Marking its 175th anniversary, The Economist today published an essay titled, “The Economist at 175: How to reinvent liberalism for the 21st century.” The ten-page essay and an accompanying editorial assess the health of classical British liberalism–a commitment to universal civic respect, open markets, and a faith in human progress brought about by debate and reform. “The Economist at 175” is online today https://econ.st/2MtIu3D and will appear in the September 15th 2018 print edition of The Economist.
The essay describes how The Economist has been committed to classical 19th-century liberal values from the very beginning: “In September 1843 James Wilson, a hatmaker from Scotland, founded this newspaper. His purpose was simple: to champion free trade, free markets and limited government.”
It explains how these liberal values have helped modern societies thrive: “The core liberal causes of individual freedom, free trade and free markets have been the most powerful engine for creating prosperity in all history. Liberalism’s respect for diverse opinions and ways of life has whittled away much prejudice: against religious and ethnic minorities, against the proposition that girls and boys should have an equal opportunity to attend school, against same-sex sex, against single parents.”
And yet, the essay and editorial argue, 175 years after The Economist’s founding, liberalism is in trouble. “Europe and America are in the throes of a popular rebellion against liberal elites, who are seen as self-serving and unable—or unwilling—to solve the problems of ordinary people,” the editorial says. “Elsewhere a 25-year shift towards democracy and open markets has gone into reverse, even as China, soon to be the world’s largest economy, shows that dictatorships can thrive.”
They point out how liberalism began as a restless, agitating world view. Yet over the past few decades, as liberals have become comfortable with power, they have lost their hunger for reform.
In six parts, the essay sets out how liberalism must change. “The social contract and geopolitical norms that underpin liberal democracies and the world order that sustains them were not built for this century. Geography and technology have produced new concentrations of economic power to tackle. The developed and the developing world alike need fresh ideas for the design of better welfare states and tax systems. The rights of people to move from one country to another need to be redefined. American apathy and China’s rise require a rethinking of the world order—not least because the huge gains that free trade has provided must be preserved.”
Both the essay and the editorial end with a call to arms. The liberal values The Economist has long championed are still the best route to prosperity and freedom in the 21st century. Liberals need to shake themselves out of their torpor and rediscover their reforming zeal.
“The Economistat 175: How to reinvent liberalism for the 21st century” essay is part of the The Economist’s Open Future initiative. Launched in April 2018, Open Future is focused on creating a global conversation with the newspaper’s critics and supporters on the future of classical liberal values to deal with the challenges of the 21st century. The Open Future hub has featured commentary, debate and interviews involving The Economist’s editorial staff and a huge range of outside contributors, including: Angelina Jolie, Tony Blair, Jordan Peterson, Margot Wallström, Madeleine Albright, Laura Bates, Francis Fukuyama and Lawrence Summers. The online hub includes commissioned opinion pieces, explainers, articles, interviews, podcasts, videos, debates, essay series and book excerpts. The Economist has also hosted online debates, film and essay competitions, and conversations on social-media platforms. The Open Future Festival will take place on September 15th in Hong Kong, London and New York and be live-streamed globally.
“The Economist at 175: How to reinvent liberalism for the 21st century” essay: https://econ.st/2MtIu3D
“The Economist at 175: A manifesto” cover lead article: https://econ.st/2NJuneS
To read more about the Open Future initiative, please visit: https://www.economist.com/openfuture
To join the Open Future Festival taking place on Saturday, 15th September, remotely, please follow this live link: https://openfuturefestival.live/
About The Economist (www.economist.com) With a growing global audience and a reputation for insightful analysis and perspective on every aspect of world events, The Economist is one of the most widely recognised and well-read current affairs publications in the world. In addition to the weekly print and digital editions and website, The Economist publishes Espresso, a daily news app, Global Business Review, a bilingual English-Chinese product and Economist VR, a virtual-reality app. Economist Radio produces several podcasts a week and Economist Films produces short- and long-form video. The Economist maintains robust social communities on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, LINE, Medium and other social networks. A recipient of many editorial and marketing awards, The Economist was named the most trusted news source by the 2017 Trusting News Project Report.
SOURCE The Economist