Letters to the Editor – The New York Times


Democracy in Peril

To the Editor:

Fareed Zakaria dismisses the central argument of Edward Luce’s “The Retreat of Western Liberalism” (July 30) and says he is “not yet convinced that we must write obituaries for Western liberalism.” To support his critique, he cites recent elections in several European countries, the long-term expansion of the European Union and the benefits enjoyed by new member states. Poland, in particular, is held out as a model because it has been “secured economically, politically and militarily” by the E.U. and NATO.

Zakaria does not mention that the 2015 election of the Polish Law and Justice Party ushered in a dramatic turn toward authoritarianism. The European Commission is currently pursuing legal action against the Polish government for its assault on the freedom of the press and of the judiciary. Last month an attempt to place the courts under government control was halted, perhaps temporarily.

Zakaria also writes that “we all deserve criticism for missing the phenomenon of the ‘left-behinds’ and the economic and cultural forces that were roiling large parts of the country” before Donald Trump’s election. But those less attached to the fading ideals that govern Zakaria’s thinking may have been more attuned to the rise of populist nationalism than he allows. At the very least, we know a right turn when we see one.


To the Editor:

For Edward Luce, liberalism means “the tradition of liberty and democracy.” However, he seems to adopt the rightist view of liberty and democracy, whereby equality disappears. Under the rule of “liberalism,” labor unions have declined from one-third of all workers in the 1960s to some 10 percent today, resulting in lower wages. In 1965, the income ratio of the C.E.O.s of the top 350 firms to their workers’ wages was 20 to 1. Today, it is over 300 to 1. The wealthiest 0.1 percent held 7 percent of the nation’s wealth in 1978; this grew to 22 percent today. Twenty people own as much as the bottom half of the population. As for the liberal “international order,” eight men own as much as half of humanity. “Liberalism” has presided over the death of equality and therefore of democracy. Its demise shouldn’t be deplored, should it happen.


The writer is professor emeritus of political science at California State University, Northridge.

To the Editor:

Extreme inequality — it…

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