Contestations of the Liberal Script (SCRIPTS)
Global challenges for liberal democracy as a model of organization
When the Cold War ended, Western-liberal democracy and market economy seemed to have emerged as the most successful model for social development. 25 years later, the liberal order faces fundamental global as well as domestic challenges: Islamist terrorism denounces liberal ideas; authoritarian and illiberal states position themselves as global challengers and become more attractive. The number of liberal democracies has declined worldwide. At the same time, populist movements within Western societies claim to accept liberal values while actually contesting their content.
U.S. President Trump got elected on a populist anti-liberal agenda while a right-wing party that deliberately does not distance itself from extremist nationalism just entered the German Bundestag. The proposed Excellence Cluster, Contestations of the Liberal Script (SCRIPTS), shall take up these challenges and examine the current controversies over the liberal order from broad historical, global, and comparative perspectives. Why is the liberal script under pressure now, and how do the current challenges compare to earlier contestations of liberal ideas? What are the implications of current disputes for democracy, the global economy, climate change, and other fundamental social challenges of the 21st century?
In addition to Freie Universität Berlin as the host institution, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB), and five other academic institutions in Berlin are involved in the initiative. SCRIPTS draws on the superb expertise in the social sciences and comparative area studies available in Berlin, including Western and non-Western perspectives, quantitative and qualitative methods, generalizing theories, and local bodies of knowledge.
To enhance the multiplicity of perspectives of the Cluster, institutional partnerships with universities in all regions of the world have been developed. At the same time, the initiative cooperates closely with political and cultural institutions in the German capital Berlin including the Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany.