The world we know is largely the institutional outcome of liberalism’s political triumph, first in the West and increasingly worldwide. Yet today liberal thought is deeply divided against itself and, in this division, often unable to comprehend a world in many ways its product. This division grows primarily from tensions between two liberal institutions: liberal, or representative, democracy and the market, and also from the near universal failure of liberals to grasp democratic government’s unusual systemic character. Tensions between liberal democracy and the market are continually addressed, whereas the character of democratic government receives far less attention. Yet how the first issue is evaluated depends in part on understanding the last.
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