She introduces the Polish brothers Jacek and Jaroslaw Kurski, who marched with the dissident labor union Solidarity within the 1980s. After the Soviet empire dissolved, Jaroslaw stored the liberal religion and now edits a significant opposition newspaper, however Jacek connected with Law and Justice and have become the director of Polish state tv and “chief ideologist of the would-be one-party state.” In Jacek, Applebaum diagnoses a poisonous sense of entitlement, a conviction that he had not been aptly rewarded for standing as much as Communism.
“Resentment, envy and above all the belief that the ‘system’ is unfair — not just to the country, but to you — these are important sentiments among the nativist ideologues of the Polish right, so much so that it is not easy to pick apart their personal and political motives.”
A recurring downside on this e book is that many of the clercs refuse to speak to Applebaum, leaving her depending on the general public report and the knowledge of mutual acquaintances. But she makes one of the best of what she’s obtained. She is most certain-footed when appraising intellectuals who’ve lived in, and escaped, the Soviet orbit. From Poland, she strikes on to Hungary, then to Britain and eventually to Trump’s United States, with detours to Spain and Greece, in pursuit of the fallen intellectuals.
She identifies layers of disenchantment: nostalgia for the ethical function of the Cold War, disappointment with meritocracy, the attraction of conspiracy theories (usually involving George Soros, the Hungarian-American and, not by the way, Jewish billionaire). She provides that a part of the reply lies within the “cantankerous nature of modern discourse itself,” the combined blessing of the web, which has disadvantaged us of a shared narrative and diminished the accountable media elite that used to filter out conspiracy theories and mood partisan passions. This is hardly an unique criticism, however no much less true for that.
“As polarization increases, the employees of the state are invariably portrayed as having been ‘captured’ by their opponents. It is not an accident that the Law and Justice Party in Poland, the Brexiteers in Britain and the Trump administration in the United States have launched verbal assaults on civil servants and professional diplomats.”
Virulent populist actions have at all times existed in America, on the precise (the Klan, say) and the left (the Weather Underground, say). Applebaum finds it stunning that its present incarnation emerged within the Republican Party. “For the party of Reagan to become the party of Trump — for Republicans to abandon American idealism and to adopt, instead, the rhetoric of despair — a sea change had to take place, not just among the party’s voters, but among the party’s clercs.” This might be the place to notice that Applebaum abandoned the Republican Party in 2008, over the nomination of the “proto-Trump” Sarah Palin.
Her sampling of the American clercs consists primarily of Pat Buchanan, Franklin Graham, Steve Bannon and Laura Ingraham, none of whom talked to her, however all of whom are copiously on the report. She is struck by the best way their Reaganite optimism gave option to a darkish sense of a decadent and doomed America “where universities teach people to hate their country, where victims are more celebrated than heroes, where older values have been discarded. Any price should be paid, any crime should be forgiven, any outrage should be ignored if that’s what it takes to get the real America, the old America, back.”