The Rawlsian Diagnosis of Donald Trump

Samuel Scheffler in the Boston Review:

These are difficult times for liberal theorists. Fewer than thirty years after the end of the Cold War ushered in a period of unprecedented liberal ascendancy, liberalism today is in retreat—or at least on the defensive—in many parts of the world. A new generation of authoritarian strongmen have come to power in a number of countries, riding waves of populist, nationalist, and anti-globalist sentiment, and other countries may well be headed in the same direction.

It is tempting to interpret these developments as revealing a deep flaw of some kind in liberalism. As one political scientist told the New York Times, “What we’ve seen is a kind of backlash to liberal democracy. . . . masses of people feel they have not been properly represented in liberal democracy.” Some critics place the blame on liberalism’s excessive individualism: its failure to recognize the importance of national identity or patriotic sentiment, its marginalization of religion, its devaluation of the nation-state, or its general tendency to privilege the global and universal over the local and particular. Others have suggested that the fault lies with contemporary liberalism’s insufficient individualism: its creation of huge state bureaucracies exercising control over virtually every area of human life, its endorsement of unsustainable social welfare programs, or its policies of rights inflation.

More here.