From Financial Times chief US columnist and commentator Edward Luce, The Retreat of Western Liberalism offers a sharp and insightful look at why the values the West has long championed are now in danger, with a new afterword for the paperback.
Luce argues that today’s the erosion of middle-class incomes has eaten away at liberal democratic consensus, resulting in today’s crisis. We are continuing on a menacing trajectory brought about by ignorance of what it took to build the West, arrogance towards society’s economic losers, and complacency about our system’s durabilityattitudes that have been emerging since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Unless the West can rekindle an economy that produces gains for the majority of its people, its political liberties may be doomed. The West’s quasi-religious faith in the linear progression of history teaches us to take democracy for granted. Reality tells us something troublingly different. The most mortal threat to the Western idea of progress comes from within.
Combining on-the-ground reporting with intelligent synthesis of the literature and economic analysis, Luce makes a powerful statement about the weakening of Western hegemony and gives a forward-thinking analysis of what those who believe in enlightenment values must do to defend them from the multiple onslaughts they face in the coming years.
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About the Author
Edward Luce is a graduate from Oxford University in Politics, Philosophy and Economics. He worked as a speech writer for the treasury secretary in the Clinton administration, worked as the South Asia bureau chief for the Financial Times , and is based in Washington DC as the Financial Times Washington columnist and commentator. He was formerly its Washington bureau chief. He is also the author of In Spite of the Gods: The Rise of Modern India and Time to Start Thinking: America in the Age of Descent.
Read an Excerpt
In Moscow’s view, history is back and nothing is inevitable, least of all liberal democracy. Others, in Beijing, Ankara, Cairo, Caracas, and even Budapest, share Russia’s hostility to Western notions of progress, as do growing numbers of apostates in the West. Are they wrong?
This book is my attempt to answer that question. Let me declare now that nothing is preordained. To a person whose life has coincided with the rise of democracy, the spread of market economics and signs that the world had finally subscribed to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (even if much of it is paid only in lip service – hypocrisy, as they say, being the compliment vice pays to virtue), merely to pose the question is troubling enough. Wasn’t that debate settled a long time ago? Isn’t the march of human freedom unstoppable? Doesn’t the whole world crave to be Western? We can no longer have any confidence in that. It was remarkably arrogant to believe the rest of the world would passively adopt our script. Those who still believe in the inevitable triumph of the Western model might ask themselves whether it is faith, rather than facts, that fuels their worldview. We must cast a sceptical eye on what we have learned never to question. Our sanity may be tested in the process.
Table of Contents
1 Fusion 17
2 Reaction 75
3 Fallout 143
4 Half Life 185