The Rise & Fall of Liberalism...

  1. The beginning of the 20th Century was a time of huge hope that an unstoppable wave of Liberal values was spreading across the world, and that it was only a matter of time before the old authoritarian empires, monarchies and militaristic governments would crumble. Even left wing writers like Marx and Engels predicted this outcome (albeit as the first inevitable step towards their beloved Communist system!).
  1. The advent and aftermath of the First World War ended this optimism: as states collapsed under financial bankruptcy and people despaired at what the existing ruling classes has led them into, there was the growth of support for radical anti-capitalist political systems. Dissiliusionment, nationalism and isolationism were in the ascendant, even within the few beacons of liberalism such as the USA.
  1. The Age of Deference was coming to an end, but the Great Depression only seemed to confirm that Liberal Democracy was not the solution and doomed to failure. Peoples views hardened as they looked for an alternative and the political tide turned to a battle between socialism, its two offspring communism and fascism, and Burkean Conservativism that upheld so-called traditional values.
  1. The victim here was liberalism that got squeezed out as people moved away to other philosophies through a mixture of fear to protect their own interests, and a perceived failure of the liberal project.
  1. The aftermath of the Second World War and the huge spread of the Communist hegemony in Eastern Europe and China meant that Liberalism was again squeezed out. As a paranoid fear and a lack of self confidence gripped the remaining democratic nations, Statist economic and social policies become regarded as the accepted norm: Keynsianism and Moneterism became the prevailing economic models as governments on right and left tampered with economic and industrial planning. Restrictions on social, personal and political freedom were also maintained under the guise of needing to oppose communism.
  1. A cowed, despondent Liberal movement were panicked into looking for a new direction, and decided that its future lay in becoming more social democratic. The result has been that on both sides of the Atlantic the word Liberal became more associated with socialism, especially in the USA.
  1. The 21st Century, however, was a new opportunity for the reemergence of true Liberalism: the fall and total economic and moral failure of the communist system no longer provided governments with the excuse to repress and restrict their citizens. However, the existing Ruling Class still hung on to power by convincing its people that they were primarily responsible for bringing down the twin scourges of fascism and communism, that economic success could only be guaranteed by having an elite in control, and that all the people need to do was to Trust Them and the benefits that the ruling class accrued would trickle down to the populace. But: then came the financial collapse of 2008, and the unpleasant truth was exposed...

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