The struggle with Trumpism is a world-wide struggle

In this most bizarre and irrational of election years, it's very easy for Americans to see the extremism and irrationality of the Trump and Sanders campaigns as a uniquely American phenomenon. The nutty, quasi-Fascist cult of political correctness sweeping the nation's campuses reinforces our impression that ours is a society in which tolerance and civility are dying if not already dead. Alarmed though we may be by the violence and the crazy rhetoric, we seem not to realize that we are by no means alone.

Sohrab Amari points out that on the contrary, the rising tide of illiberalism is a global phenomenon. From Europe to Iran and the Middle East, a tide of authoritarianism and intolerance is sweeping the world.

Trumpism is everywhere, and its followers around the world from  Le Pen to Putin recognize and celebrate each other. This is the hour of the bully all over the world, a time for cursing and scapegoating the Outsider and turning on the principles which have informed and guided not only the United States but Western democracy for centuries. It is the hour of the Leader, of Us versus Them, of the Volkisch state.

As Amari observes, the sides in the resulting conflict tend to defy the usual political categories. The enemies of traditional Western values are to be found both on the Right and on the Left, in Trump and Le Pen but also in the students on the campuses of our great universities. Similarly, as Amari points out, the defenders of those values can be found everywhere from Scandanavian socialists to American Republicans. It's hard for many American conservatives to recognize that the unthinkable Hillary Clinton was, in the context of today's Democratic party, on the same side as they are in the struggle with the Trumps on one hand and the campus crazies on the other. I myself cannot vote for Hillary, as much as I despise Trump; she stands for too much that I despise. But all over the world, the struggle is becoming not so much one of Right versus Left as between tolerance and civility and good will on one hand and narrow, intolerant and brutish tribalism on the other.

Amari's article is an important one, and I commend it to you. I myself am an unapologetic American exceptionalist; I think history bears out my perception that ours is a unique nation with a special role to play both in the world and in history. But to a large extent, that role consists of championing and espousing the very values which the Trumps and the Putins and the Le Pens and the fascists of the campus Left reject. I do not- and cannot- dismiss the significance of the ongoing struggle between the Right and the Left on social and economic and foreign policy issues. But some of the most significant struggles of the Twenty-First Century are already struggles which transcend such categories. More and more, the struggle all over the world is between supporters of Western liberal ideals in the broadest sense of the term and supporters of brutish, narrow tribalism on the other. And supporters of both sides will be found all over the traditional political spectrum.


Popular Posts