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Edward Luce – “The Retreat of Western Liberalism”

May 3, 2018

Here, then, is the crux of the West’s crisis: our societies are split between the will of the people and the rule of the experts – the tyranny of the majority versus the club of selfserving insiders; Britain versus Brussels; West Virginia versus Washington. It follows that the election of Trump, and Britain’s exit from Europe, is a reassertion of the popular will. In the words of one Dutch scholar, Western populism is an ‘illiberal democratic response to undemocratic liberalism’.51 The British and American people supposedly reclaimed their sovereignty in 2016. I call it the Reaction. It is pretty clear which direction the Western elites are bending. Davos is no fan club for more democracy. Having hived off many areas that were once under democratic control (such as monetary policy and trade and investment), post2016 Western elites now fear they have not gone far enough.

So what are we to make of this? Do we choose democracy or “liberal” values? When, of course, liberal values means largely identity politics now, alongside a mainstream narrative we are forced to go along with under the threat of hate speech if we say anything slightly counter to this narrative. So, lets be real here, this is not the choice. The choice is one kind of mass control or another. We have not had any genuine liberal state now for some time. The only genuine liberal state is for the shrinking rich elite. For the rest of us that state is already a thing of the past.

This is my problem with Edward Luce’s assumptions. He assumes there is some good position we can stay with or go back to. There is not. Such a position is already long gone, and is no longer on the table. We either accept our liberty and democracy both gone in the name of expert elites and technocracy, or we try and salvage something of both liberty and democracy by countering this technocratic system. He even projects this nostalgia for the past on to the people on the right, in this recent populist right revolt. I don’t think he understands them well at all. They are the ones very much in the present reality, recognising a threat on their existence, you are the ones lost in some nostalgic vision from the past of happy go lucky pluralist liberal democracy, helping everyone and being the “good guy” in the world.

We are not the good guy in any objective sense. But we have a legitimate right to continue existing. We need to get back to defending our basic rights here, and forget about grandiose visions of saving the world, when we cannot even save ourselves. (For proof of the latter, check out western suicide rates, western immigration, and low western birth rates)

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