The War Has Happened

It is a dreary world, gentlemen. GOGOL The most consequential event of our time, I pray, will be the heroism of the Ukrainians. Here are men and women fighting and dying for liberal democracy. It was beginning to seem as if such a thing were no longer possible. Worse, no longer desirable. Here in the West, Jeshurun waxed fat and kicked. We have just been through years of contempt for liberal democracy, and the great disparagement is hardly over. We have been told that everything bad in our age is the fault of liberalism, or worse, neo-liberalism, whatever that is. It has been blamed for just about all the unhappiness in the world; and so the peddlers of a new happiness gloatingly call themselves post-liberal, on all sides of the rotted ideological spectrum. Sometimes one has to rub one’s eyes in disbelief at the intensity of the hatred for liberal democracy: do these fools really understand what they are saying? And then Vladimir Putin, with perfect candor about his lack of scruple and an inhuman absence of shame, attacked Ukraine. The question of his motivation is murky, like everything about this dead little man; there are those who attribute his war to strategic considerations and those who attribute it to mystical ones. Yet Putin’s objective could hardly be more plain: it is to stop the spread of liberal democracy, which in recent years has been exhilaratingly identified with the political evolution of Ukraine. Like his Soviet predecessors, Putin fears nothing more than sharing a border with freedom, which has a way of getting through barbed wire. One of the most striking features of the discussion about the war in Ukraine is how little the anti-liberal left and the anti-liberal right have contributed to it. The left does not support Russia,

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