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Editorial: The political centre crumbles as Orban, Morawiecki and Salvini launch their reactionary international

CHRISTIANS come in many different colours, from communist and socialist red to conservative blue and fascist brown.

All can interpret passages in the Bible to justify their political policies, although it sounds especially discordant when self-proclaimed followers of the “prince of peace” preach stridently in favour of weapons of genocidal mass murder.

Viktor Orban, Mateusz Morawiecki and Matteo Salvini proclaim the commitment of their Hungarian, Polish and Italian parties to “Atlanticism, freedom, family, Christianity, sovereignty and opposing anti-semitism.”

Theirs is a project of elephantine gestation. It has been talked about for three years and more as the Fidesz party of Prime Minister Orban has encountered growing criticism of its illiberal views from the conservative European People’s Party in the EU parliament.

The articles of faith recited by Orban, Morawiecki and Salvini in Budapest today indicate that they constitute an unholy trinity of diehard reactionaries.

Their adherence to Atlanticism signifies a resurgent enthusiasm for a new cold war, although it is not yet clear against whom. The Polish and Hungarian prime ministers are rabidly in favour of rewriting history — even if that means whitewashing home-grown nationalism and fascism — in order to demonise all things Russian and communist.

Salvini, on the other hand, recognises in Putin a fellow anti-liberal and anti-communist authoritarian with whom business can be done.

For their part, the ruling parties in Hungary and Poland can see the opportunities for economic development in their countries offered by China’s Belt and Road initiative. Their lack of enthusiasm for joining the anti-China offensive launched by the US and British governments raises the question: what do they mean by Atlanticism, beyond the visceral anti-communism they share with most other Nato powers?

It is clearer what Orban, Morawiecki and Salvini have in their minds when they talk of freedom, family, Christianity and sovereignty. Far from the kind of Christianity which views all of god’s children as equal, as sisters and brothers, our profane triumvirate believe in the sanctity of a white Europe, free from what they regard as the modern-day plagues of mass immigration and Islam.

They want their countries to be free and sovereign in the sense that they can ignore the European Convention on Human Rights and the tenets of international humanitarian law.

Some at least of their outlook and aspirations are shared in like-minded parties in France, Austria, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands. Whether they can find sufficient unity between themselves to unite in a single political bloc remains to be seen.

In any event, they represent a growing threat to democratic rights, peace and benign internationalism. The left must take note and strengthen its alliances with genuine liberals, democrats and progressive Christians.

At the same time, this latest regressive development highlights the need also to pose the socialist alternative to a capitalist system which has shown its readiness — when in deep crisis — to turn to dictatorship and fascism.

All the signs are that politics in Britain and elsewhere are polarising. Those self-identified anti-socialist and anti-communist liberals and democrats in the centre will have to decide whether to move left or right.

As Aneurin Bevan used to say: “We know what happens to people who stay in the middle of the road. They get run over.”

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