Defending democracy from ‘identitarian onslaught’


Europe is facing a threat “greater than any since the 1930s: a challenge to liberal democracy and its values,” according to 30 leading European intellectuals.

“In response to the nationalist and identitarian onslaught, we must rediscover the spirit of activism or accept that resentment and hatred will surround and submerge us. Urgently, we need to sound the alarm against these arsonists of soul and spirit who, from Paris to Rome, with stops along the way in Barcelona, Budapest, Dresden, Vienna and Warsaw, want to make a bonfire of our freedoms,” say  and 25 others, including  Svetlana Alexievich (Minsk), Anne Applebaum (Warsaw – a board member of the National Endowment for Democracy), David Grossman (Jerusalem), Ágnes Heller (Budapest), Ismaïl Kadaré (Tirana), Adam Michnik (Warsaw), Herta Müller (Berlin), and Rob Riemen (Amsterdam).

Europe “has been abandoned by the two great allies who in the previous century twice saved it from suicide; one across the Channel and the other across the Atlantic,” adds the manifesto, drafted by Lévy. “The continent is vulnerable to the increasingly brazen meddling of the occupant of the Kremlin. Europe as an idea is falling apart before our eyes. … We must now fight for the idea of Europe or see it perish beneath the waves of populism.”

“In this strange defeat of ‘Europe’ that looms on the horizon; this new crisis of the European conscience that promises to tear down everything that made our societies great, honourable, and prosperous, there is a challenge greater than any since the 1930s: a challenge to liberal democracy and its values,” the signatories contend. RTWT

The bond that binds the West is freedom — the cry of revolutions on both sides of the Atlantic, Roger Cohen notes in the New York Times.


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