In “Toxic Nationalism,” an essay published in the Wall Street Journal last week, Kaplan observes that “Western elites” regard their beliefs as “universal values.” Because they approve of “women’s liberation,” they conclude that all thinking people from Albania to Zanzibar believe in women’s liberation. Western elites place a priority on “human rights,” assuming that must be the consensus view. Western elites are convinced that international organizations are breaking down the remaining “boundaries separating humanity,” so that must be what they’re doing, and what they seek to do.
These are, Kaplan understands, illusions: “In country after country, the Westerners identify like-minded, educated elites and mistake them for the population at large. They prefer not to see the regressive and exclusivist forces — such as nationalism and sectarianism — that are mightily reshaping the future.”