Liberal democratic institutions and states are under sustained pressure, from outside and from within. The question now is how well liberal and democratic defenses can withstand the onslaught. In the past several months, three leading liberal figures, each with international reputations, have given speeches in defense of liberal values and practice. Two of these – the billionaire financier and philanthropist George Soros and the French President Emmanuel Macron – have addressed the EU’s present travails and likely future. The third, former U.S. President Barack Obama, as befitted a former leader of the still-hegemonic world power, addressed more global issues.

Soros, at 87, was the least optimistic. His Open Society Foundations, to which he last year bequeathed another $18 billion of his vast fortune (leaving him to scrape along on $8 billion) have supported European Union initiatives in every way they could – especially the well-funded policy institute, the European Council o...

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