Learning Democracy: Points of Reference for a Peaceful Counteroffensive

15 Pages Posted: 24 May 2018 Last revised: 22 Nov 2018

See all articles by Ernst Hirsch Ballin

Ernst Hirsch Ballin

Tilburg Law School; T.M.C. Asser Instituut; University of Amsterdam

Date Written: May 1, 2018


Until recently, the realization of democratic ideals appeared to be the future for developed and developing societies all over the world, but we are witness to an apparently far-reaching turn-around. This paper originated from a debate on the threats for constitutional democracies but approaches the same subject from a different angle: that of the possibility to strengthen this kind of statehood. The ideas that are developed in this paper are therefore not only a plea to defend the democratic institutions, but much more an appeal to deepen our understanding of the values that are at stake, transform the idea of what it means to live in a democratic society and to enhance the learning processes of democratic citizenship. This learning process must be rooted in a deeper understanding of the idea of democracy under the conditions of hyperconnected societies. Redefining the meaning of democracy goes in two directions: across borders and deep into the fabric of a democratic society. This understanding of democracy must go hand in hand with our understanding of the role of law and human rights, which are intrinsically connected values. What is at stake here is the dynamic force that drives the actualisation of human rights which guarantee human dignity. They can no longer be viewed only as protective competences (and duties) of government. They permeate societies and create space for interaction between governments, social relationships (in the broad sense) and individuals. Within that interaction, people can undertake their life projects both individually and collectively. Learning democracy prepares us for living together in freedom, broadens our view, and offers hope for a just and peaceful future.

Keywords: democracy, learning, human dignity, democratic citizenship, human rights

JEL Classification: K40

Suggested Citation

Hirsch Ballin, Ernst M.H., Learning Democracy: Points of Reference for a Peaceful Counteroffensive (May 1, 2018). T.M.C. Asser Institute for International & European Law, Research Paper 2018-04; Tilburg Law School Research Paper Series. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3184175

T.M.C. Asser Instituut

P.O. Box 30461
2500 GL The Hague, 2517JN

HOME PAGE: http://www.asser.nl/research/research-staff/ErnstHirschBallin

University of Amsterdam

Amsterdam, 1018 WB

HOME PAGE: http://www.uva.nl/profiel/h/i/e.m.h.hirschballin/e.m.h.hirschballin.html

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