The Post-War Years Was More Than Liberalism

I think Fawcett makes the mistake of looking at the world purely in terms of whether the world is liberal or totalitarian. Many ideologies were fighting for dominance in the post war years: liberalism, conservatism and socialism. It is a major omission to leave out the significance and influence of socialism as Fawcett does here:

After 1945, liberalism spread its benefits and protections to many. Now, liberalism looks too much like privilege.

The concept of the welfare state with old age pensions, unemployment benefits, disability benefits, sick leave etc were all more of a socialist project than a liberal one. Due to the apparent collapse of capitalism in the 1929 we got the new deal in America. Social democrats and labour parties gained power all over Europe in the post-war years. These parties made sure that a bigger slice of the pie was distributed to the working class and the poor.

Once can’t call all of these policies liberal, because there is a significant element of force in these policies. You take more money from people in the form of taxes and distribute them to people in the form of public services. Many companies were nationalized. We got a lot tighter regulation of e.g. the bank sector. If liberalism is all about freedom and individual choice, then you can’t call these changes liberal.

I don’t think one can explain the rise of authoritariansim, populism and Trumpism without looking at the marginalization of socialist ideas in liberal democracies ever since Ronald Reagan gained power. The fall of the Berlin Wall meant that it became easier to mock socialism as a failed idea. Capitalism as an ideology, rather than just an economic system, spread leading to crony capitalism. The insider got ever wealthier while the outsiders stagnated. This has caused resentment, anger and desperation among those left outside. These are the people who Trump have benefitted from.

Those European countries who have used taxes to invest in people: child care, education, work retraining, health care, jobs have not seen the same rapid rise in inequality and in far-right populism.

Geek dad, living in Oslo, Norway with passion for UX, Julia programming, science, teaching, reading and writing.

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