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< Back to question Is Western liberalism obsolete? Show more Show less

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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Western liberalism can adapt to a changing macro-environment

Western liberalism is flexible, and can move with current ideological trends.
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The Argument

In the history of liberalism, there were periods of particular importance. From 1830 to 1880, liberalism was youthful and on its ascent to power and wide-ranging acceptance.[1] It was not difficult for people to realize that by adopting liberalism as a social and political philosophy, there would be great benefits for individuals, communities, and entire nations. Liberalism provides countries with the tools and methods needed to successfully adapt particular laws and authorities to the latest standards of business and trade.[1] Liberalism also acts as a cohesive, unifying force in a society where there is no paramount doctrine adhered to by the whole citizenry.[1] Liberalism holds a society together even after its deep hierarchical arrangement of different kinds of people has withered away.[1] Liberalism follows humane principles like the principle that state power and moneyed power should not oppress or disregard those with less power.[1] Ideally, liberal democracies should be flexible enough to reduce most stresses and strains on the political and social system.[2] They should also be able to adapt to different kinds of pressure, whether it be political, economic, environmental, or social.[2] Liberal democracy can deal with the difficulties of the 21st century much better than authoritarianism. While it has its flaws, liberal democracy is showing how it can adapt to different cultures and histories.[3] Places like Colombia, Armenia, and Indonesia are good examples of this fact.[3]

Counter arguments

Challenges have arisen for liberal democracies ever since the Industrial Revolution. Modern societies are extensive, interconnected and intricate, heavily-populated, and culturally-pluralistic.[4] Many discussions are happening right now about how liberal democracies should implement and institutionalize the law in these modern societies.[4] The law is struggling to adapt to the modern democratic society with all of its pluralism and complexity.[4] In fact, it is becoming more and more differentiated.[4] General legal principles and ideals need to be interpreted in light of local conditions and understandings.[4] Though liberal democracies are flexible, they are also fragile.[4] Institutional organizations and interpretations of norms are based on the outcomes of debates and discussions.[4] If they cannot come to a common understanding or a compromise, the parties leaves things unsettled.[4] Liberal democracies can fracture if certain external and internal factors affect them for too long. The deterioration of and disregard for human rights and civil liberties, the withering away of democratic norms, and a rise in populism and nationalism spell the possible breakdown of many liberal democracies.[2]


Rejecting the premises



This page was last edited on Monday, 21 Sep 2020 at 04:07 UTC

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