Purpose beyond Power

BUDAPEST – The re-run of the Greek parliamentary election on June 17 is only the latest symptom of the most serious crisis to plague Western democracies and open societies since the 1960’s. Liberal democracies in the West today are struggling to avoid – and in doing so are exacerbating – a crisis of identity, which puts the existing social contract at risk and threatens their implosion.

The end of the Cold War bequeathed our leaders with a new set of governance challenges, which promptly grew in magnitude, in large part owing to faster globalization, the consequences of the 1980’s economic liberalization, and the 1990’s revolution in information technology. These challenges, insufficiently addressed, soon led many to question the sustainability of liberal democracy’s appeal at home and its universality abroad, and to probe the alleged merits of the “Chinese model,” best characterized as a form of authoritarian or state capitalism.