Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president/prime minister/president for life, recently declared liberalism “obsolete” in an interview with the Financial Times. According to Putin, whose own political shelf life must surely be ticking down, liberalism is done for because it has “come into conflict with the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population.” While it isn’t surprising to hear the Russian leader spouting anti-liberal ideas, unfortunately they seem to be gaining traction across Europe, making it crucial to rebut his claims at every turn. That’s what Alexander Hammond does in his latest piece for CapX, drawing on data from Canada’s Fraser Institute that clearly demonstrates the connection between liberalism, freedom and prosperity.
- Fraser’s annual Economic Freedom of the World report ranks 162 countries using five metrics of liberalism, including size of government, legal system and property rights, sound money, freedom to trade internationally, and regulation.
- Countries in the top quarter of the ranking have an average income 7X those in the lowest quarter – $40,376 versus $5,649.
- Anti-liberal critics like to point to China as an example of successful authoritarian capitalism without liberal principles, but Hammond notes that China is still relatively poor and also remains at risk of falling into the “middle income trap,” where after quick progress early economic growth slows at an intermediate stage due in large part to, yes, lack of those liberal principles.
- Meanwhile over in Russia average per capita GNP has fallen 32% since 2013, and the country is the most isolated it has been in decades, whatever its putative successes in foreign policy (propping up a homicidal dictator in Syria being the most noteworthy). In May 2019 public trust in Putin fell to an all-time low of 31.7%. Time to pack it in for a dacha on the Black Sea, Vlad?