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As far as the proverbial man in the street is concerned, there is very little that separates the extreme right from the extreme left.

The results are the same: power concentrated in the hands of a small circle of political leaders, suppression of human rights and academic freedom, political prisoners, torture, absence of a free press, no free speech, no freedom of assembly, rule by decree, corruption and politically-appointed judges presiding over show trials.

That is not say that there are no differences. There clearly are. The left tends to find its suppressive roots in an all-embracing ideology or – in some cases—a religion which claims to offer solutions to all of mankind’s problems. You need only embrace it.

The far right, on the other hand, is generally based on a belief that one nation or group of people are superior to all the others, and the inferior people should be treated accordingly. These are the ultra-nationalists.

Both groups are adept at conjuring up external threats to justify repression which is really aimed at controlling internal dissent. In modern history we can point to Hitler and the Jews, Stalin and capitalist West, McCarthy and the “Reds under the beds.”

In more contemporary times, several countries stand out as examples of paranoid nationalism grabbing the levers of power. A glaring recent example is Hungary.

In the twentieth century Hungary suffered mightily from both fascism and communism. After World War I there was the short-lived Red Terror of Bela Kun before the country was subjected to the White Terror. Then during World War Two it allied itself with Hitler and after the war it was under the Soviet thumb until 1989.

One of Hungary’s more illustrious countrymen is the billionaire financier and philanthropist George Soros. He fled German-occupied Hungary during World War II, and eventually made his way to America where his financial wizardry netted him billions—most of which he has given away to liberal causes around the world.

His biggest single donation– $880 million—was in 1991 to establish the Central European University in his home town of Budapest. Its purpose was to produce a new generation of politicians, lawyers, journalists and civil servants who were so steeped in Western liberal values and democratic traditions that Hungary would never again veer towards the extreme right or left.

Unfortunately, Soros failed to take account of one Viktor Orban, Prime Minister of Hungary from 1998 to 2003 and then again from 2010 until sometime in the future. The leader of the National Conservative Fidesz Party has summed up his political philosophy with the words “illiberal democracy.”

He has expanded on it further by rejecting the liberal emphasis on the rights of the individual. In his view, the state is the means of organizing, invigorating, or even constructing the national community. In his view, countries such as Russia, China and Turkey are models to be admired and emulated.

Too many world leaders “illiberal democracy” is a complete contradiction in terms. How, they ask, can you have a democracy in which liberal institutions such as freedom of the press and the judiciary are suppressed?
And Orban is suppressing them. He forced the early retirement of most of Hungary’s judges and replaced them with his hand-picked political cronies. He has also forced all media outlets to register with the government. If they print or broadcast something which the government doesn’t like than their licenses can be revoked. On top of that, he has passed legislation making it almost impossible for the Hungarian parliament to amend or repeal laws passed by his Fidesz Party.

Orban’s most visible stand has been over the issue of accepting—or rather rejecting– any EU-directed refugees. Razor wire fences have been strung along the border and any refugee who manages to climb through is chased down by dogs. He has become a talisman for the EU’s anti-refugee lobby.

Not surprisingly, one of Orban’s strongest critics is George Soros. It is also no surprise that the Central European University has become an intellectual incubator for the anti-Orban camp. Demagogues hate dissent, so Orban decided to shut it down.

Of course, he couldn’t just throw out all the students and staff and lock the doors. He had to find a legal ploy. As one was not easily to hand, he created one. The Central European University is based in Budapest but funded from America. Orban this past week pushed a law through parliament banning foreign-based universities from operating in Hungary unless they had a campus in their home country. Surprise, surprise, the CEU was the only such university in Hungary.

But knowing George Soros, this fight is far from over.

Soros should be receiving support from EU institutions. Hungary joined the European Union in May 2004 as part of EU expansion into Eastern Europe to protect the nascent democracies that sprung up in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Empire.

The EU is a democratic club. And like most clubs it has rules which when you sign up to and agree to abide with when you join. These rules are embodied in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and so far it would seem that Hungary is either in breach of or—at the very least—on the verge of breaching rules involving personal integrity, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, freedom of press, equality before the law, religious diversity and the right to a fair trial.

So far the European Commission, parliament and council have done little more than utter complaining noises. The fate of the Central European University could tip them over the edge and into the murky waters of issuing sanctions against one of its own members.

Tom Arms is editor of


10 Comments on "Hungary vs George Soros"

  1. Peter Kennedy | 7th April 2017 at 11:33 am | Reply

    It is my understanding that should the CEU in Budapest close its doors they will find a welcome in Vienna.

  2. I am sure they will, but that will not in anyway absolve the Hungarian government. And furthermore, is the EU going to enforce its democratic membership rules.

  3. ”Please consider if you’re contributing to the discussion before you post. Abuse and general negativity will not be allowed to appear on the site. This might be the Internet but let’s try to keep things civil.”
    With that recommendation in mind, please leave out my last two comments until I’ve had time to reassess.

    • Will do. And on the same note: name calling does little to advance a serious point. You don’t know me well enough to insult me.

      • So, David, now you publicly address a comment which I asked not to be made public AND which nobody else knows of and, in so doing, you manage to denigrate me.
        I think, from that kind of practice, that I do know you well enough not to want to deal with you again.

        • Save me your pious tears. You lost the right to the moral high ground the moment you started to hurl insults my way when I had zero input into this article beyond posting it as a favour to Tim whilst he’s away.

  4. There are a number of expressions in this piece that I would say are quite inflammatory. For example, ‘In more contemporary times, several countries stand out as examples of paranoid nationalism grabbing the levers of power. A glaring recent example is Hungary.’ (sic) I feel I have to ask why, for a website which purports to seek the centre ground in news reporting, should this piece contain such biased sentiments and use such inflammatory language? Why is Hungary an example of ‘paranoid nationalism’ exactly? I’ll tell you why; because the whole of this article carries the ‘flavour’ of that of the ‘Liberal bigot’, one who looks down from a self-created ‘higher ground’ in order to pour scorn on the thoughts and feelings of others, especially those whose views do not happen to coincide with the views of the speaker or, in this case, the writer. Such people view with utter contempt those who, for example, voted for Brexit, using epithets such as, ‘racist’ or ‘xenophobic’ to describe ordinary British people, from all kinds of backgrounds, merely because they had the temerity to vote for self-determination and for taking back control of their borders from the mismanagement of the Leftist EU, with its diktats, its undemocratic institutions and its financial failure.

    I would also question the writer’s use of the word, ‘illustrious’ to describe George Soros. Here is a man who has used his wealth in order to subvert democracy rather than to support it and this is one of the reasons that Viktor Orban has decided to wage war against him and his globalist agenda. I wish the UK had someone like him. Yes, Orban may have put restraints on the media but, when you see how the Leftist media in most Western countries control the news outlets and seek to keep people from interpreting correctly what they see happening around them, then I have great sympathy for Orban.

    After all, Donald Trump was freely elected President of the USA and how has the American (and international) media and American judiciary treated him? It’s set itself up as a political opposition, that’s what. Is that healthy for democracy, to subvert the will of American people who voted for Trump and to seek to impose the will of the unelected minority? I, for one, don’t think it is healthy.

    The writer of this piece accuses Orban of ‘grabbing the levers of power’ in Hungary as if he was the leader of an armed insurrection instead of being the leader of the democratically elected Fidesz Party, a Party which ‘[h]as dominated Hungarian politics on the national and local level since its landslide victory in the 2010 national elections on a joint list with the Christian Democratic People’s Party, securing it a parliamentary supermajority that it retained in 2014.’
    It seems to me that a vast number of Hungarian people also believe in what Orban is trying to do. Are they all exhibiting symptoms of ‘paranoid nationalism’? I prefer to use the phrase, ‘passionate patriotism’ and to wish that more of this blog’s guest writers could do the same.
    Is that too much to hope for?

  5. ‘Hurl insults?’ Mister Waywell, I made a mild play on your name, calling you, ‘Mr. Wayward’, that’s all, as you well know. And I know you didn’t write the piece I responded to, but yesterday, the 10th April, it said, under the piece that it was written by Tom Arms and, at the top, that David Waywell posted it. Today, the 11th, the poster’s name has been changed to Tom Arms. I thought the piece was a collaboration, of some sort.

    Actually, I tried four times to post the original comment but had problems with the capcha and, during that time, I’d edited out my ‘insult’. Obviously, the first, or maybe second, had got through. After all that, I had second thoughts on the whole post and posted a request for those previous comments not to be published. Bizarrely, you published that request; presumably so you could publicly respond to my ‘huge insult’.

    I don’t know and don’t care if I’ve gained any high moral ground or not. I’m just stating the facts, as I know them. I suggest any other person reading my request for my comments not to be published would have realised that it was because I regretted making them and just left it at that. But not you, Mister Waywell, not you. If you felt so strongly about my ‘insult’ couldn’t you have emailed me privately? You have my email address. Anyway, it’s too late now.

    • Mr Blades, I am not out to have an argument with anybody. The internet is a mean enough place as it is and I do, genuinely, go out of my way to be polite with the people I meet. Let us deescalate this now. Life is too short and I wish you only well. Please forgive me if I’ve offended you. I am, perhaps, too quick to take offence in a forum where only too often offence is intended. In this case, I accept that you didn’t intend to insult me and I’m only too happy to apologise if I misconstrued your playfulness.

  6. Sure hope Orban can win over Soros. Soros is a nemesis and criminal to civilized Countries.

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