The Corner


Orbán and the EU

The question of Viktor Orbán is, to say the least, a tricky one. Whether it is from Orbán’s fans or his foes, much of the discussion about him has a  way of generating more heat than light. That’s a topic for another time, but this article in Law & Liberty (not all of which I agree with) on the challenge that the Hungarian prime minister poses to the EU’s order is well worth a read, in particularly its concluding paragraph:

The Hungarian question, though, exposes the EU’s governing crisis. Almost in recognition of its inability to secure the affection, loyalty, and sentiment of Europeans, there are now calls for an EU superstate being made, most notably by French President Emmanuel Macron. Read: If we can’t govern blandly, we’ll govern grandly, as if Europeans could be led to devotion to a postmodern EU imperialism in the name of individualism, tolerance, and the prevention of climate change. Macron, like Orbán, recognizes the crucial need for law to derive authority from something external to itself. Technical legal procedures and autonomy rights alone won’t guarantee the loyalty of citizens. There must be a source and foundation of the law in order for it to have authority. Don’t look to the words but to the unwritten supports for the legitimacy of law, which means that the law points higher to morals, culture, and a lived experience that the people understand in their spirit. The EU doesn’t just have a democratic deficit—its deficiencies run much deeper. For pointing out that the EU is a disembodied ruling vagabond, Orbán must be anathema.

I am far from convinced that the EU can be described as a flag bearer for either individualism or tolerance, except in a very narrow sense of those two words, but it seems carping to quibble when the final sentence contains a phrase of such splendor:

[T]he EU is a disembodied ruling vagabond…

Well, yes.

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