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The strongmen strike back: Robert Kagan writes ‘Authoritarianism has reemerged as the greatest threat to the liberal democratic world — a profound ideological, as well as strategic, challenge. And we have no idea how to confront it’ – #1

18/03/2019

Robert Kagan at The Washington Post has an excellent essay on the resurgence of authoritarianism

Robert Kagan is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a contributing columnist for The Post. His latest book is “The Jungle Grows Back: America and Our Imperiled World.” This essay was conceived as part of the Brookings Foreign Policy project “Democracy and Disorder.”

Kagan begins:

Of all the geopolitical transformations confronting the liberal democratic world these days, the one for which we are least prepared is the ideological and strategic resurgence of authoritarianism. We are not used to thinking of authoritarianism as a distinct worldview that offers a real alternative to liberalism. Communism was an ideology — and some thought fascism was, as well — that offered a comprehensive understanding of human nature, politics, economics and governance to shape the behavior and thought of all members of a society in every aspect of their lives.

We believed that “traditional” autocratic governments were devoid of grand theories about society and, for the most part, left their people alone. Unlike communist governments, they had no universalist pretensions, no anti-liberal “ideology” to export. Though hostile to democracy at home, they did not care what happened beyond their borders. They might even evolve into democracies themselves, unlike the “totalitarian” communist states. We even got used to regarding them as “friends,” as strategic allies against the great radical challenges of the day: communism during the Cold War, Islamist extremism today.

This is a superb article and must be read in full, for an accurate appreciation. However, Adam will post some extracts over the next little while, but that is not the same as going to the link and appreciating the full essay.

 

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