The leaders of the world seem to be acting right now, as kids in the playground, choosing up teams and the team leaders for the next generation or two. Those making the choices seem to be in one of two camps. The one being what I will call the camp of Real News, the leaders here being the Washington Post, the New York Times, and their friends. The other, the camp of Fake News, these led by Fox & Friends, the Breibart and Sinclair groups.
The Times/Post group right away chose Germany’s Angela Merkel, and France’s Emmanuel Macron, and how nice it was, given their histories, to see the two of them, now together on the same team in the new century.
The other group led by Fox & Friends chose first of all Donald Trump, the president of the most powerful country of the world. Then they picked Victor Orban of Hungary, Jarosław Kaczyński of Poland, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey, Vladimir Putin of Russia, Xi Jinping of China, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, Bashar al-Assad of Syria, Ali Khamenei of Iran, Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, and Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines.
Right away it was obvious that the Times/Post camp was outnumbered, would have few if any chances to win an all out war, or even a battle with their opponents. This unequal struggle is what’s taking place right now. And given their respective military strengths alone the Fox and Breibart group would win hands down.
Rather than opening up to the world from their strengths these Fake News countries are not opening up at all, but are withdrawing into themselves, engaged most of all in protecting what they have. They are as it were battening the hatches, circling their wagons, building walls between themselves and others, and, while refusing entry to the thousands of immigrants and refugees trying to get in, are more and more preoccupied by a brutal promotion of their own, in their eyes superior traditions and culture.
This illiberal agenda is shared by all of them, by Trump, Orban, Kaczvnski, Erdogan and the others. Victor Orban proudly styles himself an “illiberal democrat,” a majoritarian populist standing up for his nation’s interests, traditions and culture. Yes, Hungary first, America first! Russia first! Their agenda is really a renewal of past populist and nationalist movements and, as in the past, is gaining electoral support from their peoples who see them, not as bigots, but as their best source of jobs and security.
What are the principal strengths of the Merkel and Macron camp? Truth telling? Tolerance? Willingness to find places for immigrants within their countries? Readiness to reform out of date traditions such as the unequal treatment of women and minorities? A heartfelt desire to modify and eventually change for the better the (bad) inferior cultural habits of their peoples, the long in-grained habits of racism, coal burning, and homophobia?
In an all out war between these forces with these attributes who wins? The bigotry of the ones, the tolerance and liberalism of the others? The closed nature of the ones, the openness of the others?
It was only a few hundred years ago that tolerance, and liberalism, and openness got their start and right away at the start these qualities did seem to be the wave of the future. Openness and tolerance would mean the coming of the 17th. c. scientific revolution and in the following century the Enlightenment. And these two movements have continued right up almost to now. The ideas of the Enlightenment and the discoveries of science, in particular evolutionary science, have gifted all of us with a new and better understanding of the world and ourselves.
And now, absurdity of absurdities we are confronted in what we hold most dear by team Trump, Putin, Orban, Erdogan and the others, who together in their ignorance are threatening to undo it all, and in fact are already beginning in that regard to remove our rights and freedoms, all of which were obtained over hundreds of years at great cost.