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How Hungary Became a Haven for the Alt-Right

PHOTO: Institute for European Studies

The increasingly illiberal European country offers shelter to a growing number of international nationalists.

By Carol Schaeffer | 28 May 2017

THE ATLANTIC — In February 2017, at the state of the nation address, Viktor Orbán, the prime minister of Hungary and the leader of the far-right, anti-immigrant Fidesz party, offered his vision for the country in the coming year. “We shall let in true refugees: Germans, Dutch, French, and Italians, terrified politicians and journalists who here in Hungary want to find the Europe they have lost in their homelands,” he proclaimed.

In reality, Orbán’s “refugees” have been moving to Hungary, and Budapest in particular, for years. A small clique of Identitarians, or aggrieved nationalists from Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States, France, and elsewhere, all motivated by their disdain for their home countries’ commitment to liberal values, have found an ideological match in his Hungary, where two extreme far-right parties, the governing Fidesz and Jobbik, the largest opposition party, make up most of the National Assembly. Jobbik is the first European political party to champion a border wall. Its members frequently express open anti-Semitic and anti-Roma sentiments, and prioritize the preservation of “Hungary for the Hungarians.

This transformation has allowed a system of far-right culture leaders to flourish in Budapest. Coming from all over Europe and the United States, they have created a structured propaganda circuit, in the hopes of spreading their ideas far and wide.

At the center of the scene is a publishing house called Arktos Media. It is routinely referred to as the preeminent publisher of the alt-right by those within the movement and experts who study it, and is known for translating many canonical alt-right texts into English, including the first full-text English translations of Russian theorist Alexander Dugin—characterized variously on the left and right as “the intellectual guru of Putinism,” and “Putin’s Rasputin.” Dugin’s “ethnonationalism,” a belief in the creation of ethnically homogenous nation states, has been championed by white nationalists, who argue that Europe and America are innately white nations. Arktos titles largely promote a viewpoint it characterizes as “alternatives to modernity” that are critical of liberalism, human rights, and modern democracy. […]

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