mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Western Meltdown
A Crisis of Politics
Features Icon
Features
show comments
  • Nevis07

    This is an interesting and refreshing observation on the part of Marusic. Having said that I only partially agree with the final analysis being that we in the West are experiencing a crisis of our political institutions. I believe it to be a problem of both our values and our institutions as both are hopelessly connected at such a fundamental level.

    To the point of a values crisis, I would suggest that West has lost sight of core values. We’ve essentially conflated the concept of fairness with that of personal responsibility and objective and actual opportunity – and thereby respect of personal actions. I won’t delve too deep into this, but if you want an in-depth concept of what I’m talking about I’d suggest watching this interview I came across a couple of months ago of Ben Shapiro, a personal favorite of mine defending conservatism (it’s a long video but I promise you, it’s worth it):

    In regards to a crisis of institutions, I cannot see how we can disconnect the institutions from our values in this debate. Are our political parties not bought and sold to the highest bidder? I watch House of Cards and I can’t help but think that is exactly how DC works. Maybe I’m wrong, but I doubt I am. And even beyond the money do we trust the career long politicians to implement policies that promote a better America for tomorrow rather than the soundbite the liberal media is pushing today? I certainly don’t. Our politicians are our institutions now. It’s a matter of identity and personality politics brought on by the media. We swing from personality extreme to personality extreme. Trump v Sanders is the latest example. Those who’ve seen my comments, know I’m no Trump fan and yet I may very well vote for the guy – we’re all caught up in the money making, media induced political institutional election cycle.

    Anyway, there’s my rant for the day.

  • WigWag

    “It’s far beyond the scope of this short essay to try to diagnose what exactly is wrong with Europe and the West.” (Damir Marusic).

    Let me give it a try, Damir. The problem with Europe and the West is that western elites are literally overcome with self-hatred. Those elites despise western culture and history and they are absolutely convinced that for centuries the west has been so racist, sexist, homophobic, bigoted and imperialistic that Western society can never make amends for its multitude of sins. That’s why the West is committing demographic suicide and it explains why the West celebrates multiculturalism at the expense of its own enlightenment values.

    Why do Western elites in Germany, Great Britain, France and Scandanavia welcome Muslim immigrants who have nothing but disdain for the values of the nation’s that have given them refuge? It’s because those elites are so overcome by self-hatred that they are unwilling to believe that enlightenment values are actually superior to an ideology that cherishes plural marraige, consanguinious marraige, female genital mutilation, honor killing and capital punishment as the penalty for apostasy.

    Damir, you completely misunderstand Vladimir Putin. He may be a despicable rascal, but unlike Western elites, he believes in the exceptionalism of the Russian people. Unlike his Western adversaries, he actually wants Russia to survive and even thrive. He knows he’s been dealt s bad hand and that his country faces numerous almost insurmountable challenges. In the face of those challenges he’s doing everything he can to insure that Russia lives to fight another day. Unlike the Europeans who are inviting an alien culture into their midst that is certain to eventually destroy their hosts, Putin is taking the battle to those same adversaries whether they’re to be found in Chechnya, Crimea, Syria or anywhere else. You don’t need to admire his tactics to understand them.

    It is still an open question which way we will go in the United States. American leftists who seem to be ascendant at the moment are as full of self-hatred as European elites. Like their European counterparts they believe that American history is corrupt and repulsive. They believe that our history is characterized by racism, sexism, homophobia, bigotry, imperialism and intolerance. They believe that our country should be punished for its sins and that its time to pay the piper. That’s why establishment politicians want to genuflect to the Black Lives Matter movement and it’s why the left supports unlimited immigration from Mexico. After all, in their heart of hearts they believe our country stole the entire American Southwest from Mexico.

    Whether it’s Donald Trump in the United States or some of the so-called right wing parties in Europe, their is a cadre of people who absolutely refuse to fall victim to this pathological self-hatred. My guess is that in Europe it is already too late. The demographic dye is already cast in Europe. As for Russia, Putin may or may not succeed in maintaining the viability of Russian exceptionalism.

    In the United States, a lot depends on whether Clinton or Trump is elected.

    The one other nation that straddles East and West that’s worth mentioning Israel. Most Israelis refuse to fall victim to self-hatred. That’s why the American and European left hates Israel. They simply can’t understand why Israelis don’t hate themselves as much as western elites hate themselves.

    The reality is simple: Western elites are literally mentally ill.

    • Matt_Thullen

      I agree with the first part of your analysis, but not with the second. Our elites are indeed not champions of the west, and while I believe they still pay lip service to western enlightenment values, they are not willing to expend much energy in defending these values in a meaningful way.

      I’d suggest that the collapse of Christianity (and to a lesser extent, Judaism) in our elites has more to do with this collapse. Without an external value system, our elites have done what elites throughout history have done–either substituted material gain for religion or convinced themselves that religion should lead to material gain for them. Too many people have grown accustomed to a life of leisure, travel and comfort, and standing up for the values of the west threatens this lifestyle. Look no further than our large corporations, who have surrendered wholesale to the social justice warriors that also are Bernie Sanders core supporters. These corporations think that they they need to cave on issues important to the left in order to avoid trouble, which is another way of saying that they want to keep making money hand over fist, and the executives who run these companies have no intention of valuing abstract values higher than their paychecks and stock options.

      Western societies were by no means perfect, but the value system that Christianity placed on society as a whole at least kept the worst excesses to a minimum. Once Christianity disappeared from the elite class, then the only value was making and enjoying wealth, which is a bipartisan value among the elites of all western societies.

      Those who don’t enjoy this fabulous lifestyle have come to understand that the elites don’t have their interests in mind. Hence the rise of nationalistic parties.

      • f1b0nacc1

        I am not so sure that it is a question of the elites enjoying their wealth. As Orwell once said, the object of power is power…

        • Matt_Thullen

          I think that greed has moderated their thirst for absolute power to a degree. While they do want to change the U.S., they are just as interested in making sure that they have millions in their bank accounts while doing so. Doing well by doing good has always had its adherents in the west, but only recently has it been elevated to the central plank of liberal political parties.

          • f1b0nacc1

            This isn’t so much about ‘doing good’ (I don’t think that even the current group of idiots on top of the Left is dumb enough to actually believe that they are actually doing good), as it is about having control, and that has been a core belief of the Progressive Left in America from the beginning. They have always had either wealth or the power to get what they want without it, and if you assume that greed is the motivating factor you have a lot of trouble explaining the overwhelming presence of the .01% in the ranks of the Progressive Left, also from the beginning of their dark history. (OK, not billionaires at the beginning, but you get my drift)….
            This is about getting and holding power, and while wealth is nice, it is ultimately secondary since it isn’t vital to enjoying the good life. Yes, once you have the power you can loot, but that is just another one of the perks and perquisites of being in the nomenklatura

    • Tom

      I don’t agree with the first part of your analysis. Western elites aren’t filled with self-hatred.
      It’s more a case of dissolving the people and electing another.

    • subtilior

      It is inevitable, in a modern democracy, that the élite despise the populace that they are forced to lie to continually to stay in power. “it is in the nature of humans to hate those you have injured”, is it not? Really, the US is the first source of most of this sentiment, where they get away with it because the US is a large country, and a world power, so the damage is less obvious. Of course small and feeble European countries are not going to be able to successfully integrate large numbers of aliens into their cultures.

    • Pete

      “Why do Western elites in Germany, Great Britain, France and Scandinavia welcome Muslim immigrants who have nothing but disdain for the values of the nations that have given them refuge? It’s because those elites are so overcome by self-hatred that they are unwilling to believe that enlightenment values are actually superior to an ideology that cherishes plural marriage, consanguineous marriage, female genital mutilation, honor killing and capital punishment as the penalty for apostasy.”

      I think that’s all unquestionable true. But that begs the question: Why haven’t these tratorious elite been hunted down and hung?

    • Andrew Allison

      It’s much simpler than that. In the immortal words of the head of the European Commission, “We all know what to do, we just don’t know how to get re-elected after we’ve done it.”

      • Angel Martin

        “..we just don’t know how to get re-elected after we’ve done it.”

        When they decide they don’t have to answer the question – they will have answered the question.

    • adk

      As with a lot of your analysis, overly simplistic and, not in small part, wrong. Speaking of our elites: yes, BO, Bernie Sanders and their ilk hate America and the West; Bill & Hillary likely don’t but have to pretend they do to advance among the current Democrats; Paul Ryan and people like him love the US and want to make it better.

      Re Putin, you have no clue what you are talking about.Why don’t you read many excellent pieces on these pages by people like Kirk Bennet, former British ambassador Wood, Russian nationals Lilya Shevtsova, Karina Orlova and many others who actually know something about Russia and Putin? Read at least “How Putin became President” by David Satter to understand how Putin “loves” Russia — the same way Hitler “loved” Germany and German “exceptionalism” and Mussolini – Italy.

      Re Israel: it too has pretty powerful elites, esp. in the academia, media and in the judiciary, possessed by what you call “self-hatred”. It’s just that the murderous everyday reality of Arab hatred helps keep those types in check.

      • Boritz

        Paul Ryan and people like him love the US and want to make it better [for themselves].

        • adk

          That would be the Clintons.

  • Angel Martin

    Why does the victory of right wing parties have to be considered a “crisis”?

    To me it looks like a necessary course correction.

    • FriendlyGoat

      Putin thinks so, apparently. The question is whether our interests coincide with his.

      • Angel Martin

        Putin wants to destroy the EU.

        Apparently the leaders of the EU also want to destroy the EU.

        Either by the mass influx of migrants.

        Or by the anti-EU parties elected by the backlash.

        So Putin wins regardless. There is nothing we can do on this one.

        • FriendlyGoat

          You do understand that a fractured Europe full of in-migrated Muslims in not in the interest of the USA, right?

          • Angel Martin

            Yes. But it is not avoidable at this point.

            The euros are not so incompetent, and so ineffective that they cannot achieve the simplest things – even when they all agree.

            For example, counter-terrorism shared intelligence (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/24/world/europe/as-terrorists-cross-borders-europe-sees-anew-that-its-intelligence-does-not.html)

            who is going to win here ?

            http://gatesofvienna.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/bracken-dhimmi.jpg

          • FriendlyGoat

            I don’t like Islam any better than you do, okay? But us throwing up our hands and writing off Europe as a lost cause is not going to help.

          • Angel Martin

            So what are we supposed to do to engineer a turnaround in Belgium, or Holland, or France, or Germany ?

            I’ll tell you what the Obama Administration is doing right now.

            They are trying to undermine, destabilize and sanction the governments of Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. And the reason Obama is against these governments is because of migrant policy – ie. they refuse to participate in the creation of “a fractured Europe full of in-migrated Muslims”.

  • Anthony

    An observation within the context of power which subsumes ideas presented is keep people off-balance and in the dark by never revealing the purpose behind your actions – guide them far enough down the wrong path, envelop them in enough misdirection and by the time they realize your intentions, it will be too late.

    • Angel Martin

      you mean like how the EU has evolved ?

  • Jim__L

    “As long as Western democracies are unable to incorporate legitimate
    nationalist sentiments into the ordinary political process, they will
    continue to face anti-liberal eruptions from the likes of Mr. Hofer.”

    And Donald Trump.

    DM, keep spreading the good word!

  • Blackbeard

    Western civilization has decided to try a bold experiment: We are abandoning the family, abandoning religion and now abandoning the nation-state for without borders there is no nation-state. Europe is further along this road than is the U.S. and the results so far in Europe have been demographic collapse, economic stagnation and military impotence. Our leftist elites, both here and in Europe, insist that everything is fine except that we must move ever further leftward. Ordinary people see that this is madness and cast desperately about for an alternative.

    When Chinese historians write about this era they will call it the Fall of the West.

    • f1b0nacc1

      Oh, don’t be so sure about the….the Chinese have problems of their own, and their Elites make ours look positively capable by comparison

  • Andrew Allison

    What we’re facing is the inevitable collapse of “social democracy”. Europe is well along this road, and the US is picking up speed. As illustrated by France, the cost of government (57.5%) increases faster than GDP resulting in, to paraphrase Churchill, equal misery for everybody else.

  • Anthony

    “Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraint goals of internal cleansing….” (The Anatomy of Fascism, 2004)

    While essay implies a Western Meltdown, one could say that fascists are rare in 2015 though Right-Wing Populists are not. In fact as inferred above, the UK has the UK Independence Party (UKIP), France has Marine LePen and the Front National; Germany has Alternative for Germany (AfD) and the Anti-Muslim Pegida Movement; Sweden has the Sweden Democrats; the Netherlands has the Party for Freedom and its leader Geert Wilders. So are these really anti-liberal eruptions or right-wing populist movements representing a brand of ethnocentric populism responding to 21st century dynamics via a reconfiguration of who ought to be members of liberal democracy club (a very small membership perhaps). Incorporating “legitimate nationalist sentiment” may infer less a crisis of civic institutions/arrangements than populist demagoguery opportunistically utilizing civic unease (induce perhaps by both economic and social transformations that appear hierarchically upsetting).

  • Kevin

    Interesting theory – institutions vs. values as the explanation for why “far right” parties are gaining traction. But does your Sweden vs Denmrak example undercut this? Is it a difference in Swedish and Danish parliamentary systems that prevented Danish anti-immigrant voters from being exiled to the far right? Both systems are similar. It seems like it is values a differences in values: the elite consensus which rules certain topics as out of bonus for polite society, political debate and the media. It was Swedish values, not instructional design, which suppressed news about the crimes immigrants were committing

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    Europe is being run by Leftists, just as America’s largest cities. Leftists have an unfounded faith in Government, and constantly seek to expand its power and authority. Governments are all Monopolies, and like all Monopolies suffer from the same disease, the lack of the “Feedback of Competition”. It is the “Feedback of Competition” that provides both the Information and Motivation which forces continuous improvements in Quality, Service, and Price in free markets. This means that as the Size of the Government increases in comparison with the free market Private sector, growth and improvements decline and get forced out.

    The Einstein Strategy

    There is an urban legend that sometime in the 50’s; Albert Einstein was walking the campus quad with some of his science geek groupies (as he habitually did), when one of the wags present blurted out the question “What is the most Powerful Force in the Universe?” too which Albert Einstein, who was intimately familiar with how an atomic bomb goes super critical, instantly replied “Compounding Growth”.

    The Rahn Curve

    This is a graph of the (growth rate of a Nation) vs. (the burden of Government) on that nation’s private sector. It shows that some Government is necessary for maximum growth (Defense, Justice, Foreign Relations), but when that burden exceeds 15% of the GDP, the growth rate declines. And compounding growth is the “Greatest Force in the Universe”.

    Conclusion

    Europe is therefore in decline because the Leftists have so burdened the private sector that little growth is possible. They have then exacerbated the decline with huge numbers of Sharia supporting Muslims that reject the “Rule of Law” necessary for the functioning of free markets, and degrade the Western Culture that created Modern Civilization to begin with. The backward and inferior Islamic Culture never modified and changed by the “Enlightenment” as Western Culture. And because of this is anathema and incompatible with the growth and success of Modern Civilization which Western Culture created.

  • Boritz

    “the problems are less lofty and conceptual, and more concretely institutional.”

    Which means the liberal mind which is perpetually lofty and conceptual is incapable of coming up with an accurate diagnosis let alone an effective treatment because as Margaret Thatcher reminded us, the facts of life are conservative.

  • ojfl

    I do not agree that nationalism as ordinarily defined is the ay to go. But indeed the defense of Western Values. The rejection of multiculturalism is an imperative in Western civilization. The defense of the Western tenets of individual liberty and fundamental rights must happen. That is not nationalism. Immigrants and foreigners can adopt Western values. If they do not they should not be coddled.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service