RussiaOctober 20 2022, 17:43 pm

Former US Academics Lavish Praise on Illiberal Hungary; Peter Boghossian Thinks “Hungary Can Be the Gem of the World”

US media has pro­filed two us aca­d­e­mics work­ing for the Math­ias Corv­i­nus Col­legium, a Hun­gar­i­an edu­ca­tion­al facil­i­ty asso­ci­at­ed with the gov­ern­ment of Hun­gar­i­an Prime Min­is­ter Vik­tor Orbán. Accord­ing to the New Repub­lic report, for­mer uni­ver­si­ty pro­fes­sors Ilya Shapiro and Peter Boghoss­ian record­ed a pod­cast in which they gushed praise for Hun­gary under Orbán’s illib­er­al rule:

Octo­ber 11, 2022 With tech­no music thump­ing faint­ly in the back­ground, two infa­mous­ly “can­celed” Amer­i­can intel­lec­tu­als drooled over Hun­gar­i­an women, cel­e­brat­ed the way the country’s favor­able exchange rates have kept the cheap booze flowing—one of the two men announced that he was on his ninth drink—and lam­pooned the may­or of Port­land (“[He’s] a lunatic, he’s got pro­nouns in his bio”). They dis­cussed the vis­it­ing man’s plans for his stay in Budapest, which nat­u­ral­ly includ­ed a face-to-face with Hun­gar­i­an Prime Min­is­ter Vik­tor Orbán’s polit­i­cal direc­tor (“Dude, he’s great, you’re gonna love him”). And, seri­ous stu­dents of vig­or­ous debate and metic­u­lous empiri­cism that they are, they capped off the evening with a prob­ing dis­cus­sion of some of society’s thorni­est questions—including whether, as one of the men put it, “It’s the woke movement’s goal to, like, tran­si­tion all gay peo­ple.” The two can­celed men in ques­tion were Ilya Shapiro, who aban­doned his new job at George­town Law School last spring after an inves­ti­ga­tion spurred by a racist tweet end­ed with his sinecure not being tak­en from him by force, and Peter Boghoss­ian, who left his posi­tion as a phi­los­o­phy pro­fes­sor at Port­land State in Sep­tem­ber 2021. Two months after Boghoss­ian released a wide­ly shared res­ig­na­tion let­ter argu­ing that “illib­er­al­ism” had “ful­ly swal­lowed the acad­e­my,” he became a found­ing fac­ul­ty fel­low of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Austin, an edu­ca­tion­al ven­ture ded­i­cat­ed to restor­ing the “clas­si­cal­ly lib­er­al uni­ver­si­ty” and “reclaim­ing a place in high­er edu­ca­tion for free­dom of inquiry and civ­il dis­course.” Join­ing a time-hon­ored tra­di­tion, both Shapiro and Boghoss­ian have par­layed their sym­pa­thet­ic treat­ment in some quar­ters of the media into what can best be described as a “can­cel cul­ture speak­ing tour.” They made a joint appear­ance in March at a Prince­ton pan­el titled “Mob Rule: The Illib­er­al Left’s Threat to Cam­pus Dis­course.” Last week, they ran into each oth­er in Budapest, and after Boghoss­ian sug­gest­ed Shapiro record their con­ver­sa­tion as a pod­cast, the two set­tled down—Boghossian with a gin and ton­ic, Shapiro with a Hun­gar­i­an dessert wine—for a “full, unvar­nished dis­cus­sion.” “I’d nev­er [record­ed a pod­cast] before, part­ly out of hes­i­ta­tion at the ‘process’ that might be involved, but then I threw cau­tion to the wind, pressed the big red but­ton on Voice Memo on my iPhone, and here we are,” Shapiro tweet­ed on Wednesday.

Read the rest here.

In Sep­tem­ber, the EU declared that Hun­gary had become “a hybrid regime of elec­toral autoc­ra­cy” under Orbán’s rule and that its under­min­ing of the bloc’s demo­c­ra­t­ic val­ues had tak­en Hun­gary out of the com­mu­ni­ty of democ­ra­cies. In April 2021, Boghoss­ian appeared on the far-right Epoch TV YouTube show, defend­ing Vik­tor Orbán’s deci­sion to defund uni­ver­si­ty gen­der studies.

A GIOR report on the new Nation­al Con­ser­v­a­tive alliance explained the role of the Math­ias Corv­i­nus Col­legium (MCC) in the Orbán gov­ern­men­t’s strug­gle to con­trol Hun­gar­i­an high­er edu­ca­tion and to cre­ate a plat­form for rightwing fig­ures. The report also detailed the poten­tial role of the Nation­al Con­ser­v­a­tives in Russ­ian influ­ence operations:

The MATHIAS CORVINUS COLLEGIUM, a Hun­gar­i­an edu­ca­tion­al facil­i­ty, is a key part of the ORBÁN government’s strug­gle to con­trol Hun­gar­i­an high­er edu­ca­tion and is the cen­ter of Nation­al Con­ser­v­a­tive activ­i­ty in the coun­try. This facil­i­ty, fund­ed by a mas­sive gift of stock from the ORBÁN gov­ern­ment, has spon­sored events and teach­ing posi­tions for promi­nent US right-wing fig­ures. Rus­sia has already begun to employ Nation­al Con­ser­v­a­tive themes in its influ­ence oper­a­tions which will like­ly find a more recep­tive West­ern audi­ence than in the past. Hun­gary is par­tic­u­lar­ly fer­tile ground for Russ­ian exploita­tion of Nation­al Con­ser­vatism giv­en the exist­ing close rela­tion­ship between Russ­ian and Hun­gar­i­an elites and an exten­sive pre-exist­ing Russ­ian influ­ence network.

Read the full report here

Bogoss­ian was described in that report as:

…best known as a “rad­i­cal athe­ist” and for his 2018 role in the so-called “Griev­ance Stud­ies” or “Sokal Squared” hoax. As part of the hoax, BOGHOSSIAN and two col­leagues sub­mit­ted fake papers to var­i­ous spe­cial­ized aca­d­e­m­ic jour­nals to dis­cred­it gen­der and crit­i­cal race studies.

In Feb­ru­ary 2022, the MCC report­ed that Boghoss­ian was a guest instruc­tor at the MCC. The MCC is head­ed by Balázs Orbán, Vik­tor Orbán’s polit­i­cal direc­tor (no rela­tion), and Boghoss­ian has lav­ished praise on Balázs Orbán’s new book, The Hun­gar­i­an Way of Strat­e­gy. In Sep­tem­ber of this year, GIOR report­ed on this year’s open­ing of the MCC, where Boghoss­ian made a speak­ing appear­ance. Boghoss­ian was also the star of a recent pod­cast spon­sored by the MCC titled “Hun­gary Can Be the Gem of the World.

GIOR has also report­ed on the Russ­ian ties and pro-Russ­ian posi­tions of Thier­ry Baudet and John Laugh­land, both lead­ers of the Dutch far-right pop­ulist polit­i­cal par­ty the FvD.  Baudet has his own rela­tion­ship with the MCC, where Laugh­land is a vis­it­ing fel­low.


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