Reviewing a recently published volume that translates as Journey to the End of the West: Secular divergence and the rise of nationalism, Sabino Cassese has written:
Darkness falls. The West disappears. We have all suddenly become racist or nationalist. Fates diverge. The human person is pushed to the sidelines. A sense of irresponsibility spreads. Society turns into a thousand recesses; it no longer has room for common goals. Well-being, solidarity and the rule of law all lag behind. Democracy is weakening. New leaders advocate authoritarian politics. People dissociate themselves from the past and the memory of war fades. The emphasis on what threatens triggers the desire for strict rules and punishment of deviance and pushes people to re-insert themselves in their own cultures.
He continues: Technological change, economic crisis and globalization have produced a protracted decline of states, regions, professions and individuals. Divergence is a deeper issue than inequality because it refers to the projection of the self into one’s own future. States have made the situation worse by resorting to strategies that have shifted the political costs to future generations. Inequalities are easily remedied by fiscal policies; it takes many years to overcome divergences. Europe is particularly vulnerable.
The picture is rather grim and, here and there, brings to mind certain famous analyses by Huizinga, Ortega y Gasset, or Croce. But even in our time there is no lack of positive aspects.