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Anne Applebaum’s Pride and Prejudice

This is not a book, but rather an Atlantic essay puffed into a $25 sale item with grotesquely large type and comically wide margins. The typography offends the eye almost as much as the content offends the mind. It is a barely coherent rant against ex-friends and political opponents. It is a tantrum from a liberal who expected a univeralist millennium after the fall of Communism and discovered to her horror that national identity still matters.

Half a century of Nazi and Communist occupation nearly crushed the spirit of the nations of Eastern Europe; a decade ago they approached the point of no return for demographic extinction. The new nationalists who now govern Hungary and Poland, the objects of Applebaum’s direst imprecations, have rebuilt vibrant economies, raised birth rates, and established viable democracies out of nearly-ruined Soviet colonies. Despite their missteps—which are frequent and sometimes grave—they have restored hope for the future to lands which not long ago seemed like a cemetary of the human spirit.

Anne Applebaum’s list of little Hitlers includes some ex-friends who came to her 1999 New Year’s Eve party in Poland, when her husband Radek Sikorski was a foreign ministry official, as well as former acquaintances like British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The renegade party guests somehow morphed from democracy activists into Nazis, because they suffer from “authoritarian personalities,” Applebaum avers. Also on her list are “the old Hungarian right, the Spanish right, the French right, the Italian right, and, with differences, the British right and the American right, too.” It is hard to separate Applebaum’s ideological rancor at friends who moved away from the liberal dogmas of 1989 and her personal disappointment over her husband’s career.

Boris Johnson a crypto-fascist? Who but the overwrought Ms. Applebaum noticed! She would have a pint at the pub with Johnson when she was Deputy Editor of the Spectator and he was Mayor of London, but since then she has discovered that the Prime Minister is a liar, a home-wrecking philanderer, and a budding authoritarian due to Applebaum’s opposition to Brexit. She claims that the rising fascists of the British Isles duped their compatriots into voting Leave by lying about money that might be saved for the National Health Service.

This account of Brexit, like everything else in the book, is utterly mendacious. Whatever one thinks of the “Leave” party’s case, Britain faced an authentic crisis over European Community-mandated immigration. Applebaum does not mention that Britain was inundated by 300,000 Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants after those impoverished countries joined the EC in 2014, nor that Britain petitioned the EC in vain for relief from mass immigration. Democracy appeals to Applebaum only when people vote the way she thinks they should. In a textbook example of what William Empson called unintended irony, she champions the imperious, unelected bureaucracy of the European Community as the savior of democracy against alleged authoritarians who won a popular plebescite by a margin of 52 to 48 percent.

Leo Strauss ridiculed the sort of polemical caricature he dubbed reductio ad Hitlerum, and if it is possible to write a caricature of a caricature, Applebaum has managed it. She trots out Hannah Arendt’s idea of the “authoritarian personality,” that is a lonely individual who “without any other social ties to family, friends, comrades or even mere acquaintances, derives his sense of having a place in the world only from his belonging to a movement, his membership in the party.’” Along with Arendt, Applebaum quotes the Marxist critic Theodor Adorno, who claimed that a bias towards authoritarianism stemmed from such personality traits as repressed homosexuality. Whether one takes Arendt and Adorno seriously or not, when they used the term “authoritarian personality” they meant to reference actual supporters of Hitler and Stalin who murdered tens of millions of people.

Applebaum then substitutes the qualifier “illiberal” for “authoritarian,” expecting the reader to assume that they are the same thing. If that sounds incoherent, it is not my fault. What she means by an “illiberal” is someone who “wants to undermine courts in order to give himself more power.” This refers to Poland’s Law and Justice Party, which denied her husband Radek Sikorski a hoped-for ministerial position by the nefarious means of winning a popular election. The reader is expected to make the leap from Polish judicial reform to death camps.

Poland’s judicial reforms, the subject of endless tongue-clicking by the nation’s European Community neighbors, falls short of the ideal in statecraft. It was long overdue: The pre-1989 Communist government created and appointed a self-selecting judiciary which survived the fall of Communism largely intact, corrupt, insular, and hostile to democratic norms. Prior to reforms introduced by Poland’s governing Law and Justice Party starting in 2015, no checks and balances constrained Poland’s judiciary. As Pawel Dobrowolski and Matthew Tyrmand explain, “Judges recruit judges into the judiciary. Judges then elevate judges to higher positions in the judiciary. And judges are supposed to hold other judges accountable for their misdeeds. Unfortunately, they have been slow to react to cases of corruption both grand and petty in their own ranks.” No procedure then existed for the impeachment of corrupt judges, and Poland’s Supreme Court was unconscionably slow to act on evidence of judicial misbehavior.

America enjoys an independent judiciary, up to a point: Our most important judges are appointed by officials elected by the voters. Federal judges serve for life, and are not subject to direct political pressures, but the politicians who appoint them must answer to the voters. When judges arrogate unto themselves the role of legislators (or legislators abdicate responsibility to the judiciary), the question of who will appoint their successors commands the undivided attention of the electorate—as in the present US presidential election. The balance of powers among the branches of government works imperfectly, but it usually works. Nevertheless, it can be twisted for political purposes, and badly so. It does not bother Applebaum that senior officials of America’s FBI lied to FISA courts to obtain warrants to surveil the Trump campaign, and framed President Trump’s National Security Advisers in a perjury trap, or that Special Counsel Robert Mueller ran a two-year witch hunt against the president and his associates on the pretext of spurious allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

Poland’s present arrangement gives the government more sway over the judiciary than is the case in America, and overshot the mark in moving Poland closer to American-style checks and balances. Law and Justice’s reforms were abrupt and heavy-handed, and made all the worse by Poland’s Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro, who combined his post with that of chief prosecutor and exploited his double role to advance his own political agenda.

“Let me declare a personal interest,” Applebaum stated earlier this year in The Atlantic, where she is a staff writer. “I am married to a Polish opposition politician who is now a member of the European Parliament. He knows—we know—that politicized courts could, eventually, be used against us and our friends… politicized judges could… use fake evidence to lock up members of the political opposition.” But the political opposition was not locked up; it was free to contest the government’s agenda in last July’s presidential elections, which it lost by a narrow margin with heavy (68 percent) voter turnout. Poland’s reform addressed an urgent need in a clumsy and sometimes politically-tainted fashion, but it began with the voters’ mandate in free and fair elections and was subsequently ratified by the voters in another round of equally free and fair elections this year. The Polish government did what Franklin Roosevelt tried and failed to do, and what Joe Biden refuses to say he will not do: Pack the courts with judges it likes. That isn’t Montesquieu’s ideal of checks and balances, but neither is it Nazism.

Another of Applebaum’s alleged authoritarians is Hungary’s long-serving President Viktor Orbán, who won his last election with two-thirds of the popular vote. Without doubt, Orbán has used state finances to favor his political friends, especially in the media, but in the Internet age, his opponents have no difficulty promulgating their views. Orbán is wildly popular in large measure because he has been successful. Budapest, a drab backwater ten years ago, is now one of Europe’s most attractive cities, luring startups (including a large contingent of Israelis) with low costs, good infrastructure, and a vibrant culture, including the most buoyant Jewish life anywhere on the European continent. Orbán is less a modern party boss than a throwback to the old Dual Monarchy, except that he wheedles subsidies from Brussels instead of Vienna. European Community support amounts to about 4 percent of Hungary’s GDP.

The Polish government, in a clumsy effort to cultivate national pride, came close to outlawing public discussion of Polish collaborators during the Holocaust. But these are deviations from a form of nationalism that embraces Western civilization, religion, and family as the foundation of national life.

The principle bone of contention between Budapest and Brussels has been Orbán’s refusal to accept an assigned quota of Middle Eastern refugees, a stance which enjoys overwhelming popular support and helps explain Orbán’s huge electoral majority. According to a 2016 Pew Research Center poll, 82 percent of Hungarians believe that “refugees are a burden because they take our jobs and social benefits,” and 76 percent believed that “refugees will increase the likelihood of terrorism in our country.” The world’s wealthiest Hungarian, George Soros, prominently supports more immigration into Hungary, and this has made him Orbán’s chief political antagonist.

Applebaum claims that:

The propaganda in Hungary… insists that Soros is the chief instigator of a deliberate plot to replace white, Christian Europeans—and Hungarians in particular—with brown-skinned Muslims. These movements do not perceive migrants just as an economic burden or even a terrorist threat, but rather as an existential challenge to the nation itself. At various times, the Hungarian government has put Soros’ face on posters, on the floors of subway trains, and on leaflets, hoping that it will scare Hungarians into supporting the government.

To Applebaum that proves that Orbán is an anti-Semite, because Soros is of Jewish descent. The Orthodox rabbis of Budapest, who meet with Orbán weekly, don’t think so. Budapest is the only city remaining on the continent where a Jew can wear a kippa without fear (because there are very few Muslim immigrants). Soros is a special case. The Soros Foundations’ $400 million in outlays in his native land since 1989 are the equivalent in relative GDP of $60 billion in political spending in the United States. That figure does not include a $250 million donation to the Central European University, based since 1993 in Budapest. Soros is an issue because his giant footprint in Hungarian politics makes him an issue. It has nothing to do with his Jewish descent.

Applebaum doesn’t mention that Orbán, who befriended Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu twenty years ago, provides a reliable veto of anti-Israel resolutions within the European Community as well as the first European leader to establish a government office in Jerusalem. I met Orbán in 2018 and spoke at length with his adviser María Schmidt, whom Applebaum excoriates without mentioning that Mrs. Schmidt’s late husband was Jewish. Orbán and his circle represent a new kind of philo-Semite. Hungary and Israel are countries of similar population, but Israel has become a pocket superpower with the fastest-growing population in the industrial world while the ethnic Magyar population of Hungary is shrinking. Hungarian nationalists like Orbán and Schmidt view Israel as an exemplar, not an ally of convenience; they want to understand and emulate Israel’s success.

Centuries of invasions, occupations, and war left Eastern Europe with an ethnic checkerboard. Only half of Hungary’s pre-1914 population were Magyar; the rest were Poles, Ukrainians, Czechs, and other minorities. The 1920 Trianon Treaty stripped Hungary of two-thirds of its land and left half its population to languish as an ethnic minority among its neighbors. Hungary’s present population is just under 10 million, while 3.3 million Hungarians are dispersed in other countries. Poland’s situation is comparable, with a population of 38 million and a diaspora of 20 million, mainly due to voluntary emigration.

Hungary’s fertility rate fell to less than 1.3 during the 1990s (and even lower for the ethnic Magyar population, while Poland’s fell to 1.2). Emigration to wealthier EC countries stripped these countries of their population of child-bearing age. Polish and Hungarian nationalism confronts an existential threat, namely demographic and cultural extinction.

To some extent, the Poles and Hungarians whom Applebaum despises have come back from the brink. Fertility rates are higher thanks to generous incentives to families with children and emigration has begun to reverse. Their concern for Western civilization and their national cultures is not sentimental demagoguery but rather an assertion of the desire to endure. For the struggling nations of Eastern Europe, the European Community is a hospice alleviating a slow, sad death agony. To claim that the unelected bureaucrats of Brussels are champions of democracy against the elected governments of “illiberal” Poland or Hungary is chutzpah.

Often the nationalists are clumsy. Sometimes they are offensive. In an essay for Tablet Magazine, I chided the Hungarian authorities for including in the mandatory high school curriculum nationalist writers of the 1920s and 1930s who supported the Nazis and propagated anti-Semitism. The Polish government, in a clumsy effort to cultivate national pride, came close to outlawing public discussion of Polish collaborators during the Holocaust. But these are deviations from a form of nationalism that embraces Western civilization, religion, and family as the foundation of national life. They look to the United States for leadership and, in many cases, to Israel for inspiration. For all their failings, they offer a hope for national revival. Countries who a decade ago stood at a demographic point of no return show signs of recuperation. They don’t need Ms. Applebaum to tell them how to restore their regimes.

Reader Discussion

Law & Liberty welcomes civil and lively discussion of its articles. Abusive comments will not be tolerated. We reserve the right to delete comments - or ban users - without notification or explanation.

on October 15, 2020 at 07:44:55 am

With respect, David Goldman's article illustrates Anne Applebaum's thesis. Romania and Bulgaria did not join the EC in 2014 (the EC no longer existed), rather they joined the EU in 2007. Moreover, Britain did not petition the EC for relief from mass immigration. What actually happened was that in 2004 much of Eastern Europe joined the EU, and because of the dangers of mass immigration, almost all pre-existing EU countries took advantage of the so-called 'transitional' option to limit internal EU immigration for a further seven years, to allow further convergence between the EU economies. But Britain (& Ireland & Sweden) chose not to, with the consequence that Britain experienced vast immigration, to the great dismay and resentment of large tranches of the pre-existing population. But that was a British decision.
Anne Applebaum's complaint is that nationalist politicians dishonestly blame international organisations like the EU for domestic problems and domestic decisions, so fuelling further nationalism. Her further complaint is that such politicians also fuel dishonesty: for example, she recounts how Boris Johnson told her that no serious person supported Brexit, yet nonetheless he proceeded to do so for personal advantage. It does not require vast historical knowledge to be reminded by these developments of the 1930s, nor does it require much knowledge of current events to know why a man such as Orban might identify with a man like Netanyahu.
Anne Applebaum's concerns may be misplaced, but I do not think David Goldman has alleviated them.

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Terence Kealey
on October 15, 2020 at 15:51:16 pm

Formally Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU in 2007 but were not granted full rights until Jan. 1, 2014, when their citizens were free to seek employment in Britain, and Britain was inundated. This was the big issue in Brexit, and Applebaum doesn't bother to mention it. What this has to do with the 1930s escapes me. Where are the jackboots, the beatings, the political murders, the torchlight parades, the political prisoners, the street fighting?

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David Goldman
on October 15, 2020 at 18:07:17 pm

Terence Kealey has got the facts right about East European immigration into the UK after 2004. The first batch of former communist countries joining the EU in 2004 accounted for the bulk of the population from post-communist Europe which eventually became part of the EU. It is true that Bulgaria and Romania joined later, but they were small (in terms of population) countries. The Eastern European countries did not enjoy the right of free movement of labour within the EU immediately on accession. For the 2004 bunch, the UK, and a couple of smaller EU nations, allowed free movement immediately upon accession. The UK was enjoying high rates of growth and free movement, a tool for liberalising the labour market, enjoyed bi-partisan support. It was a Thatcher appointee to the European Commission, Leon Brittan, who could be considered an architect of the policy of free movement of labour within the EU.
There was high demand for workers and skill shortage was alleviated by large numbers of workers coming from new members of the EU. They came in large numbers, especially from Poland, until suddenly the economy went into reverse gear due to the credit crunch. It is then, when net immigration from Eastern Europe had slowed down, that the presence of Eastern Europeans began to be noticed by the pre-existing population. Although these new immigrants from Eastern Europe were invariably employed and many were highly skilled, there was political opportunity for fanning discord. Boris did not join the anti-EU brigade exploiting the immigration issue.
It was a British decision, as Kealey points out, to ignore the transition period for the implementation of free movement of labour for the first batch of accession countries joining in 2004. It was also a British decision not to avail of restrictions on claims for certain welfare-state benefits, restrictions which were allowed under EU rules until the job seeker had been in the country for a period. In any event, the Eastern European immigrants entering the country upon accession to the EU remained net contributors to the economy -- they were of working age and they invariably worked and paid more taxes than they took out in benefits in kind, education for their children and use of the National Health Service. Boris Johnson remained supportive of the EU even when the likes of Nigel Farage were mining opportunities for gaining votes on anti-EU immigration slogans. It was Boris Johnson who eulogised Leon Brittan at the latter's funeral in early 2015 for his contribution to the EU policy of free movement of labour.
Boris' sudden conversion to the Brexit side is puzzling. His willingness to associate with groups exploiting the immigration issue was disturbing. Some of these groups distorted the evidence during the 2016 referendum by putting up billboards with pictures implying that millions of non-EU citizens were poised to enter Britain using the free movement right (a right which did not extend to non-EU nationals!) does raise a question mark about his judgement. Anne Applebaum may have used a stronger language, but she is not wrong in her view that we should worry about his probity. I do agree that Boris is not in the same league as Orban in Hungary or Duda in Poland. They worry me more.

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Curious
on October 15, 2020 at 14:06:37 pm

Applebaum's book is doubly unfortunate in that she is capable of intelligent work, as her books on the Ukrainian terror famine and the Gulags demonstrate.

Mr. Goldman correctly points out the problems with the Polish judiciary that the current Law and Justice government's reforms are meant to address. He omits discussion of how serious the corruption was under the Civic Platform government in which her husband was a prominent member. The courts routinely acted to suppress cases against former communist officials, including those accused of torture and murder of dissidents. The Civic Platform government actively suppressed academic research on topics they didn't like (e.g., a political biography of former president Walesa was quashed), arrested and harassed journalists, manipulate local election results, including confiscating (uncounted) ballots. That is on top of the evident financial corruption that enriched many prominent leaders and supporters of Civic Platform. On top of all that, Sikorski actually resigned from the parliament after he was caught on tape saying some very embarrassing and vulgar things in a plush Warsaw restaurant. Many American conservatives seem to have turned a blind eye to all of this, perhaps preferring to remember the "good ol' Sikorski" from National Review days. After losing to Law and Justice, Civic Platform decided to follow the Democratic party playbook and move hard to the left and use the media and the EU to undo the will of the voters. Applebaum's book needs to be seen as another cynical effort to poison the well by a group of powerful people dismayed at the voters for not recognizing their inherent superiority. For all its faults, the Law and Justice government has been far more democratic than its predecessor. Whatever Applebaum and her husband's party now represent, it is neither democracy nor rule of law.

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John Radzilowski
on October 15, 2020 at 14:27:21 pm

... a man such as Orban

... a man like Netanyahu

And this type of darkly suggestive question begging coupled with an explicit reference to the "developments of the 1930s" - equal in both its question begging and obviously its dark, suggestive quality as well.

Brussels and EU millennium types, and similar others who worry over Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic, their desire to preserve a responsible, grounded, humane sovereignty based in "Western civilization, religion, and family as the foundation of national life," and who do so with such dark, hyperbolic, prejudicial intonations, are a naive and awkward species - at best. Like gooney birds their wouldbe arguments seem incapable of either taking off or landing with grace.

Goldman's argument is balanced and sound. Two key summary statements:

"To claim that the unelected bureaucrats of Brussels are champions of democracy against the elected governments of “illiberal” Poland or Hungary is chutzpah."

That the obviousness of this, at least as something of a cornerstone of understanding, escapes the attention of patronizing elites is telling, is revealing of their power seeking and hubris. Probably of a lack of self-awareness as well.

"They look to the United States for leadership and, in many cases, to Israel for inspiration."

And so they do. And the need for that leadership and inspiration and comity, given all the push and pull of power dynamics at domestic and inter-national levels, should not be undervalued, should be fully assessed and appreciated for the support it gives to unpretentious human dignity, to sovereignty at the individual human level and the national level both.

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Michael Bond
on October 15, 2020 at 16:44:59 pm

Bravo, a wonderful review and essay, David. That renewal is possible is Israel’s gift to the world. Hungary and Poland will be a model for that continent. It is interesting that their cultures are not based on the Latin-derived languages of Rome, but on languages that bridge the gap between East and West. The last gasp of the Roman Empire let the barbarians into their territory and they will spend centuries sorting it out. Too bad they won’t get any barbarian Gothic Cathedrals out of it though. More likely, what cultural icons that remain will be torched. Goodbye free speech, welcome sharia.

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Joan
on October 15, 2020 at 18:53:38 pm

". . .due to his [Boris Johnson's] opposition to Brexit."
Do you mean "due to her [Appelbaum's] opposition to Brexit?"

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ap
on October 16, 2020 at 03:44:52 am

I am Jewish, and I am fed up to here with people accusing others of "anti-semitism" for opposing George Soros. Not only has Soros shown little affinity for his Jewish heritage but has funded BDS organizations whose purpose is to delegitimize Israel.

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GARY ROSEN
on October 16, 2020 at 08:28:57 am

I'm not sure David Goldman or his defenders have represented his critics' views (as in these comments) accurately. Law and Liberty's own subtitle for the piece (see the email) read: "Eastern European leaders have t
I'm not sure David Goldman or his defenders have represented, in this comment trail, their critics accurately. Law and Liberty's subtitle for the piece (see the email) read: "Eastern European leaders have not lived out Montesquieu's ideals of checks and balances, but their actions fall far short of Nazism." I think David Goldman's critics wrote in the spirit of that subtitle.

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Terence Kealey
on October 16, 2020 at 09:45:33 am

Sure. But if so, where have the ellipses — that amount to nothing less than jumping to conclusory hyperventilating — been fleshed out? Goldman offers several examples of this wild and alarming error.

Throughout the NeverTrump years — a phenomenon overwhelmingly led by Jewish Americans living inside the left gone far left bubble (see the recent work of Zack Goldberg in The Tablet, cited by Caroline Glick, for example) of the Northeast, US — we see nothing but kvetching over Trump’s blunt style, replete with no substance. And like Anne, a self-condemning embrace of political liars, haters, seditionists and even traitors.

We are living through a time where a spoof or farce like “The Leaping Nuns of Norwich” ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TLLEAyyXxs) has turned ugly and evil because they dance to a music only the mystics can hear.

I’ve been listening extremely closely for many many months, as well as episodically through the last four years, and yet these same apostates carry on, heedless of manure piling up like a horse and buggy New York City street. (Mark Levin and Ben Shapiro are lonely exceptions.)

My love for the American Jewish intellectual has died. Most “savants” are moronic rubes or Randian villains or social media social metaphysicians throttled by confirmation bias and groupthink. And impervious to the light seen by the Lamp of Experience. Hence, my deep disappointment in Anne Applebaum.

The abandonment of the wisdom to accept and acknowledge the limits of the data on topics of controversy first appeared in the 2000s, as Global Warming science descended into risible political pablum (see climatologist Judith Curry’s 10 year retrospective on Climategate published at her web site in November 2019). That social analysis, education turned into indoctrination, and politics turned into swamps of unreason have all joined the narcissistic rage to parade. And pretty soon you have the descent of an entire civilisation going to waste, as seen since last year or since last summer. Or the past decade, depending on the realm of public life we’re talking about.

Or Terence Kealey, can you define the cleft notes that define this unheard music? The data that defines these reportedly dangerous alarms, the conclusory gaps, the ellipses of arguments? I’m skeptic all.

Arm chair assertions like yours are all I’ve seen or heard,

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Orson Olson
on October 16, 2020 at 11:56:26 am

Another outstanding essay by Goldman. Let's have lots more of this man, he fights.
As for Appelbaum, she is an entirely predictable Leftist and has been notably so since she began her her long association with the Washington Post, which is now the anti-Trump, anti-Orban, anti-nationalism, anti-patriotism printing press of the world's richest anti-American.

Appelbaum on politics, especially international affairs, is a one-woman source of intellectual holodomor.

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paladin
on October 16, 2020 at 12:02:48 pm

Sorry for the uncorrected typo: it's Applebaum.

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paladin
on October 21, 2020 at 14:19:44 pm

This comment is remarkably offbase, as was Goldman's essay. Applebaum has spent her life as an anti-communist and on the "center-right." She has watched in horror at the rise of authoritarian and even collectivist populism and the colonization of politics by openly anti-liberty movements. Paladin might try to read one of her books, say, her pioneering study of the Gulag (the most important such study ever written) or her book "Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956" or "Red Famine" before slinging around childish accusations of "leftism."

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Tom
on October 22, 2020 at 07:34:15 am

Applebaum is center-left and decidedly so. She writes for Jeffery Goldberg's The Atlantic. Goldberg's Atlantic was the political disinformation rag that recently initiated the hit piece alleging Trump dissed Americans who fought and died in Europe during WWII. Referencing that libel and Goldberg specifically a star NY Post reporter indicated the following:

"BACKGROUND: The author of ‘The Atlantic’s’ discredited hit piece on Trump was raised by socialist parents who sent him to socialist camps in the Catskills. Jeffrey Goldberg ... later worked for a socialist weekly newspaper in New York.”

Applebaum has always been center-left. Her works on the Soviet gulags and their state sponsored famine in the Ukraine are works of history and she does a commendable job indeed. However this current work is commentary/opinion concerning current events, concerning forms and directions of populism, democracy and alleged authoritarian impulses. Very different from works of history. Her views are truncated, myopic and in essence even obtuse. That is not too strong an assessment.

Further, when you say, "She has watched in horror at the rise of authoritarian and even collectivist populism and the colonization of politics by openly anti-liberty movements." you are merely begging the question and nothing more, begging the question in a rather grandiloquent manner (authoritarian and collectivist populism? oh bother) but that is all you're doing.

Finally, Goldman's review is of a piece with John O'Sullivan's equally astute review, over at CRB (Claremont Review of Books). O'Sullivan notes:

"... the voters have proved wiser than the E.U. leaders and Ms. Applebaum. For the refugees have not stopped coming; there’s an Italian political crisis over the latest surge of migrants as I write; European courts are still trying to weaken Hungary’s border restrictions; and Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan has not only threatened to allow refugees to cross the border into Europe if his wishes are thwarted but has also demonstrated his power to do so by ordering Turkish police to knock down fences at the Greek border. As long as people continue to see these things as threats, they’ll vote to prevent them."

Stuff like that has nothing to do with authoritarianism or "collectivist populism". If you and Applebaum cannot understand that then you are indeed obtuse.

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Michael Bond
on October 17, 2020 at 10:40:34 am

Those such as Terence Kealey and (not so) "curious" who selectively worry over the accumulation of power at a certain broad jurisdictional level - the level of the nation-state - are far too often self-blinkered and self-blinded to the accumulation of unchecked or inadequately checked power at another level - the transnational, the multinational, the international level. Corruption within multinational corporations, international organizations ranging from the U.N. to such as the ICC that claim a vast legal purview, obviously the EU political/bureaucratic behemoth, and of course many, many others, whether well known or flying under the radar - all that should be of paramount concern as well. The once (still?) admired U.N., for example, has been involved in sex- and general human-trafficking at times. And that is to allude to only one area of corruption in one such organization.

Power can, and does, corrupt at all levels. Locally (school boards), regionally (states, territories), nationally, and again various inter- and trans-national orientations. And why be less concerned when it comes to the multifarious forms of corruption that can occur at the inter-national level? This is not 1946, this is seventy-five years later. We need to be more clear-eyed and focused on the present and the future rather than hurtling forward while looking in the rear-view mirror.

Another varied and sundry aggregate of corruptions are those that have occurred under the globalization banner, until recently, like the U.N. in the immediate aftermath of WWII, often thought of as a benign general conception or umbrella of ideas and praxis wherein multiculturalism (now intersectionality) can be exploited for the enjoyment and benefit of one and all. It's a small, small - and happy, happy - world! Relax, be happy!

Well, whoda thought - globalization has a dark side as well. And dark, if perhaps in a more insidious and pernicious sense than most other forms, it is. Witness for the prosecution: a deep dive into it all by the stellar and remarkable Sundance over at The Last Refuge, aka The Conservative Treehouse: Understanding What Foreign Governments are Purchasing From The Bidens – There are Trillions at Stake….

And why are the not so "curious" types content to elide notice of or even be dismissive of vast forms of corruption in this area? Political/ideological occlusions are likely the greatest source of such self-blindings. None so blind as the willfully blind and the habitually blind.

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Michael Bond
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