f_0018630_15954 - Rethinking Liberalism: An Interview with...

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Rethinking Liberalism: An Interview with Hernando de Soto T he conventional wisdom that democracy and free market capitalism provide the best means available to achieve a high standard of living has come under attack. Many believe the current financial crisis is evidence that global capitalism has the potential to create a level of misery that is intolerable. Moreover, even before the crisis, sustained economic growth in certain countries seemed to contradict the widely held assertion that political liberalization inevitably accompanies its economic counterpart (as evidenced by the rise of China). Such challenges to the intellectual order behoove us to seek perspective on how and why these systems that underpin our economic and political interactions succeed or fail, and what their futures may be. In a recent interview with the Journal , Hernando de Soto helps us do exactly that. Mr. de Soto has gained recognition for his argument that legally enshrined property rights have been essential to the development of a successful capitalist system in the West. He also argues that the institutions necessary to emulate this success are largely absent in much of the developing world. In this interview, Mr. de Soto discusses these points from a global perspective, answering questions about the specific role of certain countries, the importance and relevance of their histories to present realities, and finally, what he sees as the potential future path some of them will take. As debate continues in the public sphere regarding the future of global capitalism and democracy, we hope this interview provides you with as much insight as it did us. The Journal : Your organization, the Institute for Liberty and Democracy, predicates itself on the ideals of free market capitalism and liberal democratic institutions. However, many critics often cite the current economic crisis and severe disparities of wealth throughout the world as evidence that institutional liberalism is an inherently flawed way to organize society. In your view, is political and economic liberalism still the most viable model? de Soto : Well, first of all, let me tell you that my institution believes the formulas that traditionally enrich the West are behind its prosperity simply because we've seen them work on the ground. It doesn't start off from the fact that we read something and we preferred it to something else that we read. It actually started with the fact Hernando de Soto is President of the Institute for Liberty and Democracy (ILD), headquartered in Lima, Peru and co-chairs, with Madeline Albright, the Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor with the United Nations Developmet Programme (UNDP). He has authored many works on economic and political development including the highly acclaimed The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else . 9
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f_0018630_15954 - Rethinking Liberalism: An Interview with...

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