Editorials

German Shock

The liberal faith in the power of incantation is but one of many ways in which liberalism reveals its essentially religious nature.  Following the politically complex Dutch elections and the relatively poor showing of the Front National in the French ones last spring, Western liberals were in a hurry to suggest that “populism” in Europe had peaked, and even that the “populist wave” had been arrested across Europe, choosing deliberately to read into both events what clearly wasn’t there.  Curiously, the German elections in September evoked the opposite response among German, other European, and American liberals to Chancellor Merkel’s suddenly weakened government and to the inclusion of Alternative for Germany (AfD) for the first time in the Reichstag, after the party won 12.6 percent of the vote.  According to their view, this victory for “the far right” presaged the return of nationalism, antisemitism, and possibly Hitlerism to Germany after more than seven decades of benign democratic government and tolerant liberal society, causing some German Jews to begin making plans to emigrate to Israel.

The liberal response was overwrought emotionally and unrealistic politically.  Doubtless there are antisemites in AfD.  Doubtless also some can be found in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour, in other European parties, and in the two major American ones as well.  (Certainly,...

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