Michelle Goldberg interviews Fareed Zarakia about his book, The Future of Freedom for Salon. I’ve been captivated by Zarakia’s Newsweek articles for the past couple of years, and the book sounds interesting and provocative as well. Here’s something close to a synopsis:
Freedom, Zakaria argues, comes not from politicians’ slavish obeisance to the whims of The People, divined hourly by pollsters. It comes from an intricate architecture of liberty that includes an independent judiciary, constitutional guarantees of minority rights, a free press, autonomous universities and strong civic institutions.
In America, all of these institutions have been under consistent attack for the last 40 years from populists of the left and right seeking to strip power from loathed elites and return it to the masses. “The deregulation of democracy has … gone too far,” Zakaria writes.
Much of what Zakaria writes will anger liberals. He criticizes 1970s reforms that opened up the closed workings of Congress to the public, arguing, “The purpose of these changes was to make Congress more open and responsive. And so it has become — to money, lobbyists, and special interests.” The World Trade Organization is opposed by anti-globalization activists in part because of its secretive, unresponsive nature, but Zakaria argues that’s precisely why it works.