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The resurgence of an apocalyptic mood is most obviously visible in the politicisation of Islam, but also in the quasi-religious movements that feed on the confusion of identity — national, social, sexual and spiritual. Even an academic figure such as the psychologist and author of 12 Rules for Life Jordan Peterson is greeted as a secular messiah; his subtitle explains why: An Antidote to Chaos. Europeans, especially the young, yearn for an antidote to chaos, dimly aware of the spiritual vacuum created by the retreat of Christian forms of life and the political one created by disillusionment with the European idea.

On the eve of the Second World War, the émigré Austrian historian Erich (later Eric) Voegelin wrote a tract in Princeton on the roots of the Third Reich, entitled The Political Religions: “A religious consideration of National Socialism must begin on the basis that there is evil in the world; and that evil is not merely as negativity, as a deficient mode of being, but as a real substance and force acting in the world. A satanic substance, not only morally bad but religiously evil, can only be resisted by an equally strong, religiously good force. One cannot fight a satanic force with decency and humanity alone.” Another émigré from Vienna, Aurel Kolnai, entitled his analysis of the Nazi ideology The War Against the West. There is a war against the West going on today — and it is being fought out on multiple fronts. Why is it mainly conservatives who recognise the threats — yet are castigated when they try to resist? Western civilisation needs liberals to defend it too. Where are they? Why do liberals persist in seeing Donald Trump and other “populists” as the main threat to democracy? Are liberals doomed to repeat the mistake of Alexander Kerensky, the ill-starred leader of Russia’s Provisional Government in 1917, who saw “no enemies on the Left” and was overthrown by Lenin’s Bolsheviks? Why are liberals in Britain still suffering post-traumatic stress after the Brexit referendum, but have no objection to installing in Number Ten Downing Street the Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, an unapologetic anti-Semite who makes excuses for Putin’s poisonings?

Nor are liberals in the United States immune to these delusions. The next Democratic Party presidential candidate is quite likely to be even more post-American than Obama, and will get just as easy a ride from the mainstream media. He or she will quite likely win. If that were to happen, they would have no Kissingers in Foggy Bottom to keep their feet on the ground — and probably have no desire to do so. And were another 9/11 to happen, the West would look in vain to the American Republic for leadership. The Cold War presidents, from Truman to Reagan, alternated between liberals and conservatives, but the grand strategy evolved gradually. Now, when the problem of politics remains the limitation of righteousness, but the control of wickedness has become much more complex, and the West could do with the courage of a Washington, and the eloquence of a Lincoln, we are quite likely to find ourselves led by someone with the courage of a Clinton and the eloquence of a Carter. So next time you feel exasperated by the foibles of Donald Trump, just remember how much worse things could be.
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