About the Talk

Margaret Thatcher memorably declared, “There is no alternative.” After the fall of the Berlin wall, many agreed: communism was over, and capitalism and liberal democracy were hegemonic. Forty years later, this confidence seems hubristic. Russia and China have taken the authoritarian path and successive economic crises have engulfed the US and Europe. Britain is experiencing a prolonged period of sluggish growth and stagnating living standards. The great institutions of the state seem to be stuck in continual crisis – political instability, infrastructure delays and uncertain responses to pandemics and other disasters.

Large sections of the populations of major western nations seem to have lost confidence in their rulers. Populists are challenging globalisation, environmental activists are contesting the idea of growth, and equality campaigners are questioning the extent of social progress. Digital media and identity politics fuels polarisation. Yet no side feels it is winning. It has almost become a cliché to say The End of History is… history.

But is liberal democracy as fragile as this description suggests? Which moral, cultural and intellectual reserves must our politicians and institutions draw upon for the challenges ahead? Are the ideas that have shaped western liberal democracies historically worth defending at all? In this panel discussion, Munira Mirza, Tyler Cowen, Stephen Bush and David Goodhart discuss the future of liberal democracies.

This event is jointly organised with Civic Future, a new organisation that identifies and supports highly talented individuals committed to the values of liberal democracy to enter public life. For more information about Civic Future, please visit here.

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