Target audience: This Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) program is aimed at young adults, ages 19-30, from European and American countries with an interest in socio-political topics.
Cooperation: The seminar takes place in cooperation with Rotary District 1860
30 years have passed since Francis Fukuyama prophesied the "end of history". With the collapse of the USSR, the model of liberal democracy and free market economy had triumphed and remained the leading ideology worldwide (albeit without any claim to omnipotence or sole representation). Democratization processes in Central and Eastern Europe, various Latin American, African and Asian states seemed to support this thesis.
In recent years, however, there have been more crises that have challenged liberal democracy more than ever before: the economic and financial crisis from 2008 onwards has exposed long-standing inequalities in prosperity, social security and political participation. In conjunction with globalization, social media and an increasingly fast-paced society, a new protest movement has established itself in many states, calling itself democratic, but undermining or abolishing many of the values and achievements of liberal democracy.
These populist groups are, however, only one symptom of a profound division of societies in many liberal democracies, in which old party lines have been broken down in some cases and replaced by a split into open and closed societies. Nationalism, criticism of economic, political, scientific or media elites, and a general separation between "us" and "the others" characterize the current social discourses. This is accompanied by a brutalization of the culture of debate, a poisoning of discourse. Compromise is no longer sought, the point is rather to "defeat" the "opponent" or "enemy" and to implement one's own ideas for a limited group of people.
Through these social conflicts, basic democratic values and attitudes, but also abilities, are lost. An end does not seem to be in sight; on the contrary, social tensions accelerate and deepen with each new conflict. This phenomenon characterizes many liberal democracies; the USA, Poland, France, Hungary, Germany, Italy and Spain are only a few currently prominent examples.
What is the way out of this downward spiral? How can there be dialogue or discourse? How can we manage to overcome the division? Even if there is a danger, failure and so on must not be an option. What is needed is an uprising of the decent for more democratic culture and a discourse that is relevant to society as a whole.
For more information, please contact Christian.