Monday 9 April 2018

Frank Furedi: for anti-populist ideologues democracy is an afterthought

Polling booths in Hungary were kept open as voters still queued at 7pm when they were due to close

Frank Furedi says very truly:
For anti-populist ideologues democracy is an afterthought - especially in places like Hungary. Why because the people are unreliable and then to vote the wrong way. And yet they dishonestly go on about threat of dictatorships.
He has written a very good article which says everything you need to know about the election result. It includes this insight.
The emergence of Hungary as the bad boy of Europe has little to do with its supposed plunge into authoritarianism. As I argued in my book, Populism and the European Culture Wars, the pathologisation of the Orban regime is largely due to its promotion of national sovereignty and its willingness to uphold traditions and values, including those of Christianity. It is hostile to those who would dismiss the legacy of Europe’s past as the ‘bad old days’. Hungary is hated by the Western political oligarchy for the simple reason that it dares to challenge post-traditionalism, identity politics and anti-humanism.
Viktor Orban is a populist. He might be a demagogue, but even a demagogue might be what the times require. Populist is a word for politicians who want to do what the people want. If conventional politicians want to prevent populists winning they should try doing what people want. It may be that the liberal era is over. If this is what the people want then it is democratic. But many intellectuals on centre right and centre left are frightened of what the people might want. 

I am much more frightened of the stranglehold that the liberals of right and left have over every institution in the first world. In the second world to which Hungary belongs there is still much more room for dissent.


  1. Holland and France rejected (two very unattractive) populists, and Hungary is a tiny country. I would not bet on the death of liberalism just yet.

  2. Orban-or whoever is the latest populist euro-demon-is the people's choice in a parliamentary democracy. The unwillingness to accept the latter as a basis for government as opposed to an unelected epistocracy is, for me, at the root of the EU's failure. It's why I voted to leave and, as the unelected bureaucrats have bared their fangs, I strongly believe even more of the British electorate would vote to do so in a second referendum.

    1. "The failure of courage, Solzhenitsyn said at a particularly dark point in the Cold War, was in danger of becoming a distinguishing feature of the West. The young people who talked petulantly of abandoning their country because of a vote they did not like were bright graduates of the best universities in the English-speaking world—and severely deficient in pluck. They had no notion of that patriotism which says that when your country is in trouble, you are supposed to fight it out, not begin checking to see if Morgan Stanley is hiring in Madrid. They are not fit to be trusted with political power.

      And in the very intemperateness of their reaction lies one of the best reasons to think that Brexit is, with all its hazards, a good thing. The London of today was sliding into becoming a bigger, brighter, and more lively Brussels—so international that it had no discernible identity; so cosmopolitan in its self-understanding that it had no pride in its own history and unique character; so unwilling to accept the burdens of self-government that it preferred the administration of well-meaning but unaccountable bureaucrats to the crash and bang of democracy in action. The poison of Brussels-style Euro-politics had clearly infected those Londoners whose first impulse was to do what European politicians have done for decades: compel the lower classes who have voted the wrong way to vote again until they do the thing their betters thought they ought to have done in the first place."