Readers of this column may recall that I have focused from time to time on what has been described as the “decline of the West”, the “retreat of liberalism” and the threats to the postwar multilateral system. Elsewhere on these pages I have discussed the rise of ethnonationalism, shades of fascism, a general retreat from the openness of the postwar period, and a return to the protectionism and tensions of the interwar period. Writing about these issues may seem somewhat rarefied, beyond everyday concerns. But as the country enters the sixth administration of the democratic era we do so at a time of increased uncertainty, instability and threats to whatever certainty the multilateral system may have to offer. As President Cyril Ramaphosa puts together his first cabinet he would be wise (I am sure he will forgive my didactic tone) to lift his gaze above the SA horizon. Everywhere around the world, almost every sector, sphere or human activity is beset by problems that seem intractable...

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