We're all concerned about our rise in hostility and decline in civility here in the U.S., but the Europeans seem gloomier.
Joel Kotkin, the demographer, recently attended a gathering of the Tocqueville Foundation and found that European leaders are troubled about the prospects of liberal democracy.
This was a gathering of a bewildered intellectual elite. They discussed the fraying of the post-World War II international order, the rise of extreme or populist groups (of both left and right), and even the unraveling of Europe's cultural identity.
The most fascinating observation in Kotkin's report reminded me of a quip from the old cartoon Pogo–"We have met the enemy and he is us." Here it is:
But arguably the biggest threat [to liberal democracy] comes not from crude extreme-right outsiders, but from the entrenched and respectable establishment on both sides of the Atlantic. In many ways, the European establishment is the heir to what Tocqueville labeled “excessive centralization,” a disease that long has plagued France, and in recent decades has spread to our continent as well.
Those inhabiting these central institutions—the upper bureaucracy, academia, the mainstream media, and many top corporate executives—are increasingly unwilling to brook opposition to their consensus on such cherished issues as migration, climate change, and multiculturalism.
Horrified that those below do not obey, important left-of-center voices, such as former Obama budget advisor Peter Orszag and Thomas Friedman, argue that power should shift from naturally contentious elected bodies—subject to pressure from the lower orders—to credentialed “experts” operating in Washington, Brussels, or the United Nations.
Our own elites would have been completely at home.
Would I be stretching it to suggest that a lot of the anger in this country about President Trump comes from an elite (and would-be elite) sentiment that deplorables used their ballot box power to deviate from elite consensus on immigration, climate change, and multiculturalism?
Kotkin is always interesting.
I urge you to read his entire article.