Which is part of how a figure like Orban becomes appealing to American conservatives. It’s not just his anti-immigration stance or his moral traditionalism. It’s that his interventions in Hungarian cultural life, the attacks on liberal academic centers and the spending on conservative ideological projects, are seen as examples of how political power might curb progressivism’s influence.
Some version of this impulse is actually correct. It would be a good thing if American conservatives had more of a sense of how to weaken the influence of Silicon Valley or the Ivy League, and more cultural projects in which they wanted to invest both private energy and public money.
But the way this impulse has swiftly led conservatives to tolerate corruption, whether in their long-distance Hungarian romance or their marriage to Donald Trump, suggests a fundamental danger for cultural outsiders. When you have demand for an alternative to an oppressive-seeming ideological establishment, but relatively little capacity to build one, the easiest path often leads not toward renaissance, but grift.
Here is more from the NYT, mostly about Hungary. I think the same is true for Covid policy, by the way. It is hard for people — of any persuasion — to admit they have utterly lost ideological battles, whether they are right or wrong. So if Covid fraudsters “hold out straws to clutch,” there will be a fair numbers of takers, most of all from those who have been losing the debates. (“Ah, but now we will fight on the ivermectin front…”) But it is better to be more realistic. Unfortunately, “We’ve lost this one, we need to go back to the drawing board and start over” is one of the hardest things for people to say to themselves.