Excerpts from Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán’s speech at the 30th Bálványos Summer Open University and Student Camp, so called "Tusványos" (27 July 2019, Tusnádfürdő/Băile Tuşnad).
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We call the first change of system [of 30 years ago] “liberal transformation”; and we can call the second either an “illiberal” or a “national” transformation. It may be worth devoting a few sentences to this distinction. We have rethought the relationship between the community and the individual, and put it on a new conceptual basis. In a liberal system, society and nation are nothing but an aggregation of competing individuals. What holds them together is the Constitution and the market economy. There is no nation – or if there is, it is only a political nation. Here in parenthesis we should thank László Sólyom, who during his presidency made a lasting contribution when, in opposition to the concept of the political nation, he elaborated and clarified – in a legal and philosophical sense – the concept of a cultural nation. When there is no nation, there is no community and no community interest. In essence this is the relationship between the individual and society from a liberal point of view.
|PM Viktor Orbán (center) at Tusnádfürdő, with Hon. Zsolt Németh MP (left)|
and Rt.Hon. Bishop László Tőkés, former MEP (right) - foto: tusvanyos.ro
In contrast to this, the illiberal or national viewpoint states that the nation is a historically and culturally determined community. It is a historically developed configuration, which must protect its members and prepare them to stand their ground in the world for a common cause. According to the liberal view, individual action and who does what – whether they live a productive or unproductive life – is a purely private matter, and must not be subject to moral judgment. By contrast, in a national system, action – individual action – is worthy of praise if it also benefits the community. This must be interpreted broadly. For example, there are our gold medal-winning skaters. An outstanding sporting performance is also an individual performance that benefits the community. If we talk about them, we don’t say that they have won Olympic gold, but that we have won Olympic gold. Their individual performances also clearly benefit the community. In an illiberal or national system, distinguished performance is not a private matter, but has clearly identifiable forms. Such are self-sufficiency and work, creating and securing a livelihood. Such are learning and a healthy lifestyle. Such is paying taxes. Such is starting a family and raising children. And such is orientation in the matters of the nation and its history, and participation in national self-reflection. It is such performance that we recognise, rank, look up to morally and support.
So in terms of the relationship between the individual and society, what has happened in Hungary [after 2010] is something quite different from what happened in 1990, when the liberal transformation took place. But similarly to that transformation, we have put our thinking and culture on a new footing – also in terms of relations between individuals. To put it simply, but to the point, in a liberal system the rule is that one has the freedom to do anything, provided it doesn’t violate the freedom of others. This is the compass of individual action. In parenthesis, the small problem is the question of exactly what it is that doesn’t violate the freedom of others. This is something that’s usually defined by the strongest – but let’s leave that in parenthesis. In contrast to this, what we have now, or what we’re trying to build, follows another moral compass. Going back to a known truth, this states that the definition of the right relationship between two people is not that everyone has the freedom to do anything which does not violate the freedom of another; the correct definition is that you should not do to others what you would not want them to do to you. Furthermore, you should do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This is a different foundational principle.