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Don’t take democracy for granted. That’s the message delivered by US intellectual Robert Kagan in his latest book, The Jungle Grows Back. Looking at Europe and its resurgent populist right today, Kagan presents a pessimistic picture. Importantly, he reminds us that an ascendant liberalism — manifest in democratic constitutionalism — in the decades prior to the World War 2 was easily rolled back. It can happen again, he warns. There were 26 democracies (mostly in Europe) in 1919 and only 12 had survived by 1939. Sadly, they succumbed without great fanfare. In Poland, a semi-fascist government received two thirds of the popular vote, while in Portugal, Spain, Hungary, the Baltic states, Romania, Italy and Germany, right wing movements captured the government and then abolished democratic forms. In Italy, the democratic government fell to only a few thousand unarmed people who staged a march led by Benito Mussolini — a “part revolutionary, part nationalist reactionary and part opportun...

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