Monday, November 9, 2009

Twenty years ago, the gates of the Berlin Wall swung open, and that year countries across eastern Europe rejected their Soviet governments, ending the Cold War. Naturally, there's a lot of hubbub about this today, with various people offering various reasons for why things turned out the way they did.

Ross Douthat has an interesting article in the New York Times today, saying that the West is having difficulty understanding the present age without the existence of a looming existential threat. Agreeing with Francis Fukuyama's "End of History" thesis, he contends that "nobody seems quite willing to believe it. Instead, we keep returning to the idea that liberal society is just as vulnerable as it was before the Berlin Wall came down." So, we invent crises:

On the right, pundits and politicians have cultivated a persistent cold-war-style alarmism about our foreign enemies — Vladimir Putin one week, Hugo Chavez the next, Kim Jong-il the week after that.

On the left, there’s an enduring fascination with the pseudo-Marxist vision of global capitalism as an enormous Ponzi scheme, destined to be undone by peak oil, climate change, or the next financial bubble.


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