When Boris Johnson receives Hungarian premier Viktor Orbán on Friday, Westminster will be housing two authoritarian “leaders” that have danced under varying colors of capitalism for decades.
Both have been in populist and openly-racist mode for the last few years. Only 5 years ago Bojo played the character of a liberal mayor of one of the world’s most diverse cities. Orbán was an early member of Fidesz, who are now considered the EU’s enfant terrible, but were regarded as a beacon of hope for liberals at the end of the 20th century.
For the many glaring flaws of the leadership in most EU member states, Orbán’s domestic policy still manages to stand out. His list of quotables since gaining power in 2010 includes; decrying “Muslim invaders” as “a poison”, proclaiming his Hungary a “21-st century Christian democracy”, and calling his xenophobic English counterpart “one of the bravest European politicians”. Romani and LGBTQ communities have consistently come under attack and convoluted attacks on billionaire George Soros became the foundation of an antisemitic tangent that’s accompanied all his campaigns.
This Tory-on-steroids in central Europe hasn’t gone unrewarded by the ex-Eton club, who in 2018 were at the forefront of blocking a weak attempt by the EU to censure Hungary for breaches of the rule of law. The British PM’s official spokesperson said of the visit “It will be a moment to promote UK interests in the area and discuss wider issues” with the expectation being they discuss effective strategies for scapegoating immigrants and minimizing democracy. These topics come natural to the Tories, who’ve spent the last 11 years killing hundreds of thousands through austerity, exporting asylum seekers, and bombing middle easterners.
Whilst both governments have instilled fear among oppressed groups and hurt workers for over a decade, the capitalist flagbearers in Europe have taken no action to counter them. Decisive actions against Libya or China for example have been carried out swiftly and sometimes with brutal results. (Although its hard to believe the stated reasons why). Yet, when Orbán and Bojo race towards the top of the human rights abuses on the European leaderboard, all we get is the odd grunt of feigned disapproval.
Whilst Brexit has been portrayed by various sides as, a disaster, a great opportunity, and a betrayal, the countries in Europe can expect to see lurches from glossy liberalism to soft quasi-fascism as long as capitalism remains. Macron’s charade as a balanced man of the globe quickly became transparent when he tried to out-do Marine le Pen on Islamophobia over the last year. Even some of Scandinavia’s ruling ‘Social Democrats’ (Red Tories) have embraced anti-immigrant stances as an attempt to explain the shortfalls of their capitalism.
Europe’s capitalists all share a very similar space, and it doesn’t take much for them to bounce to another corner of their confined box.
The lack of effort to impose any consequences on Hungary or Poland or Britain for their extremism is because Europe’s liberals know that as long as there’s no threat to the economic order, they’re all allies.
As anyone who’s spent time in Wales will tell you, human rights are generally considered a good thing. Britain, and Wales particularly, created an exciting opportunity when we voted for Brexit. But it’s not enough. Whether the person in charge is a classy Welsh Blairite or an openly racist Uxbridge moron, as capitalism degenerates it is always prone to letting its racist, homophobic and anti-worker roots become an open admission. Capitalism isn’t safe, no matter what form it’s temporarily in. Orbán and Bojo getting comfy might be one of its garish forms we’ve lived under yet.