Back in the early 2000s, I was writing about how a resurgent Russia might eventually being to lead an alliance of resistance to the Western axis, and how the emergence of populism from both the left and right might challenge the neoliberal Western ruling classes. It seems to be happening, though in a way that is a long way from presenting an real threat to the hegemony of neoliberalism.
By Robert W. Merry
The American Conservative
Italy is wrapped up these days in the efforts of its two strongest political parties to forge a coalition government. Presumably they will succeed, though whether the resulting civic structure will have any staying power remains an open question. But in terms of the broad political trends in Italy, Europe, and the entire West (including the United States), it doesn’t really matter much. Whatever happens with the emerging Italian government, Italy has set itself upon a new course. It’s the path of populism, fueled by many things but primarily by the West’s immigration crisis.
William Galston offered an interesting insight into all this the other day in a piece in The New Republic. Galston, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, wasn’t writing about Italian politics but rather about the turn towards populism in Hungary under Prime Minister Viktor Orban. But he had a broader point. “The global democratic tide,” he wrote, “which began in 1974 with the end of Portugal’s authoritarian regime, crested in 2006, making way for anti-democratic populists. Many Western leaders have yet to come to terms with this new reality, hoping that anti-immigrant sentiment is just a passing phenomenon.”
Galston derided the tendency of Barack Obama, when he was president, to dismiss ideas and movements he opposed as being “on the wrong side of history.” No, said Galston, history “has no ‘side,’ no ‘end,’ and no immanent tendency to move in a particular direction.”