Föhrenbergkreis Finanzwirtschaft

Unkonventionelle Lösungen für eine zukunftsfähige Gesellschaft

A grim diagnosis for Western politics

Posted by hkarner - 24. Juni 2017

Date: 22-06-2017
Source: The Economist

Edward Luce believes that the liberal order cannot be fixed without a clear view of what has gone wrong

The Retreat of Western Liberalism. By Edward Luce. Grove Atlantic; 234 pages; $24. Little Brown; £16.99.

FEW doubt that something big happened in Western politics during the past 12 months but nobody is sure what. Turmoil in Washington and London contrasts with centrist stability in Paris and Berlin. Edward Luce, a commentator for the Financial Times in Washington, is well placed to observe the shifts and shocks. “The Retreat of Western Liberalism” offers a brisk, timely survey.

“Fusion”, the longest of just four chapters, describes the successes of economic globalisation, but also the costs borne by the less well-off in rich countries, notably Britain, America and France. Next, “Reaction” attributes the recent “degeneration” of Western politics to slowing economic growth and to the rich taking an undue share of what little growth there is.

“Fallout” moves to geopolitics and the decline of Western hegemony. America is still unequalled in hard power. At $600bn a year, its defence spending is more than the next seven biggest spenders combined. But it must compete now with China over which of them is to fix and police global norms of trade and finance. In soft power, the kind that convinces rather than coerces, America has lost heavily in recent years. Far from a model to copy, American society is widely viewed by outsiders with puzzlement if not suspicion. The latest Democracy Index (2016) from the Economist Intelligence Unit, a sister company to The Economist, demoted it from full to flawed democracy because the level of political distrust in the country has risen so high. None of that hands China victory in Mr Luce’s view. Rather than a new Chinese-led world order to replace the American-led one, he thinks disorder is likelier.

A final brief chapter, “Half Life”, suggests lines of defence and restoration for liberal democracy. People’s trust in politics and government must be recovered, he argues. A combination of stagnant living standards for the broad middle of society and an accumulation of unusable extra wealth by the rich has pushed fairness to the top of public argument. Parties of the right should aim to rationalise and improve, not slash, welfare. Parties of the left should fuss less about identity politics or “personal liberation” and return to their old position as defenders of those struggling to make ends meet. Mr Luce likes the idea of a “universal basic income”, paid to all citizens with no strings attached, but notes that governments would need to be tough about not extending it to all comers from across the world, drawn by its promises. He notes, too, that despite the hostile caricature of the welfare scrounger, most people want not a handout, even a comfortable handout, but meaningful work, the kind that gives a sense of purpose.

Mr Luce is a shrewd observer who has worked in Asia as well as the West. As an intern at the European Union in Brussels and speechwriter for the treasury secretary in Washington during Bill Clinton’s administration, he has seen government from the inside. He believes in liberal democracy and cares about its future. Despite its title, “The Retreat of Western Liberalism” is not bleak or elegiac. Mr Luce is not suggesting that liberalism is done for. He says sensibly that liberal democracy cannot be shored up without a “clear-eyed grasp of what has gone wrong”. A more analytical book might have spelled out further what exactly liberal democracy is, how to tell when it is going right and how it differs from capitalist competitors across the globe. At rapid pace and with telling statistics, Mr Luce nevertheless gives a knowledgeable tour through the unmapped terrain in which Western politicians and governments must now operate.

Advertisements

Kommentar verfassen

Bitte logge dich mit einer dieser Methoden ein, um deinen Kommentar zu veröffentlichen:

WordPress.com-Logo

Du kommentierst mit Deinem WordPress.com-Konto. Abmelden / Ändern )

Twitter-Bild

Du kommentierst mit Deinem Twitter-Konto. Abmelden / Ändern )

Facebook-Foto

Du kommentierst mit Deinem Facebook-Konto. Abmelden / Ändern )

Google+ Foto

Du kommentierst mit Deinem Google+-Konto. Abmelden / Ändern )

Verbinde mit %s