David Brooks, ever the philosopher, had a piece the other day in the New York Times that paints a gloomy picture of a strong trend away from democracy in the Western part of the world.
The moderately conservative Brooks, in the column carried Friday by the Palm Beach Post, briefly traced the progress of “the humanistic ideal” in the West, and alluded to “the rise of the illiberals, authoritarians” who disregard “the democratic values of the Western civilization narrative.”
Recently, “we have entered the age of strong men. We are leaving the age of Obama, Cameron and Merkel and entering the age of Putin, Erdogan, el-Sisi, Xi Jinping, Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump.”
Brooks continued, “More and more governments, including the Trump administration, begin to look like premodern mafia states, run by family-based commercial clans … In America, the basic fabric of civic self-government seems to be eroding following the loss of faith in democratic ideals.
“While running for office, Donald Trump violated every norm of statesmanship built up over these many centuries, and it turned out many people didn’t notice or didn’t care. The faith in the West collapsed from within. It’s amazing how slow people have been to rise to defend it.
“These days, the whole idea of Western civ is assumed to be reactionary and oppressive. All I can say is, if you think that was reactionary and oppressive, wait until you get a load of the world that comes after it.”
A Dismal Future?
All of this bodes ill for future generations. In America, their, and to a lesser extent the current generation’s, only hope is that something propels the supporters of our current president and far-right members of Congress into sober assessment of whose interests these politicians are working for.
Honest appraisal would invariably lead them to conclude that the democratic system we have enjoyed, which exists for the betterment of the vast majority of our citizens, is in danger of monopolization by those concerned only with the aggrandizement of power and wealth. Their disciples are like unknowing cattle that are led blindly into the corral for the impending slaughter.
Perhaps, when conditions deteriorate sufficiently, they will come to their senses. Meanwhile, the consequences of their reckless, wanton disregard for truth and reason weigh heavily on all of us.
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