Of the many stimulating ideas in Tony Judt’s essays, posthumously published under the title When The Facts Change, one is particularly noteworthy.
Until the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, we were obsessed by anti-communism. In the twenty-five years since, and especially since 9/11, another obsession has taken its place in the consciousness of the West: fear – fear of Islam, fear of immigrants.
Acting on this obsession, western nations have resorted in various degrees to surveillance and more selective immigration legislation, measures that can only be initiated by national governments. This is also true of the many ways we are dealing with environmental threats. Such measures counter some of the effects of globalization and strengthen the authority of the state, incidentally weakening the forces of deregulation initiated in the Reagan–Thatcher era. But, thanks to new technologies, the world is at the same time increasingly becoming a global village.
It would be hard to argue that the present obsession with Islam has much in common with the revolutionary Sixties.
One revolution in a lifetime is enough.