It was a forty-minute chat (podcast, no transcript), most of all about the decline of liberalism, based around Ed’s new and very well-received book The Retreat of Western Liberalism. We also covered what a future liberalism will look like, to what extent current populism is an Anglo-American phenomenon, Modi’s India, whether Kubrick, Hitchcock, and John Lennon are overrated or underrated, and what it is like to be a speechwriter for Larry Summers, among other topics. Here is the opening bit:
COWEN: Having a taste for the esoteric, I’d like to start with a question. If we go back to the 1680s and James II takes the throne, then, William of Orange comes over from what we now call the Netherlands and pushes him out — was that a liberal development or an illiberal development?
LUCE: At the time, it was very much a liberal development. Of course, we then get the bill of rights. We then get a further restriction of the power of the monarchy that comes with this new Dutch co-monarchy, William and Mary.
In retrospect, given the fact that this is very much the Protestant fundamentalist, the Battle of the Boyne, the victory of the Orange forces, William of Orange. In retrospect, I think it’s being celebrated in a pretty illiberal manner.
Of course, that’s very germane right now in Britain, given that Theresa May is trying to form a government in which the DUP, the Ulster Unionist Party are going to make up the difference between being a minority government and majority government.
It depends which bit of history you’re looking at it from is my answer.
And then I toss him this question:
COWEN: Let’s say we take the British election that was just held. So many people are calling it a mess, chaos, no-good results but, say, I offered you a revisionist view, how would you respond?
I would say it’s the first real election where voting by class has essentially fallen away. You even have Kensington in London going Labour for the first time since 1974.
Voting is now much more by age. You’ve more female representatives than ever before. You’ve 15 Muslims elected, 7 of those being female. More LGBT individuals. Maybe the new liberalism is reflected by that kind of elevation.
Then on top of that, the election definitely thwarted Scottish independence. It probably helped a soft border for Ireland. We hope it’s helping a soft Brexit.
No Corbyn, no UKIP. Wasn’t it exactly the vote we needed and the most liberal outcome you could have imagined, at least relative to all the initial constraints? Or not?
Ed is extremely interesting and articulate throughout.
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