It is no exaggeration to describe the Western left as living in a state of panic in these days of the mass invasion of Europe from the Islamic Middle East, jihadist violence on the Old Continent and now the New one, the nationalist risorgimenti in the member countries of the European Union, and the enthusiasm Americans are evincing for antiestablishment candidates for the presidency and especially for Donald Trump, who seems unable to insult any professional politician beyond the limits of the tolerance of the Republican grass roots. On a trip to Paris early last December, I bought a copy of Le Figaro in De Gaulle International Airport. As I had never regarded the paper as anything better than neoconservative, I was astonished (and pleased) to read two opinion columns describing Marine Le Pen and the Front National as the natural and inevitable response to the remoteness, self-absorption, greed, and cronyism of the French political establishment, which both writers seemed to suggest delenda est. While the left sees many of its proudest accomplishments and cherished ideals at risk from this revolt of the hoi polloi, its greatest fear is for the “open society” it has been resolutely constructing since 1945.
President Obama is manifestly an enemy of Christianity and a Muslim sympathizer, which goes a long way to explain his reaction to the attacks in Paris and afterward to the mass murder in San Bernardino: Protect the Muslim communities in Western countries as a first priority and worry about the native population later—except insofar as it is armed to protect itself. Yet more than the safety of Muslim immigrants is at stake for him, as well as for the New York Times, for Hillary Clinton, and for the American left generally, and that is the “open society”—the “global” or interchangeable society—in which people from everywhere move freely about anywhere in a broad, visa-free portion of the world, settle in whatever country they wish to, are received with open arms and no questions asked and for as long as it pleases them to do so, at leave to practice and even to impose their national customs and religions among and upon the native populations; where all cultures are considered equal and the peoples of every country friends and neighbors, mon semblable, mon frère: a rainbow world of trust and sharing, where everyone is blind to the kind of distinctions liberals believe are irrational and dangerous, and only the people who dissent from their glorious vision are shunned and proscribed.
This open society—this open world—was always a human impossibility, a fact that has dawned upon the large mass of people who hitherto paid scant attention to the project of their betters but are now alert and beginning to stir. There is much that was good about the open society, but more that was worse, and we shall all be the better off when it is significantly narrowed to conform with the concept of the particularity, integrity, and privacy of the nation-state it has been busy destroying.
Chilton Williamson, Jr., was the senior editor for books for Chronicles since 1989, and was appointed as editor beginning June 1, 2015. He is the author of several books, including Mexico Way, The Education of Hector Villa, The Hundredth Meridian, The Immigration Mystique, The Conservative Bookshelf, and After Tocqueville: The Promise and Failure of Democracy. His latest book, Jerusalem, Jerusalem (Chronicles Press), released in 2017.