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The subject

  • Liberalism and democracy
    Félix Ovejero

    A good part of the justification of our political practices appeal to the Liberal principles. Liberalism has become the dominating political doctrine. The value of its soundness requires the exploration of both, its doctrinal fundaments and its capacity to provide a guide of action against the contemporary political challenges. In the first conference we will explore the strategies and problems of liberalism to account for the contemporary democratic institutions. Democracy appears as an ideal collective self-government, while liberalism is in favor of the maximum individual freedom. Two principles that are far from being able to cohabit without difficulties. The modern liberal democracies are the institutionalized expression of these problems. There have been different attempts to justify them: as political markets or as selection systems for political excellence. But both, nevertheless, have problems.

    In the second conference we will examine the capacity of liberalism to face the State-Nation crisis, and particularly, the revitalization of nationalism. Based in these, the States of citizens with equal rights and freedoms would have to leave space for political communities founded on the basis of cultural affinities. The cultural community would justify the political institutions that, on one side would be the political "expression" of a cultural identity, but at the same time would have the task of preserving that same identity. The belonging to a political community would not be based on will, but in cultural origin or identity. Confronting these thesis, liberalism asserts that individuals are only bounded by the compromises accept personally. From this perspective, individuals "with their things" would be free to go wherever they wanted, without having to account for anyone. While for nationalisms the bond between people are based on cultural origin, and there is no escape from that horizon, for the liberals the relationship between individuals and the State is a marriage: if I do not like what is decided, I do not play the game. The problem for liberalism is that its "solution" implies the dissolution of the shared legal spaces. Thus, in the name of liberty, liberty secured by law is destroyed.   

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