The ascension to power of Brazil’s president-elect Jair Bolsonaro, as with the rise of right-wing demagogues in other parts of the world, contains great dangers for classical liberals or conservatives (in the American sense of the term). The economic reforms Bolsonaro plans to introduce may improve the performance of the Brazilian economy, raise living standards, and increase levels of economic freedom. Motivated by opposition to the economic misery created by socialist ideologues, and schadenfreude at their defeat, critics of the political left may be tempted into endorsements of Bolsonaro and some of what he intends doing. The classically liberal tradition does not offer its advocates that option. It requires a complete and unqualified commitment to economic and political freedom. Many of Bolsonaro’s positions — on women, political freedom or sexual choice — are anathema to liberal beliefs. While the rise of Bolsonaro-style demagogues is a defeat for the political left, it is not ...

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