Someone has cut the ropes, and we are adrift on a strange, sinister, powerful current towards an unknown destination which it might be better never to reach at all. The liberal democracies have exhausted their form of government, which is increasingly using democracy to reject liberalism, but in an angry and impatient way. This, no doubt, is due to the policies pursued by our existing rulers for 50 years. But I do not think that will make the experience any more comfortable. Anger and contempt for your opponents are poor foundations for civilised government.

There is little we can now do to change this fate. It would be like paddling with your hands to fight the force of the Gulf Stream. Maybe Mr Trump will turn out to have been kidding us. Maybe he will surround himself with advisers of brilliance and subtlety, who will prove to have mastered the problems of reintroducing protection in a world governed by open borders and increasingly dominated by China. Maybe all that stuff about jailing his opponent was just talk. Maybe, despite all those years of, er, locker-room behaviour Mr Trump will turn out after all to be a Christian gentleman in office upholding the ancient virtues. I do hope so. But forgive me if I decline to be optimistic.