Crowning a Winner in the Post-Crimea World

Does liberal democracy depend on the existence of ideological and civilizational rivals to spur it into cycles of reinvention and renewal?

Published on: June 16, 2014
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  • Thirdsyphon

    You seem to be begging the question: if the revitalization of liberal democracy requires an ideological struggle against an adverse system based on a rival set of values, which cannot be found in the more pedestrian motives that drive the Great Power maneuverings of historically typical antagonists like 21C Russia, then why would we assume that the salvation of liberal democracy lies in confronting such rivals more openly?
    It seems to me far more likely that a pitched battle for raw power and access for resources against a rival or coalition of rivals bent on nothing more than the same would have the effect of World War I: the destruction of idealism and the infliction of septic, barbarous wounds on the flesh of civilization itself.
    There are innumerable ways for societies to enact and embody and revitalize their ideals that do not involve military conflict. In fact, when a society’s values are in flux, military conflicts can often cloud that very issue, as happened with the war in Vietnam.

  • Loader2000

    To answer the author’s last question, No, probably not. However, the crisis is going to have to deepen before the West is shaken out of its stupor. Cue several commentators to start ranting about president Obama.

  • wigwag

    In her otherwise interesting essay, Ms Shevstova neglects one critical element in her discussion about clashes of civilizations; the role of religion. During the Cold War, American culture was still deeply imbued with its Calvinist roots. That culture was evangelical at the same time that it was colored by the sense that Americans were an elect in much the same way as the Jews were described in the Hebrew Bible. Even if they were less observant, our Western European allies shared a self-conception profoundly shaped by Christianity. Certainly our Japanese allies were deeply committed to the sense of their own uniqueness and religion played a role in that as well. Conversely, our adversaries, the Soviets and their compatriots in the Warsaw Pact, were Godless.

    Leaving China aside for the moment, today the situation is reversed; America’s greatest adversary, radical Islam has the fire stoked in its belly by the belief that (to paraphrase the credo of the Muslim Brotherhood) dying in the way of Allah is the fondest ambition that one can aspire to. As for our once and apparently future adversary, the Russians, I doubt that it I a coincidence that a revival of Orthodox Christianity seems to be going hand in hand with Putin’s revanchist policies. It is now Western Europe that is Godless while the United States becomes less devout and more secular every day. Conversely, our adversaries believe that their fight is God’s fight.

    We can bemoan it all we want to, but I think there is great reason to doubt that liberalism alone can sustain the vitality that it takes to compete for leadership (and even survival) in a heterodox world. It was liberalism embroidered on a Christian background that facilitated Western dominance since the time of the European Enlightenment. Now that it is our adversaries to the east who believe that they have God on their side while Westerners worship at the alter of multiculturalism, the likelihood that the West will out-compete the Islamists or even the otherwise pathetic Russians seems very much in doubt.

    Even under misrule of the current pathetic occupant of the White House, the United States maintains the flicker of belief in its own exceptionalism. But its important to remember that the United States defeated neither the Nazis nor the Soviets alone; allies were needed. It was a trilateral confederation of partners that won the Cold War; the United States took the lead, but the Europeans and the Japanese were critical. With Europe in extremis and with the jury still out on whether the Japanese can awake from their two decade long malaise, the United States finds itself without many useful partners as it confronts a world reverting to its true Hobbesian nature.

  • Pete

    “Can (and should) the West rethink its paradigm of retrenchment and “nation-building at home”?”

    No, the West — or the U.S. at any rate — should definitely not rethink its paradigm of retrenchment. Let Europe carry part of the burden — for once. After all, the problem is the EU’s backyard.

    The U.S. should focus its attention on reversing the illegal invasion of millions of diseased ridden and uneducated Third Worlders from the south of our border, not on the Ukraine, Poland or the Baltic states.

  • Kirdyk Ivanovich

    Хороший звоночек – западная либерастия расписалась в своей бессильности и никчемности.

    Империя презирает бандерлогов, а не до империя США их привечает.
    Империя, при всех её закидонах, строится всегда на основе высоких устремлений общества.

    Современная либеральная мнимо-империя США построена на самых низменных устремлениях людей.

    Вы думаете, что вам ещё осталось время делать деньги на человечечкой низменности?

    Господа – та самая человеческая низменность, которую вы так пестовали последние 40 лет – вас скоро поглотит и уничтожит.

    Вы просто не понимаете пока, в какой вы живёте жопе.

  • AnalyticMindMan

    I swear american authors with russian name are even more rusophobic than “natural” americans lol

    “He’s trying to save an obsolescent civilization in an advanced state of decay”

    lol then Russia must have been in such state for 1000 years now… how unpatriotic lol

  • Old Filin

    The article is full of classical substitution of concepts. Auhtor makes at the forefront consequences rather than causes. All the current problems are coming from total duplicity in all layers of west ideology and policy. One the same incidents named “black” or “white” just as convenient just for current moment. West world without real strong enemy like USSR felt complete impunity. Because of it, when USA says “democracy”, all non-west world hears in this word only missles, bombs, bullets and lobbying of west corps. Recent examples – Iraq an Ukraine.

  • Guest

    policy and so hostile shown in relation to Russia. The white House
    cannot forgive that Vova constantly him to ridicule before the whole
    world does. Why are only steps from Washington, led the Crimea to

  • Major914

    “Does liberal democracy depend on the existence of ideological and civilizational rivals to spur it into cycles of reinvention and renewal?”

    If it did, it couldn’t possibly do so self-consciously, but only through a natural obliquity; which says something about the dangers of academic self-consciousness to renewal.

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