The Retreat of Western Liberalism

Edward Luce. Atlantic Monthly, $24 (232p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2739-6
With this wide-ranging account, Luce (Time to Start Thinking: America in the Age of Descent) enters the fray of books posing the post-2016 question “What just happened?” He begins with a summary of the current global economy’s formation and its connections to prevailing modes of governance. This leads into a history of liberal democracy, which Luce argues is held together most strongly by economic growth. In the absence of such growth, illiberal tendencies take hold. The author then explores the possible consequences of the decline of Western hegemony, including a theoretical war against China which Luce calls “not a prediction” but “a plausible extrapolation of the direction in which Trump is taking U.S. foreign policy.” The final section asks, briefly, what is to be done. Luce’s historical analysis is on point and he seems to understand the current situation as well as one could hope. One difficulty lies, however, is trying to predict the future in an era defined by a figure as mercurial as the 45th president. The main points are still relevant, even if some of the particulars will be dated before the book hits the shelves. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/01/2017
Release date: 06/01/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
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