Our Projects

Open society is under pres­sure all over the world. It is being chal­lenged by an anti-liberal move­ment from within just as it is by increas­ingly assertive author­i­tar­ian regimes on the inter­na­tional stage. These are openly ques­tion­ing demo­c­ra­tic values and the rules-based inter­na­tional order. The Center for Liberal Moder­nity offers a forum for non­par­ti­san debate on the defence and renewal of liberal democ­racy, devel­ops con­cepts for social and polit­i­cal par­tic­i­pa­tion and pro­motes coop­er­a­tion within demo­c­ra­tic civil society that tran­scends national borders. (read also: “Who We Are and What We Want”). Thus, the LibMod con­tributes to the pro­mo­tion of democ­racy and inter­na­tional under­stand­ing. We use a variety of formats in our work: debates on web­sites and on social media, public events and con­fer­ences, expert dis­cus­sions and exchange pro­grammes.

Website www.libmod.de

The website www.libmod.de is a forum for debate about the renewal of liberal democ­racy, about how author­i­tar­ian move­ments and regimes should be under­stood and how best to deal with them. The debate addresses five subject areas: (1) open society, (2) secu­rity in tran­si­tion, (3) ecology and freedom, (4) the future of the West and (5) the EU’s Eastern Neigh­bour­hood. Each week, several debate con­tri­bu­tions as well as com­men­taries on current socio-polit­i­cal and inter­na­tional issues are added to the website. The LibMod is also active on social media (Face­book, Twitter, YouTube).

Secu­rity in Tran­si­tion

The expert com­mis­sion “Secu­rity in Tran­si­tion” is wrap­ping up its work with a final report and two spe­cial­ist con­fer­ences in Stuttgart and Berlin. The report offers con­crete rec­om­men­da­tions to federal, state and local gov­ern­ments on ways to build trust in demo­c­ra­tic insti­tu­tions and open society in times of accel­er­ated change (glob­al­iza­tion, dig­i­tal­iza­tion, global migra­tion, new images of gender and family). The commission’s sug­ges­tions are aimed at strength­en­ing social and polit­i­cal par­tic­i­pa­tion and fos­ter­ing self-effi­cacy in the members of our society. They empha­size the sig­nif­i­cance of public insti­tu­tions and an active civil society as pillars of social democ­racy. The project is funded by the Baden-Würt­tem­berg Stiftung.

The commission’s report was pre­sented at a press con­fer­ence with Min­is­ter-Pres­i­dent Win­fried Kretschmann in Stuttgart on the 22nd of March 2019 and at a sub­se­quent sym­po­sium. There are plans for another pre­sen­ta­tion on the 6th of May in Berlin, held in coop­er­a­tion with the Press and Infor­ma­tion Office of the Federal Gov­ern­ment.

This will be fol­lowed by a three-event series of talks on the general topic of secu­rity in tran­si­tion, held in coop­er­a­tion with the Ber­tels­mann-Stiftung. These talks will focus on the chal­lenges that liberal democ­racy and the social market economy are con­fronted with as a result of glob­al­iza­tion and how they might be shaped to make them better able to deal with the eco­nomic and social upheaval of a glob­al­ized world.

Liberal Democ­racy and Its Adver­saries (Analysing Adver­saries)

The “Liberal Democ­racy and Its Adver­saries” project exam­ines the history of anti-liberal thought from the Weimar Repub­lic to the present day and dis­cusses its rel­e­vance for the analy­sis and treat­ment of the adver­saries of open society today. The aim is to provide mate­r­ial to cit­i­zens’ ini­tia­tives, schools and other insti­tu­tions, indi­vid­u­als and organ­i­sa­tions in the field of civic edu­ca­tion and also to jour­nal­ists to support their exam­i­na­tion of anti-demo­c­ra­tic forces. The project is funded by the federal pro­gramme “Live Democ­racy” of the Federal Min­istry for Family Affairs and by the Federal Agency for Civic Edu­ca­tion (bpb).

Crit­i­cal analy­ses of 15 influ­en­tial anti-liberal thinkers and their ideas will be posted on the website www.gegeneranalyse.de. The analy­ses will also examine the extent to which voices in the current debates echo or depart from these tra­di­tions of thought. Four public panel dis­cus­sions and a final con­fer­ence will deepen these dis­cus­sions:

06 Dec. 2018 Project launch: Antilib­eral thought from Weimar to the present day (event report)
14 Mar. 2019 Ambiva­lences of Moder­nity (event report)
15 May 2019 Roads to Unfree­dom — with Timothy Snyder
05 Sep. 2019 Anti-Demo­c­ra­tic Voices from the Left
10 Oct. 2019 Final con­fer­ence

The project’s out­comes will be made avail­able to the public through social media (Face­book, Twitter and YouTube) and pub­li­ca­tions.

Lib­er­al­ism Debate /​ Renewal of Liberal Democ­racy

While the crisis of liberal democ­racy is an inter­na­tional phe­nom­e­non, the debate over causes and policy responses has been carried out mainly in national con­texts. We want to encour­age greater “inter­na­tion­al­iza­tion” of this debate while cre­at­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for liberal actors from a range of polit­i­cal “tribes” in Germany to talk with one another. To this end, the Center for Liberal Moder­nity both takes part in inter­na­tional con­fer­ences and network meet­ings and holds its own events.

The fun­da­men­tal ques­tion is what can be done to restore the legit­i­macy of liberal democ­racy, to improve its abil­i­ties to act in a chang­ing envi­ron­ment and to strengthen demo­c­ra­tic insti­tu­tions? Last but not least, we ask to what extent strong public insti­tu­tions are nec­es­sary to guar­an­tee freedom, and how they can do so without restrict­ing the fun­da­men­tal free­doms of cit­i­zens. (see Ralf Fücks: “Lib­er­al­ism is dead, long live lib­er­al­ism!”)

We will con­tinue, in coop­er­a­tion with Das Pro­gres­sive Zentrum, the “Chal­leng­ing Democ­racy” event series, which exam­ines the chal­lenges that pop­ulism and anti-liberal move­ments pose for democ­racy. We also intend to estab­lish the “Liberal Moder­nity Salon” in Berlin, to serve as a forum for dis­cus­sion across party lines.

New Global Order — New Systems Com­pe­ti­tion?

With a con­fer­ence held in coop­er­a­tion with the Federal Min­istry of Defence in May or June of 2019, we intend to con­sider the ques­tion of whether a new com­pe­ti­tion between systems exists at the inter­na­tional level – i.e., with liberal democ­ra­cies on the one side and author­i­tar­ian regimes on the other – and how demo­c­ra­tic Europe can assert itself effec­tively in this con­fronta­tion. Russia and China will be dis­cussed as exam­ples in this context. An accom­pa­ny­ing series of arti­cles on www.libmod.de is envis­aged.

Russia and Europe

In recent years, the Kremlin’s foreign and domes­tic poli­cies have strayed ever further from the values of democ­racy. The level of repres­sion directed against demo­c­ra­tic forces has increased sub­stan­tially. In sup­port­ing anti-liberal forces and stoking the flames of polit­i­cal polar­iza­tion in the EU, the Kremlin is pur­su­ing a delib­er­ate strat­egy. Sys­tem­atic pro­pa­ganda and efforts to influ­ence elec­tions and ref­er­en­dums in the West are intended to damage trust in demo­c­ra­tic processes and insti­tu­tions. At the inter­na­tional level, the Kremlin has over­writ­ten the rules of inter­na­tional law with a “might makes right” policy. The mil­i­tary inter­ven­tion in Ukraine and the annex­a­tion of the Crimea con­sti­tute a breach of the Euro­pean peace order. The Center for Liberal Moder­nity wants to con­tribute towards a real­is­tic Russia policy while pro­mot­ing dia­logue with Russian civil society.

An inter­na­tional sym­po­sium held in January 2019 con­sid­ered whether a “new Ost­poli­tik” would encour­age the return to a system of common secu­rity and coop­er­a­tion in Europe.

A new Inter­net activism project to support demo­c­ra­tic actors in Russia is under prepa­ra­tion. The Inter­net is one of the last refuges of the crit­i­cal public in Russia, one increas­ingly limited by state cen­sor­ship and threat­ened with crim­i­nal­iza­tion. The project aims to open oppor­tu­ni­ties for jour­nal­is­tic and tech­ni­cal train­ing for decen­tral­ized Inter­net projects and activists in Russia and to bring them together with rel­e­vant Inter­net projects in Germany. The pro­gramme includes work­shops, public dis­cus­sion events and train­ing events.

Ukraine and Us

Ukraine is a key for the future devel­op­ment in Central and Eastern Europe: the success or failure of its demo­c­ra­tic trans­for­ma­tion and Euro­pean inte­gra­tion will have a major impact on the entire region, includ­ing Russia. Our “Under­stand­ing Ukraine” project is making the case for clear-eyed empathy with Ukraine and demo­c­ra­tic reform­ers, who are wrestling with the reac­tionary forces of the old regime with the country’s future at stake. The “Under­stand­ing Ukraine” project pro­vides infor­ma­tion about domes­tic and foreign policy issues relat­ing to Ukraine. The project’s website, www.ukraineverstehen.de, reports on the status of reforms, the human rights sit­u­a­tion in the war zones in East Ukraine and in the Crimean Penin­sula, five year’s after its Russian annex­a­tion. A series of expert dis­cus­sions will bring experts from Ukraine and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the polit­i­cal arena, think-tanks and civil society together in Berlin. This year’s pres­i­den­tial and par­lia­men­tary elec­tions in Ukraine and their impact on the country’s trans­for­ma­tion processes are a major focus of the project for 2019.

A par­al­lel project on memory preser­va­tion is aimed at reveal­ing the largely unknown fate of the Jewish pop­u­la­tion of Ukraine during World War II. While most people asso­ciate the Holo­caust with exter­mi­na­tion camps like Auschwitz, the scale of exter­mi­na­tion per­pe­trated locally during Germany’s inva­sion of the Soviet Union has yet to estab­lish itself in the public con­scious­ness. The aim of the project is to keep alive the mem­o­ries of the destruc­tion of Euro­pean Jewry and the crimes of National Social­ism in Ukraine.

Last year, the Center for Liberal Moder­nity, in coop­er­a­tion with five of Germany’s polit­i­cal foun­da­tions, the chorus Bremer Rath­sChor and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Ukraine, held a memo­r­ial event in Odessa recall­ing the mas­sacre there in 1941, when more than 20,000 people were mur­dered.

There are plans for another memo­r­ial event in 2019 in the Ukrain­ian city Cher­nivtsi.

Eco­log­i­cal Mod­ern­iza­tion

In coop­er­a­tion with the Konrad-Ade­nauer-Stiftung, we are pub­lish­ing a multi-author volume on the eco­log­i­cal mod­ern­iza­tion of the social market economy. The fun­da­men­tal ques­tion addresses the policy and reg­u­la­tory frame­work nec­es­sary for eco­log­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion: how can climate pro­tec­tion and the preser­va­tion of bio-diver­sity be com­bined with a dynamic economy and high levels of pros­per­ity. The con­tri­bu­tions to the pub­li­ca­tion will be dis­cussed and further devel­oped at a joint con­fer­ence.

Sylke Temple Fel­low­ship

In coop­er­a­tion with the German-Israeli Future Forum, the German Council on Foreign Rela­tions (DGAP) and the German Asso­ci­a­tion for East Euro­pean Studies (DGO), we will be award­ing fel­low­ships to fund work con­tribut­ing to greater German-Israeli under­stand­ing. The fel­low­ships com­mem­o­rate Sylke Tempel, former editor-in-chief of the journal Inter­na­tionale Politik, who was involved in the found­ing of the Center for Liberal Moder­nity before losing her life in a tragic acci­dent.

Annual Recep­tion

Our annual recep­tion brings together rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the spheres of pol­i­tics, busi­ness, research, media and civil society. The recep­tion centres around a keynote address deliv­ered by a promi­nent guest and the dis­cus­sion that follows. Last year, Timothy Garton Ash spoke about “What went wrong with Lib­er­al­ism and what should Lib­er­als do about it?