RussiaNovember 21 2022, 14:25 pm

Director of New Brussels Branch of Orban Educational Facility Says Hostility to Hungary is ‘Magyarophobia”

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.



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