Why Liberalism Failed
A leading historian on why liberalism failed-and what we can do to start rescuing it
In 2016 it became clear that liberalism-the belief in open societies, open borders, and free trade-was losing its…
The reaction is three-dimensional. First: it’s economic — the “what’s happened to my job” if you’re a steel worker in Wales or in the rust belt of the US. You may blame that on immigrants but the job has just as likely gone to a computer, a robot, or someone in Asia — globalization has had a huge positive effect in lifting people out of poverty there. The second is social, about inequality and seeing people who are doing incredibly well and those who are doing badly in exactly the same period. Thirdly, it’s cultural — very rapid change, cosmopolitanism, LGBT rights, etc., and people not recognizing their country any more.
According to the article this includes:
- re-training and continual learning including apprenticeships
- considering basic income guarantee since there are not going to be good full-time jobs for all
- taxing the very rich
- making people feel that migration is being managed.
- liberal self-criticism - How many articles did the Guardian run from post-industrial small towns in northern England, or the New York Times from the rust belt in the US? There’s been a failure to take seriously that experience of the other half.
- Beware of groupthink. Beware conventional wisdom. Beware becoming comfortable in your own received orthodoxy.
- We need more independent thinking across the board from journalists to economists.
Being liberal in its most elementary sense is the belief in individual liberty as the highest political value — it’s not the only one, of course, there are others (equality, security, community, etc.) — but individual liberty is the most important.