I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Home Uncategorized The Right People

The Right People

Frank Callanan
Twilight of Democracy: The Failure of Politics and the Parting of Friends, by Anne Applebaum, Allen Lane, 224 pp, £16.99, ISBN: 978-0241419717 After Europe, by Ivan Krastev, University of Pennsylvania Press, 136 pp, £15.99, ISBN: 9780812252422 Anne Applebaum is a political writer, academic and historian. She has now added to her important works on aspects of Stalinism in Russia and eastern Europe a graceful and intelligent memoir that is highly entertaining in a grim way and is brilliantly of this moment. It opens with a party in a remote manor house in northwest Poland on New Year’s Eve of 1999 thrown by her and her husband, Radek Sikorski, who was to be foreign minister of the country in the government led by Civic Platform. “You could have called the majority of us, roughly, in the general category of what Poles call the right – the conservatives, the anti-Communists. But at that moment in history, you might have called most of us liberals. Free-market liberals, classic liberals, maybe Thatcherites.” Half the people at the party no longer speak to the other half. Some, like Applebaum and Sikorski, “continued to support the pro-European, pro-rule-of-law, pro-market centre right. We remained in political parties that aligned, more or less, with European Christian Democrats, with the Liberal parties of France and the Netherlands, and with the Republican Party of John McCain.” That minute cartography of an overdetermined Atlanticist liberal right is underscored by her adding “some of my guests consider themselves centre-left”. The rest have sheared off into support for Law and Justice in Poland. That is “the parting of friends”. Her description of the impact of the coming to power of Law and Justice in Poland is devastating in its sobriety. She is pitiless on the betrayal of the rule of law by her Law and Justice-vaunting ex-friends. One of the things she picks up on both in Poland and in the Hungary of Viktor Orbán is the sense of thwarted ambition of those who had supported the democratic revolutions, and whose personal disappointments took opportunistic or ideological nationalist turns. That in turn connected with the resentment of liberal meritocracy as socially unjust and anti-national, which struck deep roots in post-communist Poland. The relentless spawning of governmentally-sponsored conspiracy theories concerning the 2010 crash in which Lech Kaczynski, brother of Jaroslaw, the surviving twin hegemon of Law and Justice, perished when the plane in which…

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