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Liberalism runs into national populism

Topics Covered:

Political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.- their forms and effect on the society.


Liberalism runs into national populism


What to study?

For Prelims: Meaning of liberalism and forms.

For Mains:  Recent concerns raised and ways to address them.


What is liberalism?

Liberalism has been the dominant socio-political ideology in the West since the end of the Second World War, where it has been regarded as the norm until recently. 

The term broadly encompass three definitions:

  1. Economic liberalism: ‘emphasises free competition and the self-regulating market, and which is commonly associated with globalisation and minimal state intervention in the economy’.
  2. Political liberalism: It is founded on ‘belief in progress, the essential goodness of the human being, the autonomy of the individual, and standing for political and civil liberties’ as laid out in various United Nations Covenants.
  3. Social liberalism: ‘linked to the protection of minority groups, and such issues as LGBTQ rights and same-sex marriage’.


Has liberalism become obsolete?

  1. Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated that liberalism had “become obsolete”. It is because liberal ideas about refugees, migration and LGBTQ issues were now being opposed by “the overwhelming majority of the population”. Even some western nations had privately admitted that multiculturalism was “no longer tenable”.
  2. Besides, leaders of several other developing countries believe highly centralised political systems work better for political stability and economic progress than western liberal democracies.
  3. Few recent incidents, such as support for Brexit and support for populist leaders such as Donald Trump, imply that liberalism may be in decline.


How countries like Russia and China view Liberalism?

Russia has a specific and different kind of civilisation, where sovereignty trumps democracy and national unity, and stability trumps human rights’. Western-style liberalism that prioritises individual rights over those of society is regarded as a ‘challenge to Russia’s style of government’, which presents an alternative model.

In China, the desire for liberty is recognised as universal, but the freedom to protest in unauthorised demonstrations and wilfully shatter the economy and tourism as in Hong Kong, or the freedom to blaspheme and outrage the sentiments of the devout, as in the French Charlie Hebdo case, or the freedom to bear arms as enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, are only random examples that show that liberty has limitations, even if they are self-imposed.


Sources: the Hindu.