VAN NATTA: Lessons From Central Europe

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Tuesday, February 22, 2022


The political right has lost the culture to such an extent that it props up celebrities, billionaires, and moderate liberals as “allies” in the quest for acceptance among America’s elite.

However, there is an alternative to groveling at the feet of those who otherwise do not share our values. Effectively wielding political power to achieve our goals will prove more rewarding than merely chastising the left for their lack of principles.

Hungary has proven this to be true. While there are certain aspects of Hungary’s government the right should not emulate, American conservatives can also learn from their political strategy. Their leadership has defended Hungarian culture, families, and borders from an onslaught of global attacks.

Upon entering office, one of the first things President Biden did was revoke President Trump’s “Promoting Beautiful Federal Civic Architecture” executive order.

The former president was correct to attempt to replace modern, brutalist buildings with classical architecture. Beautiful buildings acknowledge the objective and the spiritual, which is precisely why communists embraced brutalism.

The new Soviet regime that took over Hungary in 1948 reoriented society to embody communistic values. In 2010, Hungary started a program to revive classical architecture in Budapest. Many buildings and squares were renovated to reflect the style of pre-Soviet architecture.

According to a poll from the National Civic Art Society, Americans across the political spectrum favor classical architecture for federal buildings. Architecture is an issue in the culture war that conservatives can easily win.

Hungary is also championing policies designed to promote the family. In 2018, Prime Minister Victor Orban announced the “Family Protection Action Plan.”  It includes policies such as a $35,000 interest-free loan that would be forgiven if a family has three children. Women who have four children are exempted from income taxes for life.

While Hungary has an extensive welfare state, it is designed to incentivize the growth of families. American welfare programs currently penalize low-income parents who marry. If conservatives want to conserve the family, then the incentive structure must change.

Border security is another issue the Hungarians have successively tackled. The Federation for American Immigration Reform estimated that President Biden’s immigration proposals could lead to an increase of 50 million illegal and legal migrants.

Hungary has secured its border with Serbia despite the European Union’s push for a continued flow of mass migration. Their border is protected with a fence lined with razor wire. It was put in place in 2015 in response to the massive influx of migrants entering Europe. Hungary’s actions led to illegal immigration falling from 391,000 in 2015 to only 1,184 in 2017.

The Hungarian right has managed to counter left-wing attacks on their culture, family, and borders. They have used the levers of government power to achieve their goals, which is precisely why Western progressives have such ire for this small nation in Central Europe.

American society is increasingly less defined by liberty and virtue. Conservatives need an effective strategy to reclaim the culture. As Bradley Devlin in The American Conservative notes, “Arguing ad infinitum about limiting principles and where we should stop before we’ve even begun to move the needle in our direction is a luxury only the conservative intelligentsia can afford.”

Hungary has been widely criticized for its postliberal politics, and while some criticism is appropriate, American conservatives still need to reassess their current political strategy. America’s classically liberal framework for governance is ideal, but unfortunately the modern left does not operate within liberal democracy and could care less about principles.

Hungary provides a model for harnessing political power to curb the influence of progressivism. Conservatives should not dismiss this path unless they are prepared to face the wrath of Marxist forces intent on eroding national sovereignty and our culture of ordered liberty.

 

Erin is a college junior pursuing journalism and writing. She enjoys reading, art, and listening to podcasts about politics. She can be found walking her golden retriever, Gus.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.


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About Erin Van Natta

Erin is a college junior pursuing journalism and writing. She enjoys reading, art, and listening to podcasts about politics. She can be found walking her golden retriever, Gus.

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