Orban’s American admirers include the political philosopher Patrick Deneen; JD Vance, the author of Hillbilly Elegy, now running for Ohio Republican Senate nomination; and Rod Dreher, a popular conservative blogger and author.
“What power is the only power able to stand up to the woke capitalists and these illiberal leftists in science, media, sports, cultural institutions and other places? The state, ”wrote Dreher on Wednesday. “That’s why American Conservatives should find their way to Hungary.”
At this point, students of American political history – and especially students with a practical understanding of the history of the Conservative movement – will see something familiar about this story. Here we have prominent conservative writers and intellectuals who use their platforms to support or support regimes whose policies and policies suit their concerns, even if the values of those regimes are in direct opposition to the ideals of American democracy.
We’ve seen this before. Many times, in fact.
In 1957, William F. Buckley Jr. published a “Letter from Spain” in the pages of his National Review. An admirer of the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, Buckley did not hesitate to praise him in the most exuberant words he could muster:
General Franco is an authentic national hero. It is widely acknowledged that, above all others, he had the combination of talent, perseverance and sense of justice for his cause necessary to wrest Spain from the hands of the visionaries, ideologues, Marxists and nihlists who imposed on it. in the 1930s a regime so grotesque that it violated the Spanish soul, even denying Spain’s historical identity.
Five years later, in 1962, Buckley traveled to Mozambique – then under Portuguese colonial rule – where he wrote positively about the status quo and condemned the United Nations for its anti-colonialism.
Their influence on the West is catastrophic. His influence is also devastating on the peoples on whose behalf he is said to speak: the Egyptians, whom Nasser dictated with more finality than Farouk; the Ghanaians who were imprisoned by Nkrumah in a way they were never imprisoned by the Colonial Minister; the Congolese, under the chaos of Adoula, where they once had order and, albeit slowly, progress – more progress than they had made in the millennia when they were ruled by tribal despots.
And in 1963 Buckley had these compassionate words for the apartheid government in South Africa:
They may be wrong, as we may be: but we should at least try to understand what they are trying to do and deny ourselves that undeserved complacency that the fanatic shows. I cannot say: “I agree to apartheid” – its nature is alien to my temperament. But I now know that it is a sincere effort by the people to create the land of peace that they want so badly.
Buckley was not the only National Review writer to defend and express his admiration for Western-style autocracies. In 1975 Robert Moss wrote an expanded defense of Augusto Pinochet and the military coup in Chile for The Tribulation of Chile. Moss downplayed the brutality of Pinochet’s new military dictatorship and called on Americans to support his so-called reforms:
Nobody pretends that it will be easy, and with so many people running out, it’s hard to be optimistic about the prospects for Chile’s new style capitalism in the near future. There are men in the armed forces who are less than enthusiastic about it. But all in all, it is a brave attempt that deserves more understanding – and active support – from the remnants of the capitalist world.
And in 1977, James Burnham, a staunch anti-communist and one of the most influential conservative political theorists of the post-war years, wrote a brief defense of the apartheid government in what was then Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).