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Freedman, Lawrence. “The Crisis of Liberalism and the Western Alliance.” Survival 63, no. 6 (2021): 37-44.


Liberalism as the ideology of the Western alliance is in crisis. Having seen off Nazism and communism, it gained influence after the end of the Cold War, which produced optimism about security, human rights and global prosperity. Now liberalism, shaken by the financial crisis and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, is in retreat. Illiberal states, notably China and Russia, are reshaping the international system. Liberalism may not be able to continue to bind allies together, or enable them to cooperate effectively in a severe crisis. There are three counters to a gloomy prognosis, however. Firstly, heightened great-power competition has reinforced rather than undermined the alliance. Secondly, Russia and China have no substantial alliances, and are showing that authoritarian governments face serious problems of their own, including entrenched leaderships. Thirdly, liberalism remains better equipped to adapt to new circumstances.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.