Who we are / Project activities
As of November 2020
LibMod stands up for the defense and renewal of the open society. Liberal modernity as such, i.e. the combination of individual freedom, democratic republic, cosmopolitanism, science-based innovation and cultural diversity, is facing strong pressure worldwide. Liberal democracies are being challenged from within, by populist and antidemocratic movements and parties, as well as by authoritarian regimes such as China and Russia. In times of fundamental and rapid change – globalization, digital revolution, climate change and worldwide migration – there is a need for cross-partisan reflection about the future of open societies and the international order.
In our view, individual freedom and social cohesion, personal responsibility and strong public institutions, belong together. LibMod wants to provide a meeting place for free thinkers from different political camps, looking for liberal answers to the challenges of our time and promoting political thought in that spirit. The Center for Liberal Modernity (LibMod) was founded in 2017 by Ralf Fücks and Marieluise Beck who have both been engaged in German politics for more than 35 years.
=> More information on our website: https://libmod.de/en/
Project Overview (selected projects)
Security in Times of Change
The key question of this project is what answers liberal democracy can find to the challenges of rapid change and the resulting insecurity. We cannot shield ourselves from the great turmoil of our time but rather must take this as a challenge.
The guiding principle for democratic politics should not be security by isolation but rather security in times of change. This involves much more than simply adjusting to perceived factual constraints. We have to shape transformation processes proactively and strengthen trust in democratic politics’ ability to govern.
As part of this project, a 14-member commission of experts presented the results of their work concerning the key questions of security in times of rapid change, in March 2019. In this report, 55 concrete recommendations were made for action in the fields of education and training, social security, internal security and public institutions. The report of the Expert Commission can be downloaded here: www.sicherheitimwandel.de (in German), or parts of the report in English here: https://libmod.de/en/security-in-times-of-change/
Following up on the Commission, we want to look deeper into a number of the proposals made in the report. We started with the basic educational income for lifelong learning this summer. This concept, which puts the financing of continuous training on a new basis, is to be developed further. We are currently working on a study to examine what individual, social and economic effects a basic educational income may develop in the German context. It will be presented in January 2021.
Renewal of Liberalism
LibMod is part of an international discussion with liberal-democratic think tanks and intellectuals, including the “Forum 2000” in Prague, the Polish “Kultura Liberalna” and the IDC Herzlyia in Israel. We participate in conferences and seminars. In October 2020, our first international networking workshop “Rethinking Liberalism” was held in Berlin as a hybrid offline/online event. The all-day seminar was attended by scholars and political intellectuals from 10 countries. We intend to expand these activities further in 2021.
As a part of our “Renewal of Liberalism” project we are also cooperating with “Das Progressive Zentrum” to organize the “Challenging Democracy” event series, which examines the challenges that populism and anti-liberal movements pose for democracy. We are also conducting our “Liberal Modernity Salon” in Berlin regularly, to serve as a forum for intellectual discussions across party lines.
Today’s economy needs too many resources to be sustainable. How can we “grow smartly” and maintain a liberal way of life without destroying global ecosystems? A key to recovering the economic dynamic and confidence in the ability of democratic policies to act, is the ecological modernization of industrial society. It links the protection of the planetary ecosystems with a new boost in
scientific and technological innovation. We can tackle climate change, the overexploitation of natural resources, the threat to the oceans and the loss of fertile arable land. At the same time, “zero growth” is neither desirable nor realistic given the needs of billions of people. The answer to the ecological challenge lies in the decoupling of economic value added and natural consumption. This requires nothing less than a new industrial revolution that includes a long wave of innovation, investment and employment.
Part of the project was the publication of an edited volume of the Renewal of the market economy by LibMod Managing Director Ralf Fücks and Thomas Köhler of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. In this book, well-known authors discuss the regulatory guidelines for the ecological development of the industrial society on a market-based foundation.
In cooperation with the German aviation industry, we also organize a high-profile series of talks with representatives of aviation and parliamentarians, members of the government and scientists. The aim is to identify key guidelines for the future of sustainable aviation. The project will run until December 2020. We plan to continue this format with other industries.
As part of this topic we are also engaged in the discussion about climate change and democracy to consider this subject from a less technical perspective. The question is what liberal answers we can give to climate change without resorting to authoritarian measures such as bans. We are conducting discussions on that question in different formats, e.g. at the Forum 2000, together with the German Agency for Civic Engagement, at our Salon Liberale Moderne etc.
The initiative “o[s]tklick — demokratisch antworten” (literal translation: eastklick — answering democratically) supports german resettlers from Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union in the promotion of democratic discourse in Social Media and instant messenger services. By doing so, it encourages counterspeech to illiberal and far-right populist propaganda targeted at the community.
o[s]tklick is a play on words. In German, the [s] allows it to be read as “klick from the East”, whereas the absence of the [s] turns it into the russian equivalent to answer, resonance or echo.
Starting point of the project are video interviews. These are built on the diversity of the community and personal life stories, covering topics such as democracy, discrimination, equality of opportunity and migration. These and other contents are promoted/distributed? via social media. In addition to the online activities, o[s]tklick offers workshops on freedom of speech, disinformation and strategies against populist discourse.
The project is funded for 2,5 years by the Robert Bosch Foundation and by the German Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community.
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 importance for analyzing and dealing with the opponents of the open society today. The aim is to provide material to citizens’ initiatives, schools and other institutions, individuals and organizations in the field of civic education and also to journalists to support their investigation of anti-democratic forces.
Critical analyses of 16 influential anti-liberal thinkers and their ideas are posted on the website www.gegneranalyse. de and subsequentially published as an anthology “Das alte Denken den Neuen Rechten” (“The Old Thinking of the New Right” Frankfurt 2020, all in German).
In 2021, we want to focus on the new coalitions between the alternative and middle-class milieu and right-wing actors and alternative media driving the anti-Covid-19 protests in Germany.
Concerning Russia, we are organizing a lot of political projects. For example, the annual Juri-Schmidt-Conference, our conference “Russia and the West” or the German Russian talks on digital civil company. In this context, we are deepening the dialogue with those who are in favor of a modern, liberal society. Our website www.russlandverstehen.libmod.de (German) brings together our work on this topic.
The website www.ukraineverstehen.de (German) provides information on domestic and foreign policy issues around Ukraine and is supported by Engagement Global on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. The website reports on the state of reforms, the human rights situation in the war zones in Eastern Ukraine and on the Crimean Peninsula annexed by Russia.
Apart from our website, we are organizing the “Parliamentary Consultation project for the Wekhovna Rada”. It supports networking among the relevant actors in Germany and at the EU level, as well as facilitating the formation of a cross-partisan, pro-European and reform-oriented caucus in the Ukrainian Parliament, which will contribute to the democratization of the country and rapprochement with the EU.
Commemoration of the Holocaust
Our commemoration projects aim to reveal the largely unknown fate of the Jewish population in Ukraine during World War II. In 2021, the establishment of a memorial is to be promoted at the site of the 1941 Odesa massacre. This project is funded by the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ). A LibMod collection on violence and genocide in Ukraine is due to be published in November.
Eastern Partnership 2.0
Launched in October 2019, the project brings innovative ideas and policy recommendations from the eastern partnership countries to Berlin. This provides experts and NGOs from Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia with a platform to work together to develop recommendations for action to be taken by Germany and the EU. The project is supported by the Open Society Foundations. For the coming year, we have submitted a follow-up application to the Foreign Office of Germany to continue our work with civil society partners from all three countries.
Climate Change and Economic Modernization in Russia
Is there a future beyond oil, gas & coal for Russia and how to get there?
The Russian leadership continues to rely on oil, gas and coal as the economic backbone of the political system that has developed since Putin came to power. This fossil-fuel-based model is increasingly conflicting with the goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement and stands in the way of a general modernization and diversification of the Russian economy. The project’s purpose is to promote and broaden the modernization discourse in Russia against the backdrop of climate change and to develop scenarios of change towards an ecological modernization of the Russian economy.