Useful idiots happily spread the fake news abroad that Orbán is completely misunderstood, he is just a conservative/Christianist/capitalist/patriot. But it is simply not true.
Those useful idiots who sing Orbán’s praise also regularly wet their beaks in the free-flowing public money made available through Orbán’s foundations. They accept invitations
to 5-star VIP treatment to share their irrelevant little thoughts and take on fellowships financed by the Hungarian taxpayer.
But Orbán is far from a Thatcherite conservative his defenders choose to whitewash him as. He is neither pro-market, nor a capitalist in any sense of the word. Fattening hand-picked businesses of friends and family on public money is the opposite of capitalism – it is a coddling welfare state for talentless men who like to pose as businessmen and for politicians who fancy posing as business geniuses while the taxpayers pick up the bill.
Orbán calls this the creation of a Hungarian capital-owning class – i.e. a small group of hand-picked cronies. And in support of this argument (and to buy time) he is ready to invest in a charm offensive. As little as Boris has time to follow Hungarian affairs, he can be persuaded that Orbán is just a fellow Thatcherite, for instance. Orbán’s men are out in force selling that narrative in the UK and the US to other corrupted right-wing minds who are all too ready to believe it.
Just this week he called himself a principled anti-capitalist. First he called himself a salary man on his weekly radio sermon and then he had the cheek to claim that the pandemic hurt him as well financially. It predictably triggered the non-Orbánist media and a big, resigned FU left our collective lips. It was a calculated provocation, nothing unusual from Orbán and he masterfully burnt some of the scarce manpower of the remaining independent media as everyone felt obliged to report about it.
In the following parliamentary debate he was called out on his remark by an opposition MP: „Did your job disappear and you stopped receiving benefits after just three months? Has your income declined like it has for 2.5 million fellow Hungarians? Have you lost your job, couldn’t pay rent and ended up on the streets? Did your job disappear and were you forced to work in food delivery? Have you worked as a social worker only to be left out of the one-off bonus? Have you caught the virus as a teacher and didn’t get a full salary replacement? Have you risked your life as a healthcare worker only to be forced to sign an unacceptable contract in the middle of a pandemic that took away all your labor rights? Please, Prime Minister, tell us more tales!”
Orbán gleefully took up the gloves. (He would always discuss his own, calculated communication flash bombs rather than real issues.) He kindly explained to us that everyone who is not a capitalist is a salary man and so he is a salary man and he will never join the ranks of capitalists. Here he brought up the previous prime minister who is a nasty capitalist, unlike saintly Orbán, who is poor, and the debate was back to where he wanted it to be.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is your “Thatcherite” and your “capitalist”.
Add to that his rabid ethnic collectivism and you have the most unsavory combination of ethno-nationalism and statist socialism. What was it called again?
Featured photo: Orbán at Downing Street enjoying the invitation he earned as a “Thatcherite” BEN STANSALL/AFP