Authoritarian Century

Omens of a Post-Liberal Future

December 2022 9781787388000 336 pp
EU customers purchase here


Liberal democracy has produced the most freedom and security for the most people of any form of government in human history. For a while, and especially after the collapse of the Soviet Union, we believed that this would be enough. Yet, today, we face an anti-liberal backlash—and we bear much of the responsibility.

Western leaders learnt the wrong lesson from the Soviets’ downfall, seeing it as an ideological victory and adopting a ‘total liberalism’ with the same rigidity that had just brought down communism. Now, the economic and foreign policy failures of neoliberalism have fatally undermined the public’s faith in the associated political system, liberal democracy. Cue disaffected masses, opportunistic populists, canny Russian sabotage, and the Chinese model as a powerful alternative—where do we go from here?

From Tsarist conspiracy theories and Italian corruption to revolution in America, France and China, this book shows the roots of our century’s descent into crisis. Exposing the critical mistakes of contemporary liberals, Azeem Ibrahim urges a rethink to renew liberal democracy, domestically and internationally. His incisive narrative of the West’s recent past is sober and sobering; his vision for the future hopeful yet urgent—for only a liberal order can save vulnerable lives and confront global emergencies.


Azeem Ibrahim is Research Professor at the Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College; Director at the Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy; and a Foreign Policy columnist. His previous books are The Rohingyas: Inside Myanmar’s Genocide and Radical Origins: Why We Are Losing the Battle Against Islamic Extremism.

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