Spatializing Orbán’s ‘Colonial Missionarism’: The Global Geographies of Religion and Securitization in the ‘Colonial Turn’ of Hungarian Political Disourse

Photo: abouthungary.hu – 13 October, 2017

This chapter looks at the global geographies of the ‘colonial turn’ in the Orbán governments’ post-2010 political discourse in Hungary from the perspective of religion and securitization. After 2010, ‘Central Europe’ became demarcated by government discourse as a “non-colonizer” and “ethnically homogeneous” region from the “colonizer”, multicultural/racial and therefore decadent West. Declared as a “Christian democracy”, the Hungarian “illiberal” state fused the preservation of a Central European ‘pure’ religious identity with Eurocentric, colonial and post-imperial arguments after the 2015 refugee crisis. This supported fear-mongering securitization to frame immigration as an Islamophobic and racial demographic threat from the Global South in order to “defend Christian Europe”. The chapter applies a world-systemic and postcolonial approach to focus on two related aspects.

Firstly, Hungarian illiberal revolt against the Western neoliberal order via ‘colonial disobedience’ transformed into a religiously ideologized ‘national neoliberalism’ (Ban, Scheiring, Vasile 2021), in which local ‘clientelistic state’ social security is intertwined with global securitization and the geopolitics of fear against ‘othered’ religions, notably Islam. This is elucidated through the Hungarian reception of Max Weber’s thought, which after 1989 served an anti-Marxist agenda to legitimate market and democratic liberalism, but after 2010 influenced “national liberalism”, “charismatic leadership” and “world value surveys” that reproduced the Eurocentrist, Orientalist and racial-colonial preconceptions behind the neo-Weberian comparative sociology of world religions. North American Neo-Weberianism and Parsonian modernization theory informed Samuel P. Huntington’s geopolitical ideas of the religion-based “clash of civilizations”, which legitimated Islamophobic post-9/11 sentiment and later influenced the Orbán governments’ geopolitics.

Secondly, Christianity also substituted socialist internationalism as a new global ideology of Hungary. The state humanitarian aid organization Hungary Helps uses Christian religion as a comparative advantage to gain alliances and investments in the Global South, increasingly in Sub-Saharan Africa. The chapter elucidates the complex ‘scalar political economy’ behind how the local ideology of “Christian freedom” is contradictingly embedded in Hungary’s “global struggle against Christian persecution” to “stop migration” as a form of new ‘colonial missionarism’. It concludes that Westcentric scholars continue to ignore Hungary’s semiperipheral integration into the world economy as a structural condition to the country’s geographical maneuvering of demarcating from the West while opening up to the Global South.

Citation info on book chapter coming soon!

Cite this abstract: Ginelli, Z. (2022): Spatializing Orbán’s ‘Colonial Missionarism’: The Global Geographies of Religion and Securitization in the ‘Colonial Turn’ of Hungarian Political Disourse. zoltanginelli.com, 23 April.