I would articulate this as a race to invent a state that is most capable of making a nation successful. This is why, Honorable Ladies and Gentlemen, a trending topic in thinking is understanding systems that are not Western, not liberal, not liberal democracies, maybe not even democracies, and yet making nations successful.
And I believe that our political community rightly anticipated this challenge. And if we think back on what we did in the last four years, and what we are going to do in the following four years, then it really can be interpreted from this angle. We are searching for and we are doing our best to find, ways of parting with Western European dogmas, making ourselves independent from them the form of organizing a community, that is capable of making us competitive in this great world-race. In order to be able to do this in , and especially these days, we needed to courageously state a sentence, a sentence that, similar to the ones enumerated here, was considered to be a sacrilege in the liberal world order.
We needed to state that a democracy is not necessarily liberal. Just because something is not liberal, it still can be a democracy. Moreover, it could be and needed to be expressed, that probably societies founded upon the principle of the liberal way to organize a state will not be able to sustain their world-competitiveness in the following years, and more likely they will suffer a setback, unless they will be able to substantially reform themselves.
As the matter stands, if we look at the surrounding events from here, we can consider three ways to organize a state that we so far knew, as a starting point: the nation state, the liberal state and then the welfare state, and the question is, what is coming up next? The Hungarian answer is that the era of a workfare state could be next, we want to organize a workfare state, that — as I previously mentioned — will undertake the odium of expressing that in character it is not of a liberal nature.
What all this exactly means, Honorable Ladies and Gentlemen, is that we have to abandon liberal methods and principles of organizing a society, as well as the liberal way to look at the world. I will only mention two dimensions of this — I do not want to get into a longer lecture here — and I only want to touch on them, so that the importance of the matter could be sensed. The twenty years of Hungarian environment preceding was founded on this theoretical, conceptual starting point.
It accepted a principle that is otherwise a general principle in Western Europe. And as this does not come without understanding, then it has to be fixed and determined by someone. And as nobody was appointed to decide this, therefore everday life experience suggested to us that it was the stronger party who decided this. We constantly felt that the weaker were stepped upon. It was not some kind of an abstract principle of fairness that decided upon conflicts originating from a recognition of mutual freedoms, but what happened is that the stronger party was always right: the stronger neighbor told you where your car entrance is.
It was always the stronger party, the bank, that dictated how much interest you pay on your mortgage, changing it as they liked over time. I could enumerate the examples that was the continuous life experience of vulnerable, weak families that had smaller economic protection than others during the last twenty years.
Our suggestion for that, and we will try to build the Hungarian state on this, is that it should not be the organizing principle of Hungarian society. Instead the principle should be do not do to others what you would not do to yourself. And we will attempt to found the world we can call the Hungarian society on this theoretical principle, in political thinking, education, in the way we ourselves behave, in our own examples.
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If we put this idea in the dimension of the relationship of the individual and the community, so far we were talking about the relationship between two individuals, then we will see that in the past twenty years the established Hungarian liberal democracy could not achieve a number of objectives. I made a short list of what it was not capable of. Liberal democracy was not capable of openly declaring, or even obliging, governments with constitutional power to declare that they should serve national interests.
Moreover, it even questioned the existence of national interests. I did not oblige subsequent governments to recognize that Hungarian diaspora around the world belongs to our nation and to try and make this sense of belonging stronger with their work. Liberal democracy, the liberal Hungarian state did not protect public wealth. Although now we are hearing about the opposite, as if some acquisitions — I will get back to that, as the Hungarian state recently even bought a bank — and the interpretation of such acquisitions is that the Hungarian state could acquire such pieces of wealth, that surpasses behavior accepted in Europe, whereas if we look at — for example the recent Financial Times list of how big the proportion of public property in individual countries is, then we can see that Hungary could be found at the very-very-very end of the list.
Every other country — no counting maybe two — has higher proportion of public property than Hungary has. So we can safely state that in Hungary liberal democracy was incapable of protecting public property that is essential in sustaining a nation, even compared to other countries.
Then, the liberal Hungarian state did not protect the country from indebtedness. And — and here I mostly mean the system of foreign exchange loans — it failed to protect families from bonded labor. Consequently, the interpretation of election results, especially in the light of election success, can acceptably be that in the great world race that is a race to come up with the most competitive way of organizing state and society, Hungarian voters expect from their leaders to figure out, forge and work out a new form of state-organization that will make the community of Hungarians competitive once again after the era of liberal state and liberal democracy, one that will of course still respect values of Christianity, freedom and human rights.
Those duties and values that I enumerated should be fulfilled and be respected. Consequently, what is happening today in Hungary can be interpreted as an attempt of the respective political leadership to harmonize relationship between the interests and achievement of individuals — that needs to be acknowledged — with interests and achievements of the community, and the nation.
Meaning, that Hungarian nation is not a simple sum of individuals, but a community that needs to be organized, strengthened and developed, and in this sense, the new state that we are building is an illiberal state, a non-liberal state. It does not deny foundational values of liberalism, as freedom, etc.. But it does not make this ideology a central element of state organization, but applies a specific, national, particular approach in its stead. After all this, I have to talk about what obstacles we should get over to achieve these objectives.
It can well be that what I am saying is self-evident for many here today. We have to elevate this on the level of political work and program.
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I will address only some of these obstacles, more precisely two of them. These are not necessarily the most important but the most interesting: the relationship between professional politicians and civil organization members. The state needs to be organized by elected and professional statesmen and lawmakers. Yet NGOs and civil organizations will always appear on the fringe of political life.
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Now, the Hungarian NGO landscape shows a very particular image. Ideally a civil politician, as opposed to professional, is an individual who is organizing from the bottom up, financially independent, and the nature of his work is voluntary. If we look at civil organizations in Hungary, the ones in the public eye, debates concerning the Norwegian Fund have brought this to the surface, then what I will see is that we have to deal with paid political activists here. And these political activists are, moreover, political activists paid by foreigners.
Activists paid by definite political circles of interest. It is hard to imagine that these circles have a social agenda. It is more likely that they would like to exercise influence through this system of instruments on Hungarian public life. It is vital, therefore, that if we would like to reorganize our nation state instead of the liberal state, that we should make it clear, that these are not civilians coming against us, opposing us, but political activists attempting to promote foreign interests.
Therefore, it is very apt that a committee was being formed in the Hungarian parliament that deals with constant monitoring, recording and publishing foreign attempts to gain influence, so that all of us here, you as well, will know who the characters behind the masks are. I will mention another example that is another obstacle of reorganizing the state.
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When I mention the European Union, I am not doing this because I think it is impossible to build an illiberal nation state within the EU. I think this is possible. Our EU membership does not rule out this option.
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It is true that many questions formulate, and many conflicts develop, you could follow this in the past years, a lot of battles have to be fought. Now I do not mean this, but rather another phenomenon unfamiliar to you in this form. When the contract, fixing financial contacts between Hungary and the EU for four years expired this year, we are about to fix the contract for the next seven years just now, then a debate erupted.
At that time I needed to look up a couple of facts to understand the nature of this debate. What did I see? Consequently, an extraterritoriality situation came about in Hungary. So for expenses that were not closely related to the objective of the grant, but only connected to it: preparation, analysis, planning, and all kinds of things, advising, for example. There is a debate going on between the EU and Hungary, because we changed this system, and the government decided, that whoever decides on these EU funds in the new illiberal state conception has to be employed by the Hungarian state, and could not receive more than the Hungarian administrational employee of the same classification.
These are all decisions that appear to be political decisions in themselves, but in reality it is not the question of one or two political decisions. This is about the ongoing reorganization of the Hungarian state. Contrary to the liberal state organizational logic of the past twenty years, this is a state organization originating in national interests.
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