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Liberal and anarchist

Weekly magazine The Economist marked 15. September's 175 anniversary with a manifesto against weakened liberal values.


In English, the term is somewhat more humane Liberal than that of market economy and cynical neoliberalism. Liberal values, according to The Economist, are about protecting the individual's freedom and respect, common good and working for "open markets and a limited state apparatus". 

The Manifesto regrets that over the past 25 years such values ​​have had to give way to populism, pessimism, hierarchies of power and elitism.

This is confirmed in books like The Retreat of Western Liberalism og Has the West Lost It? and articles like "Is Democracy Dying" and "What's Killing Liberalism?»(Foreign Affairs / Atlantic). The Economist has been looking at liberal values ​​throughout the past six months, including where liberals have failed. They remind that the liberals of the 1800 were really radical, in the sense of going to the root of societal problems and really being able to address the necessary changes. Among other things, we can thank the 1800 numbers liberals for today's average age of more than 30 years – as when The Economist was founded – and for the proportion of the population taking higher education has quadrupled since then.

The Economist criticizes in leadership how a recent liberalist meritocracy has gradually let freedom apply to the few. Many people forgot the fundamentals of liberal values: that we are all born equal and therefore should have equal opportunities. The liberal elite and the ruling class have long lived in a kind of bubble: they attend the same schools, marry each other, live in the same streets and meet in the same forums. They are criticized for not hindering the emergence of "wars, financial crises, technicalization, refugee flows and chronic insecurity". They also call it a shame that many liberals have ended up as conservatives – totally unwilling to face the changes of the time, and "save to defend heavier reforms". They have had too many advantages of the existing system, writes The Economist.

Social contract

This neo-liberal and conservative elite has persuaded most of the 99 percentages who are outside their ruling and defining power to believe that life should largely consist of continuous labor and consumption. Not unlike Erna Solberg, when she insists that in the future we must work more.

Similarly, David Graeber writes in the new book Revolutions in reverse (Cappelen Damm) on how "neoliberal capitalism […] is obsessed with giving the impression that 'there is no alternative'", as quoting Thatcher and Reagan from the 80s. This is not an economic, but a political way to pulverize our imagination and human creativity, Graeber believes. Interestingly, he also criticizes large sections of the working class for promoting a consumerist or "petty-bourgeois productive" ideology. As a professor of anthropology – and anarchist – he recommends a more "fundamental rejection of the very idea of ​​work of the kind we have in our society." Socialists are thus too preoccupied with work, bureaucracy and consumption. To him, it is ironic that while the anarchists fought for shorter working hours, the socialist unions of the last century always tended to "demand higher wages" and embrace "the consumer paradise that the bourgeois enemy offered them." He believes it is better "to work four hours a day than to do four hours of work in eight hours".

Were we born free but ended up in links everywhere?

Were we born free, but ended up in links everywhere, as Jean-Jacques Rousseau described to the burgeoning modern society? The man behind Social contract (1762) believed that civilization itself could not maintain freedom and equality as former people did, those who lived in pact with nature. This is a myth, according to Graeber (see essay page 6 – 7). In his series on liberal thinkers, The Economist, in turn, has criticized Rousseau for being an illiberal prophet: As a pessimist, he believed that society creates egoists – and therefore freedom for all must be restored through coercion. Marx, another illiberal and pessimist, according to The Economist, believes freedom can only be regained by a violent revolution. Nietzsche is also referred to as illiberal because he described how society would end in cynical nihilism. 

Now optimism, growth and productivity are more in the spirit of The Economist – therefore they also read the three philosophers mentioned quite superficially. And that's why thinkers like Mill, de Tocqueville, Keynes, Berlin, Schumpeter, Popper, Hayek, Rawls and Nozick are mentioned in more positive order. 

I Revolutions in reverse David Graeber, for his part, insists that in a free, imaginative world, the goal must be more lived life, not a life where consumption, growth and work dominate everything. Looking at today's pragmatic anarchists, they also fight for individual freedom and a limited state like the liberals, but far more for the rights of minorities – in other words freedom og solidarity. 

The Economist,  recommend a new social contract for our time.

What does The Economist think about solidarity? For neoliberalists in general, the term is not particularly high in courses. Let me then reproduce what the weekly magazine recommends as a new social contract for our time: that refugees must be welcomed and given the right to education and health services, but otherwise manage themselves; housing must be regulated so that most people can afford it; prices must be reduced based on efficient production; people's freedom of choice must be upheld. They are critical of large, dominant companies. On the other hand, they do not consider automation a great danger, as new jobs will be created. A "liberal rethink of the welfare state starts with education," they write: Preschools should be given priority over universities, as human life is shaped early. Society must open up to lifelong learning. The Economist also wants pension to be a priority for those who need it most. Surprisingly, they take up universal citizen salaries, as many liberals believe that when people get to decide for themselves, it brings more growth and happiness. At this point, The Economist recommends a "negative tax" where those who earn less than a "minimum income" should receive compensation. Like the pension, this needs to be tested – rather than those who already have enough should receive more. The Economist demands that the rich pay wealth tax and moderate inheritance taxes. Finally, the Economist believes that unskilled workers should receive less tax, that housing tax should be added to land properties, and that the world must now receive strict carbon and environmental taxes. Would you have thought that all this would come from a liberal perspective? 


However, the disappointment becomes great when The Economist, – especially after declaring the individual's freedom and criticizing Rousseau and Marx for using force and violence – advocates an even stronger military apparatus. In the manifesto, they recommend Europe and Asia to be upgraded, as the United States calls for – considering the alliances that were missing in the interwar period. 

Then suddenly came a demand for the use of violence and an unproductive military industry – to promote peace and freedom. When today's anarchists want to build down both large capital, state apparatus og military industry, The Economist liberals are apparently dropping off before the last item on the list.

See also… on anarchism, as well Orientering … On the liberal dilemma,
about citizen pay…, and about work…

Truls Lie
Truls Liehttp: /
Editor-in-chief in MODERN TIMES. See previous articles by Lie i Le Monde diplomatique (2003–2013) and Morgenbladet (1993-2003) See also part video work by Lie here.

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