Will the Liberal Order Destroy Itself?

December 18, 2017 Topic: Politics Region: Americas Tags: Donald TrumpMAGALiberalsImmigrationRefugeesAmerica

Will the Liberal Order Destroy Itself?

While cosmopolitan Americans grieved on November 9, 2016, that Trump would ruin the liberal international order, the order was already straining under its own ambitions.

The Japanese value social harmony; leaders worry about integrating immigrants because of Japan’s unique culture and difficult language. While leaders understand the challenge of the low fertility rate and aging population, they have been cautious to see immigration as the remedy. As Prime Minister Shinzo Abe commented: “I would say that before accepting immigrants or refugees, we need to have more activities by women, elderly people and we must raise our birth rate.” Japan may someday move toward a more open immigration policy. Meanwhile, it offers a promising example of à la carte liberalism—of a country committed both to liberal values and to retaining its sovereignty.

While cosmopolitan Americans grieved on November 9, 2016, that Trump would ruin the liberal international order, the order was already straining under its own ambitions. A failure to take seriously the ideas behind this and other nationalist/populist revolutions will only empower another round of backlash, in which a more politically skillful and polished next generation could present a more formidable threat to the liberal project. After all, perhaps Ivanka (like Marine Le Pen) will someday sideline her inconvenient father. Meanwhile, the best way for the liberal order to survive is to listen to the people within it, who are tired of elites disdaining them while hoarding its gains.

Jennifer Lind is an associate professor of government at Dartmouth, and the author of Sorry States: Apologies in International Politics . Follow her on Twitter @profLind.

A previous version of this essay was published in Politique étrangère, Vol. 82, No. 4, Winter 2017-2018.

Image: A supporter holds a sign during a rally with President Donald Trump at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, U.S. June 21, 2017. Reuters/Scott Morgan