The future of Western democracy is not guaranteed. It won’t inevitably ‘all work out in the end’. Unless liberal democracy is actively preserved and protected, the West risks a slow decline into stagnation, exhaustion, and irrelevancy. That’s the stark warning from Bill Emmott, former Editor-in-Chief of The Economist, in his book The Fate of the West: The Battle to Save the World’s Most Successful Political Idea.

Emmott argues that widening inequalities of ‘income, opportunity, and political voice’ are being exploited by ‘demagogues and rabble-rousers’, who promise simple solutions or cynically point the finger at scapegoats. The growing gap between the richest and the poorest in society is, according to Emmott, undermining the fundamental ideas of democracy: openness and equality between citizens.

Debating Europe is excited to announce that we will be interviewing Bill Emmott about his book as part of our new book club – a chance to put your questions and comments to authors from across the globe!

Each month, we will pick a different book and interview its author, and put questions and comments to them from our readers on the topic of the book. Our book of the month for June will be Bill Emmott’s The Fate of the West.

The Fate of the West proposes a set of solutions that Emmott believes could help right the ship. For instance, Emmott argues that there is a hugely positive case to be made in favour of migration, yet admits that mistakes have been made in the past. He believes there should be controls on the speed and numbers involved, and that the concerns of those worried about the ability of countries to absorb and integrate large numbers of people should not be dismissed or ignored. This does not mean people should not be able to migrate from one country to another. It does, however, mean that migration should be a managed process.

Emmott makes the same point about financial markets. He argues, again, that there have been clear benefits to opening up the flow of capital between countries. However, he believes financial markets should not be able to operate beyond the scope of national or international regulators and central banks. His book makes the case for stricter regulatory controls, from limits on financial leaverage, to imposing steep capital requirements, to outright bans on the most complex and volatile financial activities.

The key message of The Fate of the West, however, is about equality and openness. Emmott argues that the ability to become rich is part of our shared liberties. However, he also feels that wealth should not be used to pull the drawbridge up and create an entrenched, privileged class. Emmott believes the state should act as a neutral guarantor of equal opportunities and social mobility. This includes measures that directly benefit the working class (such as a decent minimum wage), but also the opening up of labour markets if they are divided between “insiders” (who have accumulated all the rights, benefits, and protections) and “outsiders” (who work precariously and are effectively blocked from ever achieving “insider” status).

In a knowledge-based economy, with automation and advancing technologies shaking up the labour market, Bill Emmott argues that education is the most important tool available to close the equality gap. This should include robust public investment, stronger ties between the education system and the job market, and a commitment to ‘lifelong learning’, where education is seen as a way to refresh and update skills throughout a person’s career.

How can we reverse the decline of the West? Is liberal democracy under threat from growing inequality? Now is your chance to put your comments and questions to Bill Emmott about his book – so let us know in the comments below what you would like to ask him!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Raffaele


64 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. Franz

    Is the West declining?
    Who is “the West”?
    Well, Asia has two rising superpowers mainly because of their population, and these two regions were always dominating economic centres except in between 1800 and 2000. Since India is an independent united state only since 1947 and China and India are economically growing they eventually become superpowers in areas such as military, economy and soft power. Relatively Europe and North America will become less important. However, both regions will also gain more economic and innovation power. And there is Africa of course, but predicting the long term development of Africa up until 2100 is VERY difficult. It can be anything from lack of water, agricultural and energy production because of climate change and population growth to a prosperous continent with an economic and political union with countries such as Ethiopia, Nigeria or Kongo as regional and/or global leaders.
    Still, what is “the West”?
    I think it is more about political values and systems than geography or religion! As long as countries or political bodies in general are governed by a free, democratic and liberal systems they are natural allies (As long as there are no other competing interests).

    04/06/2018 Bill Emmott, former Editor-in-Chief of The Economist, has responded to this comment.

    • Ivan

      China and India have only become economic power houses because they have adopted Western capitalism & if we give up on it and adopt Socialism instead the result is unavoidable, the end of Western Civilisation.

    • Franz

      Do you mean social democrat ideas, or real socialism?
      The one is a part of our economic and political system since 1945 (at least in Europe) and provided prosperity for the most part of our societies (other than in the US). The other died 1991 in most parts of the world apart from Cuba and North-Corea.

    • Ivan

      You can call it what you want but there is really no difference between Socialism, so called democratic Socialism, Marxism and full on Communism, they all fail in the end.

      The goal of socialism (Democratic or otherwise) is communism. – Vladimir Lenin

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlozEkKU2bI

    • Franz

      Sorry picking a 100 year old quote that makes no sence todey doese not make you right. Sacial democratic values that you can find in parties all over the spectrum brought Europa so far.

    • Spyros

      Ivan yes, it is. And that’s our goal, socialism. The social democrats are just sell outs who voted for the first World War, advocated colonialism and occasionally worked with the nazis.

    • Steve

      Franz Moisi you’re right, social democratic values are what put Europe where it is today. Europe today is a failing dying experiment on an open concept that relied on lies, corruption and a secret overclass to rule without the peoples consent. The people of Europe are backing Brexit…..why do you think that is?

  2. Malcolm

    lollll yeah keep open borders and it will decline faster

  3. Atanas

    Just stop declining as simple as that:)

  4. Franz M

    Is the West declining?
    Who is “the West”?
    Well, Asia has two rising superpowers mainly because of their population, and these two regions were always dominating economic centres except in between 1800 and 2000. Since India is an independent united state only since 1947 and China and India are economically growing they eventually become superpowers in areas such as military, economy and soft power. Relatively Europe and North America will become less important. However, both regions will also gain more economic and innovation power. And there is Africa of course, but predicting the long term development of Africa up until 2100 is VERY difficult. It can be anything from lack of water, agricultural and energy production because of climate change and population growth to a prosperous continent with an economic and political union with countries such as Ethiopia, Nigeria or Kongo as regional and/or global leaders.
    Still, what is “the West”?
    I think it is more about political values and systems than geography or religion! As long as countries or political bodies in general are governed by a free, democratic and liberal systems they are natural allies (As long as there are no other competing interests).

  5. Zap

    I think the west as it currently is, is both a combination of ideas, amongst them i agree to some degree with Moisi i do believe there is a clear list of what the west is and isnt: the west is democracy, freedom (both personal, financial as in free markets, etc.. ) but also order, justice, the rule of law, there is human rights but thus also human obligations, our cristian heritage gives us amongst others “love for our fellow human” as a key concept more than any other religion (the core of buddism being more an inner peace and islam more about the worship and gratitude part) at the same time the secular state has given europe rational governance since the romans and greeks. What the west is not is dictatorship (which a constitutional monarchy is not. Or for example china (dubiously) which though under supreme emperor jinping now has a huge active internal semi-democratic party life, its like North korea (supposedly) several african and middle eastern nations, etc. And is marked in my opinion not.in lack of tolerance but lack of discussion) control of all aspects of life, cruel or unreasonable laws which propagate the devils message of Chaos and evil. Now there are countries which furfill all these conditions, some not even cristian, like Japan, or with a low cristian percentage like the Netherlands and Czech Republic, and others that do not furfill all these conditions but some like India, China, Russia, etc. And the US. The US many may disagree but the reason i believe it doesnt belong to the west anymore is 1) it has never truly lost, never truly invaded by a foreign power and is still (atleast military) the strongest coumtry in the world 2) the combination of capitalism amd secularism (in this particular case) these two things have produced their own amti-west horror. Personally i associate the west often with JRR Tolkien and believe thus “the west” is a vague idea of good all countries and maybe one day animals, robots and aliens could understand and adopt, but i also believe its in decline, why? the west vs rest mentality, which fails to see potential in ” nonwestern countries” the biggest example today in my opinion Russia which out of the opposing forces could most easily join the western alliance (cristian heritage blablabla) amd a search thus for conflict and polarity which i think in itself is anti-western 2) thinking. The US is part of the alliance, it was, it could be again, but it isnt, atleast untill for example its military budget is the same as other superpowers and it respects the UN mandates and its allies (right now atleast the NATO members) 3) atheism. If the west is cristian is debatable but spiritual it is. Lack of belief in any superior moral forces leads to narcicism and inmorality 4) negativity. Many People simply dont believe in the dream anymore or fight halfheartedly. Most people think the west (and the. Rest of the world) will be destroyed in 50- 100 years, either because of war, climate change, divine punishment, robots, etc. If we can get people to hope and dream for a better future for everybody and the european union becomes a powerful proactive Independent force i think we can stop the decline of the west

    04/06/2018 Bill Emmott, former Editor-in-Chief of The Economist, has responded to this comment.

    • Steve

      What is?

  6. jthk

    The decline of the West is Western democracies have been talking too much on freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. However, they only use these ideologies to treat people for benefits and interests. They appear to have never faithfully believe on all these values and have them very well preserved and ameliorate according to reality. I really do not see how West dominance can be sustained purely by lip service.

  7. jthk

    We are in a global era, in which the global force is too powerful. Collective effort is required to meet all challenges of the global era. Only by staying together by putting priority of EU and the whole world rather than that of the US. The alliance system is the reason leading to the first world war. The current NATO is another military alliance, which would lead European states into wars and eventually the third world war. The current UK and France support to US confrontation with Russia in Syria with a reason that has not yet been verified. It is through all these political manipulations that has led to the decline of the West. Where have all ideas of the Enlightenment gone?

  8. jthk

    Europe along cannot stop the decline of the West. Europe is only part of the West. Europe can only stop itself from declining with the US by achieving independence in all aspects. The most important one is to free itself from the military alliance i.e. the NATO. The alliance system was the major reason leading to the first devastating world war. NATO war agInst terrorism has free the US continent from terrorist attack but US alliances in Europe has become the new targets of terrorism. NATO military campaign in Syria and the US led Arab Spring has led to flooding refugees and BRIEXIT. European people would not be dying to sustain a declining military superpower by sacrificing life of its people, social harmony and prosperity,. The most pressing need is to prevent itself from the recent US-Russian conflict in Syria.

    • peter

      Nato is a dog on a chain whose holding the chain? usa

  9. jthk

    The US has been continuously waging war to destabilize regional economy such as the war in Kosova has served to destabilize Euro. The Wall Street financial crisis in 2008, EU is struggling from disintegration. The current diplomatic crisis and chemical weapon issues in the UK and Syria are strongly supported by UK and US. France and other EU states should not follow the led of UK. It’s aim is the disintegration of EU and Europe would be obliged to submit to US and UK led.

  10. jthk

    China has already curbed US aggression in the Korea Peninsula, EU ought to stop the US aggression in Syria. Syria and Russia are too close to Europe continent. Development would only be sustained in a peaceful environment.

  11. jthk

    The US needs to get back as many dollars to save its economic overheated. Dollars are required to fight the trade war with China and the whole world. If US starts a war with Russia and Europe is in peace, international capital will flow to Euro for safety. Europe wants to continue it’s recovery from the 2008 financial crisis, EU must not get involve in the Syrian war and diplomatic crisis under the led of countries outside EU.

  12. jthk

    Europe has been relying on its pluralist cultural civilization and desire on liberty. The EU should serves only collective security from external threats on aspects such as finance, trade, military and other cross boundary issues that a single state cannot achieve. Hence, EU needs to have independent and unified policy on all these issues such as the current trade dispute, influx of refugees, foreign diplomacy, etc. free itself from the Cold War mentality. We are in a new global era and a multipolar system.

  13. jthk

    EU comes second to the US in GDP (nominal) and larger than China. When China dares not to submit itself to any power and work hard independently with its own effort. Equally, there should be any problem cannot be overcome by collective effort of the many advanced modern states.

  14. jthk

    EU comes second to the US in GDP (nominal) and larger than China. When China dares not to submit itself to any power and work hard independently with its own effort. Equally, there should not be any problem EU cannot overcome with collective effort. EU ought to look into its own advantages and govern itself independently for EU interest.

  15. Jean-Pierre

    let’s face it, everything has a beginning and an end ! and that’s for the better ! life is always new ! It’s time for a new world, a new paradigm…

    • Laura

      The nightmare!

    • Jean-Pierre

      why a nightmare? The american way of life is a nigtmare, an illusion, not a dream…! ;)

  16. Christina

    Definitely by not bombing the east to start with !!!! That is a decline & disgrace on every level humanity, democracy … etc…

  17. Bruno

    By killing off the two-headed monster of economic neoliberalism and cultural Marxism, replace the degenerate oligarchies by new, true elites, rehabilitate our Christian identity, and build a real, sovereign European confederation that is not dominating the world, nor is dominated by it.

    • Marco

      I’ll skip the Christian identity thing, thanks.
      I can kinda agree with the rest, though.

    • Marco

      Ah-ah-ah that’s 75% in agreement. Nice. :-) Hm, I don’t think a European entity is possible without a Christian base though Granted, there are other historical legacies to insipire a pan-European idea: Greco-Roman civilisation; the Germanic and especially Carolingian and Danubian-Habsburg civilisations; and, most misknown and forgotten of all, Celtic civilisation. Some will add the Enlightenment, but it is its legacy has degenerated and has, as such, become toxic. The Dutch writer Benno Barnard, although himself agnostic, is right when he wrote about a month ago that Europe (or at least Northwestern-Central Europe), confronted, as it is, with what is fermenting beyond the Mediterranean as well as in its own metropolises, will soon bitterly regret that it has swept its own Christianty off the table that foolhardy.

  18. Anonymous

    Ένα δύσκολο περίπλοκο θέμα που προφανώς δεν μπορεί να αφορά μόνο την δύση. Η αναδιανομή,η ανάπτυξη,οι όροι και οι προϋποθέσεις ανάγονται πλέον σε νέα οικονομικά συστήματα. Η δημοκρατία είναι πολίτευμα της δύσης και η ανατολή κατά την πολιτιστική κληρονομιά της πρέπει επίσης να βρει τον δρόμο που θα φέρει τα συστήματα κοντά. Βρισκόμαστε σε ένα πολύ μεγάλο και προκλητικό μέλλον δεδομένης της απόφασης των ΗΠΑ που θα καθορίσει το δικό τους μέλλον. Η εναλλαγή απομονοτισμος, ανοιχτά σύνορα δύσκολα θα επιβιώσει στο μέλλον δεδομένου ότι θα ανατείλουν και άλλες”, υπερδυνάμεις”, εκτός αν όλα αυτά είναι ευχολόγια μπροστά σε μια ολική καταστροφή…………

    A difficult complicated issue that obviously cannot be about the west. Redistribution, development, terms and conditions now relate to new economic systems. Democracy is a rule of the West and the East in its cultural heritage must also find the way to bring the systems together. We are in a very big and challenging future given the us decision to determine their own future. Toggle Toggle, open borders will hardly survive in the future, since there will be more “, superpowers “, unless all of this is wishful thinking in front of a total disaster…………

    • Marion

      Rubbish 😈

    • Anna

      Haven’t you had enough of them Marion Pieri?

    • Anna

      I live in Greece and my country is the gate towards Europe for them. In a few years at this rate we’ll be the minority in our own country. Which part of my comment did you not understand?

    • Marco

      same for Italy

    • Marco

      I had enough of racist scum, actually.

    • Dimitris

      What a cuck. You brainwashed tards are the reason the west is degenerating

  19. Marco

    Simply. Being West again. Going back to the roots of western culture (from Plato to Voltaire and so on, not to Roman Inquisition obviously) and defending them against the new darkness rising from so called Dar al Islam.

  20. Richard

    Can’t be done, not enough Trumps around and too many idiots who believe the agenda driven lying media. Sorry it’s over, ‘ Camp of the Saints’.

  21. Christos

    Stop wasting money on arms and wars, and invest them on education, innovation, exploration, green and renewable energy, overhaul of our economy, energy supplies, use of plastic, youth empowerment, family orientation, equality….. there, do you want more?

  22. Jeffrey

    BLOW UP JEKYLL ISLAND, AND ARREST THE BUSHES, CLINTONS, OBAMA AND TRUMP, AND THEIR ADMINISTRATIONS FOR TREASON, WAR CRIMES, CHILD TRAFFICKING AND SEXUAL ABUSE, AND FURTHER CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY, STUFF HAVING A JURY, CONVICT AND HANG THE LOT..

  23. Stavros

    How about a society believing one again and investing in family which has always been the newcleus of the society?
    We need to remember that when the West promoted and celebrated the changing of the definition of marriage, the West’s demise became irrevocable.

  24. Allende

    I have no fY’in clue what Stavros is on about but the “west” (from Rome to London) has never been anything other than a bloodthirsty bunch of invading savages with good writers

  25. Andy

    How can the West’s decline be reversed? For example by unleashing hordes of Islamist thugs to do our bidding in various countries of course. Or by creating a new Cold War with Russia. Or by openly putting a nuclear confrontation with North Korea on the table. Hm?

  26. catherine benning

    How can we reverse the West’s decline?

    The EU, as an entity within the framework it has adopted, cannot stop the decline it presently experiences and it knows it. It is a preordained agenda to which it has signed up with 177 other countries.

    The only way it can reverse this decline is to turn its back on the NWO and Agenda 2030. Should it have the courage to do this, it will no doubt experience the same threats of war as Iraq, Libya and Syria . And the EU elite know it. The only way it can surpass this fate, is for the EU to dismantle one nation at a time.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cf9OlVVPsYU

    Another explanation.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esJY2SK_4tE

    Now here is the enigma, the world is approximately nine billion people, many aware of the destruction they are facing and why. The people leading us into this human minefield are a tiny minority of that population. Yet, similar to the stories we read of concentration camps regarding hundreds of those trapped within, who allowed themselves to be annihilated by a handful of guards, the world population is doing the same. Why?

    • Karolina

      The EU has brought on the decline.

  27. Fergus

    Attack our ‘Poverty of Philosophy’ replace it with the ‘Republic of Reason’

  28. Zap

    Invest in pro-europeanunioon media! AKA culture! AKA books (a short story of germany by Hawes, and europe in 12 lessons by pascal fontaine good begginings, but id like more complex books and theories, maybe some fiction) amd comics! Comics are hugely underestimated but comics are the bases for the real good tv series, videogames, etc. Howabout some good animated series like netflix castlevania, for children as well as more deep and complex series (inspiring on American superhero (xaptain america, iron man, x men, batman & superman, etc) and surrealism cartoons like the Sandman, Hellblazer, simpsons episodes especially treehouse of horror, south park, rick and morty etc. As well as the great japanese sagas which have truly chamged animation forever: dragon ball, one piece, naruto, pokemon, berserk, hunter x, ninja scroll, etc. They have also been great ways of sharing Japanese worldview, etc. Code geass gave and grave of fireflies gave me a first glimpse into post american occupation / modern Japan, where is European Animation? Giving a European message?

  29. Johan

    Which decline ? Everyone and their cat want to try to sneak into the west.

  30. jthk

    What we can be very sure is that the West’s decline cannot be reversed with war. Ever since Deng Xiao Ping’s Open Door Policy, China has used only 40 years to become the second largest economy and its military power is probably the third after the US and Russia. It has successfully reduced poverty of 7 billion people. What is important with China is that it has been avoiding to fight war. China has no election but the Communist Party has been enjoying a high legitimacy to rule for the Chinese people have all a good share of the economic benefit of the Open Door Policy. How people of the West is different from the Chinese? Are war and ideologies the destination of the people of the West?

  31. jthk

    If the vulnerable cannot be suitably protected, they would be the first who have suffered from opening. So,the priority of opening, the pace of opening, etc. need careful planning. Unplanned and irrational open would only lead to collapse of the economy and suffer of the people.

    • catherine benning

      @ jthk

      Perhaps you would like to listen to this chat with Dr. Paul Craig Roberts. It is not only spellbinding, it’s a revelation to the world.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zPakLMV-1k

  32. James McManama

    What we’re talking about here are big events like the election of Donald Trump, or Brexit in the UK, which are manifestations of some of the underlying causes Emmott refers to in his book.

    However, Trump is a blip. He will be voted out of his office after four years, or at worse will serve 8 years. Brexit is much more serious, but is also in the grand scheme of things a blip. There will be an almighty fudge, and the UK will end up with ‘associate EU member status’ or something along those lines. So, liberal democracy is self-correcting.

    04/06/2018 Bill Emmott, former Editor-in-Chief of The Economist, has responded to this comment.

  33. Karolina

    By staying firm in our values and strengthening our democracy. We need to stand firm and defend democracy from anyone who attacks it. We also need to use democracy in order to tackle these challenges. We have let democracy down. We have allowed anti-democratic ideas, traditions, cultures and behaviours proliferate on the back of a misconceived tolerance. This has then given rise to populism which also is a big danger for democracy.

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