Liberalism is dead. Long live liberalism!
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Liberalism is dead. Long live liberalism!


A recent article “The Committee to Save the World Order” in Foreign Affairs magazine issued by the neoliberal cartel CFR and written by two followers of the liberal political school - Ivo H. Daadler and James M. Lindsay represents a certain fear about the future of the global political system.

Who are these authors? James M. Lindsay is the Senior Vice President, Director of Studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg Chair at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and a leading authority on U.S. foreign policy.  Ivo H. Daadler is a Dutch migrant, but he has also been the President of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs since July, 2013 and before that was the U.S. Permanent Representative on the Council of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization from May 2009 to July 2013. He is a specialist in European security (he also was a member of the staff of United States National Security Council during the administration of President Bill Clinton, and was one of the foreign policy advisers to President Barack Obama during his 2008 presidential campaign). Also he is a senior fellow in Foreign Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution.

It is interesting that both are co-authors of the book titled "America Unbound. The Bush Revolution in Foreign Policy" issued by Brookings Institution Press in 2003 and they were also very critical of Bush's  foreign policy.

Now, Daadler and Lindsay start from a similar standpoint but end up  scapegoating Trump and his approach to international relations. “As Trump has jettisoned old ways of doing business, allies have worked their way through the initial stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, and depression.” And their only hope is that “Trump’s successor will reclaim Washington’s global leadership role and lay the groundwork to make it politically possible for that to happen.

They are pretty nostalgic about times when “with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the U.S.-led postwar order was suddenly open to all” and recognized that “The rapid growth in the movement of goods, money, people, and ideas across borders as more countries joined the rules-based order produced new problems, such as climate change and mass migration, that national governments have struggled to handle.”  But these issues probably seem dramatic only for American liberals. Why has liberalism itself not recognized this as a problem?

But what is liberalism itself? When we see loud headlines by such authors as Richard Haas declaring that liberalism is in decline we must keep in mind that the current order is far from the ideas of actual classical liberalism. The last decades of the 20th century and the beginning of the new millennia existed under the sign of neoliberalism.


Neo-liberalism is linked with the hawkish neo-conservative US agenda as well as  with pathetic propaganda about “human rights” and “democracy” promoted by Washington. In some senses neoliberalism is a kind of consensus between groups of influence. In the 1990s there was a US attempt to create political homunculus in different countries. These puppets theoretically were made to serve the interests of Western financial political clans. But in practice something different arose. It was this new face of nationalism, populism and anti-globalist reaction that arose from the countries of the Second and Third Worlds.

The G-9 is a kind of answer to the question of how to preserve the current global order. At least Daadler and Lindsay think in this direction. But is China interested to be in this camp? And what role will Beijing serve? The issue of the control over the world order is based on ideology first. And China has its own, very different, vision of the future. Russia too.

Regardless the narrative of the article is clear from the title – (world) liberal order vs. chaos organized by new emergent actors. In other words: two guys promote the idea to do one more attempt at forming consensus between the political elites of limited but powerful states. As we see part of these political elites are strongly against this idea.

Structure is another essential that defines world order. Stephen M. Walt in his recent article stated that “I’ve never fully understood what “world order” means”. If there is no clear definition inside of the American expert and scholar community what can we say about the view from other countries? And we must be realistic about the distribution of power. No one will give their own power to other actor(s) just because of good will. All reconfigurations in world history were under certain circumstances. Usually it was affected by wars, conflicts, epidemics and power vacuums. If the US is losing its own power no one will give Washington their own resources or any solutions on how to stop this process. The opposite rather, is far more likely.

Stephen M. Walt resumed that: “overall, the world of 2025 will be one of “lopsided multipolarity.” Today’s order isn’t a liberal one (a number of key actors reject liberal ideals), and 2025’s won’t be either. The United States will still be the single most consequential actor on the planet, because no other country will possess the same combination of economic clout, technological sophistication, military might, territorial security, and favorable demography”.

In the next six years we will see how the US will try to preserve this combination. But what about alliances? This is important. Because multipolarity is not about the statehood of the XX century, but about dealing with the shared perspectives of states with similar ideologies on regional strategies. And the leadership of different alliances (do not mess with NATO or the UN) may be much more effective than American power on loosening its grip over the globe.

And, yes, the resignation of Nikki Haley from her post as US ambassador to the UN was significant too in the context of the last agonizing gasps of the liberal world order.

Author: John Raven