Ivan Krastev’s last book landed like a warning shot on the desks of policymakers across the Continent. In his short 2017 volume, “After Europe,” the Bulgarian thinker warned that what had been until then widely regarded as a series of isolated shocks — the migration crisis, Brexit, the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, and the rise of European populism — are instead symptoms of a modern malaise, one with the potential to tear the European Union apart.
“People were still taking the European Union for granted,” he says, and assuming that while the status quo might be shaken, it would almost certainly remain unchanged. Krastev’s experience has taught him otherwise. As a university student in Sofia in 1989, he witnessed the Communist regime collapse and his country transform overnight. The experience, he says, impressed upon him the fact that “the unthinkable can very quickly become the inevitable.”
Krastev’s style is aphoristic and playful; in conversation, he will often tell a joke to illustrate a more serious political nuance. He doesn’t use social media, or even own a mobile phone. At public appearances, he rarely relies on prepared remarks, but seems to think through his arguments out loud. His often unorthodox analysis has established him as one of the more perceptive scholars of what he calls the “threatened majority” and “forgotten losers” of the age’s epochal shifts.