Viktor Orbán on the “greatest human value”

“A is wrong, B is meaningless, C is unproven, E does not follow from D” is my typical reaction to a typical post on Crooked Timber, but I visit the blog every other day. I am rewarded with occasional pearls or a humbling experience, such as today’s.

Discussing Ernest Gellner’s view of civil society, Henry Farrell wrote of “moral order” (italics mine):

It gives people a sense that they know what the order of society is, even if they don’t always agree with it, and perhaps even if they don’t internalize its values at all. From this perspective, what Trump’s (and Orban’s, and Kaczynski’s, and Erdogan’s) politics purports to offer is not simply an economic restoration for those who think that they have been screwed by the bloodless cosmopolitans. It’s a moral restoration, of an order in which everyone knows, or ought to know, where they belong.

I’m wary of placing Trump, Erdogan and the Eastern Europeans in the same compartment: I suspect a case of surface-scratching thought. But, as far as Orban in concerned, I concede: spot on, Professor. Here’s why.

I was looking for something completely unrelated to moral order yesterday morning when I came across this quote from Orbán in a Slovak online daily:

Najväčšia ľudská cnosť v mojej hlave je, aby človek vedel, kde je jeho miesto…

Which, if I understand correctly, means this:

The highest human value, in my opinion, is for man to know where his place is.

More literally, “…in my head, that man know where his place is.” I believe the source quote is this:

Legnagyobb emberi erény az én fejemben, ha az ember tudja, hol a helye.

Unless it’s my misunderstanding the text, Orbán was speaking of “an order in which everyone knows, or ought to know, where they belong.” That was, curiously, during a meeting with Putin focused on practical issues like the Paks nuclear power plant and gas pipelines, but values come first.

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