The Hungarians never lost sight of their mission, Prime Minister Viktor Orban stressed at the year-opening ceremony of Mathias Corvinus Collegium in Budapest on Thursday.
In his address, the prime minister said the fact that the 21st century will be the century of Asia “is not in the least out of the ordinary”. At the same time, “this is taking its toll on Europe that is so proud of its intellectual primacy” and also the United States that is used to acting as the economic and military leader of the world.
He took the view that behind the fact that for 400 years the West was ahead of the rest of the world there was also the West’s awareness of being exceptional, and its awareness of a higher mission which always gave it inspiration and self-confidence. However, he continued, something had changed by the beginning of the 21st century; today Western civilisation is facing serious challenges. These include the fact that in America Neo-Marxism – referred to as ‘wokeness’ – is taking control of influential institutions that shape thoughts and public thinking, while in Europe a Muslim demographic, political and economic flood has been induced, creating a new situation in France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Austria.
Orban observed that the West is unable to provide adequate political answers to these problems “on either side of the big water”. “In summary, we Central Europeans take the view that the West has gradually lost its faith in its own mission,” he said, adding that the West no longer seeks meaning in its own history. Instead it keeps saying that it will end soon, it re-interprets or deletes entire chapters of its history, finding them shameful and so to be cancelled, and in the meantime it is unable to replace them with anything else. He added that those who had not been paralysed, but were very active indeed were such “deconstructive, negative forces” that “would be better-off paralysed”.
He recalled Karl Popper’s finding in his work serving as the basis for the ideology of open society that those who attribute a special value to their own nation or political community are enemies of open society and are, in fact, building tyranny and oppression. This view is perhaps the most influential and most destructive conclusion of Western thought after World War II, he said, indicating that the concept of open society has deprived the West of its faith in its own values and historical mission, and with this now – at the time of “the Muslim flood” and the rise of Asia – it is preventing the West from setting its own mission against the rising intellectual and political power centres.
The PM drew attention to the fact that Central Europeans believe without a mission they are doomed to failure. “Those who lose their faith in their own excellence and mission lose inspiration, and their motivation to strive for better, and eventually become meaningless,” he said.
He highlighted that earlier it was the mission of the Hungarians to organise life in the Carpathian Basin and to ensure the co-existence and advancement of the peoples living here. “For centuries, defending the independent Carpathian Basin was our mission and calling,” “not allowing anyone to fit us into” the political, cultural and state framework of the German or Ottoman empire.
The prime minister recalled that the Tatar incursions, the rise of the Muslim world in the Middle Ages, Nazi occupation, Soviet occupation and the anti-Christian nature of the years of communism had all combined the protection of the Carpathian Basin and Christianity into a big mission of national, Central European and even European significance.
He observed that similar processes had taken place in the realm of the Polish people and the territories of the Balkans; those areas, too, are inhabited by peoples who are able to answer the question of what their national mission and calling is.
He said Christianity consists of two things: faith and forms of existence inspired and created by faith. On issues of faith governments have no competence, and so when they talk about Christianity and Christian democracy, by that they mean the forms of existence that grew out of societies imbued with Christian faith, he said.
He stressed that in Central Europe this had, on the whole, resulted in a mindset different from that of the West, and national self-esteem. When he talks to the leaders of Western European countries about gender, migration, national sovereignty and “Brussels’ dangerous imperial traits” they see these debates and differences as us lagging behind, stuck in an earlier phase of development, the Prime Minister said.
He said they believe that “we’re simply just behind them, but will surely catch up with them”. They do not understand that, in actual fact, there is a profound cultural, geopolitical and philosophical difference, he added.
He said in Central Europe the work and performance of every member of the community, of the nation add up “in a big joint effort to accomplish our mission”. This is why every Hungarian citizen is proud and is aware of the importance of their own life and work, he added, observing that a mindset that is based on a mission is primarily a question of the heart, not of the mind.
In Orban’s words, Hungarians tend to look upon their work as their own personal calling on which their life depends, and this “attracts us all mysteriously into a common fate”. This is the source of the almost infinite self-esteem that induces Hungarians to engage even in the most meaningless intellectual debates, and “in Hungary almost everyone is a politician,” he said.
He took the view that in this part of the world it is the duty of people of intellect to understand this mission, to reflect on it on issues concerning public life, to grasp the ever-changing forms and expanding content of that mission, and to describe and offer it to members of the nation who pursue professions of a different, non-intellectual nature. Therefore, “due to the outstanding intellectual abilities gifted by God” students have special responsibility for the future of the Hungarian people, the PM pointed out.