Thursday, February 09, 2017
Strongmen Are What Make the World a Dangerous Place
There is a good market right now for fear entrepreneurs who sell the idea that the world is a dangerous place. There are always such nostrums on the market - and politicians ready to cash in. For most of the last three generations since World War II the forces of order have kept the fear mongers and would-be strongmen in check.
But now the last generation to remember the rise of the strongmen is nearly gone. Younger people take orderly institutions for granted. They do not see that the rule of law is fragile, even in old republics like ours. The permanently fearful minority allies with the short-term partisans, and the next thing you know we have elected a strongman.
All across the democratic world, right-wing nationalists challenge the governments which have made the world safer since VJ Day. All across the Muslim world, right-wing nationalists launch terror attacks on the democratic nations that keep invading them, while threatening their local authoritarian governments who make peace with the invaders.
When the strongmen come to power, the structural logic of their ideology makes them push for more danger and more war as proof that they were right about the world being dangerous. And the more danger they create, they more they can suspend normal checks and balances and consolidate all power in themselves.