The liberal crisis posed by Trump, Brexit and authoritarian nationalism

President Trump’s visit to the UK this week, like his NATO meeting, has characteristically stirred up massive controversy and been met with widespread demonstrations. Rather than diplomatically mute his approach, he revels in controversy, the “Great Disruptor”. People may detest what Trump does and who he is, or be incredulous about what is happening and be like rabbits in the headlights, but that may be uncomfortably beside the point. A major shift in global politics is in the making, a polarisation between liberalism and authoritarian nationalism, a liberal crisis. What is important to do is to step back from the controversy and look at the broader trends, of which Trump is a figurehead as well as a leader, as seen in the UK and elsewhere. An age of reaction Both in the US and in Europe, the post-Cold War liberal … Read more

Is surveillance a threat to human rights in the UK?

The 800th anniversary of Magna Carta is 2015 and it provides a useful time to reflect on the balance between human rights and state power, especially in the light of the Snowden revelations of state surveillance through the internet, mobile phones and other technology. How strong are our rights as compared with the needs of the state to maintain security and public safety and its other responsibilities? Are democracies succeeding in curbing state power and guaranteeing the rights of the citizen? Magna Carta and its legacy Magna Carta, the Great Charter of 1215, was an attempt to limit monarchical power by the English landowning aristocracy which initially failed but over time became incorporated into the law of the land and has served in the centuries since as a rallying cry against the arbitrary use of power by government. Limits were … Read more

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