Neoliberalism, Crisis, and Authoritarian-Ethnicist Politics
This chapter analyzes the fusion between neoliberalism and authoritarian-ethnicist politics under the current right-wing Orbán regime in Hungary. It points out that since gaining a two-thirds majority in the 2010 general elections, the formerly conservative and now-far-right Fidesz-KDNP government led by Viktor Orbán, has carried out a root-and-branch transformation of Hungarian society. While officially proposing a break with neoliberal economic policies at home and abroad, the Orbán regime has rather rearticulated it, producing a specific variety of neoliberalism that skillfully combines some of the central tenets of neoliberalism with ‘authoritarian-ethnicist’ state practices against internal and external ‘enemies’ of the Hungarian nation. The chapter goes on to point out that while Orbán’s ‘illiberal’ politics have been criticized by neoliberal institutions, such as the IMF and the European Union, they have taken little concrete action against the Hungarian government. The reason for this is primarily pragmatic: not only have the policies pursued by the Orbán regime benefited the interests of both domestic and transnational capital, but also its authoritarian-ethnicist policies are not that different from those pursued by the United States or other states in the European Union. In fact, one could argue that the Orbán regime in Hungary is part of the authoritarian trend across the globe that has emerged in the aftermath of the Great Recession that led to the crisis of neoliberalism and the rise of ultra-right regimes around the world, including Hungary. Against this background, the chapter concludes by exploring the prospects for change in Hungary in the coming years and points out that a progressive turn to the left appears dim in the immediate future.