Thursday, February 25, 2010

John Kay and the Shockwaves of the Collapse of Socialism

About two weeks ago I wrote an article for OrdemLivre.org (in Portuguese) about an intriguing hypothesis by John Kay that appeared in an article he wrote for the Financial Times. Here's a translation of one of the most important passages in my article, also an interpretation of Kay's idea:

Kay argues that the changes in European political thinking are one of the main factors responsible for the strengthening of the European Union. He suggests that the deideologization of the European political speech made the old divisions between socialists and their opponents irrelevant, opening space in Europe for healthy political competition based on meritocracy and practical questions of regional interest. In other words, the collapse of socialism removed the obstacles to constructive dialogue in European politics.

Ironically, the effect on American politics has been exactly the opposite. The collapse of socialism brought down one of the most important factors of political cohesion in the country. The fight against communist and national-socialist totalitarianism served to amalgamate different ideologies in the US for almost a century, keeping left and right extremists at the margin of society and enabling a positive interchange between democrats and republicans. ... The disappearance of this unifying element however led to the rise of extremist activists and intellectuals that before were excluded from the political debate.

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