Bernard-Henri Lévy interviews Orban and writes about it in The Atlantic.
This reminds me of when Putin allowed Masha Gessen to interview him.
I don’t really get why they do it. First, ideologues who hate you will not think or say any better of you for your “magnanimity”.
“Why did you choose this monastery? Why such an austere site?” …
“Because my old offices were in the Parliament building down the hill on the other side of the Danube, and that wasn’t good from the point of view of the separation of powers.”
He would have been more truthful had he said, Because I wanted to dominate this town, which is the only part of the country that is still resisting me.
Indeed, BHL claims he doesn’t believe Orban from the get go in their conversation. So is there any point to it whatsoever?
Second, why grant such privileges who hate you in the first place? Say what you will of him, but even Trump isn’t inviting the Maddows and Molly McMew’s for heart-to-hearts at the White House.
Third, there’s a good possibility they’re going to go overboard to portray you in as bad light as possible after the interview. That’s what ideologues do. Though in Orban’s case, I do wonder if BHL had to do even do much of that.
Frankly, Orban comes across as kind of dumb, or at least naive.
With one exception, which occurs when I raise the case of Gábor Iványi… By revoking the fellowship’s church status, the regime has choked off its funding.
“I know Iványi well,” he interrupted me. “He baptized two of my children. But it was a decision by the Parliament, which is absolutely responsible for church affairs. Moreover …”
He hesitates, seeming to search for words.
“Moreover, he called me a fascist. And that is the only thing for which I cannot forgive him.”
So he admits to having a grudge against this Iványi fellow, but assuredly his troubles are purely parliamentary in character, in a country where his party commands a supermajority, but most certainly in no way is Orban a fascist and he will get very upset if you call him that.
Like, I don’t care, but that’s the takeaway that intelligent normies will have on reading this, thanks to Orban buying into the frame that accusations of fascism are legitimate and necessarily bad. Never cuck!
“Are you thinking of Marine Le Pen?”
Hearing this, he stiffens, and his laughter disappears.
“Absolutely not! I have nothing at all to do with Madame Le Pen. Nothing.”
“Because Laurent Wauquiez warned me that she was a red line.”
“A friend of mine. I have a lot of friends in France, you know.”
Why is this Wauquiez fellow important? Why does Orban feel the need to disavow so stridently? It is perfectly legitimate to cooperate with opposition forces in foreign countries. Why exactly is Orban obligated to treat MLP as a pariah?
And when I ask him about the source of the Magyar strain of anti-Semitism, which was, after all, one of Europe’s deadliest, he counters with this astonishing response.
Kun was a Lenin ally who, in 1918, founded the short-lived Hungarian Soviet Republic.
“Yes,” he insists. “Béla Kun. The Jews played a large role—an unfortunate fact, but a fact nonetheless—in his abortive attempt at a Communist revolution. And that is what undid the fine alliance in Budapest between the Jewish and Magyar people.”
Is he aware that, by equating the terms Jew and Bolshevik, he is reprising one of the major themes of 20th-century anti-Semitic propaganda?
The one saving grace about this interview is that BHL is too smitten by his own ethnocentric derangement to really dig that shiv in.
“You know full well that they didn’t stay.”
“That’s true. But they could come back. That’s the rule in the European Union. A migrant always has the right to return to the place where he entered the Schengen Area. And you have to understand something: Hungary has always been a land of passage; everybody, absolutely everybody, has traipsed through here. I have no desire for that to start up again.”
He concedes that the right of return is valid for only six months and that, as a result, any risk of a “reverse tsunami” is slight.
He also concedes that the former Orbán had lauded Hungary for serving as an escape route for East Germans seeking refuge in the West. …
“Even if the pope does not agree with you and continues to reaffirm the duty to welcome and shelter migrants?”
He seems to concede a lot in BHL’s retelling. I do hope an independent video was made?
“There is something you have to know about Erdoğan. He’s a big soccer fan, like me. And soccer fans share a trait. They have a muscle here, in the lower back …”
He leans out of his chair a little, as if to show me his lower back.
“And that’s what Erdoğan and I did the first time we met. We touched each other’s lower back—and recognized a fellow fan.”
“Let’s call it a miracle. Shouldn’t this miracle be all the more mistrustful of the Ottoman imperialism that is galloping back in Ankara?”
“Yes, of course. But once again, pay attention …” He gestures toward the shelves of the library in which he closets himself every Thursday. “Scholars have made a lot of progress. Especially the linguists working on the Finno-Ugric matrix from which the Turkish and Magyar languages are derived. I mean to say that our two nations have a past that is what it is, but we are also cousins.”
No serious scholar puts any stock in the hazy theory that is known in Ankara as Pan-Turanianism. But it seems to meet the needs of Viktor Orbán.
This nationalist mysticism is exactly the image you want to portray to the Blue Checks and normie NCPs who would read anything by BHL in the first place.
Unless you meant to troll them. Then that’s perfectly fine.
But in that case, why DISAVOW Marine Le Pen and wish SOROS good health and good luck?
And when I, in turn, ask him, in front of the camera, if he might have a message for his former mentor, he responds not once, but twice: “I wish him good health and good luck.”
“I mean to imply that we must be careful. Very careful. We must support Ukraine, since it is the main bulwark between us and the Russians. At the same time, we must not provoke Putin. And that is why I oppose the European Union’s sanctions against him.” …
“The Europeans are being incredibly hypocritical. On the one hand, they lecture us. On the other hand, I wasn’t the one, at least as far as I know, who launched the Nord Stream 2 project that puts you at the mercy of Russian gas.”
OK, that’s good, but it’s far too defensive.
I think of what is rumored in Budapest about Orbán’s business ties with Putin and the Kremlin.
And I think of what I am going to say on a Budapest stage in a couple of hours about this real-world Luke Skywalker who may have gone over to the dark side of the Force, become the puppet of the oligarchs’ empire, and made his old friend Lőrinc Mészáros the richest man in the world in the same way Caligula made his horse a senator.
Throughout this interview – as retold by BHL, at any rate – I was consistently surprised by the low quality of Orban’s replies that I would have assumed he’d have stock answers to.
But this is perhaps one of the big questions that I haven’t figured out how I’d answer myself were in Orban’s (or Putin’s) shoes.
Obviously, as they are running perpendicular to – if not directly against – globalism, all of these people need a moneyed counter-elite that is loyal to them personally (as opposed to the rootless cosmopolitanism that oligarchies naturally evolve towards). For Putin, that is people like Sechin, or the Rotenbergs. In Hungary, I assume it is people like Mészáros.
Sure, “advanced” Western countries such as Sweden don’t do that. But on the flip side, they pay even more to Somalis on permanent welfare. I for one would take Sechins over Somalis. The Sechins are at least temporary, while Somalis are forever.
This is actually rather similar to Dugin’s concept of “patriotic” corruption: https://www.unz.com/akarlin/the-triumph-of-patriotic-corruption/ (though Dugin, being a tolerant man, would never libel Somalis so).
However, ordinary people – understandable – don’t really take it that well when you couch you and your friends’ corruption in “patriotic” terms. But to have a sovereign country, you need a bunch of rich guys who are loyal to you and can bail you out in an emergency. At least if you’re not willing to go the full hog and establish overt controls over the elites, like China does with its red telephones from Zhongnanhai to the CEOs of its biggest companies.
But I have no idea how to elegantly justify this even though I’ve thought about it quite a bit. The dominant strategy seems to be to ignore it, or play “you too” games. Which are never all that convincing because Western agents aren’t really that rich – they don’t have access to the nation’s feeding trough, after all, and while NGOs can be rather generous, they’re never going to compete with nationwide infrastructure contracts or state-owned resource giants.