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“We don’t need these institutions,” Nigel Farage said about pillars of the EU, such as its Court of Justice (jbdodane / Alamy Stock Photo)

The revolution will be institutionalised

The great liberal promise is that power must always be held to account. Agreed political rules and formal institutions are the means to honour it. But they are under assault by a populist right—and a misguided left

The dislike of power-hungry, right-wing populists for what might be called liberal institutions is not surprising. Indeed, it has become wearyingly familiar. Dominic Cummings launched a “hard rain” on the civil service. Steve Bannon called for the “deconstruction of the administrative state.” Donald Trump vowed to “drain” the Washington “swamp.” Boris Johnson pitted “the people” against parliament, and then proceeded to prorogue it. “We don’t need a European Commission, we don’t need a European court. We don’t need these institutions,” Nigel Farage told the EU during his farewell speech; he’s now moved his sights onto “defunding” the BBC.

Less often noted is that these same institutions—political, journalistic and cultural—are under attack by the left, too. Once committed…

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