The Slippery Slope

Look around you: the entire world seems to have started on a slippery slope, propelled by all sorts of old or more newly fangled “isms.” The notions of fundamentalism, populism, nationalism, racism, authoritarianism, white supremacy, illiberalism are part of a vocabulary in increasing use that overshadows more luminous notions like freedom, tolerance, equality, social justice. From Madagascar through Poland and Russia to the United States, democracy and the values of a free society are undermined in a variety of ways. The slope is mild, at first, asking very little of us: turning a blind eye to petty abuse, giving up one freedom or another in exchange for material goods, keeping mum and minding our own business. But then the back of the curve arches, and the pressure gradually becomes more insistent. This section offers a kaleidoscopic view of all these inclinations, which should be helpful understanding Romania’s leanings towards a Russian-style autocracy.