Liberal world order in danger, warns civil society


Are we facing an existential crisis which will see democracy swept away by the authoritarians’ brand of state capitalism? asks Philip Stephens, a Richard von Weizsäcker Fellow of the Robert Bosch Academy in Berlin. To my mind, we have been here before, he writes for The Financial Times:

The lesson Europe’s postwar political leaders drew from the societal collapses of the 1930s was that a sustainable equilibrium between democracy and capitalism had been shattered by market excesses. Citizens were unwilling to accept a model for the market that handed all the benefits to elites and imposed the costs on the poor…. The present generation of politicians should learn from the experience.

The liberal world order with its foundation in multilateralism, its global norms and values, its open societies and markets — is in danger, according to a group of German foreign policy experts from civil society:


The order is being challenged from various directions and sources: rising powers strive for influence; illiberal governments and authoritarian regimes are ascending; anti-modern thinking is gaining traction and influence even within Western democracies; Russia is challenging the peaceful European order; and new technologies are disrupting old economic structures.

“The relationship with the United States is a values-based partnership built on our democratic political systems,” they add, warning of illiberal trends and populist forces. “What we see today is not a divergence between Europe and the United States; it is a conflict within the West unfolding on both sides of the Atlantic.”

“The United States has proved its capacity for self-correction repeatedly. America remains the indispensable power for those countries that stand for freedom and democracy and strive for an open world order,” say the signatories:

  • Deidre Berger, Ramer Institute, American Jewish Committee, Berlin
  • James D. Bindenagel, Center for International Security and Governance, University of Bonn
  • Ralf Fücks, Centre for Liberal Modernity, Berlin
  • Patrick Keller, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Berlin
  • Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff, The German Marshall Fund of the United States, Berlin
  • Anna Kuchenbecker, Aspen Institute Deutschland, Berlin
  • Sergey Lagodinsky, Heinrich Böll Stiftung, Berlin
  • Rüdiger Lentz, Aspen Institute Deutschland, Berlin
  • Daniela Schwarzer, German Council on Foreign Relations, Berlin
  • Jan Techau, Richard C. Holbrooke Forum, American Academy, Berlin
  • Sylke Tempel, German Council on Foreign Relations, “Internationale Politik” Magazine, Berlin RTWT
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