Skip to main content

Brexit, Post-liberalism and the Politics of Paradox

Pabst, Adrian (2016) Brexit, Post-liberalism and the Politics of Paradox. Telos, 2016 (176). pp. 189-201. ISSN 0090-6514. (doi:10.3817/0916176189) (KAR id:57318)

Language: English

Restricted to Repository staff only
[thumbnail of Adrian Pabst - Brexit%2C postliberalism and the politics of paradox.pdf]
XML Word Processing Document (DOCX)
Language: English
Download (186kB)
[thumbnail of Adrian Pabst - Brexit, postliberalism and the politics of paradox.docx]
This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology.
Request an accessible format
Official URL:


Brexit is part of a tectonic shift in Western politics. An alliance of socialists and conservatives rejected the status quo of remote bureaucracy, mass immigration, and multiculturalism in favor of more self-government and the protection of settled ways of life. A similar realignment is underway in Western countries where the establishment is threatened either by old nationalist parties or by new, insurgent movements that are often far-right on questions of identity and social cohesion and far-left on welfare and the economy – such as Front National in France or Trump in the U.S.A.

This paradoxical convergence marks a reordering of politics that cannot be mapped according to the old categories of left versus right because they are part of the same liberal logic that is now in question. Indeed, from the 1990s onwards both the center-left and the center-right tended to fuse economic with social liberalism, notably financial and trade liberalization coupled with equality legislation in support of abstract ideals such as diversity and inclusivity. In neither case did mainstream parties consider how the privileging of minority interests might affect the rest of the economy or the majority of society.

Amid the backlash against the effects of globalization such as economic injustice and the impact of mass migration on communities, the centrist consensus is breaking. While many reactions are illiberal and even anti-liberal, there are also signs that the debate is shifting in a direction that can be described as ‘post-liberal’ – committed to greater economic egalitarianism and an updated version of social (small ‘c’) conservatism.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.3817/0916176189
Uncontrolled keywords: Brexit; realignment; post-liberalism; paradox
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
J Political Science > JN Political institutions and public administration (Europe)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
Depositing User: Adrian Pabst
Date Deposited: 15 Sep 2016 22:04 UTC
Last Modified: 17 Aug 2022 12:21 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Pabst, Adrian:
  • Depositors only (login required):


Downloads per month over past year