Words matter. These are the best Anne Applebaum Quotes, and they’re great for sharing with your friends.
Politics in Slovakia had long been a battle between egotistical men. Caputova sought to be the anti-ego alternative.
What links Donald Trump, Viktor Orban, Andrej Babis, Jaroslaw Kaczynski and Marine Le Pen is one simple character trait: hypocrisy. These politicians aren’t tribunes of the people, they are hucksters. They aren’t bitter enemies of the Western system; they are con artists who seek to profit from it.
European leaders have learned that there is no point in seeking agreement with Trump, for he doesn’t respect those who do.
The Brexit campaign was transformed from a fringe eccentricity into a mass movement by a handful of people who decided to make it into an argument about identity.
Italians have famously low levels of trust in their government, and a tradition of medical hoaxes.
The crisis of Western values has many aspects, many faces. There is a decline in faith in liberal democracy, a loss of confidence in universal human rights, a collapse in support for all kinds of transnational projects.
Political leaders in Belarus are routinely repressed, and their voices are muffled: Tsikhanouskaya was running for president because her husband, Siarhei Tsikhanouski, was arrested before he could start his own presidential campaign.
Given the right conditions any society can turn against democracy.
Even in Poland, where the president is far less powerful than the prime minister, people have a deeper and more atavistic relationship with the person who is a serious contender to become head of state. They want their national leader – the tribal chief – to look like them, to live like them, to reflect their values.
Unlike Marxism, the Leninist one-party state is not a philosophy. It is a mechanism for holding power. It works because it clearly defines who gets to be the elite – the political elite, the cultural elite, the financial elite.
Nationalism has nothing to do with the rule of law, justice, or opportunity.
Romney was an excellent businessman with a strong record as a public servant – whereas Trump inherited wealth, went bankrupt more than once, created nothing of value, and had no governing record at all.
The relationship of Trump to Russia has been reported on, and the activity to change the Republican platform happened openly, and Trump’s support for Russian policy – Russia’s views of Europe and its views of NATO – have been stated. So it’s not like this is secret.
We all feel the urge to conform; it is the most normal of human desires.
In Belarus, the government is a kind of presidential monarchy with no checks, no balances, and no rule of law.
Trump’s first statement as president, his inaugural address, was an unprecedented assault on American democracy and American values.
Like wealth, or health, political freedom may simply be something that people don’t value if they’ve always had it.
All nations are imagined communities, and our imagined community is based on a uniquely inspiring set of principles. Americans have proved that they can be loyal to, and will fight on behalf of, a more complex, more cerebral national ideal, one derived from ideas of democracy and justice as opposed to blood and soil.
Published in 1947, ‘The Plague’ has often been read as an allegory, a book that is really about the occupation of France, say, or the human condition. But it’s also a very good book about plagues, and about how people react to them – a whole category of human behavior that we have forgotten.
Trump is no good at deals and never has been.
The hard truth is that Trump was not exceptional. He was just another amoral Western businessman, one of many whom the ex-KGB elite have promoted and sponsored around the world, with the hope that they might eventually be of some political or commercial use.
Quite a lot has been written, including by me, about the effect of social media on politics, and in particular the way in which the algorithms built into Facebook and YouTube are more likely to spread angry, extremist and deliberately provocative political language.
America’s international broadcasters are an important part of the face we present to the world.
Many bad books have had great influence.
The so-called cancel culture on the Internet, the extremism that sometimes flares up on university campuses and newsrooms, and the exaggerated claims of those who practice identity politics are a political and cultural problem that will require real bravery to fight.
I am not sure when it became de rigueur for presidential candidates to publish a work between hard covers, but nobody now runs for high office without having written, or having arranged for the ghostwriting of, a very large book.
At base, the ugly meaning of collaborator carries an implication of treason: betrayal of one’s nation, of one’s ideology, of one’s morality, of one’s values.
Inside the noisy and chaotic modern information sphere, the message doesn’t matter nearly as much as the messenger.
The anti-European Tories were a fringe group – until they took over their whole party.
Alongside the flat-earthers, 9/11 truthers and Obama birthers, the anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists have always had a special distinction: They can do immediate and specific damage in a way that the others can’t.
Many Americans, but Republicans in particular, long opposed the nationalization of industry and state-controlled companies that are more common in Europe. Instead, they were proud of the American commitment to both economic and political freedom.
Many people no longer trust major media outlets to give them valuable information – and they may never do so again.
Under Freud’s influence, many ambitious biographers – not to mention psychologists, philosophers, and historians – have sought answers in their subject’s childhood.
As a nation, we are not good at long-term planning, and no wonder: Our political system insists that every president be allowed to appoint thousands of new officials, including the kinds of officials who think about pandemics. Why is that necessary?
Amazingly, quite a few people, even some American conservatives, are taken in by Russian tactics.
False stories can be promulgated more easily when the people trying to tell true stories have been discredited – or when they are battered by rubber bullets.
Birtherism surely increased Americans’ distrust of politics, though in ways that are hard to pin down. By contrast, when anti-vaxxers persuade parents not to vaccinate children, the result can be sickness and even death.
Just shouting about ‘facts’ will get you nowhere with those who no longer trust the sources that produce them.
At different times my children went to Polish, British, and American schools, and they learned about ‘the nation’ in all of them.
The Occupy movement flared and then seemed to fizzle out – until it re-emerged in the form of Bernie Sanders’s 2016 presidential campaign and in the far-left surge that made Jeremy Corbyn leader of the British Labour Party.
Independent judges have always frustrated governments that don’t see why unelected arbiters of the law should stand in their way.
Clearly, the inhabitants of stable democracies find it hard to appreciate what they have: ‘You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone’ isn’t just a song lyric; it’s an expression of something fundamental about the human brain.
Leon Trotsky, Stalin’s worst enemy, was far and away his most influential 20th-century interpreter, shaping the views of a generation of historians, from Isaac Deutscher onward.
The impact of Brexit is likely to be slow and incremental, hardly the sudden transformation that some Leave voters wanted. Immigrants will not disappear, and manufacturing will not immediately return to northern-English cities – quite the contrary.
In the United States, the world’s most important democracy, Congress seems permanently deadlocked, in hock to moneyed interests, unable to grapple with the big issues of climate change, technological change, the information revolution.
One of the obsessions that the Soviet Union and the Eastern European communist parties had was always controlling the message – all information that everybody gets has to be carefully controlled and monitored. Art was no exception.
For some people, loud advocacy of Trump helps to cover up the deep doubt and even shame they feel about their support for Trump.
There is a lot of learned material written about nationalism – scholarly books and papers, histories of it, theories of it – but most of us understand that nationalism, at its heart, at its very deepest roots, is about a feeling of superiority: We are better than you. Our country is better than your country.
Of course, isolationism will not keep America isolated.
Everywhere he goes, Trump is bored by working meetings and rude to those who attend them. He can’t make deals or negotiate because he doesn’t know enough about the issues.
It isn’t citizens, or Congress, who decide how our information network regulates itself. We don’t get to decide how information companies collect data, and we don’t get to decide how transparent they should be. The tech companies do that all by themselves.
The most important funder of the British Brexit campaign had odd Russian contacts. So did some cabinet ministers in Poland’s supposedly anti-Russian, hard-right government, elected after a campaign marked by online disinformation in 2015.