In ‘liberal buffet’, markets, free trade and democracy no longer a package


Liberalism is certainly in crisis, but few regimes are willing to completely abandon the liberal story. Rather, we are witnessing a shift from a “liberal set menu” to a “liberal buffet”, argues Yuval Noah Harari, a lecturer at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the author of ‘Sapiens’ and ‘21 Lessons for the 21st century’.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, it was common to argue that there are strong and essential links between all six components. If a country wanted to enjoy one dish from the liberal set menu, such as economic liberalisation, it had no choice but to take the other dishes too. You couldn’t have one without the others, because progress in any one sphere both necessitated and stimulated progress in other spheres. Democracy was crucial for the success of free markets; personal freedom was essential for democracy; and free markets in turn fostered personal freedom.

“Even though many of today’s populist and authoritarian regimes throughout the world describe themselves as “anti-liberal”, none of them rejects liberalism wholesale,” he writes for The Financial Times. “Rather, they reject the set menu approach, and want to pick and choose their own dishes from a liberal buffet.” RTWT

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