Viktor Orbán, it seems, lovingly embraces inconsistency. There is first of all his inconsistency over time, well documented in József Debreczeni's second book Arcmás, published last year. Debreczeni painstakingly collected important Orbán quotations that show his about-face from radical liberal to radical right-winger. Orbán, by the way, would most likely vehemently deny both labels because he now claims that he and his party are beyond "ideologies."
Of course, one could say that no one can expect absolute consistency over time. Times change, a person's outlook changes. Moreover, we all know that once Orbán realized that on the liberal side of the political spectrum he would always play second fiddle to the well established and weightier SZDSZ leaders, he turned toward the right, especially since with the staggering loss of MDF in 1994 the field was wide open.
But Orbán exhibits not only the inconsistency inherent in changing sides. He also flaunts the rules of logical consistency. He is quite capable of saying in the same speech that the "economy is in ruins and needs total rebuilding" and two sentences later that the country's financial situation is stable.
Particularly interesting to my mind are some of his latest turnabouts and his incoherence. On ideological grounds he was fiercely anti-Russian until about a year ago. This anti-Russian attitude came from a typical Hungarian gut reaction to anything Russian. After all, without Russia Hungary might have won the war of independence of 1848-49 against the Habsburg Empire. The Soviet occupation of Hungary in 1944-45 also left a bitter taste in Hungarian mouths. Everybody knew that without Soviet backing the Hungarian communists couldn't have established a one-party dictatorship. So, on one level his reaction was understandable, but rationally every politician ought to know that it behooves Hungary to establish a cordial relationship with Moscow. Yet Viktor Orbán while prime minister conducted a decidedly anti-Russian foreign policy, and later during the Gyurcsány period he accused the Hungarian prime minister of being too friendly, perhaps even subservient to the Russians.
About a year ago all that changed. By now, it almost seems that a Russian-Hungarian friendship will be the cornerstone of Hungarian foreign policy.
A similar change of heart took place with respect to China. While he was in office he completely neglected China. It was Péter Medgyessy and Ferenc Gyurcsány who made overtures to the world's fast growing economic giant. By now it seems to me that Orbán unabashedly declares the superiority of an economy in which the state has the guiding role. Orbán thinks that the secret of Chinese economic success is the combination of the one-party system and political dictatorship and an economy that is based on market forces but controlled by the state.
Or at least this is what he seemed to suggest in his speech at Tusnádfürdő (Bǎile Tuşnad) in Romania. Every summer Fidesz holds a "free university and student gathering" in Tusnádfürdő. This was the twenty-first such get-together of Hungarian students from Romania and Hungary; they spend a week in this very picturesque little town famous for its spa. Viktor Orbán always attends, and in the past the whole country breathlessly awaited what kind of message he would send back home from Romania. In 2006, for example, it was here that Orbán first talked about the lies of Ferenc Gyurcsány and the illegitimacy of his government. Therefore, in retrospect one suspects that Orbán already had the tape of the Gyurcsány speech in Balatonőszöd in June, although it was released by him only in late September, just before the local elections.
But let's get back to the "crisis of the western type of capitalism." Surely, Orbán considers this the essence of his fairly long speech because this is the title of the speech when it was published on his website. This "crisis" is more than a more severe recession typical of the business cycle; it in fact marks the end of western capitalism. On the other hand, the Chinese economy grows 10% a year. This is not just a temporary financial hiccup but the demise of a capitalist system that has been in place in Europe for "the last 100 or 150 years." Why exactly these numbers, don't ask me. The trouble lies, according to Orbán, in the fact that the "speculative movement of money came to the fore instead of a capitalism based on work and on value."
But there are other problems as well. "The market must not only be effective but it must also be based on morality." Once upon a time "morality originated in faith in God, but as the world changed and enlightenment arrived, instead of belief in God humanity turned to a kind of code of behavior based on religious teachings." Surely, says Orbán, one must return to the kind of morality that existed earlier and which precludes speculation in the market.
In European countries there are signs that governments are rethinking their mode of behavior that led to the "heart attack" of western capitalism. The first recognition is that "ideological questions have been pushed to the background." (Where he gets this from I have no idea. Most likely he stuck this sentence in because it is his hobby horse. If there are no ideological differences, then there is a new order of unity he himself established after the elections.) So one doesn't need ideologies but "the rehabilitation of moral values." European countries have begun to think along these lines, but one must pay attention to and imitate the East.
Why did China and India do so well economically? Surprise! Because "they stuck to certain values." On the other hand, Europe is losing ground, most likely because Europeans abandoned their values which are "rooted in Christianity." So what are Europeans supposed to do? "And it is at this point that we arrive at the role of Central Europe. It is perfectly clear that if Europe doesn't want to sink further, then somehow it has to make friends with Christian but not really European territories. Let's speak clearly: I am talking about Russia." This is quite something. Christian Europe needs Christian Russia to be able to compete with China and India!
And in this great new friendship Central Europe, actually I would call it Eastern Europe but Hungarians don't like that term, will have a pivotal role. The East European countries will be the intermediaries in this new love affair between Western Europe and Russia. He did make a fleeting remark about past experiences when these countries were the victims of the power struggle between Russia and the West, but this time he is not afraid of such an outcome because the "fact that the Russians are Christians will be of enormous importance in this respect." I guess because all the countries are Christian the Russians will not turn against the Christian West or the Christian Eastern Europe. All nonsense, of course.
I really don't know what to say. I'm stunned because this is jibberish. It sometimes sounds like the rantings of a madman.