NB: Although this essay focuses on American politics, it has broader relevance. There are two major points I would make: it does not provide an adequate definition of liberalism, a word that originates in ‘liberty’; and that it does not address the matter of the global domination of capital over economic and political life. There is a note by me on this on top of this post, but the matter requires much more attention than it has obtained.
The question of political liberty and the freedom of the mind is something which cuts across the stale binary of ‘left’ vs ‘right’; and socialism vs capitalism. Democracy cannot be reduced to mean ‘the rule of the majority’, but requires the separation of powers, and the presence of autonomous institutions of law. Without democratic liberty, the world will only see the perpetual oscillation between different forms of tyranny. DS
Beyond the crisis of democracy: Does anyone still believe in liberalism?
When Donald Trump stripped the flesh off the American body politic, he revealed a disease that has become endemic throughout the so-called Western world. Faith in the power and goodness of democratic self-governance, previously as unchallenged and ubiquitous as belief in God during the Middle Ages, has decayed into the empty, hopeful rituals of the Anglican Church. Even those who insist they still believe are clearly troubled: Supposedly democratic elections are too often won by overtly anti-democratic or authoritarian leaders, and too often result in governments that ignore what the public actually wants and pursue policies that blatantly favor the rich and powerful and make inequality worse. (As, in fairness, nearly all governments tend to do.)
But the important question is not whether this is happening — the answer is obvious — but why. Trump and Vladimir Putin and Viktor Orbán and Jair Bolsonaro and Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Rodrigo Duterte and all the other pseudo-democratic usurpers around the world didn’t arise out of nothing. To suggest that they all simultaneously tapped into a current of know-nothing darkness and bigotry and moral weakness that has been there under the surface of society all along, like undiscovered crude oil, is not a remotely adequate historical or political explanation. …
Donald Trump’s gift to America: Realizing we’ve never been a liberal democracy. By PAUL ROSENBERG
Jairus Banaji on the Indian corporate strategy of subordinating farm households and family labor
Michael Walzer: Liberalism and the art of separation (1984)
Mohammed Hanif: The rest of the world has had it with US presidents, Trump or otherwise
George Orwell on socialism: We have got to admit that if Fascism is everywhere advancing, this is largely the fault of Socialists themselves. Partly it is due to the mistaken Communist tactic of sabotaging democracy, i.e. sawing off the branch you are sitting on; but still more to the fact that Socialists have, so to speak, presented their case wrong side foremost. They have never made it sufficiently clear that the essential aims of Socialism are justice and liberty. With their eyes glued to economic facts, they have proceeded on the assumption that man has no soul, and explicitly or implicitly they have set up the goal of a materialistic Utopia. As a result Fascism has been able to play upon every instinct that revolts against hedonism and a cheap conception of ‘progress’.. The Road to Wigan Pier, (1937) ch 12