The director of the new Brussels branch of the Mathias Corvinus Collegium (MCC), a private Hungarian residential college funded by a massive donation of pubic funds, has written an editorial in which he calls hostility towards Hungary “Magyarophobia:” According to Frank Furedi, a Hungarian-Canadian academic and emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Kent:
November 1, 2022 There’s something in the air in Brussels that makes me feel particularly Hungarian. Having grown up in the West and spent my adult life in Anglo-American academic institutions, the country of my birth was rarely ever a source of contention; at most, it was a subject of curiosity. However, after speaking at the Brussels Passa Porta Book Festival in 2017, I came to realize that for some people, my Hungarian identity was problematic. On the way back to my hotel, I was approached by a member of the audience who accused me of being fascist scum for refusing to denounce Hungary’s stance on Europe’s migration crisis. And when I gently suggested we should agree to disagree, he simply sneered and pushed past. It was a minor incident, but for me, at least, it had major consequences. I had come to Brussels to discuss the importance of imparting a love of reading on youngsters, but I left the city feeling that, as a writer, I had an obligation to challenge the polarizing and unbalanced narrative surrounding my country — and that is what I plan to do. Hoping to prompt reasoned debate, I have now returned to Brussels — not to promote a book but as the director of a new think tank, MCC Brussels, aiming to promote mature, thoughtful discussion about the cultural tensions prevailing across the Continent. Back in 2017, scaremongering about the return of an authoritarian dictatorship to Hungary was relatively restrained compared to today. But since the decisive reelection of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government last April, the hostility toward Hungary has morphed into an irrational Magyarophobia.
Furedi goes on to dismiss EU concerns over what it sees as increasing autocracy in Hungary by claiming those concerns are motivated opposition to those who “go against the Western political establishment’s outlook.” Furedi cites the recent election of far-right Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni as evidence:
Orbán’s Hungarian opponents use the term “autocratization” to justify their demonization of him — and the European Union has followed suit. In September, the European Parliament agreed on a resolution that labeled Hungary as an “electoral autocracy” rather than a “full democracy,” and it condemned the country’s government for undermining European values. A few days later, the European Commission recommended suspending €7.5 billion in funding to Hungary, citing concerns over “democratic backsliding.”. Democratic backsliding is an ideologically constructed concept, designed to delegitimize the election of individuals and parties that go against the Western political establishment’s outlook. In this way, the very exercise of democracy that leads to the election of the “wrong people” can be dismissed. So, when Orbán was reelected with a landslide 53.3 percent of the popular vote, the usual suspects cited this as democratic backsliding. The remarkable success of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party in the recent Italian general election has set off a flurry of similar accusations as well.
Finally, Furedi additionally claims that the “pathologization” of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is based on the hatred of Western “culture warriors” for those who question “post-traditionalist identity-politics.”
Similarly, Hungary’s emergence as the bad boy of Europe has little to do with this nation’s supposed fascination with authoritarianism. As I argue in my book “Populism and the European Culture Wars,” Orbán’s pathologization is motivated by hostility toward the values promoted by his government.Unlike many others in Europe, Hungary’s government self-consciously advocates national sovereignty. It isn’t inhibited about upholding the traditions and values of its people — including Christianity — and it is unambiguously hostile toward an outlook that prefers to dismiss the legacy of Europe’s past. Hungary is hated by the West’s culture warriors for the simple reason that it dares to question their post-traditionalist, identity-politics-fueled world view.
According to a bio: Furedi is:
…a sociologist and social commentator. Since the late 1990s, he has been widely cited about his views on why Western societies find it so difficult to engage with risk and uncertainty. He has published widely about controversies relating to issues such as health, parenting children, food and new technology.
Furedi is also deeply immersed in US-style “culture war” themes, warning about the danger of “woke capitalism” and so-called university trigger warnings. He is also listed as an author for the Russian propaganda media operation RT (formerly Russia Today), where he has published multiple articles on similar themes, such as “Trans ideology has no place in children’s groups like the Girl Guides” and “How the woke’s war on words took over 2021.” In another RP. piece titled “The sinister legacy of January 6”, Furedi accuses “those in positions of power” of using the January 6 US Capitol insurrection “to develop a culture of fear.”
A recent Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) report identified a new and developing alliance between US conservatives and European nationalists. This alliance, operating under the rubric of “National Conservatism,” is a potential means for Russia to exert covert influence in Europe and the US, using Hungary as a platform. The GIOR report identified the Mathias Corvinus Collegium (MCC) as a private Hungarian residential college funded by a massive donation of pubic funds and serving as a centerpiece for National Conservative efforts.
In July 2021, we reported that actors linked to Russian disinformation operations were targeting American far-right audiences on alternative online platforms employing culture-war themes. In January, the GIOR reported on a speech by Russian President Vladamir Putin that closely mirrored right-wing themes that dominate the so-called “culture wars” in the US. In September, we reported that a Dutch political party extremist figure with ties to Russia had spoken at this year’s opening of the MCC.