Everyone loses in the clash between liberalism and democracy

At CapX

It seems odd that liberalism (in the older, wider sense) and democracy might be in conflict, like the scene in Superman 3 where Clark Kent fights his alter ego in a junk yard.

The two once went together almost like a compound, with “capitalist” as the third crucial element. People spoke about fighting the Cold War in terms of defending democracy. It was what defined our way of life — and yet increasingly intellectuals in the centre and centre-left think democracy is a problem — not in the Middle East, but in the West.

It was Fareed Zakaria who coined the phrase “illiberal democracy” in The Future of Democracy: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad, but the term has been popularised by Yascha Mounk’s recent polemic The People v Democracy, about the rise of right-wing populists who use the exclusionary and violent rhetoric of dictators in their opposition to elites and minorities.

The populists of today are not “far-right” in any meaningful sense; they do not espouse militarism, revanchism or the cult of violence. But although some have fairly liberal views on issues such as homosexuality – or, perhaps more accurately, just aren’t that interest in social issues — it is not unreasonable to describe most as authoritarian. Donald Trump, in particular, strongly appealed to people’s basest instincts, undermined long-cherished democratic norms and even suggested his opponent should be in jail. It is not inaccurate to talk of “illiberal democracy” even if it will, inevitably, become as ubiquitous and overused as “fake news” and “post-truth”.

Read it all there.

What do you think?

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