What is the liberal order

How the liberal order survives

The book “The World Needs the West” brings sober suggestions for sustainable reforms. The author names three central conditions for a "robust liberalism".

Journalism suffers no shortage of reflections on the inexorable decline of the liberal order. With the massive appearance of disruptive and autocratic state leaders, there are also enough reasons to imagine doom scenarios.

In this heated mood, sobriety is good. Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff delivers such a calm look with his book. The author, who was a journalist for a long time, then the head of the planning staff of Federal President Gauck and today the director of the German Marshall Fund, does not only believe in the resistance forces of the West. He also assigns a future to the liberal order - provided that it reforms. Such a "robust liberalism", as it calls it, must not do three things: it must not overstretch itself, it must not appear as a world-happy enthusiast in a democratic zeal for conversion, and it must reduce itself in its goals.

The author illustrates this with examples: Angela Merkel's open migration policy, for example, stands for liberal overstretching, for an idealism that broke with reality. When did this happen? When she wanted to convince other heads of government to follow her policy. Humanitarian military interventions, such as in Libya, illustrate a misunderstood zeal for conversion.

The book impresses with its sober analysis. It puts facts in the place where others make up the great worldquake. And it shows a way that could give the liberal order a long life. It could consist in the simple realization: less is more.

Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff: The world needs the West. New start for a liberal order. Edition Körber, Hamburg 2019. 208 pp., Fr. 28.90