Although his audience was the European Parliament, French President Emmanuel Macron articulated truths on Tuesday that resonate for the entire globe. Nationalism and authoritarianism are on the march. Democracy as an ideal and in practice seems under siege. The United States, traditionally a beacon for freedom, has dimmed the light, at least for a time.
Mr. Macron filled the gap with a thoughtful and bracing warning.
He declared that Europe is being torn by the rise of “national selfishness and negativity” and a growing “fascination with the illiberal.” In particular, he warned of the kind of anti-migrant authoritarianism on display recently in the Hungarian elections and fashionable among far-right parties in Europe.
But his words also apply more broadly to the surge of illiberalism in Turkey, Egypt, Russia, China, Cambodia, Vietnam, Azerbaijan, the Philippines and Venezuela, among other places, where leaders have actively snuffed out civil society, suborned or faked elections, asphyxiated free expression, ignored rule of law, and repressed basic human rights. Leaders in such countries learn from one another as they refine methods to crush democracy, by banning or restricting nongovernmental organizations, creating laws to single out independent voices as “foreign agents,” imposing censorship on the news and social media, and, most tried and true, jailing those who dissent. They also echo one another’s claims that their imposed order offers a viable alternative to democracy, which can be so unpredictable and messy. [Continue reading…]
Don’t miss the latest posts at Attention to the Unseen: Sign up for email updates.