The Crisis of Liberal Order

Ulrich Speck

Ulrich Speck is a foreign policy analyst based in Heidelberg and Brussels. He is currently a Visiting Scholar at Carnegie Europe in Brussels and writes a foreign policy column for a Swiss newspaper, Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Speck worked for a number of German media outlets, was head of the newsroom at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Prague, and a DAAD fellow at the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies (AICGS) in Washington, DC in 2006. His articles have been published by the New York Times, the Financial Times,, RealClearWorld, Open Democracy, and leading German newspapers and journals. Speck has coedited books on the Revolution of 1848, on American Empire, and on Modern Antisemitism. He holds a PhD in Modern History from the University of Frankfurt/Main. Speck is fluent in German, English, and French. Speck’s research interests are German and EU foreign policy, transatlantic relations, and global order.

The liberal world order, a system based on open borders and open societies, is increasingly under attack. In the past, it was mainly left-wing anti-capitalists and right-wing nationalists who fulminated against globalization, while the mainstream consensus was solidly behind it. Not anymore.

In the United States, the Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has declared, “Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo.” Trump blames globalization and immigration for the decline of the American working class. On the other side of the Atlantic, Britain voted to leave the European Union, with calls to limit the number of immigrants allowed into the country featuring strongly in the debate. In France, the leader of the National Front, Marine Le Pen, has a real chance at becoming the French president in 2017. While her party is notorious for its anti-immigration stance, Le Pen has also promised to hold a referendum on French membership in the European Union. In Hungary meanwhile, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán muses about the values of “illiberal democracy”, a populist simulacrum that in various degrees does away with the rule of law and protections for individual liberty that have been the hallmarks of constitutionally ordered societies that have emerged in the West since the end of the 18th century.

The article originally appeared in The American Interest on September 12, 2016. Continue reading here.

The views expressed are those of the author(s) alone. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the American-German Institute.