Is State Protection a Threat to Liberal Democracy? | Quillette

Source: Is State Protection a Threat to Liberal Democracy? | Quillette, by Ross Stitt

If the development of liberal democracy over the centuries has been a story of citizens making demands on the state—for personal safety, freedom, political power, welfare—what does our new age of insecurity mean for the next chapter? What will citizens want more of from their governments going forward? The obvious answer is protection—protection from terrorists, pandemics, extreme climatic events, economic hardship, and war. And today’s high maintenance citizens, products of a culture of market consumerism, will not be backward in demanding that protection.

In order to provide physical and economic protection to its citizens, a liberal democratic state must transgress core liberal tenets like privacy, freedom, and respect for private property. … Democratic politics is the process by which these trade-offs are negotiated. They have evolved over time.

The crucial question is whether or not the dramatic change in the nature and level of threats over the last 20 years, capped off by the shock of the dual COVID-19 crises, will trigger a revolutionary shift in those trade-offs and a transformation of the citizen/state relationship.