By Henry Hogan
Footage from the Fall of Kabul revealed a stark contrast: as the energetic Taliban stormed toward the capital city, heartened by their rapid and mostly-bloodless recovery of Afghanistan, a dour remnant of the American occupation force fled after twenty long years. Across the outer provinces of Afghanistan, abandoned American airbases stood as memorials to the nation’s ham- fisted attempt to liberalize traditionalist pastoral peoples. As they began to assert authority in Kabul, the Taliban painted over murals depicting “sexually liberated” women and reintroduced the framework of Islamic law. After twenty years of protracted conflict, the puppet regime of President Ashraf Ghani collapsed with a whimper: the US-trained Afghan army was powerless to resist the Taliban.
In the United States, the unconfident tone of the corporate media dominated mainstream discussions. Hysterical, apoplectic reactions abounded: did the US pull out too soon? Who will protect Afghani homosexuals? Is the intransigent American voter to blame for the collapse? Conservative and liberal alike, political commentators pushed for reintervention, mass refugee admittance, and old-school jingoism against the Taliban. President Biden’s commitment to withdrawal irked the media class, who promptly dispatched a torrent of subversive articles questioning the decision. Outside of the Beltway, the average American rightly shrugged their shoulders: “I forgot we were even there!”
As the Taliban celebrate in Kabul and the American elite panic in despair, one dominating trend remains clear: the Afghani people, despite twenty years of occupation and propaganda, rejected American liberalism loudly. In 2013, a Pew Research survey showed that 99% of Afghanis wanted Sharia law to prevail in their country over Western-style liberalism. Even with billions of dollars wasted on training a democratic Afghani government, the flimsy legitimacy of Ashraf Ghani fell as the Taliban’s grew. Despite the torrent of pro-feminist, pro-LGBT, and pro-postmodern propaganda injected into their society by the occupation, the Afghani people simply shook their head. Once America’s “arsenal of democracy” disappeared, the Afghan people quickly restored their traditional way of being. The ascension of the Taliban is, in short, the latest and greatest blow to Western liberal democracy’s legitimacy worldwide.
The Decline of Liberal Democracy
Before the Fall of Kabul, Western liberal democracy had long been ailing. After the end of the Second World War and the beginning of bipolarity with the Soviet Union, the Zionist- Atlanticist elite preached the benefits of liberal democracy across Europe and the Third World. Free elections, freedom of choice, human rights and dignity, sexual liberation, access to Western consumer goods, transparency, anti-corruption, and political pluralism: all supposed benefits of becoming a liberal democracy. CIA-backed coups across Latin America and Africa deposed strongmen and (weakly) attempted to erect liberal democracies or friendly authoritarians. By the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, hubristic Western elites proclaimed the “End of History”: the demands of technological society simply anointed capitalist liberal democracy as the most satisfactory political organization, incapable of being overcome by competing theories of state.
But this empty boasting was just that: simple platitudes unreflective of reality. Liberal democracy was never actually democratic, in the end. Plutocratic elites often found ways to bend or exploit popular will for their benefit. Unelected kritarchies could easily overturn popular referendums, such as California’s Prop 8 and Prop 187. These same courts legalized gay marriage in 2015 and added transgenderism as a protected category to the Civil Rights Act in 2020, all without popular consent. Corporate power often advanced unwanted social agendas using economic blackmail, such as the 2016 boycott of North Carolina following the passage of anti-transgender legislation. Corporate HR departments and social media terms & conditions dictate speech codes, forcing the average man to fear unemployment or deplatforming for non- elite approved opinions. Domestic agencies, such as the FBI, often persecute dissenters with conjured-up falsehoods about “political extremism.” Lastly, and perhaps most damningly, most Western politicians are beholden to certain classes of entrenched elite interests through corporate money and blackmail.
Beyond the hypocritical rot of domestic politics, one can look at the numerous failed examples of “democratization” exported around the world by the American hegemony. From the tumult in Central and South America during the Cold War, to the quagmires of southeast Asia, and to the liberalization of ex-Soviet states during the 1990’s, America continually (and unsuccessfully) sought to reconstruct political institutions in places where liberalism had yet to intrude. Countries such as Cambodia, Argentina, Columbia, Chile, Guatemala, and Nicaragua were only a few of the victims of this liberal imperialism. In nearly every example, the American-led democratization effort collapsed or caused bloody revolution. However, like a malignant tumor, liberalization continued under a myth of invincibility: all peoples would eventually become the Last Men of liberalism.
The September 11 th attacks were perhaps the first true challenge to post-Cold War liberalism. Fundamentalist Islamic extremists, per the official 9/11 narrative, had weaponized a religio-political worldview against the sterile godlessness of American liberal capitalism. Commanded by the Israel lobby, the United States embarked on a brute-force democratization effort across the Middle East. The Afghan War, and later the Iraq War, were central to the imperial mission of enforcing liberalism in places beholden to traditionalist politics. At gunpoint, the American empire would attempt to force fealty from “backward” countries. Nation-building, billed as a bloodless and adaptable task, proved far tougher in practice.
For nearly twenty years, the American occupation of Afghanistan, alongside other economic and strategic goals, attempted to undermine the social conservatism of the country. American soldiers built schools for women’s education, cultivated feminism and critical gender studies among the Afghani elite, curtailed the power of religious law, and attempted to cosmpolitanize Kabul. A new consumerist culture tried to undermine the bonds of the traditional Afghan family. Practices banned by the Taliban, such as degenerate “bacha bazi” grooming, were quietly brought back under the American occupation. Where the Taliban were once the harbingers of law and order, the American military elite allowed a culture of sexual assault, rapes, and homosexual activity to flourish among the Afghan people. Indeed, the Afghan fertility rate collapsed under the strain of war, feminization, consumerism, and liberalism. Despite this, the Taliban retained enough mass popular support to retake the country in August 2021.
It would be a mistake to presume that the only form of American-led liberalization occurred through bloody regime changes. The 2011 Arab Spring showed the radical potential of psychological and cultural subversion, whereby American soft power (and the State Department) could spur the nouveau-bourgeois Arab youth into action. Regimes across Egypt, Libya, Syria, Bahrain, and Yemen were all afflicted by this imperial extension. The Mubarak and Qaddafi regimes collapsed, while Yemen and Syria descended into civil war. However, the Arab Spring’s attempt to liberalize the Arab world ultimately failed: the Muslim Brotherhood prevailed in the first post-Mubarak election, Bashar al-Assad retained popular support in Syria, and the insurgent Houthis appear to be ascendent in Yemen. Even with the entire liberal establishment pressuring such countries to Westernize, the energetic authoritarian emerged victorious.
The Sandy Tomb
This contextualization brings us to our main point: liberalism, despite its chutzpah-filled triumphalism, ultimately fails once its guns are removed from the prisoner’s head. The year-long drawdown in Afghanistan provided ample time for the Taliban to mobilize its resources and plan the inevitable rewind to pre-2001 normalcy. The removal of American guns coincided with the swift collapse of the illegitimate Ghani government. Without the presence of thousands of American soldiers, liberal democracy could simply not take root in Afghanistan. Bribed warlords, having lost their American piggybank, had no reason to fight the Taliban. The absence of resistance to the Taliban’s conquest is of great consequence: after being unimpressed bydecades of liberalization, most Afghans still preferred to be ruled under a traditionalist order. Liberalism’s foundational source of power comes from its capacity for violence and bribery, both of which are now absent in Afghanistan.
However, the Taliban’s transition to power will not be a smooth and rosy one. Thus far, the Taliban has extended clemency and tolerance for ex-collaborators. Human rights organizations across the world are decrying the treatment of women and homosexuals in Afghanistan; surely, Afghanistan will have to endure well-funded attempts to subvert its patriarchal culture. The International Monetary Fund blocked Afghanistan’s access to SDR reserves. The Biden administration froze billions of reserve dollars from Taliban hands. It is likely that the Taliban government will find a new ally in China, but Xi Jinping’s foreign policy goals remain unclear. How will Israel react to the ascension of a hostile regime? Will regional alliances with Iran, Pakistan, or others be possible? Much remains uncertain about the fate of the new Taliban regime; one can only wait and watch it unfold.
The Fall of Kabul is, though, perhaps the greatest discrediting of the liberal world order in the 21 st century. Liberalism’s inevitability, shattered by previous failures in the Third World and the populist upswing across the West, is finally buried in its sandy Kabul tomb. Illiberal authoritarianism, rising globally since the 2008 financial crisis, is undoubtedly ascendent against the weakened liberal order. Such groups, motivated by quasi-religious myths and strong moral righteousness, are much more vitalist than the decrepit, senile liberal democracies. The failures of liberalism and liberal democracy have caused many people to search for alternatives capable of providing a fulfilling life. In Afghanistan, this means the speedy rejection of imported liberalism and a return to organic ways of life. Will other nations seize upon the example set by the Fall of Kabul? Would the withdrawal of American support for certain regimes around the world bring them crashing down?
For us illiberals living in the crippled West, the success of the Taliban is a strong reminder of our adversary’s frayed pretense of legitimacy. Americans’ confidence in major institutions is at an all-time low, per a recent Gallup poll, after decades of corruption, mismanagement, broken promises, maliciousness, and incompetence. Nationwide, frustrations are growing over liberalism’s effects: social atomization produced by destroyed communities, economic precarity, social poisons such as transgenderism and homosexuality, the decimation of White people’s quality of life, and the spiteful implementation of Covid lockdowns. The treatment of January 6 th protestors shows the pure forceful brutality exercised by the Regime against dissenters. Any social contract that may have existed between the average Westerner and their government is surely worthless now. As Western liberalism’s steep decline is made more visible every moment, we are reminded that its only source of legitimacy rests on very fragile quicksand.