Facing inevitability people often say that it’s better to go with the flow than to fight it, and usually rightfully so, except, of course, in cases where the inevitable poses a threat to the values on which we base our entire existence, such as compassion, decency, democracy, concern for the planet and our common prosperity and so on, among whom the following appear most prominent at present:
- Russia’s president Vladimir Putin
- America’s president-elect Donald J. Trump
- Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
- China’s president Xi Jinping
- Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei
- North Korea’s president Kim Jong-un
Alongside a plethora of left and right-wing politicians throughout Europe, impatiently waiting to put Donald Trump’s methods to good use, among whom we find the usual suspects, such as Front National’s Marine Le Pen, Alternative für Deutschland’s Frauke Petry, FPÖ’s Heinz-Christian Strache, Vlaams Belang’s Tom van Grieken, UKIP’s Paul Nuttal (preceded by Nigel Farage), PVV’s Geert Wilders to mention but a few.
Fortunately most of them are yet to succeed completely, but are, as we all know, likely to gather much support in the aftermath of the US presidential election. Also we should bear in mind that most of them hail from countries of less importance than the afore-mentioned six, with the possible exception of Kim Jong-un, perhaps. The potential outcome of left and right-wing nationalism gaining foothold in Europe, however, is the dissolution of the European Union, already afoot in the wake of last summer’s Brexit, as well as the prevalence of authoritarianism, sometimes bordering on totalitarianism, now that their self-confidence has received such an ill-deserved boost.
Among the most recent examples we find the Norwegian Progress Party leader (and the country’s minister of finance) Siv Jensen. According to an almost 100-year-long tradition the King and PM give their new year speeches on radio (and TV). This year, which happens to be an election year, however, said Ms. Jensen decided the time is ripe for a minister of finance new year’s speech, albeit via social media.
Make of that what you will, but it’s safe to say that current events forecast a change of direction throughout the world, paving the way for the early stages of an authoritarian development which may easily escalate into full-blown totalitarianism, as we’ve already seen in some countries.
I’m not in the business of provoking fear where fear is undue, but we’ve seen the writing on the wall for some time, and the development of an international community characterised by populism, antagonism and just about any ism in the book is very real, a very distinct possibility.
What I can say, however, is that I sincerely fear that it’s too late, that we indeed do find ourselves on the verge of an authoritarian and totalitarian age, but haven’t given up hope that before long Putin, Trump, Erdoğan, Xi, Khamenei and Kim will have managed to convince us of the authoritarian leadership’s futility.
Also, let’s not make the mistake of comparing today’s authoritarian leaders with yesterday’s dictators. A modern-day oppressor is more likely to appear mild-mannered than rabid, fully aware of the importance of appearance.
There is, of course, precious little we can do to prevent it, save voting in accordance with values other than theirs – and to contribute to our fellow men’s reflection on the matter, which is what I hereby try to do, to the best of my feeble ability.
Then again, if you challenge me to a wager, my bet is that the first half of the century is lost, and if so, the chances of a second (half) are fairly slim. But who knows, where there’s a will, there may even be a way.
Top illustration: Blogger’s own drawing, based on a third-party original.