‘Orderism’ – The New Ideology of the New Cold War?


In its heyday, Communism claimed that capitalism had betrayed the worker. So what should we make of Moscow’s new battle cry, that democracy has betrayed the voter? analyst Jochen Bittner writes for The New York Times:

It’s a worldview that has become increasingly clear through the era of Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, via a mosaic of public political statements, off-the-record conversations with academics and intelligence insights. Let’s call it “orderism.”

Orderism has started to challenge democracy in many parts of the world — Turkey, Poland, the Philippines. But Mr. Putin’s Russia believes it holds the copyright on this formula, and sees it as the sharp end of the wedge it is trying to drive among the nations of the West. The ideology’s basic political premise is that liberal democracy and international law have not lived up to their promise. Instead of creating stability, they have produced inequality and chaos. The secular religion worshiped in the Western parliaments was globalization (or, in the European Union’s case, Europeanization). These beliefs, according to the orderists, overlooked the downsides.

The Russian president has made no secret of his desire to weaken the West, his belief that the U.S. and its European allies have conspired against Russian interests in Georgia, Ukraine, Libya and Syria, and sees a restoration of Russian global prestige at the expense of the West as paramount, CNN reports.

Undercutting America’s political system and thereby impeaching its ability to judge others would further that goal in Russian eyes.

“It is very consistent with a Russian approach,” said Fiona Hill of the Brookings Institution, who co-authored the book “Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin.”

American policy in Central and Eastern Europe since the Cold War ended has helped to create stability, prosperity, moderate politics and ethnic accommodation in countries that have rarely known them, argues Columbia University’s Stephen Sestanovich (right), a board member of the National Endowment for Democracy. These are remarkable achievements. It would be crazy to put them at risk, he writes for The New York Times.

In the run-up to World War II, the United States did little to engage, as politicians argued that European problems were not our concern, that dangerous fascist and communist ideologies did not affect us, and that our Depression-era focus needed to be nation-building at home, notes Michael McFaul, director of Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and a former Reagan-Fascell fellow at the NED.

It is no coincidence that our allies in Europe and Asia are also democracies, he writes for The Washington Post:

Their commitment to human rights and democratic governance means that we stand together in pushing back on autocratic states and anti-democratic movements….. But for the millions of people fighting for democracy and human rights around the world who do, an alliance that stands together to defend and advance these values helps their cause.

Part of the difficulty in dealing with orderism is that it is ideological without being an ideology. It is mercurial, pragmatic and cynical; its meaning and values change to fit the circumstances, adds Bittner, a political editor for the weekly newspaper Die Zeit:

Yet, in tackling today’s orderism, there is one lesson the West can draw from yesterday’s fight against Communism. Western leaders must respond to criticisms of liberal democracy, not simply reject them as the product of an insidious, anti-liberal worldview. If Franklin D. Roosevelt and Western Europe’s postwar leaders had dismissed calls for stronger welfare states as Communist-inspired, they would have invited revolution. Instead, they built progressive state institutions that drained the appeal of anti-liberalism.

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