The purpose of this book is to reconsider economic liberalism from the viewpoint of political liberalism. The author argues that advocates of economic liberalism largely overlook empirical political preferences which, in many societies, go far beyond a limited role of the state. Recent difficulties of reforming the welfare state provide evidence that political preferences are at odds with liberal economic policy in numerous cases. This fact challenges a political conception which demands a limited state role but also claims that citizens’ preferences ‘as they are’ should determine the content of policies. Using an evolutionary perspective on economic liberalism, the book develops new arguments about how economic liberalism can be brought into line with political liberalism.
Drawing on an evolutionary theory of markets, Gerhard Wegner reinforces the claim that liberal economic policies are conducive to prosperity in society, but he argues that the liberal promise of prosperity does not translate into corresponding political preferences on the part of citizens. A tension between political and economic liberalism arises which lies at the centre of this book.
Political Failure by Agreement will strongly appeal to postgraduate students and researchers of global governance, political theory, political economy and institutional economics.