• A Post-Liberal World? Constructive alternatives to liberal globalisation amid the threat of neo-fascism

    After Brexit and the victory of Donald Trump, the liberal world seems to lie in tatters: economic globalisation is in retreat while among the anti-establishment insurgencies many reactionaries and in some countries even neo-fascists are on the rise. In Britain, an alliance of left- and right-wing voters rose up against remote technocracy and free movement of labour that overwhelmingly benefit the metropolitan, socially liberal middle classes. In the USA, Trump enlisted the working-class the Democrats took for granted, and his triumph has shattered the American political consensus on free trade, immigration and the worldwide promotion of liberal democracy. Coupled with the triumph of patriotic strongmen in countries as diverse as India, Russia, Japan or the Philippines, Brexit and Trump are so far the clearest expressions of a global backlash against the ruling liberal establishment.

    This backlash is also the harbinger of a tectonic shift away from the old opposition between left versus right and democracy versus authoritarianism towards a new divide between liberals, anti-liberals and post-liberals. Liberals merely want to reform the dominant model of technocratic globalisation, which anti-liberals reject in favour of populism and even fascism. Post-liberals, by contrast, seek to build constructive alternatives that combine greater economic justice with more social solidarity.

    This Special Report is divided into three parts. First of all, an account of the rise and fall of the liberal world order since its inception in the early twentieth century, notably its achievements and failures after 1989. Second, an analysis of the contemporary backlash against liberal globalisation, and the ideological and other drivers that underpin anti-liberalism. Third, an outline of alternatives that build on the achievements of liberalism but take globalisation in a direction of greater economic, social and ecological resilience. Such resilience can be achieved by creating institutions that encourage and reward longer-term mutual benefit based on the practice of virtue and the common good in which all can participate. This can support a politics of positive civic identity in the face of new, dangerous divides – not least novel forms of fascism that are compatible with both democracy and capitalism.


    Citation recommendation:

    Pabst, Adrian. A Post-Liberal World? Constructive alternatives to liberal globalisation amid the threat of neo-fascism. DOC Research Institute (2017). Available at http://e-library.doc-research.org/publications/detail/169.

Reader in Politics and Director of the Centre for Federal Studies, School of Politics and IR, University of Kent, UK
Adrian Pabst is Reader in Politics at the University of Kent, UK, where he directs the Centre for Federal Studies. He is also Visiting Professor at St Mary’s University Twickenham, UK, the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Lille (Sciences Po), France, and the Russian Presidential Academy in Moscow. His research is at the interface of political thought, political economy and international politics. He is co-editor of Blue Labour: Forging a New Politics (I.B. Tauris, 2015) and of The Crisis of Global Capitalism (Wipf & Stock, 2011). His latest book (co-written with John Milbank) is entitled The Politics of Virtue: Post-liberalism and the Human Future (Rowman & Littlefield International, 2016).