Fighting Unreason with Reason
Welcome back to Fighting Unreason with Reason. This month, I take a look at the larger implications of both the Russia/Ukraine conflict and France’s presidential election.
FINDING REASON IN UNREASONABLE TIMES: The Threat of Autocracy
Like most of the world, I’ve spent a good deal of the last few months watching Russia lay siege to Ukraine with a horrible dread. Not only do I fear the conflict has the potential to incite a large-scale global conflict, but I worry it illustrates a larger and more significant global battle—one that pits the ascendant model of 21st-century autocracy in direct opposition to the liberal democratic model of an open free society that millions died defending in the 20th century.
THE ROAD TO REASON
I recently stopped by the Rethinking Politics Podcast and had a wonderful, in-depth conversation about Enlightenment and anti-Enlightenment principles. Brad, Dan, and I spent a good deal of time discussing the role that faith plays in our lives—and how it should or shouldn’t shape public policy.
You can listen to the episode here.
NOTES FROM THE EXHAUSTED MAJORITY
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Sunday’s run-off election in France, because it symbolizes the battle between different models of democracy—the globalist open liberal approach of the traditional French establishment versus the reactionary far-fight illiberal model gaining currency worldwide.
Though centrist Emmanuel Macron clinched the runoff election, becoming the first French president to be reelected in two decades, 40 percent of the country still voted for far-right candidate Marine Le Pen. Many French citizens have been dissatisfied with Macron’s leadership these last few years, resulting in some looking for Le Pen to come in and shake things up. The irony is that the French economy has bounced back robustly with higher economic growth than in the US. Moreover, French unemployment is at a 30-year-low.
But in the populist and nationalist wave of the 21st century, data and facts seem to matter little to voters. In many ways, Le Pen’s rise in popularity mirrors Trump’s ascension in 2016—and is just as dangerous.
Like Trump, Le Pen has praised world leaders with autocratic tendencies, including Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Not exactly the bedfellows you’re looking for if you’re a fan of democracy. Further, her campaign has been financed by Russian money, which few seem to question.
Macron was able to edge out Le Pen this time, but the election results are still a clear referendum that far-right ideologies within Europe are here to stay.
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