The Economist renewing liberalism 175 anniversary issue
Politics & Economy

The Economist at 175 questions liberals

The Economist has turned 175. To celebrate the occasion, the news magazine has come out with a manifesto for renewing liberalism through a programme of radical reform.

The Economist marked its 175th anniversary with a programme of radical change for the 21st century

The Economist renewing liberalism 175 anniversary issue

The Economist was founded in 1843 to champion free trade, free markets and limited government. Since then, liberalism has been a powerful engine for prosperity and individual freedom.

But, noting that ‘liberals have lost their hunger for reform’, The Economist published its cover setting out how liberalist must change.


  • Liberalism began as a restless, agitating world view.
  • Success turned liberals into a complacent elite.
  • Liberals have now become comfortable with power.
  • They need to rekindle their desire for radicalism.

A profoundly worried article in the The Economist is thus headlined – A manifesto for renewing liberalism.

“Liberalism made the modern world, but the modern world is turning against it. Europe and America are in the throes of a popular rebellion against liberal elites, who are seen as self-serving and unable, or unwilling, to solve the problems of ordinary people. Elsewhere a 25-year shift towards freedom and open markets has gone into reverse, even as China, soon to be the world’s largest economy, shows that dictatorships can thrive.” reads the opening piece of the article.

The Economist said, “We were created 175 years ago to campaign for liberalism—not the leftish ‘progressivism’ of American university campuses or the rightish ‘ultraliberalism’ conjured up by the French commentariat, but a universal commitment to individual dignity, open markets, limited government and a faith in human progress brought about by debate and reform.”

Liberals need to shake themselves out of their torpor and rediscover their reforming zeal

In a six-part essay, The Economist argues how liberalism must change. “The social contract and geopolitical norms that underpin liberal democracies and the world order that sustains them were not built for this century. Geography and technology have produced new concentrations of economic power to tackle. The developed and the developing world alike need fresh ideas for the design of better welfare states and tax systems. The rights of people to move from one country to another need to be redefined. American apathy and China’s rise require a rethinking of the world order—not least because the huge gains that free trade has provided must be preserved.”

The Economist cover on liberalism in its 175 anniversary issue


About The Economist

With a growing global audience and a reputation for insightful analysis and perspective on world events, The Economist is one of the most widely recognised and well-read current affairs publications in the world. For most of its existence The Economist was content with a small readership. However, its circulation today is 1.5m, more than four-fifths of it outside Britain. Subscribers in the United States and Canada account for 57% of the total. The general management of the business of the company is under the control of the Board of directors.

History of The Economist

The Economist was established in 1843 by James Wilson, a hatmaker from the small Scottish town of Hawick, to campaign against the protectionist Corn Laws. The tariffs were repealed in 1846 but The Economist lived on as “a political, literary, and general newspaper”, never abandoning its belief in free trade, internationalism and minimum interference by government, especially in the affairs of the market.