The Santa Fe World Affairs Forum aims to broaden and deepen understanding of world affairs through small, interactive, professionally led sessions on international issues for a membership of informed individuals.

Next Program

Understanding Orban’s Hungary

  September 24, 2019

 Dr. Deborah Cornelius

Hungary and the Fidesz regime of Viktor Orban have been much in the news in recent months, with criticism of the increasing centralization of power, control of the free press, and blows to academic freedom. Despite protests against widespread propaganda, increasing government control, limitations on freedom of academic research, during her most recent visit Dr. Cornelius found that much of the population still appear satisfied with the Fidesz government. They often praised the Orban regime and its accomplishments, although with a nonchalant acknowledgement of widespread corruption.

The fall of communism led to wild hopes in Central and Eastern Europe that the inhabitants would be able to join capitalist Western Europe and garner the benefits and standard of living associated with the West. Why has the early wild enthusiasm of 1990 disintegrated into disappointment and resentment? What accounts for the popularity of the Orban regime? Why is the opposition is so weak and fragmented? How have past governments failed the population, beginning with the rapid privatization after 1990? How has the refugee crisis of 2015 raised Orban’s popularity and increased criticism of the European Union? Does Orban represent the forefront of a rising tide of populist leaders in Eastern Europe, or his regime specific to the Hungarian situation?

Deborah S. Cornelius

Deborah S Cornelius is a historian and former professor at Rutgers, the State University. Her field of study is Central and Eastern Europe with a focus on Hungary and the lands of the former Hungarian Kingdom. She received her doctorate from Rutgers University, 1994, after a year of research in Hungary on a Fulbright Research Fellowship. Her MA is from Yale University, 1958 and BA from Connecticut College, 1956. She has taught at Franklin and Marshall College, the International School of Vienna, Austria, the American School,Tangier, Morocco, and Santa Fe Prep School. A leading US authority on Hungary, Cornelius most recently spent five weeks in Budapest studying the present state of the Hungarian regime.

Her publications concerning Hungary and the former kingdom include:  Hungary in World War II: Caught in the Cauldron. Fordham University Press, 2011. Kutyaszorítóban: Magyarország és a II.világ háború. Rubicon-kőnvek. 2015. In Search of the Nation: the New Generation of Hungarian Youth in Czechoslovakia 1925-1934. 1925-1934. Columbia U. Press.1999.

The SFWAF Program will be in the:  The SFCC Board Room (#223) which is in the West Wing (Administration building) of the Santa Fe Community College.

PAST SYMPOSIUM 2019

Thursday April 11 and Friday April 12, 2019

2019-05-01T14:20:34-07:00

Rising Authoritarianism: Can Democracy Meet the Challenge?

This year’s symposium on April 11 and 12 will address an issue of especially vital concern to us all: “Rising Authoritarianism: Can Democracy Meet the Challenge?” Taking place on the campus of Santa Fe Community College, the Symposium will bring together six specialists who will speak individually, introducing a global overview of the underlying causes of authoritarianism and of countervailing measures against its rise, followed by sessions focusing on the specific circumstances in Europe, Latin America, and the U.S.

Also included will be a student panel of foreign and dual-national students studying at colleges and universities here in New Mexico. As in the past the Symposium will offer all attendees ample opportunity for questions, discussions, and informal exchanges with speakers.

For more than two centuries, America has advocated for democratic principles starting with its Founding Fathers who proclaimed our nation to be created by and for the people, to joining with the liberal world to fight for our beliefs in two world wars. Following those wars, the United States was in the forefront of international efforts to create global institutions dedicated to peace, prosperity and justice. Our leaders have sometimes badly faltered or made poor decisions in seeking to preserve American leadership and universal values of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. But we have for the most part tried to move forward towards such aspirational goals throughout our history. Other nations have not always agreed with our individual policies, but no one doubted the American example of strong democratic institutions, a robust civil society and a desire to build a world based on common values and interests.

Now, as a new era of international strongmen emerges, are America’s traditions and institutions capable of ensuring that democratic principles continue to push back on the tyranny that has threatened every generation? The symposium examines this moment with open eyes, asking tough questions about the global authoritarian threat, its underlying causes, and how it can be, and is being, countered.

When strong democratic institutions and civil society perform their essential functions, society enjoys a good faith debate about the best way to advance global and national interests. However, when rule of law is eroded, nationalism politicized, alliances strained, the press demonized and society fractured by rising hate crimes and attacks on electoral integrity, the norms that promote and preserve a resilient democratic society become frayed. International institutions based on shared democratic values can also be undermined and weakened when the U.S. government appears to question their continuing relevance.

Can the U.S. continue to be a leader that holds others to account when we ourselves falter in meeting these challenges? What causes the authoritarian impulse to break out of the democratic norm, and why do so many here and abroad find these demagogic appeals so attractive? Has a decline in American global leadership inadvertently given other nations permission to erode their own democratic institutions? Will a fractured and divided America be able, or willing, to work with other democracies holding others accountable when we fail to do so at home?

Focusing on Europe, Latin America and the US, the symposium will examine these questions in order to better understand not only the causes and symptoms that bring us to this moment, but just as importantly, to explore what can be done to meet these authoritarian challenges to democracy.

Register for an event or make other payments on the Payments page.