“Old sins cast long shadows” – A few comments on the old-new rule of law debate

A clash of culture underpins the EU campaign against Hungary

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: Miklós Szánthó

Three former academics associated with George Soros’ Central European University (CEU) have replied to an article published on the Euronews website by Hungarian Minister of Justice Judit Varga. There is, they claim, an ongoing and systemic deconstruction of rule of law in Hungary. They draw a parallel between the need to hold our country to account and the punishment of criminals who represent a danger to society. Is this a fresh offshoot of the “rule of law” debate or something entirely different?

In reality, this issue never went away. Alongside the European Commission, the German-Belgian tandem, which is actively seeking new ways to “police” democracy in the European Union, has gone full steam ahead with the work of devising ever-newer mechanisms to “evaluate” the state of the rule of law within various Member States.

The three professors, who have all previously taught or lectured at CEU, can barely conceal their pleasure at the EU’s ongoing campaign against Hungary in their rather arrogant reply to Minister Varga’s article.

What Judit Varga had stated very clearly is that it’s a mistake to go on fabricating rule of law procedures because these are not agreed upon legal points, but political weapons. Although these procedures are presented as “professional tools,” they are, in reality, nothing more than a form of “justice” perceived only from a subjective angle.

In typical fashion, the authors dedicate much of their piece to justifying – via quite a few citations – how the “rule of law” is an accepted legal category and also opine that Hungary, as well as Poland, frequently and systematically violate it. But let us make something perfectly clear. Whenever the progressive camp tries to force its ideological agenda onto another party, they regularly claim that their argumentation is based on “expertise,” while any counterargument is derided as merely “political.”

As a result, the left/liberal argument purports to be reliable and well-founded, while the conservative response is derided as only politically motivated. Yet the reality is that both sides’ arguments are in fact politically motivated, quite naturally so, as this is a confrontation between vastly differing worldviews.

Let us take a good look at the “respected Western scholars” behind the article in question. As noted, all have some kind of affiliation with the CEU, itself a bastion of Soros’ well-funded Open Society network. Although they claim that they are not in the habit of commenting on every move made by the “Orbán regime,” as they refer to Hungary’s democratically elected government, each of them individually, as well as in concert, has continually criticized any step taken by the Hungarian and Polish governments that did not cater to their political tastes. The list of their co-authored publications with Mrs. Kim Lane Scheppele, known for her legendary talent for misinterpreting and misrepresenting the Hungarian constitutional order, seems endless.

According to the authors’ rather superficial criticism, Hungary’s media plurality is limited, the government has taken over independent institutions and the impartiality of the judiciary has been destroyed several times over, or so they claim.

These are nothing more than political talking points masquerading as expert opinion.

And what about the myriad documents they cite in support of their arguments? Well, circular references and citations play a critical role in this form of “expert” analysis, and there is little surprise that the continuous, self-serving, self-referential smokescreen works very well for the adherents of Open Society.

The former guest professors of CEU cite materials from Freedom House, Amnesty International and the World Justice Project as well as the international IDEA institute – all financial beneficiaries of the Open Society network. But in order to support their claims, they also reference The New York Times, the Washington Post and The Economist. None of these entities can be accused of being particularly sympathetic towards Christian-conservative values or sovereigntist approaches. And, of course, there are always various citations from documents of the European Commission, OSCE and the Council of Europe.

The reality, however, is quite different. EU financing is not charity gratuitously offered by the wealthy uncle to his poor relatives. It is a win-win arrangement for all. In the 1990s, the Central European countries, eager to catch up economically with Western European, privatized strategic sectors of their economies. Who were the beneficiaries of these privatizations? Western companies. And they continue to benefit.

The liberalization of the CEE markets was prepared prior to 2004 and accomplished after the accession of these countries. Of course, this process was also mutually beneficial. The Central European Member States received money, knowledge and advanced technologies. The free movement of labor, capital, services and people not only served these new members well, but also the Western Member States, who won markets and benefited from intellectual and physical labor from the acceding countries. At least half of all the funds directed to the region ended up in the hands of Western companies. Even Chancellor Merkel underlined a few months ago that Hungary has made good use of its EU funds.

The truth is, if the EU cuts funding, it ultimately hurts itself and the interests of the economic entities belonging to Western Member States. I doubt German companies would like that very much. Any saber-rattling or threats on this front would merely add to the divisions already evident within the EU.

Last but not least, we all know one thing: The EU will not last forever. Nothing made by man ever does. And once it disintegrates, there will be questions raised as to the “Why?” and “How?” it ultimately fell. It will then be closely examined as to how much solidarity the loudest advocates of the European project really ever had.

Of course, old sins cast long shadows…


A lawyer and political analyst, Mr. Szánthó is the director of the pro-government Hungarian Center for Fundamental Rights, promoting a Christian-conservative political agenda


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