In 1966 a film called Is Paris Burning?, based on a novel of the same name, was a cinematic sensation.  Its subject was the liberation of Paris by the French Free Forces and the French Resistance in 1944.  More than 70 years later Europe itself is afire as a combined Resistance force including rightists, “populists,” and antiliberals fights to liberate the Continent from the liberal ideology—the third of the three great ideologies of modern times, as Patrick Deneen notes in a soon-to-be-published book.  Fascism, the second of the three, collapsed in 1945; communism in 1991.  Now, it seems, it is liberalism’s turn to be consigned, sooner rather than later, to the ash heap of history, to recur to an old Marxist metaphor.

In Europe liberalism is failing at the national level and (consequently) at the pan-European one represented by the 27 members of the European Union.  In the British Isles and on the Continent the liberal center is no longer holding against rebellion, disruption, and disunion.  The new Resistance is partly an expression of the kind of nationalist fervor that prevailed in the 19th century and produced Europe in its 20th century form—hence Brexit, Catalonian separatism, Scottish nationalism, the swelling resentment in Germany of the forced persistence of the “abnormal state,” and the recent referenda in Lombardy and Veneto in which large majorities voted for greater autonomy from Rome.  (The same tensions are also building in Sicily.)

Beyond these eruptions of traditional nationalism is the mounting Resistance to what liberals are trying to pass off as the European tradition of two millennia, which is really only the liberal agenda since 1945: the realization of “human rights” everywhere, internationalist foreign policy, globalist economics, multiculturalism, antinationalism, reverse racism, pro-immigrationism, anti-Westernism, aggressive secularism, and anti-Christianism.  Brexit was the first concrete sign of the new Resistance.  Liberals were alarmed, but decided in the end to treat it (publicly, anyway) as an historical aberration.  They were apprehensive about the Dutch elections, but professed to be satisfied with the results, which they deliberately misrepresented to save face and deny encouragement to the “populists” and the “extreme right.”  Liberals were equally nervous as the French went to the polls last spring, pretending again to be reassured by the supposed defeat of the ogress Marine by the great and good Marianne.  “Populism,” they claimed, had been slowed, contained, perhaps halted in its tracks.  But then came the German elections, the electoral success of Alternative for Germany (which won 12.6 percent of the vote and 90 seats in the Reichstag), and the weakening of Chancellor Merkel, the Refugee Queen.  And after Germany, the smaller Deluge: The rightist parties, anti-immigrant and largely anti-E.U., prevailed in the Austrian and Czech elections in a region (Eastern Europe) where right-wing governments in Poland and Hungary were already established.

Meanwhile, it appears that the United Kingdom is preparing to walk away from the Union’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, with neither a separation agreement nor a goodbye kiss of some tens of billions of pounds for Brussels—what the British are calling the “No Deal” solution.

These days, the left isn’t whistling past the graveyard where its own grave is being dug.  Rather, liberals everywhere are warning of the dire catastrophe to follow “the end of the liberal international order”: the onset of a New Dark Age as history is spooled backwards from the Enlightenment into the grim and dread medieval past.  While history never goes the way anyone wants it to, one thing is certain: It isn’t going liberalism’s way any longer.  What we are experiencing instead is something called Progress.