Let us remain immune to wishful thinking from both the Right and the Left
Α quarter of a century ago the “End of History” had been predicted. That was at the most triumphant moment of the total victory of Liberal Democracy over Marxist-Leninist totalitarianism, of freedom over tyranny, of competitive free-market economics over extractive central planning of the creativity and enterprise of the private businessman over the torpor of the public sector. It was also the beginning of globalization and free trade was scaling, unstoppable, the ramparts of protectionism.
But first and foremost, that was the moment of triumph of the “West” –of the US and its NATO allies and all that the Transatlantic partnership represented–, over Soviet Russia and the regimes of Soviet henchmen in Central and Eastern Europe. Germany was reunited, and almost a score of liberated or newly independent countries had emerged, half of them promisingly democratic. Even Russia had, in those days, seemed to be on the road to a democracy of sorts. It was, in a sense, not only the end of the Cold War but also, that of unfinished business. It was the happy conclusion of World War II.
Was that really the end of history? Certainly not. But then, Fukuyama’s title was obviously aimed at sensationalism. No one had reasonably expected history to stop. But much of the substance of the argument –the superiority, in the long term, of free market liberal democracy over other possible models of political, social and economic organization– has yet to be disproved.
Now, some distinguished politicians –see text by Yoshka Fisher on this page– and analysts hasten to present a daunting –post Trump election– image: that of the “end of the West as we knew it”; the end of the Transatlantic political and strategic partnership. Some even predict the end of liberalism, both political and economic, the end of globalism, free trade etc. Are such dire forecasts justified at this stage? What has happened since the early 1990’s, so defining, so definitive, so irreversible as to uproot what had then been attained by the “West”? Or cause the US –under any Administration–, to destroy what was, in essence, its own achievement? Would Mr. Donald Trump’s election suffice?
It is true that the establishment of the Republican Party had failed to contain the rise of it’s unconventional candidate. But it is in the nature of things that to control a populist candidate during a campaign is rather more difficult than to discipline a President.
What candidate Trump had said during the campaign about NATO, the Baltic countries and the right of Russia to have a large sphere of influence, was frightful indeed. But competent officials at the State Department and generals and admirals at the Pentagon who have dedicated long years of service to the development of a performing North Atlantic alliance have not suddenly vanished. As to the Republican Party, for all its mutations it is still, to a considerable extent, the Grand Old Party. Many of its grandees maintain their sense of tradition and continuity as well as their phobic attitude towards Russia. The advocates of free trade –a Republican credo–, the sworn enemies of protectionism, are still there.
Nor does Mr. Trump’s majority with the Electoral College reflect a change of mood of Americans towards Europe or towards the strategic arrangements between the two coasts of the Atlantic. Mrs. Clinton’s nationwide majority was substantial, and at any rate, foreign policy was the least of the concerns of Mr. Trump’s voters. Even if the worse comes to the worst, 4 or 8 years will not suffice to undo what had been forged during more than 75 cosmogonic years.
Those of us dedicated to the vision of the West as we know it, must not forget that its triumph of the early 1990’s had caused the ideological bitterness of many fellow Europeans from radical leftist –though not necessarily orthodox Marxist-Leninist–, backgrounds. Their bitterness and frustration lingers. They wishfully predict the end of the era of their ideological defeat. Populists of the extreme right, of more recent mint, join them in their expectations.
Let us remain immune to their wishful reasoning and defiant of minor adversity.