In Our Time

Darwinian Liberalism

A brief article in The Spectator (May 19) by Fredrik Erixon speculates that President Emmanuel Macron of France, generally considered a liberal centrist énarque, seems to be reconsidering his position following the anniversary of his first year in office.  Faced with the continuing rise of the right in Europe, the rebellion of Chancellor Merkel’s conservatives against Macron’s scheme for binding the E.U. into ever closer union and the massive unpopularity of his proposal to appoint a single finance minister for the eurozone, the formation of an antiestablishment government in Rome that looks set to challenge Brussels’ authority and its economic and migratory policies, and the impossibility of finding a European consensus on the admission and settlement of refugees, M. Macron is already changing his stripes, the better to merge with the surrounding jungle, Erixon thinks.  “He isn’t doctrinaire and has already started to wear his federalism lightly,” as he did in a recent speech in Aix-la-Chapelle.  “Macron is at heart a disrupter,” Erixon adds, “who wants to upset the status quo. . . . [He] sees himself as representing the new politics, not as a defender of the old guard.”  A liberal, then, of the kind that is prepared to “evolve” and to “grow”—the terms used by American liberals to encourage Republicans and conservatives...

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