Hungary – After having taken part in a Forum on Sustainable Democracy co-organized by the municipality of Budapest and the Central European University of the American-Hungarian financier-philanthropist George Soros, the mayor of the Hungarian capital, Gergely Karácsony, accepted an invitation from American Purpose, a media outlet aiming to be a “magazine, media project, and intellectual community” which was the organiser of a two-day online conference entitled “Continuing Liberty” that took place on 20–22 September.
As chairman of the editorial board of American Purpose, Francis Fukuyama, the renowned American political scientist and author of the landmark book The End of History and the Last Man, published in 1992, questioned the mayor of Budapest for almost an hour, while taking the opportunity to make his own remarks on Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.
According to Francis Fukuyama, the mayor of Budapest and unsuccessful candidate in the ongoing opposition primaries is fighting to stop the spread of illiberal ideology in Europe in a context where, according to him, right-wing nationalists have changed the democratic game in order to retain power. To that purpose, the American political scientist mentioned gerrymandering (the redrawing of electoral maps for partisan purposes) and the control over the media exercised by the government party, and he presented the mayor of Budapest as the leader of the democratic challenge to the government in Hungary.
Asked to respond to this observation by Francis Fukuyama, Gergely Karácsony agreed with the man he considers to have been a major source of inspiration in his scientific and political career, and he rehearsed a narrative that has become commonplace in the opposition’s ranks regarding Fidesz’s monopolisation of power thanks to constitutional changes, its reform of the electoral system to divide the opposition and consolidate the government bloc, corruption through the misuse of European funds, budgetary drains on opposition-led cities, China’s grip on Hungary, the populist tactic of using crises to limit democracy, its communication strategy of making allegations regarding foreign interference, etc.
Having no doubt heard of the protests in Budapest in response to the project to build a campus of China’s Fudan University there, Francis Fukuyama reminded his guest, Gergely Karácsony, that the United States’ and Europe’s relations with Beijing could never be good given that China does not have the same values. No wonder the mayor of Budapest agreed with this statement, as he has been very active on the Chinese question since the beginning of his term of office, most notably in the debates raised by the establishment of Fudan University in Hungary (a subject on which he has asked for a referendum).
Unsurprisingly, Francis Fukuyama and Gergely Karácsony did not at any point mention the commencement of an era of health-related restrictions on freedoms beginning in March 2020 except from the angle frequently used by the Hungarian opposition, which is to denounce it as a power grab by Prime Minister Orbán and his ilk. Needless to say, such an approach does not contribute much to the understanding of the profound changes brought about by the “health crisis”.
Criticism of the Beijing regime should lead them to note that a Chinese-style social credit system is currently being set up in Europe, however. Not only did they fail to note this, but the proponents of an anti-Chinese line à la Karácsony and Fukuyama seem to welcome the establishment of such a system.
For that matter, Francis Fukuyama’s writings on the subject of the “health crisis”, which have been published on the American Purpose website in recent months, are very interesting. In an article published on 21 June, 2021, under the title “Covid and Bureaucratic Autonomy”, he argues that bureaucratic autonomy and respect for experts are the hallmarks of good government. Referring to Herbert Simon, a thinker specialising in the theory of public administration, he explains that experts have more information and knowledge than politicians, which enables them to better judge a situation and avoid inefficiency, arbitrariness, and chaos.
Francis Fukuyama nonetheless has the intellectual honesty to point out that expert opinion is by its very nature fluid, and that what is true one day may be false the next.
On the other hand, he did not mention for a single moment the porousness between the milieu of experts and private interests. Fukuyama’s reputation as a liberal-democratic thinker thus becomes rather rhetorical and inoperative, which may be linked to his very clear involvement in the US state apparatus through his proximity to the Carnegie Foundation, the National Endowment for Democracy, and the RAND corporation.
With regard to the “Covid crisis”, Francis Fukuyama openly stated his hostility towards leaders such as Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro, and even Narendra Modi, who, to varying degrees, have at times chosen not to follow what the “experts” were urging them to do. He regretted the delays in the spring of 2020 in ordering business and school closures, and harbours deep contempt for anyone who dares to question the health narrative.
Having been part of the American apparatus for decades, and in little danger of being ostracised, Francis Fukuyama could even take the liberty to briefly mention those who really stood out from the health narrative: the Swedes.
Indeed, after recalling that an epidemiologist by definition always gives priority to health concerns over economic and social well-being, he mentioned the Swedish exception and the case of Andres Tegnell, the doctor in charge of “Covid management” in Sweden. Tegnell did not only take into account health concerns but also the economic and social welfare of his country’s population, thus putting himself in the clothes of a politician. Fukuyama spoke of him as having usurped the role of an elected official and did not comment on the results of the political and institutional choice made by Stockholm.
His ability to be honest ended there, but he is far too intelligent and informed to ignore the fact that “health measures” are much more about controlling populations than controlling an epidemic, which the Swedish elites know full well.
The conversation between Francis Fukuyama and the mayor of Budapest also provided an insight into what is currently going on with the German economic model, and therefore with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, and Hungary in particular. In listening to them, it is quite clear that the topic of the alleged lack of respect for the rule of law in Central Europe serves, among other things, to justify the end of the German export model’s complete domination in Europe, and Gergely Karácsony did not refrain from accusing the German industrial lobby of having accommodated Viktor Orbán’s “attacks” on democracy. In that respect, Francis Fukuyama advocates a total overhaul of the European Union and the centralisation of decisions, which he believes is the only way for Europe to exist on the international stage. Such a project fits in well with the trend towards the regionalisation of globalisation, the permanent coup d’État by experts, and ever more advanced social engineering in a world where only fools and professional hypocrites will continue to dare to believe in democratic control.