Starting decades ago, many people, especially in the universities, lost faith in the Western civilization narrative. They stopped teaching it, and the great cultural transmission belt broke. Now many students, if they encounter it, are taught that Western civilization is a history of oppression.
It’s amazing what far-reaching effects this has had. It is as if a prevailing wind, which powered all the ships at sea, had suddenly ceased to blow. Now various scattered enemies of those Western values have emerged, and there is apparently nobody to defend them.
The first consequence has been the rise of the illiberals, authoritarians who not only don’t believe in the democratic values of the Western civilization narrative, but don’t even pretend to believe in them, as former dictators did.
.. More and more governments, including the Trump administration, begin to look like premodern mafia states, run by family-based commercial clans. Meanwhile, institutionalized, party-based authoritarian regimes, like in China or Russia, are turning into premodern cults of personality/Maximum Leader regimes, which are far more unstable and dangerous.
.. In France, the hard-right Marine Le Pen and the hard-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon could be the final two candidates in the presidential runoff. Le Pen has antiliberal views about national purity. Mélenchon is a supposedly democratic politician who models himself on Hugo Chávez.
If those two end up in the finals, then the European Union and NATO, the two great liberal institutions of modern Europe, will go into immediate crisis.
.. the share of young Americans who say it is absolutely important to live in a democratic country has dropped from 91 percent in the 1930s to 57 percent today.
.. 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.
With the start of the French election just days away, investors are contemplating their nightmare scenario: a choice between far-left and far-right candidates.
In recent days, a surge in opinion polls has placed Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a left-wing firebrand who promises higher wages and fewer working hours, as a potential candidate to move past this Sunday’s first round of voting. That could set up a second-round vote in May 7 with Marine Le Pen, an economic nationalist who wants to pull France out of the euro.
.. A runoff between Ms. Le Pen and Mr. Mélenchon “would be a disaster for France…[and] a disaster for Europe,” said Patrick Zweifel, chief economist at Pictet Asset Management.
Under that scenario, investors would dump the debt of France and of weaker European economies and send the euro sharply lower, analysts say.
.. the cost of insurance against a sharp fall in the euro, as measured by so-called one-month risk reversals, hit levels seen at the height of the continent’s sovereign-debt crisis in 2011.
.. For months, investors prepared for a runoff that pitted Ms. Le Pen against a candidate from the political mainstream, either François Fillon, a center-right former prime minister, or Emmanuel Macron, a former economy minister.
.. Analysts believe that either would beat Ms. Le Pen in a second round, as voters of different political stripes coalesced around a candidate that wasn’t the National Front leader.
.. The prospect of a victory for Ms. Le Pen, however distant, has long spooked markets. Ms. Le Pen’s desire to pull France out of the eurozone has raised concerns that the entire block could unravel.
.. In a runoff between Mr. Mélenchon and Ms. Le Pen, the sort of trading that hit markets during the eurozone’s sovereign-debt crisis, including extreme volatility in the euro and a selloff in the bonds of weaker members, would re-emerge, some analysts predict.
.. Mr. Mélenchon favors granting a sixth week of annual vacation; encouraging a four-day, 32-hour workweek; raising the minimum wage; and reducing the retirement age.
.. “It’s all very well having a mandate in the presidential election, but you need support in the national assembly too,”