Bogdan Sajovic, from Slovenian weekly Demokracija, interviews Miklós Szánthó, director of the Centre for Fundamental Rights of Hungary, board member of the Central European Press and Media Foundation since 2018 and chairman of its council since 2019. He is also the author of numerous legal and political publications in Hungarian and other languages, as well as co-author and co-editor of several books.
What is the purpose and objectives of your institute?
The Centre for Fundamental Rights is the only Conservative Hungarian think tank dealing with public and constitutional law issues. Unfortunately, dominant legal thinking, like all Western public discourse, is dominated by a progressive interpretation that attempts to present each legal issue as a human rights issue. At first glance, this may sound good, but when one realises that, behind this interpretation, there is an effort to turn almost all human desires into an enforceable human rights that would be forced upon most of society and the state itself, it sounds terrifying. Consider gender ideology: more and more Western countries are moving away from conventionalism and recognising a “third gender” or “neutral gender” in identity documents or have programs in public education that encourage it. In its public work, research and analysis, the Centre is determined to resist the political correctness and fundamentalism of human rights and to defend common sense and national and Christian values.
Do you also work with like-minded people abroad? Can you tell us some of your plans for the future?
Although we have long maintained bilateral relations with foreign organisations, only in the last year have we placed a special emphasis on international (non-supranational) cooperation. This is also the focus of the Open Society (Soros), which has been building its network for decades this way. Last year, we signed a collaboration agreement with Ordo Iuris, a Polish legal institute, and we would like to expand this cooperation at the regional level. We are currently in talks with several conservative organisations in several European countries and we are open to all who share our values. In Central Europe, we share a common past, but also a common future.
Recently, Hungarian opposition threatened conservative media journalists to ban them from practicing the profession after coming to power. Has anyone from Brussels or international associations of journalists condemned these threats?
It may not be very surprising that the answer is “no”, although we have informed the EU institutions in an open letter. If a liberal journalist had been asked at a Hungarian press conference to ask brief questions, the “mother of all scandals” would start in Brussels, but now that the opposition’s far-left coalition has threatened to ban journalists from accessing the profession, and even proposed a “Rwandan retribution” against them, silence is deafening. On the other hand, this only underscores the fact that for them, protecting the “rule of law” and “democracy” only means protecting their liberal creed and network.
Left-wing liberals accuse the Hungarian government of putting pressure on the opposition media. Are these accusations justified?
What the left calls “repression” is nothing more than the end of the monopoly it has enjoyed for so long. As in all the countries that suffered communism, the officials of the single Hungarian party and its allies transformed their former political capital into economic and cultural capital after the transition to democracy. They also benefited from this in the media market, where the left-wing press held almost hegemonic position until the mid-2000s. What happened in recent years is a market-oriented transformation from which the right has benefited, so that the left is no longer able to shape public discourse to the extent that it used to be able to do so. Of course, we are still far from balance, but some opinion leaders are already deeply frustrated by the current situation, in which their voice in the media is no longer able to drown out all other views.
In recent years, Hungary has often been the target of attacks by the liberal left, the big media and even EU leaders, claiming that the country violates human rights. What do you think of these accusations?
Hungary is governed by the rule of law and human rights are not violated. Post-communist groups and liberal networks face serious challenges in their struggle for hegemony, that is true. All anti-Hungarian hysteria is based on fake news, that democracy can only be liberal and therefore liberalism is equal to the rule of law. According to this view, anyone who dares to criticise modern liberal practices, political correctness or human rights fundamentalism is actually attacking the rule of law. But this reveals the duality of a political narrative that pretends to be “tolerant”, although it is quite clear that it is not at all tolerant of other, conservative or Christian interpretations of democracy. A less dogmatic and more informed approach would recognise that democracy, like the market economy, is not necessarily unitary. There may be a liberal democracy, a social democracy, or a Christian democracy. The current Hungarian government bases its policy, its constitutional approach and the organisation of society on the latter. Liberals don’t like this because they try to create a true totalitarian framework that excludes from public and political law all opinions other than their own. That’s why they use very sophisticated media to paint opponents as “enemies of democracy”. But in the face of the elitist eurocrats of Brussels and Western technocrats, the enemies of liberalism seem to be today the friends of democracy.
For years, left-wing liberals attacked Hungary for violating the human rights of migrants by preventing mass migration. What is your opinion on this issue?
This issue is quite similar to the debate on the rule of law. The liberal legal view interprets the right to asylum so broadly that it has become unrecognisable. Essentially, they argue that the right to asylum is a right to a global social safety net. Anyone can emigrate wherever they want and societies in the countries of destination are obliged to tolerate it, even if they have to sacrifice their own culture for it. According to a sober interpretation of the law, an immigrant is only entitled to asylum in the first safe country he or she reaches, not around the world. In addition, we are not obliged to import their problems with immigrants, but to export aid wherever they need it. Irresponsible policies lead to parallel societies in Europe due to very real cultural differences, and conflict-affecting Third World countries lose the same people who could rebuild their homes. The Christian value of solidarity requires us to help on the ground where help is needed. “Here” I prioritise my own interests, “there” I help those in need.
Do you agree that cultural Marxism, together with mass migration, is the main threat to European civilisation and that the most important and effective tool of those who want to destroy our civilisation is political correctness?
Migration, multiculturalism, resurrected cultural Marxism, constant awareness campaigns, the “sexual revolution” version of the 21st century are aspects of the same phenomenon. Socialist and liberal visions have much in common: they deny both the created nature of man and the order and hierarchy of the Creator. Instead, they proclaim the primacy of reason, the relativity of “good” and “evil” and, consequently, the complete equality of patterns of human and cultural behavior. If all and everything is the same, then no one can be offended in any way and political correctness becomes obligatory. If everything is relative, then there is no “good” or “evil”, barriers cannot be erected (physical or otherwise), “obviously” God cannot be said to be the source of truth and justice, we cannot be proud of our Judeo-Christian heritage and the created nature of man and woman is questionable. This is not “just” a threat to European civilisation, but to our existence as human beings, as abortion, euthanasia and drug addiction are rationalised and promoted through relativising values.
Do you agree that political correctness in the United States has already reached the level of madness?
Political correctness has really reached the level of madness in the United States because it has become part of everyday life and practice. This is more than evident from the reactions to vandalism of the Black Lives Matter group. The fact that “anti-racism”, the struggle for “social justice” and “inclusion” can justify widespread vandalism, destruction, business burning, physical terror of innocent passers-by or the demolition of monuments, shows that it is no longer a theoretical argument, but a struggle to life or death. A few decades ago Martin Luther King was fighting for a society in which people were not judged by the color of their skin, but now we see that once again race is the deciding factor. And what they are saying openly is that “white silence is violence”, which means that white people who just want to live in peace are now called “racist” just because they don’t want to break skulls or storefronts in the name of the struggle for “black rights”. Last summer we saw images of London, Brussels and Paris that reminded very much what happened shortly before in New York, Seattle or Minneapolis. The “racial revolution” of the 21st century is highly exportable. And we haven’t even mentioned the evil propaganda that’s corrupting our children: the madness of gender identification that’s spreading like a gunpowder in Europe thanks to Hollywood and the music industry. All of this can only be resisted by people who have a spine, a “manly” political stance, if you will. “God, Fatherland, Family” must be the words embroidered on our combat flags. This is exactly what the Central European conservatives are working on, and the international mercenaries