The strength of Lourié’s account is that it shifts the frame from national interest to a more universal landscape of civilizations and values. For her, unlike for many other critics of the way the world is going, the story is not merely about defending national sovereignty against the designs of Davos, or the West against Russia or China, or vice versa. The categories penetrate one another. The fault lines in any society map on to a global clash of values, even if those values may prevail in some places and systems more than others.
While she gets the scale right, I want to suggest that to make sense of this dystopian prospect, we need a middle ground between a cabal of designers, on the one hand, and a diffuse force in History that somehow operates of its own accord, on the other. She rightly notes the mentality behind much of the “Project,” including that “the main thing to be repressed is any attempt to find a solid foundation for something.” But such mentalities—however sobering as an account of diffuse human weakness and temptation—really gain weight in history only when borne into power. Diffuse misguidedness animates actors, just as broader dystopia flows out of their actions. But the actors themselves and the institutional patterns that allow them to act need identifying properly. We can advance the alternative of “remaining human,” as she puts it, only if we can push back on the right pressure points.
Writer - Critic - Poet - Editor