“Here is a media story from the week that was. In the Netherlands, a depressed teenager died after seeking euthanasia, and a number of outlets reported that she had been euthanized by a clinic that accedes to suicide requests from people suffering from mental illness. …
But suppose you believe a legal and medical system that colludes in the suicides of the depressed is as grave an evil as any populist policy to date. When such a system emerges as a seemingly organic feature of the liberal order, what then should be your attitude toward liberalism itself?
This problem, the possibility that liberalism could through the working of its own principles lead to something truly evil, connects to a somewhat-baffling argument among pundits this week about whether American conservatism is becoming “post-liberal,” whether the post-Trump right might leave liberal democracy itself behind. …
Which means that the liberal order’s defenders need to take them seriously. Liberalism has never done as well as it thinks at resolving its own crises. America’s gravest moral evil, chattel slavery, was defeated by an authoritarian president in a religious civil war, not by proceduralism or constitutional debate. The crisis of the 1930s ended happily for liberalism because a reactionary imperialist withstood Adolf Hitler and a revolutionary Bolshevik crushed him. The liberal peace that followed may depend on fear of the atomic bomb. …”
It is hard to imagine the collapse of the liberal world order from its epicenter in places like New York City, Washington, DC and London.
It is much easier to imagine it happening here in the Deep South. As I have explained at length, we have already shrugged off classical liberalism once before and 1 out of 5 Southern White men of military age were dead before we were dragged back into the Glorious Union in 1865. Liberal democracy also had a near death experience in mid-20th century Europe before it was saved by the Soviet Union.
Ross Douthat condemns chattel slavery as “America’s greatest evil.” I don’t think Ross appreciates the role that slavery and white supremacy played in the South in putting the brakes on the worst tendencies of liberal democracy. It was slavery that made the South the authoritarian and socially conservative region of the United States. The legacy of slavery is that Northern classical liberalism has taken much longer to destroy itself because it was restrained by all these other influences until the 1960s.
As to how the liberal world order ultimately collapses, the final act is easy to imagine now. It will be the return of chattel slavery in the 21st century that finishes it off because free human labor won’t be able to compete with machine slave labor powered by artificial intelligence in the future. The unraveling United States is also in no position to stop China from developing the technology. America’s loss of social cohesion will accelerate over the next two decades due to changing demographics.
After China displaces the United States as the world’s superpower and the global economy reorients under Chinese leadership, the liberal model will come under siege here. The liberal political and cultural establishment is already discredited. I don’t see it surviving the coming wave of mass unemployment driven by automation while simultaneously waging war against White America. Traditionally, it has relied on violence to preserve itself (Civil War, World War I, World War II, Cold War, etc), but the United States and United Kingdom lack the force to indefinitely preserve the liberal world order.
Who is going to sign up to fight China to preserve the liberal dystopia?