The article below will be controversial. Comparing today's Hungary to Benito Mussolini's Italy seems like a daring undertaking. Some people would call it a baseless accusation.
I think one of the problems is that nowadays people often use fascism and nazism interchangeably, but there are many, fairly basic differences between the two.The Hungarian right in the late 1920s and early 1930s was heavily influenced by Mussolini's fascist ideology and thus the connection between Orbán and Mussolini.
Lately, more and more people in liberal publications quite openly call Orbán "Benito Orbán," such as Attila Buják in his article "Posványos Benito Orbán." And László Kálmán, a linguist, compares Viktor Orbán's language to that of Mussolini. He claims that both are characterized by "concealment." Kálmán sees another point of comparison: Orbán easily moves from one political ideology to the next, just as Mussolini did. Orbán, like Mussolini, always says what people want to hear. Thus, in vain are we looking for consistency in his utterances over time. Mussolini was "a shameless populist" and so is Orbán.
The link between Orbán and Mussolini is Gyula Gömbös, prime minister of Hungary (1932-1936), who was an admirer of Mussolini. I wrote about the uncanny resemblances between the ideas of Orbán and those of Gömbös twice: in June 2008, that is, way before the 2010 elections that gave such unlimited power to Viktor Orbán and again in September 2010. A few days later, using the definition of Roger Griffin, a British political philosopher, I proposed in a Hungarian-language article that "Orbán's vision" might be described as "generic fascism." Griffin's definition of generic fascism is as follows: "Fascism is a political ideology whose mythic core in its various permutations is a palingenetic form of populist ultra-nationalism." Palingenesis means regeneration or rebirth. For anyone familiar with Orbán's vocabulary these words will sound very familiar.
And here is S.K.'s take on the same subject.
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Anybody I meet who is willing to engage in discussion on politics, as soon as it comes to the Orbán government and my ever increasing recognition that this bunch of Fidesz bozos are fascists pure and simple (all right, not so simple), my interlocutors immediately start looking for the exit, they are busy backpedalling and unanimously list the excuses, the differences and find ultimate refuge in the person of Stalin, because he was not a fascist and yet was the greatest of the mass-murderers.
I am sorry, but all those pusillanimous excuses only serve to confirm me in my conviction. Just because there are differences, and just because the assorted scum of Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin and all those other fascists and nazis were even greater bastards than Orbán, we still are faced with the undeniable fact that he is indeed a budding fascist and his government is a fascist government. In any case, it is early in the day, Orbán had merely a short year at his disposal to implement his fascist program and at the rate he is going, we won’t have to wait much longer until the comprehensive and conclusive proof arrives, considering what a busy bee he is.
That his rhetoric is fascist needs no confirmation, he confirmed that time and again. In the comparison with Mussolini all he lacks is the polished refinement that characterized Mussolini’s speeches but is completely absent in Orbán’s.
But apart from that, let us examine what fascism is. Let our guide be the definitive summary assembled by Emilio Gentile in the Enciclopedia Italiana (1992).
The following ten points are the “constituent elements" for the definition of fascism:
- A mass movement with multi-class membership in which prevail, among the militants and leaders, the middle sectors, in large part new to political activity, organized as a party militia, that bases its identity not on social hierarchy, or class origin, but on the sense of comradeship, believes itself invested with a mission of national regeneration, considers itself in a state of war against political adversaries and aims at conquering a monopoly of political power by using terror, parliamentary tactics, and deals with leading groups, to create a new regime that destroys parliamentary democracy.
- An “anti-ideological” and pragmatic ideology that proclaims itself anti-materialist, anti-individualist, anti-liberal, anti-democratic, anti-Marxist, is populist and anti-capitalist in tendency, expresses itself esthetically more than theoretically by means of a new political style and by myths, rites, and symbols as a lay religion designed to acculturate, socialize, and integrate the faith of the masses with goal of creating a “new man.”
- A culture founded on mystical thought and the tragic and activist sense of life conceived as the manifestation of the will to power, on the myth of youth as artificer of history, and on the exaltation of the militarization of politics as the model of life and collective activity.
- A totalitarian conception of the primacy of politics, conceived as an integrating experience to carry out the fusion of the individual and the masses in the organic and mystical unity of the nation as an ethnic and moral community, adopting measures of discrimination and persecution against those considered outside this community either as enemies of the regime or members of races considered inferior or otherwise dangerous for the integrity of the nation.
- A civil ethic founded on total dedication to the national community, on discipline, virility, comradeship, and the warrior spirit.
- A single state party that has the task of providing for the armed defense of the regime, selecting its directing cadres, and organizing the masses within the state in a process of permanent mobilization of emotion and faith.
- A police apparatus that prevents, controls, and represses dissidence and opposition, even by using organized terror.
- A political system organized by a hierarchy of functions named from the top and crowned by the figure of the 'leader' invested with a sacred charisma, who commands, directs, and coordinates the activities of the party and the regime.
- A corporative organization of the economy that suppresses trade union liberty, broadens the state intervention, and seeks to achieve, by principles of technocracy and solidarity, the collaboration of the ‘productive sectors’ under the control of the regime, to achieve its goals of power, yet preserving private property and class divisions.
- A foreign policy inspired by the myth of national power and greatness, with the goal of imperialist expansion.
After this I don’t think there is any doubt whether the orbanites are fascist. The only questions which remain are how much of this program has already been realized and how long it will be before the entire rotten edifice is fully complete.
I fear it is not very long.