Western Liberal Eagle Lost its Wings?
Not too long ago the BBC reported that the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, in a recent interview with the Financial Times, claimed that liberalism has ‘become obsolete’, dead. The Russian president said that liberal ideology that has underpinned western societies for decades has ‘outlived its purpose’. Maybe Mr Putin is right, has the great American republic fallen, lost its moderate conservative bite, or its liberal society and leadership system declining? Have the great democracies of Western Europe catch a liberal cold because America sneezes?
Conversely, the Kremlin leader’s comments were instantly ceased upon and widely condemned even ridiculed by leaders of western democratic societies. Boris Johnson, before he became British prime minister, said Mr Putin comments were, ‘ludicrous’ saying instead of being dead , this is a time when we should have increased liberalism. Western leaders claim that Mr Putin is wrong in his comments and ceased the opportunity to call not just for the continuing but the increase in liberal freethinking ideas in the world. The question is, is Mr Putin right? Or what does he mean by this comments, and is Russia under Mr Putin’s leadership moving towards limited tolerance, restricting liberalist, and freethinking idealist?
Immigration a Political Football
Noticeably Mr Putin comments was directed at German Chancellor Angela Merkel, not just because of her stance on immigration, but because of the perceived troubles brought to Europe. He went on to suggest that liberalism conflicted with “the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population”. Of course Germany has taken in significant numbers of refugees which has not gone down well in many European corridors of power. Mr Putin, claims that “this liberal idea presupposes that nothing needs to be done”, he went on to claim that “migrants can kill, plunder and rape with impunity because their rights as migrants have to be protected”. His target was not solely on immigration, it was also focussed on the LGBT community as well. Mr Putin claims that Russia had “no problems with LGBT persons… but some things do appear excessive to us”. He said, “They claim now that children can play five or six gender roles”. So then, “Let everyone be happy, we have no problem with that. But this must not be allowed to overshadow the culture, traditions and traditional family values of millions of people making up the core population”.
To fully appreciate Mr Putin one has to understand his, background. He grew up under the Soviet Union, or the Soviet Socialist Republic, which has long since suffer demise and became extinct. However, he like many of his peers who grew up under that system, regretted the downfall, and seems to have a deep urge, a longing to return to what was for them the good old days. He regards the fall of the Soviet Union as a calamity, and since his multiple stints as Russian leader has wanted to re-establish Russia as a world super power to counterbalance the liberal Western World order.
For this reason Mr Putin’s comments and actions i.e. annexing Crimea, modernising, some say upgrading his military, and sending his military forces to fight in foreign countries, are hardly surprising. However, Russia, with its comparatively weak economy and plagued by many social problems, it is scarcely a model society or strength of leadership that many Europeans, even Syrians and Iranians should desire to take pattern, listen to or take advice from.
However, I cannot help but ask the question, will people of the soon will be talking about the good old days of Liberalism? Will people of liberal societies live to see the days, when their grandchildren as to explain what the good old days was like? it cannot go unnoticed that Mr Putin’s remarks still resonate in the corridors of western political powers. Especially since the liberal order which was established in the wake of the World War Two, and enhance by the 1960’s liberal movement is facing severe pressure like it never has before. Mr Putin’s comments reveal the fight is on many fronts, inclusive of socio-economic, political, and even religious freedom is targeted. The world must be aware that when human rights are restricted in one place, it is restricted everywhere. When people are denied basic human freedom, to live, work and express their views, the church better take notice. This may start with Immigrants, but will soon reach areas of society not intended by adherents. In ancient Persia, Haman in his hate for Mordecai, coaxed the king to establish a law that would wipe out Queen Esther and nation of Israel. Queen Esther’s now famous action, and quote, ‘if I perish. I perish, I must see the king” save the nation.
The eye watering implications some say threatening financial crisis and world-wide recession being made a real possibility by the ongoing trade war between America and China; the anti-elitist tides flowing inside many western liberal democratic countries; the perceived threat to the UK and European economies that Brexit posed; and China rising on the world stage as a major economic force second only to the US, have collectively generate a sincere sense of out of control car swerving left and right increasing fear and discomfort. The established world economic order, of which the United States was/is its defacto leader is threatened, will another nation, Russia under Putin, or China emerging take the lead? When will western cherished, liberal systems and freedom to congregate and choose their own governments ends?
Populism & Realism
Many ordinary Europeans are of the view that with the increase number of immigrants on their doorsteps, their views are disregarded, and their interests are ignored by the political establishment. Europe has since seen the rise of populist politicians, coming to power on the strength of this idealism. But can populism triumphed realism? One of the disastrous costs of the ‘realist’ rise in western democratic politics is the misperception of populism for realism. Remember that realism in the most basic interpretation given is an approach to the study and practice of international politics. Which emphasizes the role of the nation-state and makes a broad assumption that all nation-states are motivated by national interests, or, at best, national interests disguised as moral concerns? Undoubtedly anyone living in the west aspiring for realism and restriction in foreign policy is delusional?
Mr Putin may be considered delusional politically, but he is ceasing the moment and is riding on the waves of European immigration discontent. He is advocating the growth of a populist national movement in Western Europe and the Americas, because in his views, liberalism is a spent force in the world. But has political realism on his side? For on the back of Europeans becoming openly anti-immigration, open borders and multiculturalism, how far does Putin’s comment transcends and with what political heavyweights does his call resonate? What can or will anything be done to change or out date the liberal movement that for many years serves and shape western cultures and societies? Has liberalism caused more harm than good in the world? Has religion in the west benefits, from the liberal cause?
Evidently Immigration is an issue that concerns the entire world, but equally no nation should put up barriers or deny refugees to a safe port. Humankind is migratory in nature and every nation ethnically has been migrants at one time or another in their history. The UN declaration on human rights is something we should all live up to. Humans have the right to live and work wherever we please regarding of race culture or ethnicity. What we do not have is the right to deny immigrants entry to our ports, regardless of colour, creed or race. Neither should we use immigration as a political football or encourage populist movements under the guise of nationalism and ethnic purity or safeguard to deny entry across our boarders. There are many cultural norms that are unique, but there are more that unites us, than those that divide. We may be as the proverbial saying, throwing out the baby with the bath water, an obvious act of self arm!