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Is Western liberalism obsolete? Show more Show less
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In a 2019 interview with the Financial Times, Russian President Vladimir Putin called Western liberalism "obsolete". He is not alone. The death of the West's ideological mainstay, is being discussed by everyone, from former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, to Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban, and high-profile journalists including Edward Luce and James Traub. Authoritarian China is ascendant. Free trade, the rule of law, freedom of movement and tolerance are in trouble around the world. So, has the cluster of ideas known as Western liberalism had its day?

Western liberalism is not obsolete, but under threat. Show more Show less

Western liberalism is in decline, and at risk of wipe-out.
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Authoritarian leaders call for the end of Western liberalism

Russian Premier Vladimir Putin is just one global leader who has eagerly commented on its decline.

The Argument

Authoritarian powers across the globe remain a significant threat to liberal democracies and to liberalism as a global phenomenon. This authoritarian threat is vast and multivalent. On a military level, the threat includes seizure of land, war, and exhibitions of dominance.[1] On a level of coercion, the threat includes pressurization and persuasion through political and economic means.[1] On a disruptive level, the threat includes undermining political power, propaganda, and cyberattacks.[1] Authoritarian principles like boundless power and personal rule are disseminated as normal and desirable.[1] The threat also includes rupturing ties within democratic alliances.[1] These threats face nearly every western liberal democracy. On many levels, and in many places, it has already come into effect. Liberal democracies must engage with and respond to their authoritarian rivals in constructive ways. They must shield against and put off the vast threat that is posed to them by the presence and ascendance of authoritarian states and ideas.

Counter arguments

Authoritarian leaders like Vladimir Putin are wrong to think that their regimes will dominate the future and liberal democracies will somehow die out. Right before the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, Putin said he thinks western liberalism is obsolete. But many western leaders countered his statement by pointing out that Russia has a slow, static economy and depends upon fluctuating oil production for government revenue.[2] They also pointed out that Putin has recently needed to deal with growing civil resistance.[2] They retorted that Putin, like other authoritarian leaders, would love to see western liberal values die out since democracy and human rights already jeopardize his position as a leader and his capacity to control his people.[2]

Proponents

Premises

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://institute.global/policy/authoritarian-challenges-liberal-order
  2. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/editorials/article-liberal-democracy-is-not-under-threat-from-putin-and-trump-its-the/
This page was last edited on Friday, 6 Nov 2020 at 11:27 UTC

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