Rod Dreher: Hungary's Viktor Orban is a model for American Conservatives

"Orban seems to have taken an accurate measure of what he's up against, what conservatives are up against, with the system, with the institutionalized wokeness, and globalism..."

Greetings! I recently had a long-form discussion with conservative writer Rod Dreher about his affinity for Viktor Orban, and his belief that liberal democracy is no longer a workable arrangement in America. Although I believe Dreher is prematurely pessimistic, I am seeking to better understand why more and more Christian conservatives in America are coming to the same conclusion and Dreher. This conversation helped bring me closer to understanding this growing, if troubling, trend, so I wanted to share this segment with you…

Matt: I want to talk because you're in this interesting space. There are people who hate Trump, and then there are MAGA people—and you're neither of those. Correct me if I'm wrong, I do feel like you have given up on the liberal democracy experiment, for lack of a better term. Talk about that.

Rod: Thanks for the question, because it is true. The MAGA people hate me for not being MAGA. The “Never Trump” people, I'm not really with them either, because I think Trump came from the corruption and the weakness of the Republican Party establishment. And so I'm not going to say I'm “Never Trump” either, because I don't want to see a restoration. What I'm interested in is a vigorous, intelligent, populist, right government, and I see in Viktor Orban someone who could who symbolizes that. It's not to say I want everything that Viktor Orban does brought over to America, some of it wouldn't work in America. Some of what he does—I don't like the crony capitalism for one thing. Nevertheless, whenever we American conservatives look to the kind of leadership that I think we need; I look to Orban, and it's because I mean, all things considered Matt, I would rather live in a liberal democracy as the kind of country you and I both grew up in. Sadly, I don't think that country exists anymore. I think the future will either be illiberal right or illiberal left. We are already living in the United States through the rapid takeover of all our institutions by woke-ism, which is the expression of illiberal leftism that has come out of classical liberalism. What I discovered in Hungary this summer, trying to see the world through the eyes of Viktor Orban and through Hungarians who support him, is that Orban seems to have taken an accurate measure of what he's up against, what conservatives are up against, with the system, with the institutionalized wokeness, and globalism, it's all of a thing, and Orban fights it, I like that about him.

Matt: So I, I do appreciate the pragmatism, you could say like, “hey, look, this maybe isn't what I want, but this is what's happening. Let's make the best of it.” And I think that's a reasonable thing to do. I would question the premise though. You’ve asserted that the woke left has basically won, and I'm open to that, but I'm not convinced of that. Like, I remember when the Flight 93 Election thing happened, and the premise there is that there is a plane, the best case scenario is that we crash this plane, essentially. And I think America is a pretty good place as far as I'm concerned. I feel like I'm living a free life and that I'm flourishing. I don't feel like anybody's telling me what to do. I try to keep my kids away from YouTube a little bit, because they start asking me questions that make me a little uncomfortable as a parent, but I don't feel like it's game over yet for liberal democracy. Why are you so sure that it is?

Rod: Because I see what the woke have done as taking over the system. I mean, people have said to me, “Well, how can you claim that conservatism doesn't have any power? Because look, we just elected Donald Trump.” My thought is, yeah, but I would trade ruling every single area of civil society. I'll give you the White House if we can have that. Because tell me, Matt, what is a major area in our society that has not fallen under wokeness? We have, of course, academia and media. Those were the first to go. Corporate America was a big one. Law, medicine is moving very, very fast. The letters I get every day from people who are in the medical field, wondering, “Oh, my God, what, what am I going to do? Things are changing so fast.” And now even the military and the CIA, have been infected with wokeness. We talked about this the last time I was on about Live Not By Lies—we don't live in Stalinism 2.0. But if you are the sort of person who does not agree with the premises of wokeness, with speech codes, with critical race theory, if you have any hesitation at all about any aspect of LGBT ideology, you're done for. People are terrified to speak out, and I don't see this ideology waning. Tyler Cowen wrote last week this much commented on article (he's a libertarian economist at George Mason University), and he's a libertarian, but he said maybe it's time for us to make our peace with wokeness, and think of the happy side of wokeness, the good side of wokeness. I thought that was a real bellwether column, Matt, because when Tyler Cowen, a libertarian, is giving up and doing what Francois, the protagonist in Houellebecq’s novel, Submission—he doesn't really believe in Islam in the novel, but he just submits to it because this is the new ruling ideology, and if he wants to maintain his position, may as well accept it—I think that's what a lot of people are doing. And I read Tyler Cowen’s piece as being that sort of thing. So does that mean liberal democracy is over? No. We have a liberal democracy, but I think wokeness is illiberal leftism wearing liberal democracy like a skin suit, and it's not really liberal.

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