Challenges for liberals

A continuació pots llegir el discurs amb el qual em vaig adreçar a tots els liberals del món durant el Congrés del 70è Aniversari de la Liberal Internacional celebrat a Andorra del 18 al 21 de maig de 2017.

 

We are living in new times for Liberalism, an ideological mindset that is growing because the traditional division of the political spaces is changing. Liberal movement represents a breath of fresh air in the traditional political systems.

 

The media describes Liberals as post-ideological, so far from the right and the left, almost like centrists who represent a moderate space in a moment of instability. It seems that now we are cool. They say now Liberalism is an increasing trend, a new fashion, but we are more than that, we are not an ephemeral fashion.

 

Until now Liberals have expressed themselves, saying: I’m liberal – so what? Actually, people say:  Wow, you are liberal – good for you! But Liberalism is above an electoral result, above a political success.

 

Liberal movement comes from far away, with strong roots and deep commitments, so thank you again but we are more than that. We are a strong political project: unified, renewed, and reformist, able to bring stability, growth, solidarity and hope for society.

 

So, the first challenge for Liberals: not to incur self-indulgence.

 

Let’s go for the second one:  populism. We will discuss during this congress how Liberals must fight populism, how we can face this threat and which is the new version of populism? Who drives populism? Who is the power behind populism?

 

Third and last, but not least, the challenge to pay attention to: the threat of technocracy.

 

Technocracy was kept far away politics until recently.  The line between technocrats and politicians was clear. Even though politics has reached for technocracy in moments of crisis, the reasons that have justified why technocrats arrived to manage a government were merely clear.  Not shared, but clear.

 

The control of society by an elite of technical experts has been used by dictatorship or autocracy regime throughout history but we have today some governments that are still managed by technocrats.  Nevertheless, the real risk is not there, we Liberals must fight against this kind of government.

 

But the threat, in my opinion, consists of the moment technocrats entered politics under the umbrella of new parties without values, no ideology nor any commitment with society. Technocrats are not subject to political parties, nor remotely responsive to any social protests. They are free of all political commitments.

 

Technocrats are individuals who firmly believe that societal problems can and must be solved using technology-focused solutions.  Some of these individuals are quite extreme in their beliefs, and favour a form of government, which would represent a new way of populism.

 

In this techno-populist, the world would be one where “Technocrats” know best and impose their vision.  The public doesn’t need to be informed of the problems now; they need to be informed of the solutions that are available and how to get involved simply and effectively.

 

A lack of information on which solutions and programs are available to be involved with brings a government of technocrats, by the technocrats, and for the technocrats and of course is bad for democratic legitimacy.

 

It is not a long-term solution and should not be considered as a short-term one either. Democracy must not be regarded as merely an optional extra when solving economic, social or political problems.

 

If politicians do not bring their people with them, they risk creating extreme alienation and discontent will increase. If politicians do not trust the people, why should the people trust their politicians?

 

When they are working to solve the crisis, they must be very careful that they don’t create a new crisis of political legitimacy, which will have even more serious long-term consequences.

 

Techno-populism worked for the lobbies and oligarchy rather than representing the interest of citizens, no empathy or connection with ordinary people is present.

 

They don’t want discussions with the opposition, they don’t want to test their theories because they think they’re right.

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