Though hardly a champion of democracy, Russian President Vladimir Putin late last month delivered an address that would sound familiar — and, to many people, attractive — in democracies from the United States to much of Europe. Putin railed against expansive definitions of gender, calling the idea a “perversion,” part of a “complete denial of man [and an] overthrow of faith and traditional values” by “Western elites.”
Recent years have brought a sharp reaction in many parts of the world, as globalization, political polarization, the rise of social media and a collapse of trust in major institutions have left many people feeling betrayed by their governments, torn apart from their careers and alone in their communities, according to historians, political scientists and sociologists who have studied these shifts in the world’s economies and governments.
The result has been a similar quest for nationalist solutions in country after country, and a growing bond among the far-right autocrats in those places. For example, Hungary’s prime minister, Victor Orban, and Italy’s likely new prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, have spoken to acclaim at gatherings of the Conservative Political Action Coalition — a group that has helped propel Trump’s movement in the United States.
“The trend we are seeing reflects a disillusionment around the world that the democratic process fails to produce effective, charismatic leaders,” said Nikolas Gvosdev, a professor of national security studies at the U.S. Naval War College. “In country after country, the idea spreads that we need strong leaders who get things done. And it’s not just in politics: We see the valorization of tech CEOs like Elon Musk as problem solvers who get the job done.”
What the authoritarian regimes have in common is their roots in what Moisés Naím, a former Venezuelan cabinet minister who is now a fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, calls the three P’s: populism, polarization and post-truth