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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?

No, western liberalism is needed more than ever. Show more Show less

Western liberalism is a cornerstone of healthy democracy.
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Alternatives to Western liberalism are dangerous ideologies

A rising authoritarian tide is threatening Western liberalism. And looking even further afield to spread its wings across the world.

The Argument

While western liberalism is not a perfect system, many argue that it is far better than any other political and social ideologies. For example, populist ideology revolves around a group or leader who makes himself a savior figure.[1] Often, it is framed through resentment, with the working class neglected by the "elites." This ideology can emerge from the far-left or the far-right.[1] Even if populism does not bring a complete end to liberal democracy in Europe and elsewhere, it remains a dangerous force against many of the fundamental principles of liberalism, namely democracy and human rights.[1] Populism stands as an internal problem for liberal democracies, but there are numerous external problems as well. There are autocracies on the rise, theocratic regimes, and meritocracies. Most notably, there is China with its incredible economic achievements through the implementation of a market-Leninist system, to name a few examples.[2] Liberal democracies are the norm for many people. Impoverished and oppressed people worldwide still seek out wealthy liberal democracies.[3] In contrast, Russia is not a friend to the poor or the wealthy, nor is it a destination for much foreign investment.[3] Liberalism, at its core, is about acknowledging and safeguarding a domain that is outside of the government's scope of influence—a domain in which human beings can have independence and privacy.[2] As the U.S. Declaration of Independence states, all human beings are endowed with "certain unalienable rights." Liberal governments are supposed to protect these rights, not alter or curtail them.[2]

Counter arguments

Many argue that populism, in its present manifestations, is not a great threat to liberal democracy.[4] Additionally, the rising tide of authoritarian power is not powerful enough to shatter the structure of the liberal system.[4] Instead, what threatens liberalism is the growing illiberalism of the Left.[4] The illiberal tendencies of the Left manifest in discussions about two vital elements of liberalism:, religious freedom and freedom of speech. Religious freedom is a primary liberty for Americans. It has become a contentious topic since the Left promotes LGBTQ rights while neglecting the rights of the religious and the right to adhere to a particular creed.[4] Freedom of speech was once defended, in all its fullness and truth, but now the Left is determined to censor what they deem to be "hate speech."[4] The clearest threat from the Left is their promotion of globalism, which threatens liberal state sovereignty.[4] Such inconsistencies in the views of modern liberal thinkers indicate that liberalism is not a stable or coherent political and social philosophy.

Proponents

Premises

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://www.canadainternational.gc.ca/germany-allemagne/highlights-faits/2019/2019-07-02-populism-populisme.aspx?lang=eng
  2. https://www.journalofdemocracy.org/articles/the-populist-challenge-to-liberal-democracy/
  3. https://www.ft.com/content/34f3edc0-9990-11e9-9573-ee5cbb98ed36
  4. https://www.heritage.org/conservatism/commentary/the-populist-challenge-liberal-democracy
This page was last edited on Friday, 25 Sep 2020 at 13:01 UTC

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