Unraveling of Post-1989 Order – The Specter Haunting Europe


The unraveling of the post–Cold War liberal order is manifested by the West’s declining influence in international politics; the waning attraction of liberal democracy; and the maturing tensions within liberal democratic regimes, analyst Ivan Krastev writes in the latest issue of The Journal of Democracy, published by the National Endowment for Democracy:

This unraveling renders problematic the European project of trying to extend democracy beyond the nation-state—a project that has enhanced the appeal of illiberal democracy, defined by majoritarian regimes in which the majority transforms the state into its own private possession. These regimes have become an answer to the pressures of a world where popular will is the only source of political legitimacy, and global markets are the only source of economic growth. Their rise portends devastating and far-reaching consequences throughout Europe.

One might argue that the rise of such majoritarian (and hence illiberal) regimes is an inevitable result of the backlash against globalization, Krastev adds. And one may question how stable these regimes will prove to be. But one thing is clear: The European project as we know it cannot long survive in an environment dominated by populist governments. The critical question, then, is who has more staying power, the EU or these regimes?


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