Tough on Populism


Gauthier DELECROIX – 郭天: After the K.O., 2020 (CC)

From Prospect:

The likely economic consequences of the pandemic—unemployment, insecurity, soaring public debt and perhaps inflation—will probably feed a second wave of populism. China, already a superpower, is emerging strengthened from the crisis. Its model of developmental authoritarianism is challenging liberal democratic capitalism. For the first time this century, among countries with more than one million people, there are now fewer democracies than there are non-democratic regimes.

Like Neptune’s trident, a renewed liberalism will have three prongs. The first is the defence of traditional liberal values and institutions, such as free speech and an independent judiciary, against threats from both populists and outright authoritarians.

The second is to address the major failings of what passed for liberalism over the last 30 years—a one-dimensional economic liberalism, at worst a dogmatic market fundamentalism that had as little purchase on human reality as the dogmas of dialectical materialism or papal infallibility. These failings have driven millions of voters to the populists. We must, then, be tough on populism and tough on the causes of populism. The third prong requires us to meet, by liberal means, the daunting global challenges of our era, including climate change, pandemics and the rise of China. So our new liberalism has to look both backward and forward, inward and outward.

“The future of liberalism”, Timothy Garton Ash, Prospect

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