The ties between liberalism and democracy are under strain, challenged by self-styled illiberal ideologues from Budapest to Washington DC, and by the liberal-economic but undemocratic example of China. Romanian economist Daniel Dăianu makes the case for liberalism, and why it is worth fighting for if democracy is to thrive.
When the financial crisis made clear the extent of western banks’ involvement in eastern Europe, concerns surfaced about the effects on western economies, re-awakening perceptions of the East as unruly and unpredictable. In the East, meanwhile, suspicions were reinforced that the West was interested in the new EU member states only insofar as they provided an opportunity to expand existing markets. What are the ethical and political implications of a globalized economy in general, and of western companies’ expansion in eastern Europe in particular? What does the European integration project really mean, not only economically but also at a social and cultural level? Romanian economist Daniel Daianu met Austrian author Robert Misik in Bucharest to discuss whether the failure of existing political and economic structures has opened up a new-old East-West divide. Moderated by Mircea Vasilescu, editor of Dilema veche and Carl Henrik Fredriksson of Eurozine.
Markets and society
The current financial crisis is not confined to economies, writes Daniel Daianu, former Romanian finance minister and MEP from 2007 to 2009. The erosion of the middle class, the spread of extremism and the threat to democracy are some of the more obvious social effects demanding attention.
For a return to common sense
Daniel Daianu, Romanian MEP and former chief economist of the Romanian Central Bank, criticizes neoliberal development policies that are too general, unqualified, and divorced from “concrete local conditions”. Instead, he pleads for market reforms that, while stimulating growth in poorer countries, are implemented “pragmatically”.