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The open and passive-aggressive styles in soft fascist politics


Tucker Carlson doing a week-long slobberfest over Viktor Orban’s white nationalist autocracy should be genuinely chilling:

These are not mere details, and Carlson is not overlooking them. He is laying down a marker in the highest profile way he can that Orban’s iron fist is the future the Republican party should want. The splashy imprimatur of a Fox News prime-time personality, who is probably the right’s most influential media figure, is an important milestone in the Republican Party’s long evolution into authoritarianism.


Orban’s regime has forged links with the conservative movement, including a lobbying campaign in Washington and a right-wing think tank in Budapest, where Carlson will deliver a speech Saturday. At this point, American conservatives who denounce Orban’s kleptocracy are now the minority.

What makes this alliance especially chilling is that Hungary is the model of democratic backsliding that has loomed largest in their imaginations of internationalist thinkers. Orban’s corruption of a former democracy occurred step by step. He gerrymandered the electoral map to give his supporters an overwhelming advantage, stacked the judiciary with supporters, leveraged state power to force large businesses to support his party, and installed supporters in charge of the country’s largest media organs. (Think about Trump’s efforts to bully Jeff Bezos into putting a leash on the Washington Post by denying Amazon a lucrative Pentagon contract, and you have a picture of the methods Orban has used, with more success.)

Hungary’s democratic backsliding was slow and gradual, without a single dramatic moment when its character flipped from democracy to dictatorship. Even now, it retains the surface trappings of a democracy without the liberal characteristics that make those processes meaningful. If America ceases to be a democracy, it will likely follow a path similar to Orban’s.

The idea that Orbanism is the path forward is the glue that unites the Trump and John Roberts wings of the party, which is pretty much just one circle in a Venn diagram at this point.

Meanwhile, the most recent example of “Poor Glem has the toughest job in the whole internet and somehow does it”:

“Tucker Carlson’s weeklong celebration of an autocrat who happens to share his entire worldview is ACTUALLY just neutral fact-finding journalism” is a lie so ridiculous you can understand why Glenn likes Trump (and Tucker) so much: the obviousness of the lie is the whole point. Even more hilarious is the idea that concern about Hungary being a model for Republicans only began when Tucker Carlson did Viktor Orban FanFest ’21, but when you decided in 2016 that Donald Trump would be the perfect vehicle for defeating what you consider your biggest enemy — liberalism — why would you pay any attention to the literature on democratic backsliding? It’s a feature, not a bug!

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