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The West’s liberal delusion

The Berlin Wall coming down in 1989. Jacques Langevin/Sygma/Getty

If the war in Ukraine represents anything, says Rod Liddle in The Spectator, it’s “a comprehensive defeat for an ideology which its proponents once thought would be irresistible”. After the defeat of the Soviet Union, Francis Fukuyama and other thinkers convinced themselves that western liberalism would spread “into every corner of the world”. The rationale was that globalisation – specifically, “the exchange of labour, multiculturalism and mutual interdependence” – would diminish the nation state, and therefore nationalism. It was, in Fukuyama’s infamous words, the “end of history”.

“That’s not how it turned out.” The biggest beneficiaries of globalisation have been two countries not even remotely attracted by western liberal democracy: Russia and China. Moscow has taken advantage of our “naive dependence on its oil and gas”; Beijing has built up a network of “dependent client states in Africa and beyond”. We have drastically cut defence spending – from 8% of Britain’s GDP in 1950 to 2% today – on the basis that we’d never need to fight another war. Most damagingly of all, we have set about “besmirching or literally destroying” our culture and history. It has left us with “nothing around which we can coalesce, nothing to unite us except for a weird all-consuming self-loathing”. If you were asked to fight for your country today, what would you be fighting for? “There is nothing left worth bothering about.” That, I’m afraid, is “western liberalism’s final gift” to us all.