Open Future

Open Future

  • Open Markets

    Fixing the flaws in today’s capitalism

    by C.W.

    Open Markets looks at what has gone wrong with capitalism in advanced economies—and, more importantly, what can be done about it. It focuses on three topics.


    The first is trade. Economists have long argued that free trade makes everyone richer. But lately that view has come under attack. Mr Trump argues that America’s trade deficit is a bad thing. Others point out that trade can hurt people who are outcompeted by imports. Economists are asking themselves some tough questions. Is free trade always a good thing? Do the losers from free trade need to be compensated? If so, how?

    Next, competition. Capitalism works best when people and businesses compete on a level playing field.

  • Writing contests

    Our essay competitions for young people

    The Economist has launched the Open Future initiative to re-state the case for the values of classical liberalism—that is, political, economic and social freedom—to address the challenges of the 21st century. We want this exploration of ideas to involve our critics as well as our supporters, and to engage a young audience in particular.

    As part of the initiative we are holding five essay contests, based on the five Open Future themes (Borders, Ideas, Markets, Society and Progress). Each contest is open to people between 16 and 25 years old. Essays should be no longer than 1,500 words; only one submission is allowed per theme (though entrants may submit essays on more than one theme).

  • Open Progress

    Technology and its discontents

    by K.N.C.

    NUCLEAR bombs can destroy us. Facebook undermines our privacy. Artificial intelligence (AI) and robots can enslave us (or, worse, take our jobs). Synthetic biology and gene-editing have humans playing God. Social media make us depressed: we’ve never been so connected yet never so alone. 

    Those are just a few of the complaints levelled against technology. For most of human history, however, technology was mostly seen as a force for good. More people would live because of technical progress, from refrigeration to vaccination, than perish because of it, despite lethal inventions such as gunpowder.

  • Open Society

    Beyond the tyranny of tolerance

    by S.N. and A.L.

    IN 2012 a same-sex couple sued a bakery in Colorado for discrimination after the owner, a Christian man who believed that gay marriage is “sacrilegious”, refused to bake them a wedding cake. The owner is making his case to the Supreme Court on the grounds of freedom of expression and freedom of conscience. In 2016 a woman on a beach in Nice was forced to remove some of her clothing as several armed men stood around her. She was wearing an outfit similar to a “burkini”, a full-body swimsuit that has been banned in many beach resorts in France in the name of laïcité (secularism).

    These examples show competing views of what it means to live in an “open society”.

  • Open Borders

    The case for immigration

    by L.S. and E.H.

    IN HIS novel “Exit West”, Mohsin Hamid describes a world very like our own, but which is suddenly changed by the appearance of mysterious doors. A dark-skinned man falls out of an Australian woman’s wardrobe in Sydney. Filipino women emerge from the back door of a bar into the alleyways of Tokyo. As the incidents multiply and scores of people from poor countries walk through the doors into richer ones, rich-world inhabitants respond with violent resistance. Governments crack down hard on the new arrivals. But it is not long before they are overwhelmed by their sheer number and abandon efforts to repel them. The world settles into an uneasy new equilibrium.

  • Open Ideas

    The clash of expression

    by J.F. and I.K

    THIS is a golden age of argument. Social media let anyone broadcast their opinion as soon as they formulate one. Politicians can speak directly to their constituents—and their constituents can message them straight back.  This should also be a golden age of free speech. But somehow, the ubiquity of argument is convincing some people that we have too much of it—even in America, where the First Amendment, and the robust jurisprudence stemming from it, offers the world’s strongest protections for free expression.

  • Open Future explained

    A letter to readers from the editor

    by Z.M.B.

    Dear Reader,

    This year The Economist celebrates its 175th anniversary. James Wilson, a hatmaker from Scotland, founded this newspaper in September 1843 to argue against Britain’s Corn Laws, which imposed punitive tariffs on grain. We have advocated free trade, free markets and open societies ever since. 

    Over the years we have also championed many controversial causes, from privatisation to drug legalisation and same-sex marriage. In doing so, we have always been guided by classical liberal values: a belief in human progress, distrust of powerful interests and respect for individual freedom. This is the liberalism of great 19th-century thinkers such as John Stuart Mill.

  • Open Future

    Terms and Conditions for Young People’s Essay Contests

    The Economist Open Future Youth (16-25) Essay Competition

    Terms and Conditions of Participation

    This competition (the “Competition”) is operated and promoted by The Economist Newspaper Limited (“The Economist”), 1-11 John Adam Street, London WC2N 6HT, United Kingdom.  By entering the Competition, you agree to these terms and conditions and confirm that you are telling us your real name. 

    The Competition

    • There are five separate essay contests, each associated with a different Open Future theme (ie, Borders, Ideas, Markets, Societies and Progress). Each contest has a specific question and description to be answered.

About Open Future
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