Grievances arising from this disparity are genuine and their impact on the

Grievances arising from this disparity are genuine

This preview shows page 5 - 7 out of 25 pages.

Grievances arising from this disparity are genuine and their impact on the polity real. What has become es- pecially worrisome is the exploitative use of this anxiety by fringe groups and—most alarming—state actors. The 2016 report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Russian interference in U.S. elec- tions and subsequent revelations about misuse of social media suggests an unparalleled manipulation of American public opinion by a hostile government. Any attempt to characterize those events as similar to foreign intelligence operations of the past is intellectually dishonest and just plain risible. It was stunning in its audacity and reach. Nothing like it has ever been attempted. The resilience of democracies has been tested by im- migration, the pace of technological change, and grow- ing disparities of income. While economic inequality may have lit the fuse, the failure of Europe to deal with immi- gration may be the proximate disappointment that raised questions about lack of deep EU capacity to manage chal- lenges to civil society. Russia took note. Democracies are highly adaptive, but must become more so in responding to exploitative attempts to turn pop- ulist concerns into threats to popular governance. The greatest challenge might be the rise of the billionaires. ANDERS ÅSLUND Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council B eginning in 1979, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan led a revival of classical liberalism as the social welfare state had gone too far and lost its allure. A quarter of a century later, liberalism has gone too far and failed to deliver what it promised. Economic
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16 THE INTERNATIONAL ECONOMY WINTER 2019 security has deteriorated, as private pension systems have underperformed together with economic growth. In parallel, Samuel Huntington’s third wave of de- mocratization ended a decade ago, and so did the ex- pansion of the rule of law with the enlargement of the European Union. A common view is that successful emerging economies have benefited more than the West from free trade and new technologies leading to greater global convergence. As market reforms have delivered less than expected, the ideological commitment to them has waned. Demography poses seemingly insurmountable prob- lems. Europe’s birth rates are only two-thirds of what is needed to maintain a steady population. The rational re- sponse is strong family support combined with an orderly immigration policy based primarily on merits, as is the case in Australia, Canada, and Ireland. Alas, most na- tions seem to be unable to think rationally about immi- gration, swinging from excessive liberalism in the United Kingdom, Germany, and Sweden until 2015, to the oppo- site in most countries. Demography must become an area of rational policymaking. Fear of immigrants has been a major cause of populism.
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