Anne Applebaum and the „Twilight of Democracy“

Twilight of Democracy, by Anne Applebaum, Pengiun, 2021, Paperback, 224 pages, ISBN: 9780141991672, £9.99.

„Never voluntarily leave the EU because its leaders have invented too clever ways to highjack EU funds“.

Sounds like meaning Bulgaria but in fact targeting Hungary.

One of this summer’s reads, Anne Applebaum’s 200 pager, „Twilight of Democracy„, takes a great deal of my day.

All packed and hotly recent: Kaczyńsky, Orban, Trump, Bannon, Johnson, Corbin, Farage, plain lies and half-truths, historical nostalgia, exploitation of local sentiments, closure of opposition business and media, anti-NGOs and anti-immigrant rhetorics, Soros as the arch enemy, nothing we are not aware of.

Safer to read Applebaum on Gulag, more difficult on contemporary events in which we have our own immediate loyalties or observations in the field.

Easy to peruse, to the degree of simplicity sometimes, a bit lacking the heavy apparatus of references to which I’m used, but that’s how political journalism works, not like a 19th century German PhD. Value driven [but who’s not?], more providing personal background info and directions of thinking, rather than a in-depth analysis, funny names dropping all the way through [„Johnson was a member of the same society like my husband“, „I met this and this guy at this and this book premiere“, „this and this lady was at a guest at my millennial party in my provincial Polish mansion 1999“], which I attribute to a usual attention catching technique and means of establishing rapport with the reader.

And yes, the central theme of the book is how we part ways with friends on the basis of ideological ruptures.

Plato and Aristotle are occasionally surfacing as a must in the field, as well as an Ivan Krastev [we Bulgarians have also given something to the international scene of political studies!].

A substantial food for thought.

The recap reminds me of how I barely got out of Northern Cyprus back in March 2020.

Ends up, probably unconsciously, on a slightly conservative note in a chapter called „The Unending of History“.

Yes, history repeats itself, she goes on, conjuring images from the Dreyfus affair till Trump, and probably of our age the generations to come would think as the seemingly never ending chain of Egyptian pharaohs.

I’d use the Ecclesiastes metaphor of the sun rising and setting, and nothing new under it, or the stories from the Biblical books of Kings to the same point, but probably that would be too conservative. An open ended book, offering more descriptive insights rather than solutions, and still.

Now on to Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer 2020 winning „Nickel Boys“. Obviously I’m stuck into American themes these days.