Talking almost exclusively with one another, none of them has explained why the type of politics they represent – in which the chief function of government is adapting to the imperatives of globalisation – has been rejected by so many in democratic countries. If all of humankind yearns for the post-Cold War regime that existed in Western countries, why have voters in these countries turned to extreme parties?
Invoking Russian meddling and the machinations of big data companies denies the origins of this shift in the world to which these liberals long to return. Undoubtedly there has been covert interference in democratic elections in a number of cases. What such interference cannot explain is the scale and depth of popular discontent and its source in the era that has now ended.
The recent age of progress, whose passing liberals mourn, included unending war in Afghanistan, a European migrant crisis rendered intractable by anarchy in countries where Western intervention destroyed the state, a global financial crash and decades of stagnant or falling living standards for swathes of the population in many Western countries. Unfolding disasters such as the American opioid epidemic and attendant fall in life expectancy have their roots in the corporate predation and ravaging of communities that occurred under the regime over which liberals of one kind or another presided. But they can comprehend the disorder of the present only on the basis that they had no part in creating it. They continue to believe their hegemony was a reflection of their superior rationality. The current hiatus can only be a passing spasm of unreason and the prelude to a state of normalcy returning in which they are once again in charge.