How Can Liberal Democracies Respond Effectively to Putin Without Prejudicing Liberalism and Democracy?

  • Geoffrey Hosking


Liberal democracy depends on a tacit compact between rulers and ruled: the ruled accept that the rulers have power and (often) wealth because everyone benefits from the resultant general prosperity, peace and stability. Since the 1980s, that compact has been systematically violated in many Western countries by elites who allowed the costs of deindustrialisation to fall mainly on those displaced from regular jobs. The financial crisis of 2007–2008 intensified the effect: those who caused the crisis have continued to benefit from accumulated wealth while imposing its costs on the poor and disadvantaged by cutting welfare benefits. The resulting grievances have been stoked further by populist parties which have projected powerful symbols of mass national identity and used the strident and simplifying effects of social media to inflame political debate. Liberal democracies are endangered not because of subversion from outside, but because they have weakened themselves from within.


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© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Geoffrey Hosking
    • 1
  1. 1.University College London (UCL)LondonUK

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