Barack Obama said on Tuesday the world should resist cynicism over the rise of strongmen, in an apparent reference to populist leaders who hold power in a number of countries.
The Democratic former U.S. president did not name his Republican successor, Donald Trump, but the speech was among the most pointed comments he has made about politics since leaving office in January 2017.
"Just as people spoke about the triumph of democracy in the 90s, people now are talking about the triumph of tribalism and the strong man. But we need to resist that cynicism," Obama said in a speech in Johannesburg to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Nelson Mandela.
Some of Obama's language echoed that of Trump's critics.
"Too much of politics today seems to reject the very concept of objective truth. People just make stuff up. We see it in the growth of state-sponsored propaganda, we see it in internet-driven fabrications, in the blurring of lines between news and entertainment," Obama said.
"We see the utter loss of shame among political leaders, where they are caught in a lie and they just double down and they lie some more," he said.
Obama said there were far-right parties in the West that have platforms of protectionism and closed borders but also a "barely hidden racial nationalism".Here are his top quotes:
1) More and more peoples, having witnessed the horrors of totalitarians, the repeated mass slaughters of the 20th century began to embrace a new vision for the world, a new idea. One based on self-determination but also on the principles of democracy and rule of law and civil rights. And the inherent dignity of every single individual."
2) Through his sacrifice and unwavering leadership, and perhaps most of all through his moral example, Mandela and the movement he led would come to signify something larger. He came to embody the universal aspirations of dispossessed people all around the world."
3) It is in part because of the failures of governments and powerful elites to squarely address the failures and shortcomings of this international order that we now see much of the world threatening to return to an older, a more dangerous, a more brutal way of doing business.
4) We have to start by admitting that whatever laws may have existed on the books, whatever wonderful pronouncements existed in constitutions, whatever nice words were spoken these last decades at international conferences or in the halls of the United Nations, the previous structures of power and privilege and injustice and exploitation never completely went away.
5) On Madiba's 100th birthday, we now stand at a crossroads. A moment in time at which two very different visions of humanity's future compete for the hearts and the minds of citizens around the world. Two different stories, two different narratives about who we are and who we should be."
6) I believe in Nelson Mandela's vision. I believe in a vision shared by Gandhi and King and Abraham Lincoln. I believe in a vision of equality and justice and freedom and multi-racial democracy built on the premise that all people are created equal and they're endowed by our Creator certain inalienable rights. And I believe that a world governed by such principles is possible and that it can achieve more peace and more cooperation and pursuit of a common good."
7) But the credibility of the international system, the faith in experts in places like Washington or Brussels, all that had taken a blow.And a politics of fear and resentment and retrenchment began to appear, and that kind of politics is now on the move. It's on the move at a pace that would have seemed unimaginable just a few years ago. I am not being alarmist, I am simply stating the facts. Look around.
8) Madiba shows those of us who believe in freedom and democracy we are going to have to fight harder to reduce inequality and promote lasting economic opportunity for all people.
9) It is a plain fact that racial discrimination still exists both in the United Nations and in South Africa.
10) Too much of politics today seems to reject the very concept of objective truth. People just make stuff up. We see it in the growth of state-sponsored propaganda, we see it in internet-driven fabrications, in the blurring of lines between news and entertainment We see the utter loss of shame among political leaders, where they are caught in a lie and the y just double down and they lie some more,