Douglas Carswell

23 FEB 2017

Who will save the liberal order?

Do you support Donald Trump, or side with the anti-Trump protesters? Are you persuaded that Theresa May is doing great, or convinced Comrade Corbyn is the answer?

Look at how polarised politics is becoming. It's supposed to be about deciding which box to mark on the ballot paper. Instead, it is increasingly all-encompassing. People are coming to be defined by their political allegiance.

But is that constructive?

There is a real divide in politics. On one side are the New Radicals – e.g. Trump, Five Star, Syriza. On the other are those who might loosely be called the liberal elite.

Yet the truth is that neither is a particularly compelling proposition. The critics of the New Radicals have a point. But so do those who are fed up with the established ruling class. There really is a political and economic oligarchy emerging in most Western states.

Is this a new phenomenon though? Maybe there have been other instances in history where elites have concentrated power, and provoked an insurgency in response. Perhaps it's worth thinking now about what kind of fightback worked – and what didn't.

If we want to preserve the liberal order that has been the norm in the West since the end of the Second World War – and expanding to the rest of the world since the fall of Communism – then self-styled liberals may need to ask themselves whether they are really true to liberalism.

These are some of the themes I explore in my forthcoming book.

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