of Marcusian Leftism, where class struggle and economic redistribution was drowned out by a cult of the individual and strange forms of (minority) identity politics, were consistent with the concept of the ideal consumer developed by the oligarchs of the new global marketplace of liberalism. Likewise, the American government’s determination to prevent its own domestic Leftist opposition from establishing anything friendly with or akin to the Soviet Union made Marcusian Leftism an ideal fallback strategy.
The Left’s successful metapolitics, in which decades of persistent struggle gradually managed to give it control over the vital culture-forming institutions, can certainly serve as an instructive example of what the Real Right now needs to implement in pursuit of its own goals. At the same time, it is also a warning signal. To the extent that the Leftist project set out to create economic equality and end the alienation of the individual in modern society n other words, what Marx had advocated t has obviously failed miserably. Despite its firm grip on the public debate in Sweden (for example), in practice the Left achieves little more than to fill the role of global capitalism’s court jester. Despite this, it continues to succeed in its other main goal, which has been to prevent Europe’s native populations from defending themselves against a political project that undermines their right to political self-determination. Toward this end, sentimentality was substituted for Marxist historical analysis. Even its relatively limited forms of economic redistribution policies have been gradually relegated to the rubbish heap of history, except for the redistribution of financial resources from the European middle classes to both big business and the growing non-European lumpenproletariat which has been dumped on European soil. If today we refer to the spectre of Communism haunting Europe, as Marx claimed in his Manifesto, it is quite a reduced phantom of which we speak.
What this indicates is that the Left’s advances have largely taken place with both the approval and impetus of the elites of the Western world, which is not something a genuine Rightist movement can count on. The Right, however, unlike the Left, holds the advantage in that they are simply more correct on many issues. Our description of reality is more in line with what people actually experience in everyday life (which is of crucial importance in politics), and our predictions and explanatory methods are more consistent with what is actually happening in our communities. This is still no guarantee of success, but it is an advantage.
When we speak of the Right, it is important to be clear that we do not speak of the Left-liberal parody that currently goes by that name as in, for example, the Swedish public debate. The Swedish ‘Right-wing’, with its constant slippage towards the Left and its inherent weakness and timidity, is unworthy of the name, just as with the Republican establishment in the United States prior to Trump or today’s Tories in Britain. The rise of this type of ‘Right’ in the post-war period is a direct consequence of its failure to grasp the importance of metapolitics and related cultural efforts. As a result it has simply capitulated to the Left on these issues. Secure in the knowledge that the New Left does not threaten the ownership of property or financial power relations, the only issues European liberals and ‘conservatives’ alike seem to care about, the ‘Right wingers’ of Europe seem to be satisfied. Otherwise they have come to stand behind ideas such as equality, feminism, mass immigration, post-colonialism, anti-racism, and LGBT interests.
A ‘Right’ that has become part of the Left has no value, and it is time that these pathetic advocates of fatal half-measures make way for a genuine Right.
The Death of the Left
The primary reason for the resurgence of the nationalist, populist and authentic Right, is the incompetence, dishonesty and impotence of the alternative ideological projects: Liberalism and Socialism.
The Liberals and Socialists are simply unable to provide answers to the great questions of our time. Their ideologies are based on false principles that will not hold up under scientific scrutiny, and when tested in reality, the results are often disastrous. The modern liberal left has regressed from discussing real issues to engaging in trigger warnings, calling for safe spaces, and virtue signaling. This is a behavior unworthy of any mature political movement, and also one of the reasons for its downfall. Here is a quick video example – an Anti-Trump propaganda video created by BuzzFeed that in a very short time illustrates everything that is wrong with the left. Let’s have a look.
As you might have observed in this video, the regressive modern left of today is completely devoid of any real arguments against Donald Trump, but relies on nothing more than posh posturing and virtue signaling.
The left, at least in Western Europe and the US, has grown so lazy, having enjoyed a near complete dominance of the media over the last few decades, that they don’t even bother trying to debate their opponents anymore, but instead try to silence them and block them from the media altogether.
Having abandoned the European working class as its primary subject, it now claims to stand for an ever growing number of ethnic and sexual minorities that need to be ”protected” against the majority population.
But the main failure of today’s Left is its failure to provide answers to the most important questions of our time, and to address the issues that ordinary people care most about.
The most obvious example of this is immigration. The liberals and socialists tell us that it is our moral obligation to allow everyone into Europe, whether they are genuine refugees who have just happened to decide to travel across half the globe and bypassing several other potential ports of call to come to our shores, or whether they freely admit to being migrants in search of better economic opportunities and lifestyles who have no no refugee status whatsoever. Both categories really qualify as economic migrants, however, due to the fact that actual refugees do not travel across the globe to find safety, and then just happen to choose those destinations which offer the best social and economic benefits. The latter ones, who do not claim any refugee status, are just more honest about what they are doing.
Immigration is by far the biggest issue of our time. It is also the issue where the Left has been failing completely. It is of course sad that people are starving or suffering from harsh conditions in large areas of the developing world. But as this short video will illustrate, immigration is definitely not the solution.
The New Right is Born
My book outlines an example of perhaps the most important attempt in the post-war period to (re)create a genuine Right. From the ruins of the old Right, an impressive array of intellectuals has emerged on the continent. The oldest, and perhaps most important component of this is the circle centred upon the French think-tank Groupement de Recherche et d’Études pour la Civilisation Européenne (GRECE), which was founded by Alain de Benoist in 1968, following the strikes and upheavals which shook France and the world in that year. Thinkers such as Benoist have had to strike a difficult balance. For those who have grown up in post-war Europe, it is easy to see politics as nothing more than a choice between Leftist utopianism, market-based liberalism, or ‘neo-Nazism’ and ‘fascism’. This trichotomy is obviously false, but the established institutions of the Western world, being led by the Left, have long had an interest in maintaining it. Therefore, convincing people that one doesn’t fit in any of these categories has been a difficult task, often leading to misunderstandings.
All those who wish Europe well, be it individuals, think-tanks, or parties, must operate within the parameters of this silly paradigm and find ways to strike a balance between the constant attacks from the paid preachers of hate on the one side, and their duty to their own ideas, based as they are in the actual history and traditions of Europe.
Clearly, this is the most crucial problem that must be dealt with by those social movements which are trying to put an end to, or at least alleviate, Europe’s distress. All ‘Right-wing populist’ parties are forced to respond to a political and ideological hegemony that is most often openly hostile to Europe’s native populations, and thus even more hostile to whoever casts himself as a spokesman for their interests. In some cases, the adaptations such people make are minimal nd based on nothing more than common sense— s in, for example, completely distancing themselves from thugs, terrorists, and idiots, which is a prerequisite for any possibility of winning, and for their victory to be at all desirable. The friction that is growing between the various ethnic groups in Europe is a direct consequence of radical multiculturalism (both immigration itself as well as the pathological nature of those political ideologies which bear the same name), but that does not mean that the spontaneous hostility of the majority against various other groups is something which can or should be directly translated into a meaningful political project. Pressure from the ‘establishment’ may thus actually be a positive thing, since it forces the Right to discipline itself and create a more positive ideology and political image.
The real Right is now making a comeback all across Europe. In region after region, country after country, we are forcing the Left’s disillusioned and demoralised minions to retreat back to the margins of society, where their quixotic ideas and destructive utopias belong. However, our political project is of course not primarily aimed at the Left. Our real task will be to comprehend and develop an alternative to liberal modernity in its entirety. This work is made easier, however, by the Left’s pubescent and suicidal antics.
The Italian philosopher Julius Evola spoke of ‘men among the ruins’ to describe the exclusion that traditionalists and those of the true Right were relegated to in post-war Europe. Thus deprived of power, they were forced to bide their time while the world around them degenerated into the worst of modernity’s excesses and decadence. They found themselves in a Europe where previously marginalised ideas from the Left ow supported by international capital ere suddenly turned into societal norms. A Europe arose where an anachronistic ‘anti-fascism’ and a hyper-individualistic, liberal version of Marxism were established as the new religions. A Europe that gave free reign to a permanent revolution against tradition, hierarchy, and the structures and values which allowed European civilisation to flourish in the first place. A Europe in which utopian nonsense gave rise to ever more bizarre and harmful social experiments. A Europe that, despite these difficult conditions and bleak circumstances, yet retains the power to turn things around, overcome the fears that afflict her, and regain control of her destiny. This is the task that the Real Right has set itself, amidst Europe’s gloomy dusk: to represent the eternal ideas and values that are now returning across a broad front
3. The European Crisis
Europe is being colonised. This is news to no one, and has been going on for decades. Before giving a few practical suggestions regarding solutions to this problem, let’s examine the reasons why this came about.
There are mainly these three interrelated factors:
1) The conscious, at best naive, and at worst malicious, campaigns of Western elites to increase economic migration from Africa and the Middle East. The elites of my native Sweden, unfortunately, constitute the worst instance of this, being the leaders of the most self-hating, far-Leftist nation in the world. One example: Sweden sends its already decimated Coast Guard – whose actual purpose is to guard the Swedish borders – to the Mediterranean to assist illegal immigrants from Africa and the Middle East in safely reaching European shores. In most cases, the journey goes on to Sweden and Germany, those nations which offer the greatest economic benefits, and hence having the greatest ‘pull factor’.
2) The post-war foreign policy of the United States – especially during the last few decades – has been marked by military interventions in the Middle East and Africa. This strategy is central to neoconservative geopolitics, in which realpolitik aimed at strengthening American influence in these regions and control over their natural resources converge with Leftist fantasies of universal, one-size-fits-all democracy. Repeated bloodbaths follow automatically, since cynicism and starry-eyed ‘idealism’ combined results in the worst imaginable recipe for a policy meant to be applied in these chaotic, often impoverished and conflict-ridden, regions. The price for this stupidity is paid first by the afflicted regions, and then by Europe. Entire ethnic groups are now migrating into our nations. At best they remain unassimilable and constitute enormous economic burdens; at worst they are or will become terrorists and criminals. Oftentimes these tendencies reinforce each other and interact in a manner which our incompetent governments are completely unable to even begin to counter.
3) An outright spirit of colonisation spread in mosques all over the Muslim world. The sermons of imams teach young Muslim men that they have a holy duty to ‘spread the religion of peace’ to unclean Europe through mass colonisation. It is no coincidence that the vast majority of those who are arriving in the present stream of migrants are young men in their physical prime, rather than women and children. The latter would make sense if this was purely a matter of refugees seeking shelter. The former, and actual, demographic make-up is far more reminiscent of an invasion army. This holds for not only the age and sex of the ‘migrants’, but for their attitude as well. The calls to colonise Europe are a clear ‘push factor’. When push and pull factors interact in this fashion, the result can be overwhelming, as the present record migration wave to Europe illustrates.
So what sort of people are presently coming to our continent? Let’s have a look.
This is what immigration can look like. This is what the European migrant crisis in fact looks like today.
Although it is also true that we Europeans have also been immigrants recently, in fact only a few generations ago, when we migrated to the United States. Let’s have a look at some of them as well.
Just like the ‘settlers’ in the first film, the European settlers in America were not alone on their new continent, but they were the strongest, and we know what happened then. The question is who will be the strongest in Europe today: today’s non-European ‘settlers’, or us.
This is a genuine issue facing many Europeans today — and only the Real Right has a proper answer and solution to it. In this regard, the Hungarian government has certainly taken a brave stance and inspired other EU countries, such as the other Visegrad Four countries, to follow its example and protest the attempts to enforce migrant quotas and thus keep Europe’s borders wide-open.
Until a serious, humane program of repatriation has been put in place, nothing is more important than stemming the tide of Third World immigration and the ongoing Islamisation of our societies. In this regard — Viktor Orban has done the whole of Europe an enormous favor by helping to protect our outer borders and legitimizing opposition to the radically liberal immigration policies of the governments in Western Europe.
4. The Hungarian Example: Primary Explanatory Factors Behind the Rise of Right-Wing Parties in Hungary
As mentioned in my previous section, the return of the real right is a global phenomenon. However, Hungary is definitely at the forefront. There are many reasons for this.
Here is a list of what I view as the main explanatory factors for Hungary’s stronger tendency towards nationalism, tradition, and conservatism:
- A separate identity is retained through Hungary’s unique language, which is vastly different from any other European language. Hungary is mostly surrounded by nations which speak Slavic languages, but Hungarian is not even an Indo-European language, belonging to the Uralic family. Hungarian has a distant relation to Finnish and Estonian but it has no close relatives whatsoever among its immediate neighbors.
- A consistent policy of cultural protection by means of dubbing all films and TV programs originating from the liberal western entertainment studios into Hungarian, and also by being selective about which the Hollywood productions to distribute.
- The cultural impact of a national trauma, as a consequence of losing two world wars, as well as two thirds of its territory in the unjustly harsh treaty of Trianon as part of the peace agreement after the 1st world war, in 1920.
- The presence of several large Hungarian minority populations in each of its neighboring countries, also a result of Trianon, many of whom are not always treated fairly – which stokes national and ethnic identification and nationalist sentiments. Hungarian-Serbian relations have only recently begun to improve and there have been numerous attempts to limit the rights of ethnic Hungarians in Slovakia and Romania to use their own language in official communications, to have Hungarian schools, or to exercise political autonomy or hold proper representation.
- A unique and ever-present history that is kept alive through various government-initiated programs such as placing memorial plaques related to important Hungarian historical figures and events on each block in central Budapest.
- A national culture that is kept alive through a myriad of Hungarian cultural festivals as well as no less than three national holidays per year. Hungarians celebrate their struggle against Habsburg domination during the 1848 revolution on the 15th of March, the foundation of the Hungarian state on the 20th of August and the revolution of 1956 on the 23rd of October. The current government has also declared the 4th June, which is the anniversary of the Trianon Treaty, as the Day of National Unity.
- A milder form of communist rule — the so called ”Goulash Communism” — following the 1956 revolution, which was less culturally destructive than many of the other communist dictatorships in the Eastern bloc. It’s also important to mention that Soviet Communism, which could hardly be described as having been positive for Europe, nevertheless ironically did the countries of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union a favor by preventing the culturally more extreme strains of Marxism and liberalism which developed in the West following the Second World War from entering their societies until the end of the 1980s.
- Apart from nationalism and conservatism, the prerequisite for the rise of the Hungarian Right was the fall of its Left. The Hungarian political status quo drastically changed between 2006-2010, during the second socialist government. The popularity of the MSZP fell from 43% to 19%. There were violent protests on the streets of Budapest in 2006 following Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány’s infamous leaked speech in which he admitted lying to the people. The left-liberal government failed to adequately manage the economic crisis of 2008. Hungary’s left wing is thus very fragmented, and has no charismatic and widely accepted leader, nor even an actual political programme. While it was in opposition, Fidesz began a successful identity-building strategy by establishing its network in the media and by setting up the conservative mass movement Civic Circles (Polgári Körök). Once it was in government, Fidesz decided to become independent of the IMF, and today enacts popular policies by trying to give something to mostly all groups of the society. The government’s point of view is dominant in public discourse, but the country is visibly building and developing. This is something that gives a lot of legitimacy to the right-wing policies of the Fidesz government.
Since between 70-75 % of the Hungarian population currently support the two main right-wing parties, Fidesz and Jobbik, it might be pertinent to give them each a brief introduction.
A Brief History of Fidesz
Fidesz — originally a libertarian, anti-communist party — was founded in 1988 by students, among them Viktor Orbán. They received almost 9% of the vote during the first elections in 1990, then 7 % in 1994 and 29% in 1998, when they first formed a government. Fidesz first switched to conservatism in 1994, which caused a split in its membership, and some of its members joined the Alliance of Free Democrats.
From 1998 to 2002 Viktor Orbán governed in coalition with two smaller parties, the Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF) and the Independent Smallholders’ Party (FKGP).
Fidesz lost the parliamentary elections in 2002 and 2006, but won the European elections in 2004 and 2009, as well as the municipal elections in 2006.
Fidesz also won the parliamentary elections in 2010 and 2014 in landslide victories with around 40 % of the popular vote.
A Brief History of Jobbik
Jobbik, a nationalist, radical, and conservative party was founded in 2003, mainly by students. They received an insignificant result in the 2006 elections, but got into the parliament in 2010 with 16% and again in 2014 with 20% of the vote. Jobbik has had 3 MEPs in the European Parliament since 2009.
They are currently also the most popular party among University students as well as young people (18-35 years of age).
The second half of 20th century was dominated by liberal-leftist ideologies, due to the fall of the Right after WW2 due to lack of legitimacy.
In the beginning of the 21st century, the leftists and the liberals are facing a similar legitimacy crisis, due to regression and failure to address the most important challenges of our time.
Therefore, we can see a global rise of parties and movements that have characteristics of what I previously in this lecture defined as ”The Real Right”, with the Donald Trump phenomenon, rapid rise of populist parties all over Europe, and where Hungary might be the foremost example.
The reasons for Hungary’s leading position in terms of right-wing politics can be ascribed to a number of facilitating factors: 1) A unique identity through Hungary’s unique language, 2) A consistent policy of cultural protection, 3) A national trauma, due to losing two world wars, as well as two thirds of its territory, 4) A significant diaspora who are in some cases oppressed or mistreated, 5) A unique and ever-present history that is kept alive through government programs and traditions, 6) A national culture kept alive through a myriad of Hungarian cultural festivals as well as no less than three national holidays per year, and last but not least 7) The complete collapse of the Left due to scandals and mismanagement, which paved the way for Fidesz’ landslide victory in 2010.
All of these representatives of ”the real right” — in Hungary as well as globally — be it conservative, nationalist or populist parties, are tied to the same wave of resurgence of right-wing politics, regardless if they are cooperating or not.
This since they are pushing for overlapping issues and their independent successes provides legitimacy to similar politicians and movements in other countries. We also have the quite amazing cultural phenomenon of the ”Alternative Right”, with it’s memes, blogs, videos and online trolls. Although the term itself originated in the US, this online cultural movement is widespread all over the world – especially in countries in Central and Northern Europe.
What we are currently witnessing globally is the decline of leftist and liberal politics, and the return of the real right.
Considering the increasing severity of the problems the right efficiently addresses, and the inability of the liberals and leftists to address these same problems, I predict this trend will not only continue but also increase in strength. Which we all should be thankful for, since it provides our civilization with a realistic chance to survive.
Thank you everyone for listening — and remember to vote for Trump in November.