The twenty-first century is a strange land. Whole armies of publications seek to answer its strangest question: fewer than three decades after defeating communism and declaring itself unassailable, why is the Western liberal order sinking into a political and economic morass of its own making?
Why are its citizens now deserting liberal democracy in droves and increasingly attracted to extremist views and authoritarian-style politics? Why are liberal markets regressing into levels of inequality rivalling that of the nineteenth-century Gilded Age? Why does the West appear headed towards a second financial crisis as early as a decade after the first shattered global markets?1 Why (in the ultimate rebuke to liberalism) Donald Trump? When future historians look back, they will undoubtedly see these questions as seminal to understanding our strange times.
Promise of global liberalism
Western-driven integration and progress were the Zeitgeist in the early years of the post–Cold War era. The proposition was simple and compelling. The global spread of liberal markets and liberal democracy would complete the Enlightenment project begun by the West three centuries earlier. Now that everyone was a democratic citizen and free marketeer, the ‘best’ political and economic systems to manage modernity would transform the world into something approximating a liberalist heaven on earth.
Hard on the heels of this geopolitical restructuring came the internet. It was hailed as the torch-bearer of Western values and a supercharger of globalised markets and democracy. Its unprecedented capacity to connect and inform led many to predict it would optimise rational and respectful debate, make markets more perfect and generally drive a far more vibrant global sphere. As US historian Robert Kagan noted:
With the world converging around the shared principles of Enlightenment liberalism, the great task of the post–Cold War era was to build a more perfect international system of laws and institutions … a world of liberal governments would be a world without war … the free flow of both goods and ideas in the new globalised era would be an antidote to human conflict.’2
Prism of failure
Today’s commentators use a variety of prisms to explain the project’s abject failure. Some see it as partly the result of geopolitical shifts spurred by the rise of China. Others focus on the populist dislocations now battering liberal politics and name it the era of Trumpism.
Future historians are more likely to see a singular pattern that speaks to the seismic contours of the West’s twenty-first-century malaise. Far from being a bastion of progressive Enlightenment, the West is becoming a heavily barricaded garrison of reactionary thought and action. Far from a spearhead of Enlightenment values and ideals, the liberal West has entered an illiberal and de-enlightened ‘Age of Retreat’.
History rarely moves in resolutely linear ways. All eras have periods of reversal, or absences of progress. But I make three arguments that the West’s reversal is not temporary or peripheral. The Age of Retreat is deep and abiding. One, the West’s core systems and institutions—liberal markets and liberal democracy—have morphed from being the spearheads of progress into viral carriers of illiberal reaction. Two, the wholesale and largely unregulated insertion of digital-driven algorithmic governance into the public sphere and our private lives is accelerating the West’s regression. Three, the combination of these shifts makes the Age of Retreat not only systemic but also existential, regressing the Western mind into a new Dark Age of irrationality, superstition and fear.
The centrality of progress
Understanding the full arc of the Age of Retreat requires a short detour to the West’s concept of ‘progress’. It is one of humanity’s core narratives that human life should be set on a trajectory away from decay and decline. The West, propelled by Enlightenment ideals of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, took the notion of human transformation to a far more intense place.3
Enlightenment displaced religion’s long-established claims that faith, fate and superstition were the sole ways to order and organise the world. Static order ordained by God and kings was challenged and overturned by the humanist ethos. Human-driven reason and science were the means not only to understand the present world but also to turn our minds away from a fixity on the past to an imagined future, which meant we could conceive, plan and construct an ideal world in this life.
In this way, the concept of ‘progress’—the ceaseless transformation of society through technology towards a better future—became the central orientation for the Western mind.4 Liberalism was deeply rooted in the Enlightenment. It not only formalised Enlightenment’s wide challenge to arbitrary power with institutions such as democracy, property rights and citizenship. Its intellectual culture also placed individual agency as the central force in modernity-driven progress.5
The positive empowerment of the individual through knowledge, economic opportunity and social mobility was not just a ‘good thing’ in itself. It had a deeply instrumental purpose. The lasting way to achieve collective progress was not top-down but bottom-up, by freeing up the competitive energies and rational thinking of ordinary people.
Other ideologies, notably communism and fascism, challenged liberalism’s role as the torchbearer of humanity’s progress in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. They too sought to harness humanist reason, science and technology to achieve their version of a better world.6 But their path meant subverting, not empowering individuals and their rights through arbitrary and often irrational rule.
All of this should remind us why the fall of communism was seized upon by the West as confirmation of why individual-centric, reason-driven liberalism was the best and only way to organise late-modernity’s progress. It reminds us why a triumphant West believed this ‘End of History’ era held the richest of promise for all of humanity. It also tells us why its headlong flight into retreat and regression in fewer than 30 years will be seen by those looking back as both extraordinary and profound.
At a superficial level, the twenty-first century seems overwhelmed by more ‘progress’, ‘reason’ and ‘individualism’ than ever. Technological advances appear more rapid and futuristic. Democracy, markets and the internet have spread values of choice and empowerment globally. Free markets have lifted overall living standards where former communist regimes failed.
Once we peel away these appearances—as well as assumptions around the privileged relationship between the West and progress—we more readily see a twenty-first-century West increasingly defined by anti-choice, anti-individuality and anti-rationality. This is a Western world defined around seven retreats; each in their own way degrades ‘progress’, ‘reason’ and the ‘individual’ as well as severing the link between them. Combined, they build a seismic physical, cultural and mental retreat.
1 Retreat behind walls
The most tangible but also most symbolic sign of the Age of Retreat is the West’s retreat behind walls. In 1987 US president Ronald Reagan famously called on the Soviet Union to ‘tear down this wall’ in Berlin. Two years later the communist-built wall separating East and West Berlin was effectively gone, and the Soviet Union was on the way to collapse.
The signature call of a very different US president three decades on is ‘Build the wall’. Barricading the United States from Mexico and other largely imagined ‘threats’ has become a political obsession for Donald Trump and tens of millions of Americans. But America is not alone. Western leaders—egged on by fear-driven constituencies—are constructing a succession of walls to barricade their nations too. Wire fences now snake their way around Europe’s eastern border in what one commentator describes as ‘1989 in reverse’.7 The irony of this strategic retreat is immense: the West now seeks to reassert the primacy of boundaries that it earlier sought to diminish by leading three decades of globalisation.
The erection of walls around the West are also economic: increased protectionism that is fast eroding the liberalism’s own dream of global market integration. Again, Trump’s lead on tariff walls obscures a much bigger phenomenon of Western revanchism.8 What is Brexit but a resumption of Fortress Britain together with, as many believe, the beginnings of Europe’s rebalkanisation? What is the rise of right-wing nationalism across Europe, together with calls to ‘keep Europe Christian’9 by prominent political leaders, but an intensifying retreat behind cultural walls?
2 Retreat from democracy
At the fall of communism, liberal democracy was predicted to be the gold standard around which every twenty-first-century political system should be organised. Even until the so-called Arab Spring of 2010, the Enlightenment dream of a world built on free elections and political moderation continued to burn bright. Less than a decade on, the retreat of liberal democracy—like the retreat behind walls—is metastasising.10
Comparatively newly minted democracies such as Poland and Hungary, which threw off autocratic shackles and embraced democracy in the 1990s, are retreating into quasi-authoritarian rule where free speech is curtailed, elections are tainted and individual rights are restricted or abused.
More significantly, in core, long-established Western democracies such as the United States and Australia, democracy’s credibility and support among its citizens have fallen to historic lows. Democracy’s regression is underlined through increasing survey evidence that younger generations across the West are turning off the system in large numbers. Instead, they are looking increasingly favourably upon authoritarianism as a more ‘effective’ way to manage the twenty-first century.11
All these trends fundamentally alter liberal democracy’s character from moderation to extremism. Moderation is pivotal to liberal democracy and liberalism generally. An abundance of citizen ‘inputs’ underwritten by core democratic practices, such as free speech and freedom of association, combine to trim away extreme views and policies.12 Democracy in this way gravitates to the ‘sensible centre’. But as mainstream voters increasingly distrust and turn away from democracy across the West, its inherent barriers against extremism are dismantled. This leaves liberal democracies hollowed out and increasingly prone to hijack by those at the fringes.
We see this with the rise of Trump as well as the elevation of what were once fringe groups into power in Europe. The result is that democratic systems become carriers of increasingly polarised and illiberal politics. Extreme division further degrades and drains the sensible centre. The dynamic of ‘democratic extremism’ accelerates.
3 Retreat of the individual
Freedom from arbitrary power is liberalism’s key goal; three core principles: non-intrusion, non-exclusion and non-obstruction of the individual are its bedrock.13 Thanks to the rapid digitalisation of capitalism over the past 20 years, liberal markets appear to have liberated—through unprecedented choice and convenience—the individual more than ever. Yet this masks darker, deterministic realities.
Digital-driven capitalism in the past decade has become ‘surveillance capitalism’. Every private movement, thought and behaviour that comprise our digital lives are covertly stalked and monetarised by private companies into ‘products’. In the process it reduces consumers to mere ‘data factories’.14 This fundamental undermining of individual privacy—led by a handful of major tech firms that have monopolised control of the internet—shatters liberalism’s non-intrusion tenet.
Western market economies are likewise being increasingly defined by obstruction to and exclusion of the individual. As liberal democracy’s capacity to check markets is degraded by extreme money politics, social mobility has stalled or gone backwards over the past three decades.15 At the same time, levels of wealth disparity have accelerated since the global financial crisis of 2007–9 to levels not seen since the 1890s. At the centre of these regressive trends is America: once the epicentre of ‘opportunity for all’, social mobility has become over the past two decades almost non-existent.16 In opportunity terms, the United States has effectively regressed into a feudal-style caste system.
4 Retreat from reason
The internet’s 1990s moniker was the ‘information superhighway’. The term reflected its original promise of a wide and inclusive path that would supercharge reason and rationality, and in the process the collective good.
A quarter of a century on, the highway has become regressive, a stamping ground of irrationality, superstition and poisonous hatreds. The internet’s deteriorating character is a function of its underlying dynamics. In essence, the internet is no longer organised around human agency. Instead it has become an intensely algorithmic one.
Algorithms are super calculations that order and organise the exponential amounts of data and information the digital world now produces. As digital transformation embeds itself into every aspect of the twenty-first century, algorithms automate and prioritise almost all the information the internet presents to us. They also effectively automate an increasing range of decisions that steer many of our social systems and institutions.
At a surface level, algorithms appear to enhance human agency. The data we ‘provide’ them (via intrusive tracking of our online behaviour) is fed back to us in what appears to be uniquely tailored information, convenience and choice. In reality we are effectively beholden to them. Algorithms are a black box. Largely controlled by the same handful of internet monopolists,17 we have no idea how they are constructed or why they order the information and realities they present to us.
Yet, blinded by the munificence of the conveniences they bestow upon us (think Google Maps or Uber pick-ups), we rarely question the arbitrary nature of their reality-making. In essence, this makes the rapidly expanding universe of algorithmic governance over the past decade comparable to the edicts of feudal gods and kings and makes us its digital serfs.
The impact of this black-box ordering system is particularly profound for the West’s political and social spheres. Algorithms are deliberately constructed to maximise revenue for internet giants by hyper-personalising the organisation of online information around what we have already seen and agree with. The aim is to attract and sustain our attention to the paid advertising that increasingly saturates our online screens. Our capacity for reasoned thinking and open debate is degraded by these profit-driven ‘filter bubbles’ that in effect operate on a feedback loop of confirmation bias.18
As more opinion and debate shift online (as freedom and democracy are literally outsourced to algorithms), political or social facts are no longer prioritised over fallacy. Inward-looking repetition, not collective evidence, determines truth. Our public sphere regresses into an escalating shouting match of sensationalised exaggerations, fake news and outright lies.
Think the rise of algorithmic-driven public opinion is just a peripheral or passing threat to Western Enlightenment traditions of empirically based debate and discovery? Why then, over the past two years, have tens of thousands of scientists across the world felt compelled to march globally in support of rational thinking and fact-based evidence?19 Twenty years ago this would be laughed away as street parody. Today they are the foot soldiers covering Enlightenment’s retreat.
5 Retreat into the past
The rise of algorithmic governance not only shifts us away from the rational, it also shifts Western liberalism even further from its transformative, future-oriented promise. Again, appearances are deceiving. Its capacity to instantly filter and organise massive amounts of information makes it seem futuristic: yet algorithmic governance is essentially backward-looking. Algorithms do not suggest or invent new ways of thinking or doing. Their utility lies in organising digitised information of events and behaviours that have already happened. They are codifiers and reifiers of the past.20
Algorithmic governance is now being deeply embedded in Western justice, business and government systems. Growing dependence on this past-oriented decision architecture means institutions in effect allocate more to those who have plenty, and less to those who have less.
Algorithms automate health insurance to be withheld from those who are sick. Bank credit is denied to the marginally poor. Arrests and heavier prison sentences are imposed on those with a criminal past. In this way, economic inequality and social injustice are entrenched at a technological level.
Liberal societies have relied on transparency as a first step to remedying equity bottlenecks: transparency gives us the choice to see and address them through progressive economic or social programs. But the inherent regressive and discriminatory calculations of black-box algorithms never see the light of day. They, and the inequalities they augment, remain unchallenged and unchecked.
Technology-driven retreat is mirrored in the mental retreat that now pervades Western politics. Fuelling this retreat is a militant desire to recreate the ‘lost paradises’ of the last century. In effect, this retreat into the past is a potent refuge from a disorienting present. Its growing resonance is underlined by the fact that what were the fringe ideas of radical right-wing nostalgia have become, in the past decade, mainstream political agendas.
We see this with Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ and his Mexican wall, Brexit’s ‘Take back control’ and fortress Britain narrative. We see it with support for radical-right parties in Europe, now at its highest level since the collapse of communism. Mark Lilla sums up the mental phenomenon in his book The Shipwrecked Mind. Reactionaries who hanker for an idealised past have turned their nostalgia into political militancy. ‘To live a modern life anywhere in the world today, subject to perpetual social and technological change, is to experience the psychological equivalent of permanent revolution,’ Lilla writes. As a result, their zeal to escape the present makes past-obsessed reactionaries, not progressive, future-oriented liberalists, the true revolutionaries of the twenty-first-century West.21
6 Retreat into fear
Stoking fear has always been a potent political tool. But across Western democracies, fear now overwhelms its counterweight, the progressive politics of hope. Framed around positive change and transformation, hope, by definition, is future-oriented. But in a world punch-drunk by the disruptions of the present and made retrograde by our retreat into the past, fear is a barricade against what the retreating mind sees as an ever-darkening, future world. In this way, the currency of hope is devalued and the politics of it indelibly weakened.
Retreat into fear impels political leaders to create and demonise an ever-increasing array of ‘enemies’: black people who choose to kneel during national anthems, transgender people who seek recognition, asylum seekers who ask for freedom. None are existential threats, but in the fear-framed mind of the Age of Retreat, they symbolise a disruptive and alien twenty-first century. In this way, individual difference and diversity that would ordinarily be championed by liberal values are readily scaled into existential threats. In this way, political illiberalism is further justified and empowered.
In 1932 when confronting the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt famously counselled Americans they ‘have nothing to fear but fear itself’. Bob Woodward’s recent exposé on the Trump White House is titled Fear for good reason. In the Age of Retreat, fear is everything because our leaders tell us we have everything to fear. And more than ever we are hard-wired to believe them.
7 Retreat into narcissism
While individual agency shrinks in the West’s outer world, the Age of Retreat provides the individual with perverse compensation: an extreme outsized inner world. Narcissism is the ultimate regression. An obsessive preoccupation with the self and its importance, it barricades the individual from true engagement with the external world. Over the past three decades, narcissism in the West has increased to epidemic levels, matched only by spiralling rates of obesity.22
The main culprit, again, is the supposed carrier of twenty-first-century Enlightenment. Instead, the internet has become Narcissus’ pool. In a world of disorientation and uncertainty, where collective identities are fragmenting and the sensible centre collapses, social media impels the individual to construct and cling to an obsessive certainty of themselves.
The filter bubbles of algorithm governance allow our mental selves to gain instant validation and an inflated view of our opinions, no matter how false or outlandish. Obsession with the physical self is curated through the ubiquitous ‘selfie’. The average millennial will take 25 000 selfies in their lifetime.23 More than 24 billion selfies are posted a year on Google alone as online life constructs itself around an endlessly reflective mirror of self-love and self-promotion.24
Ideology as failure
The retreat into the past amplifies the retreat into fear, which in turn accelerates the retreat behind walls, which in turn propels the retreat from democracy, and so on. Retreat is everyone and everywhere.
The biggest barrier to understanding Western liberalism’s regression is liberalism itself. Liberalism does not seem to be, nor sees itself, as an ideology. There are no goose-stepping armies or Little Red Books. Yet it is ideology because it presents a totalising view of the world. Only its political and economic systems can deliver universal progress, harmony and happiness. The problem with ideologies is they convince us—their adherents—to believe they cannot fail. This leads us inevitably to blame failure on leaders, not the delivery system.
This is the proposition advanced by the Economist, liberalism’s longest-lived mouthpiece. Its manifesto for renewing liberalism,25 published last September to mark its 175th anniversary, sheets responsibility for liberalism’s malaise to risk-adverse politicians, privileged financiers and elitist academics. All have been too eager to hang on to their cosy privileges and in the process have lost sight of liberalism’s true mission. The Economist exhorts them to show more verve and vision to steer what remains the optimal strategy for the twenty-first century back on course.
Poor leadership is of course a factor. But to heap the West’s failure upon the backs of a top-down elite is nonsense when we remember liberalism is a bottom-up endeavour. Even more so when we remember, as was the case with communism, every ideology is prone to failure.
The real explanation rests on a fundamental irony: by winning the world in the 1990s, liberalism lost it. The current delivery system of Western liberalism—liberal democracy and liberal markets—is not capable of ordering and organising the massively different and disrupted world unleashed by the West’s victory in the 1990s. This fundamental, systemic disconnect is the engine of the Age of Retreat.
Prior to the internet and liberal-driven globalisation, we lived in a largely linear world, where boundaries of systems were mostly clear and separated. Cause and effect were relatively easy to discern. The temporal rhythms of political and economic activity were languid enough to be amenable to deliberative, forward-looking decision-making.
As delivery systems of the ‘winning’ ideology, it was a straightforward step of both faith and reason to believe, in the years immediately following communism’s collapse, that liberal markets and liberal democracy should be able to function effectively in any conditions. But they are not universal as liberalism-as-ideology would have us believe. They emerged from a very different, less volatile and unpredictable environment compared to today. In effect, they are nineteenth-century constructs that emerged to order and organise the political and economic world as it continued to be into much of the twentieth century.
The 1990s rapidly shattered these dynamics. We talk about ‘disruption’ at a surface level, but often fail to understand its deep systemic scope. The rapid global rollout and take-up of the internet, combined with the rapid spread of liberal market systems on a global scale turned the political and economic world into a non-linear one. Modernity became radicalised.
This fundamentally disrupted and disruptive world of radical modernity is characterised by the super speed, super scale and complexity of economic and political events. Their combination creates a non-linear world where incessant, deep flux and uncertainty are the ‘new normal’. Liberalism’s modernity-derived political and economic systems find it increasingly difficult to decipher, order and predict because events and information are propelled at them in faster, more complex and exponentially scaled-up ways.
The intensely non-linear environment means the linear nature of the liberal market’s iron rule of supply and demand becomes increasingly scrambled by the centrifugal, super-speed flows of digitised markets. Volatility, flash crashes and exponential collapses such as the GFC become more prevalent. In liberal democracy, it has become increasingly difficult for political parties, organised as they are around last century’s cleavages of class and ideology, effectively to represent the fragmenting voices of a social media–driven, globalised citizenry.
The ideological nature of liberalism means that wholesale reform of our institutions to align them with these new realities is not contemplated. We blame poor leadership instead, and triple down on the core assumptions of both liberal systems. For markets, this means a more intensive retreat into purist supply and demand mantras (less regulation and corporate tax) that exacerbate core problems of market volatility and inequality.
Political parties increasingly appeal to a shrinking ‘base’, which is becoming increasingly unrepresentative and ‘fringe’. The sensible centre tunes out and liberal democracy is increasingly seen by its citizens as illegitimate and dysfunctional.
Decay of order
Human order, like nature, abhors a vacuum. As the ordering capacities of liberalism’s nineteenth-century institutions and systems decay, algorithms take over. Their sophisticated patterning capacities are better able to discern, corral and make more predictable radical modernity. We allow algorithms to be inserted everywhere because they appear to represent ‘progress’. In a world of seemingly endless disruption, they also give us—like the West’s physical, cultural and psychological retreat—what we most crave: a sense of order and control. The problem, as we have seen, is that their past-oriented, irrationality-inducing dynamics reinforce the trends that are undermining our liberal democratic and market systems.
It would be easy to argue, as others have, that liberalism is dead or should be done away with. The one truth about liberalism’s post-communist promise is that the whole world has tasted individual freedom and empowerment. Functional liberalism, as the one and only ideas system to extol the individual, is needed more than ever. But to prevent retreat becoming the outright collapse of liberalism, we need to understand the full sweep of the challenge that retreat means for the West. This means changes to liberal democracy: more proactive intervention in free markets; breaking up internet giants and oversight of algorithmic governance. Each of these ideas is now being discussed but largely separately, with much of the focus around the retreat of democracy.
But the Age of Retreat prism underlines how and why the entire Western liberal project is at stake, and why these separate debates overlap and need to be brought together into a meta-reform narrative for twenty-first-century liberalism. The alternative is Orwellian: we become slaves to the increasingly dysfunctional institutions and technology that 30 years ago were meant to set the world free.
Trump and the Age of Retreat
As commentary on the West’s malaise invariably does, I conclude with Donald Trump. But, I think, with a deeper insight. This essay began with the argument that, as a key feature of the Age of Retreat, Western liberalism’s core institutions are metastasising into carriers of illiberalism.
The American presidency, as both office and institution, is meant to be a global exemplar of liberal values and leadership. But in Trump, we see the personification of the West’s seven retreats. He relentlessly builds walls (physical, economic and cultural); he rides roughshod over democratic values; he belittles and diminishes individuals who call him out; and he exemplifies the twenty-first-century wealth disparities that diminish the individual. His political paradigm is organised around a retreat into America’s past: he leans almost exclusively on the politics of fear: he trades wholesale in irrationalities and lies. And he is a narcissist obsessed with social media as his megaphone.
Through the prism of the Age of Retreat, we grasp the true significance of the Trump presidency. When the United States elects as leader an individual who not only represents but amplifies and accelerates the Age of Retreat, we know the West’s new Dark Age has become profoundly mainstream.
Note: This is an extended version of an article that originally appeared in Pursuit.
Mark Triffitt lectures in public policy at the University of Melbourne. He is a former political and policy adviser and has written extensively on democracy’s decline.
- Nouriel Roubini and Brunello Rosa, ‘The Makings of a Recession and Financial Crisis in 2020’,
Project Syndicate, 13 September 2018, <https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/financial-crisis-in-2020-worse-than-2008-by-nouriel-roubini-and-brunello-rosa-2018-09>.
- Robert Kagan, The Return of History and the End of Dreams, Vintage Press, New York, 2008, p. 6.
- See J.B. Bury, The Idea of Progress: An Inquiry into Its Origin and Growth, Dover Publications, New York, 1987.p
- ‘A Culture of Progress’, chapter 14, in Joel Mokyr, A Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2017.
- Edmund Fawcett, Liberalism: The Life of an Idea, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2014.
- Willie Thompson, Ideologies in the Age of Extremes: Liberalism, Conservatism, Communism, Fascism 1914–91, Pluto Press, London, 2011.
- Timothy Garton-Ash, ‘Europe’s walls are going back up—it’s like 1989 in reverse’, Guardian, 30 November 2015, <https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/nov/29/europe-2015-walls-1989-paris-refugee-crisis>.
- Productivity Commission, Rising Protectionism, July 2017, <https://www.pc.gov.au/research/completed/…protectionism/rising-protectionism.docx>.
- See Adam LeBor, ‘We must keep Europe Christian says Hungarian PM’, Times, 17 September 2015,
- See, for example, Freedom House, Democracy in Crisis 2018, <https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/freedom-world-2018>; and Economist, ‘Democracy continues its disturbing retreat, 31 January, 2018, <https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2018/01/31/democracy-continues-its-disturbing-retreat>.
- Alex Gray, ‘The troubling charts that show young people losing faith in democracy’, World Economic Forum, 1 December 2016, <https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/12/charts-that-show-young-people-losing-faith-in-democracy/>.
- Mark Triffitt, ‘A growing mistrust in democracy is causing extremism and strongman politics to flourish’, The Conversation, 10 July 2018, <https://theconversation.com/a-growing-mistrust-in-democracy-is-causing-extremism-and-strongman-politics-to-flourish-98621>.
- Fawcett, Liberalism.
- See Elise Thomas, ‘The brave new world of surveillance capitalism’, SBS, The Feed, 20 April 2018, <https://www.sbs.com.au/news/the-feed/the-brave-new-world-of-surveillance-capitalism>.
- OECD, A Broken Social Elevator? How to Promote Social Mobility, June 2018, <http://www.oecd.org/social/broken-elevator-how-to-promote-social-mobility-9789264301085-en.htm>.
- Anna Swanson, ‘US social mobility might be worse than you thought’, World Economic Forum, 10 October 2016, <https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/10/us-social-mobility-might-be-even-worse-than-you-thought>.
- Google, for example, controls 74 per cent of global internet search results.
- See Eli Pariser, The Filter Bubble: How the New Personalised Web is Changing What We Read and how We Think, Viking, London, 2012.
- Emily Atkin, ‘Is the March for Science Bad for Scientists?’, New Republic, 2 March 2017, <https://newrepublic.com/article/140944/march-science-bad-scientists>.
- See for example Cathy O’Neill, Weapons of Math Destruction, Crown Books, 2016.
- Lilla also observes that ‘Political nostalgia reflects a kind of magical thinking about history … but unlike the modern revolutionary whose actions are inspired by a belief in progress … the nostalgic revolutionary is unsure how to conceive of the future and act in the present’: The Shipwrecked Mind: On Political Reaction, New York Review Books, New York, 2016, p. 8.
- Jean Twenge and W. Keith Campbell, The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement, Free Press, New York, 2009.
- Maria Gallupo, ‘Millennials expected to take over 25,000 selfies in their lifetime’, AOL, 19 May 2017, <https://www.aol.com/article/news/2017/05/19/millennials-expected-to-take-over-25-000-selfies-in-their-lifeti/22099995/>.
- Sarah Cascone, ‘24 billion photos prove our selfie obsession is out of control’, Artnet News, 1 June 2016, <https://news.artnet.com/art-world/24-billion-selfies-uploaded-to-google-in-a-year-508718>.
- ‘A manifesto for renewing liberalism’, Economist, 13 September 2018.
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