In the past few days, the National Review Institute has staged its Ideas Summit, one of whose guests was Daniel Hannan, the British writer and politician. He was not only a guest but an awardee: the recipient of our first-ever Whittaker Chambers Award. Hannan received it for his leading role in Brexit, i.e., the decision of British voters to leave the European Union.
I’ve done a Q&A podcast with Hannan, here. We talk about Britain and the EU. Nationalism and “globalism.” And other important matters.
What about Marine Le Pen in France, Viktor Orbán in Hungary, the “Freedom” party in Austria, and so on? Hannan is sharp, as you would expect.
Last week, I wrote of the “Marine Corps,” which is my term for Americans who admire Madame Le Pen and her like. These Americans include Congressmen Steve King and Dana Rohrabacher, who huddled with Le Pen recently. King said that the three discussed “Liberty and shared values.”
In our podcast, Hannan says that Le Pen is a “quite extreme socialist,” “well to the left of the French Socialist party on economic policy.” Moreover, “she mingles this socialism with an element of nationalism, and we’ve seen that before, and it’s a fairly ugly cocktail.”
The British are known for understatement.
As for Orbán, he “has become,” says Hannan, “a strongman and authoritarian,” and “also someone who is prepared to intervene heavily in the economy in a way that no free-marketeer would recognize as conservative.”
Austria’s Freedom party, says Hannan, “has an element to its ideology where not everybody would be equally treated before the law, and that, I think, is an affront to the basic values of the English-speaking democracies.”
We must not be “blind,” says Hannan, to the “extent of Putinite influence” across the whole of Europe, where “they are actively stirring things up with a view to weakening the resolve of the West.”
At his once-a-year press conference, Putin was asked about the support he receives from many Americans. He said, “It is good that there are people who sympathize with our views on traditional values, because this forms a good foundation on which to build relations between two such powerful countries as Russia and the United States.”
Says Hannan, “I think Putin is trying to set himself up as the anti-Western poster boy. He has become the champion for everybody who is hostile to the liberal democratic traditions of the English-speaking peoples.”
In Hannan’s view — benign, generous — people know not what they do. “I can only assume that Western, and particularly American, admirers of this guy really haven’t grasped what it is he’s saying. They haven’t grasped that he’s fundamentally hostile to the whole basis on which we organize a pluralist, open society.”
Our podcast, again, is here. Dan Hannan is brilliant, eloquent, and bold, as always. Hannanesque.