The Global Anti-Liberal Democracy Tide

One of the topics that jumps from the newspapers all too often–especially as of late–is the trend in far too many places where liberal democracy is taking a serious gut-punch.  From Britain leaving the EU, Hungary and Poland taking steps backwards, France and Germany having dangerous nationalistic and xenophobic factions, and then the news from Italy.   Over and over in nations that should know better there comes news of racial backsliding, attempts at polarizing the news media, populists spouting quack economic remedies, with growing suspicion of elites, facts, and experts.

And of course the dangers to liberal democracy is taking place in the United States, too.

Many have been writing about this matter as it relates to certain nations, others have framed their thoughts as it relates to the international consequences of having such a disregard for the basic concepts of Western Civilization.  Here we are in 2018, and the structures of democracy that we were so proud of following WWII, and worked to share and assist with fostering in places far and wide, are now losing power and strength in ways that would have been almost impossible to imagine when President Truman made plans to help feed the world in need at the end of 1945.

As I read Roger Cohen’s opinion article on the insanity that is taking hold of Italy I wonder just how far the international order will splinter.   And can the United States find its way in time to again come to the rescue of others?

Steve Bannon is happy about — indeed perhaps even instrumental in — the formation of an anti-European, anti-immigrant government in Italy. Marine Le Pen, the rightist French politician, is also delighted, calling the new coalition “a victory of democracy over intimidation and threats from the European Union.” And I’m happy.

Now Bannon and Le Pen are not normally the political company I keep, so before I go on let me make it clear that the victorious parties entering government in Italy — the xenophobic League and the out-with-the-old-order Five Star Movement — bring together bigotry and incompetence to an unusual degree. They are a miserable bunch borne aloft on the global anti-liberal tide.

I am passionate about the European Union, the dullest propagator of peace ever created. I loathe the facile designation of the immigrant or outsider as the source of national woes, a form of scapegoating with a terrible history in Europe and now on vivid display in Donald Trump’s America. I’m all for seriousness of purpose in government, and that cannot include promising handouts for which there are no funds. In short, I see nothing in the League or the internet-propagated Five Star Movement that does not cause me disgust.

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