Liberalism’s crisis of faith
Catholic Herald, 12 January 2017
A new politics of values is replacing an empty politics of freedom for its own sake
One of the more satisfying recent retrospectives was the look back from The Economist, the “newspaper” which offers their readers superlative weekly analysis delivered with unparalleled arrogance. The movers were rather shaken. It was a rough year for The Economist, which spent the first half of 2016 heaping scorn upon the ignorant and the backward who supported Brexit, and the latter half alternatively lusting after a Hillary Clinton presidency and hyperventilating about a Donald Trump one.
The Economist offices at 25 St James Street – the imminent move from which prompted four-pages of self-congratulation in the year-end issue – serve as a functioning headquarters for the elite global consensus that took such a beating in 2016. If Brexit and Trump – not to mention the new Philippine president and the Italian referendum – were about the disdained hurling a brick at their disdainers, the windows of the brutalist Economist complex are as good a proxy as any for the order that was shattered.
“For a certain kind of liberal, 2016 stands as a rebuke,” The Economist began its year-end leader. “If you believe, as The Economist does, in open economies and open societies, where the free exchange of goods, capital, people and ideas is encouraged and where universal freedoms are protected from state abuse by the rule of law, then this has been a year of setbacks. Not just over Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, but also the tragedy of Syria, abandoned to its suffering, and widespread support – in Hungary, Poland and beyond – for ‘illiberal democracy’. As globalisation has become a slur, nationalism, and even authoritarianism, have flourished.”
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