Columnist of The Washington Post Fareed Zakaria forecasts that Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is an advocate of "the politics of eternity," according to historian Timothy Snyder's theory, may not win.
"Putin may not win. The efforts of people like him to reverse the progress of the past might not work. But it will take more effort from those on the other side. Things are not simply going to work themselves out while we watch. History is not a Hollywood movie," Zakaria wrote in his opinion article titled: "We Once Trusted Too Much in Inevitable Progress. We got World War I," which was published by The Washington Post on November 8.
According to the article, Snyder makes a distinction in his new book "The Road to Unfreedom" between what he calls "the politics of inevitability" — the sanguine faith that it's all going to work out — and "the politics of eternity." The latter is the view, held by leaders such as Russian President Vladimir Putin, that nothing is inevitable, that through force, cunning, strength and will, you can bend, or even reverse, the arc of history.
Snyder describes how Putin did just that in Ukraine, refusing to accept that it was inevitably joining hands with the West, and launching a relentless series of moves that have dismembered Ukraine and mired it in a seemingly endless internal conflict.
On the eve of international celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I on Sunday, November 11, 2018, the columnist analyzes trends before that war and the current global situation.
"Economic growth and technological progress were accelerating then, as now. We are also seeing a surge in nationalism and the breakdown of cooperation, which were hallmarks of the 1920s. New great powers were ascending, as they are now. Democracies were under strain from demagogues, such as in Italy, where Mussolini destroyed liberal institutions and established control. And amid all this was the growth of populism, racism and anti-Semitism, which were used to divide countries and exclude various minorities as outside of the 'real nation,'" he writes.
According to him, today's trends are all connected. Economic growth, globalization and technology have given rise to new centers of power, within nations and in the world at large. "This is an age of big winners and big losers. The pace of change makes people anxious that their countries and cultures are changing — throughout the world. And they find comfort in strongmen who promise to protect them," he says.
"Are these dangers so real and pressing? If you compare the world today, it does feel less like the 1930s than it does the 1920s," he adds.