The challenges faced by western liberal democracyby David Selbourne / January 23, 2017 / Leave a comment
It is a truism to argue that we are living in new times. Each day the sun rises is new, while the birth of new forces and new ideas—and resistance to them—is a commonplace of social and intellectual evolution. Current events in western democracies are also part of what Marxists, when they existed, used to call the “dialectic,” the process of action and reaction which is history’s driver.
Today’s diagnoses of the contemporary scene are much shallower, and it is superficial to find mere “populism” in public angers and feelings of dismay at the way things are. “Populism” is an empty word, an alibi, and therefore handy to the shallow; David Cameron, joining the chorus, and in lieu of analysis, attributed his own political demise to the “rise” of “populism,” a term that conceals much and explains nothing.
Discontent is eternal and in today’s free societies has become many-sided. In Britain, as in other democracies, it includes the growing desire of many millions, across the classes, to protect national sovereignty from “globalisation”; to revive lost civic values; to preserve freedoms of thought and speech from the encroachments of political correctness; and to defend the jobs, interests and communities of those who are seen as long-suffering “indigenous” working people, angered that their rights and entitlements are now being shared with, or displaced by, those of economic migrants and pretend asylum-seekers.