Down with the élites!

The Enlightenment seems to have reached a turbulent anticlimax in a worldwide revolt against cosmopolitan modernity.

'I love the poorly educated,' Donald Trump said during a victory speech in February, and he has repeatedly taken aim at America’s élites and their 'false song of globalism.' Voters in Britain, heeding Brexit campaigners’ calls to 'take back control' of a country ostensibly threatened by uncontrolled immigration, 'unelected élites', and 'experts', have reversed fifty years of European integration. Other countries across Western Europe, as well as Israel, Russia, Poland, and Hungary, seethe with demagogic assertions of ethnic, religious, and national identity. In India, Hindu supremacists have adopted Rush Limbaugh’s favorite epithet 'libtard' to channel righteous fury against liberal and secular élites. The great eighteenth-century venture of a universal civilization harmonized by rational self-interest, commerce, luxury, arts, and science — the Enlightenment forged by Voltaire, Montesquieu, Adam Smith, and others — seems to have reached a turbulent anticlimax in a worldwide revolt against cosmopolitan modernity . . .

Read the full discussion in The New Yorker.