It is too early to tell whether Orbán’s agenda will ultimately be successful—but it is indisputably true that he is one of the only conservative leaders who is actually attempting to fight back in any significant way. He is funding conservative institutions, working to spread conservative ideas, fighting to keep LGBT propaganda away from children, seeking to reduce abortions and promote families, and refusing to back down in the face of elite opposition.
If there is to be a backlash to the cultural revolution that has conquered the West, what might it look like, politically speaking? Many writers have been considering what it means for Christians to live in a post-Christian world, but outside of the United States, where every federal election has taken on a frenetic and frantic tone, there is little discussion about what political leaders seeking to turn the tide might actually do to accomplish that—if it is even possible.
One example of what it might look like is the Viktor Orbán agenda in Hungary. I’ve been fascinated with the ongoing government project to reduce abortion, boost the birthrate, and encourage marriage for some time, and have interviewed both Hungarian ambassador Eduard Habsburg (yes, from that Habsburg family) as well as Family Minister Katalin Novák for The American Conservative to discuss this agenda. We don’t yet know how the Hungarian agenda will play out in the long-term, but there have been some encouraging short-term results.
Rod Dreher of The American Conservative has been writing from Hungary for several months while he works at the Danube Institute, and it has been interesting to see him become a full-throated supporter of Orbán (while admitting that it is obviously not all roses.) Most conservative leaders tend to conserve whatever status quo they get handed when achieving power. Thus, progressives utilize their time in office to move the ball down the field; conservatives do nothing to turn back the clock, and we go from debating same-sex marriage to whether or not minors can get castrated in two decades without any meaningful opposition from conservatives. Especially in the Anglosphere countries (Canada being a particularly egregious example), so-called conservative politicians have shown little to no appetite for fighting back even when it comes to minors getting sex changes. Cultural surrendur is the standard.
Viktor Orbán, perhaps due to his past as an anti-Communist, understands how progressives won (and win) in the first place. Interestingly, when Orbán does precisely what progressives do—appointing like-minded people, funding conservative outfits, and launching a right-wing long march through the institutions—he gets called an authoritarian. The New York Times, for example, recently reported that Orbán’s government has granted a total of $1.7 billion to Mathias Corvinus Collegium (MCC) “with the aim of training a new generation of conservative elite across Europe.” That is precisely what conservatives should have been doing for decades, instead of ceding one field after another to those who hate Western civilization. Progressives, of course, don’t care for being beaten at their own game.
Hungary has even modeled one potential method of pushback to the LGBT agenda. Over the last several years, an internecine fight broke out amongst American conservatives over the limits of the use of government power, with David French representing the libertarian wing and Sohrab Ahmari making the case that conservatism has conserved almost nothing over the past several decades. I think Ahmari was being hyperbolic, but then again, French did refer to Drag Queen Story Hour as one of the “blessings of liberty” in his insistence that there was nothing conservatives could do in response to these new cultural cancers. Over at his blog, Rod Dreher describes how Hungary has responded to the explosion of LGBT propaganda targeted at children:
Hungary is being punished severely by the European Union for having passed a law this summer that restricts the presentation of LGBT content to children and minors. Hungarians are not religious, but they are culturally conservative. The government, seeing how the constant stream of LGBT propaganda aimed at children is changing Western societies (e.g., a 4,000 percent increase over a decade in the number of UK minors referred for transgender treatment), chose to fight back in a modest way. Every society chooses what is appropriate for its youth to experience, and usually codifies that in law. Not every society agrees on these points, but every society sets these rules. There is a reason why our laws set the age of sexual consent at a certain point. Societies differ on what that age is, but all societies recognize that children must be protected from the sexual desire of adults. Societies also set restrictions on whether or not minors can receive certain kinds of sexualized information — porn, I mean. Unlike the countries of Western Europe, Hungary believes that children and minors should not receive information normalizing LGBT. They are trying to protect their youth from the cultural revolution that has consumed the West. They are trying to protect their kids from decadent propaganda.