Safe­guard­ing liberal democracy

TagLast edit: 16 Jun 2022 19:26 UTC by Pablo

Safeguarding liberal democracy refers to attempts to improve, promote or protect liberal forms of democratic government, characterized by universal suffrage, competitive elections, a market economy, separation of powers, the rule of law, and respect for human rights.


According to 80,000 Hours, liberal democracies seem to foster economic growth, promote peace and spearhead innovation to a greater degree than do other forms of government tried so far.[1] Many alternatives to liberal democracy, on both ends of the political spectrum, have historically been associated with great human suffering: totalitarian regimes, in particular, are estimated to have been responsible for the deaths of over 125 million people in the 20th century alone, mostly in the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, and communist China.[2] Furthermore, a report from Rethink Priorities argues that many of the attributes of liberal democracy are conducive to intermediate longtermist goals, such as reduced great power conflict, moral circle expansion, and the flourishing of effective altruism.[3] For these and other reasons, safeguarding liberal democracy is considered a promising cause by some members of the effective altruism community; as of June 2022, 80,000 Hours rates it a “potential highest priority”—an issue that, if more thoroughly examined, could rank as a top global challenge.[4]

Further reading

Wiblin, Robert & Keiran Harris (2021) Mike Berkowitz on keeping the U.S. a liberal democratic country, 80,000 Hours, April 20.

Related entries

democracy | totalitarianism

  1. ^

    Koehler, Arden (2020) Problem areas beyond 80,000 Hours’ current priorities, Effective Altruism Forum, June 22.

  2. ^

    Bernholz, Peter (2000) Totalitarianism, in Charles K. Rowley & Friedrich Schneider (eds.) The Encyclopedia of Public Choice, Boston: Springer, pp. 565–569, p. 568.

  3. ^

    Barnes, Tom & Marie Buhl (2021) Towards a longtermist framework for evaluating democracy-related interventions, Effective Altruism Forum, July 28.

  4. ^

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