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Lecture Series | On the Critique and Future of the Liberal Script

The stakes are high: the future of democracy and the international liberal order no longer seems secure 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Russia's breach of international law in Ukraine and a new war in Europe, the return of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Trumpism in the U.S., the emergence of authoritarian populist parties, China's rapid rise, Brexit or international terrorism - the external and internal challenges are manifold. At the same time, the U.S.-led order established since the Cold War is weakening. And new protest movements point to the tensions within liberal societies: racism and exclusion of BIPoC and FLINTA*, militarized border regimes, or the extreme inequality in so-called meritocracies expose the promises of the liberal script as illusion. How do liberal societies respond to this? Will the "liberal script" perish, change, or emerge stronger from the crises? What answers do competing orders have to the global climate crisis, migration, or international security?

SCRIPTS brings together outstanding research from the Cluster of Excellence and interdisciplinary perspectives on current contestations of the liberal order. Michael Zürn introduces the theoretical foundations and the problem and leads through the further sessions on regional and thematic emphases, internal tensions and critiques of the liberal script together with SCRIPTS researchers and selected guests. The series is organised by SCRIPTS for the "Offener Hörsaal" series at FU Berlin.

On this page, you can find and watch recordings of the Offener Hörsaal lectures.

1. Michael Zürn – The Liberal Script: Does it exist and what could it be? (in German) | 31 Oct 2022

Have liberal ideas "outlived their purpose"? In the first episode of the SCRIPTS lecture series, Prof. Dr. Michael Zürn presents the concept of the liberal script - in its basic features, contradictions, and challenges. With a welcome address by the President of Freie Universität, Prof. Dr. Günter M. Ziegler.

2. Thomas Risse & Tanja Börzel – Liberal partial orders: Liberal orders beyond the national community (in German)| 07 Nov 2022

The European Union (EU) is an important part of the liberal international order (LIO). What challenges does the EU face as a regional order, and how does it relate to the LIO? In our public lecture series on Monday, 07.11., Prof. Dr. Tanja A. Börzel and Prof. Dr. Thomas Risse gave an overview and an understandable insight into current research from the Cluster of Excellence SCRIPTS.

3. Marianne Braig – Co-write. Writing in. Writing on: Challenges of the Liberal Script in Latin America. (in German) | 14 Nov 2022

Prof. Dr. Marianne Braig on the history of Latin America and other perspectives on liberal fundamental ideas: What about indigenous rights? Protection against disappearances? A reaction to destruction of liberal values during military dictatorships?

4. Andreas Eckert & Gudrun Krämer – Africa and the MENA-Region: The Liberal Script between promises, skepticism and a radical counter-draft | 21 Nov 2022

Prof. Dr. Gudrun Krämer and Prof. Dr. Andreas Eckert challenge 'traditional-western' notions of basic liberal ideas and trace the debate about the liberal script from the perspective of Africa and parts of the Middle East in the SCRIPTS ring lecture using regional and history of ideas examples - avoiding an essentialist conception of "Africa".

5. Jürgen Gerhards & Mark Hallerberg – Border and Refugee Policy, Economic (Re-)Allocation, and the Liberal Script. | 28 Nov 2022

What is the relationship between liberal orders and redistribution, border and refugee policies? Prof. Dr. Jürgen Gerhards and Prof. Mark Hallerberg, PhD hosted the fifth episode of the SCRIPTS lecture series.

6. Stefan Gosepath – The Problem with Merit (in German) | 05 Dec 2022

Meritocracy is a defining feature of liberal scripts. As a concept, it promises equality of opportunity and the reward of individual merit. Paradoxically, however, meritocracy de facto justifies inequality: Stefan Gosepath in the sixth episode of the SCRIPTS lecture series.

7. Christian Volk – Democracy and Protest (in German) | 12 Dec 2022

In the 7th episode of the SCRIPTS lecture series, Prof. Dr. Christian Volk outlines a framework for interpreting political protest in modern democracies and develops normative criteria for assessing its democratic quality.

8. Böckenförde-Roundtable | 09.01.2023 | Reckwitz, Richter, Möllers & Zürn

Christoph Möllers, Andreas Reckwitz, Hedwig Richter and Michael Zürn discussed in a roundtable the Böckenförde dilemma "Der freiheitliche, säkularisierte Staat lebt von Voraussetzungen, die er selbst nicht garantieren kann." (in German).

9. Geschlechtergerechtigkeit im liberalen Skript | 16.01.2023 | Gülay Çaglar

Gülay Çağlar (FU Berlin/SCRIPTS) on: Gender justice in the liberal script: feminist perspectives (in German).

10. Russland als Pionier eines neuen illiberalen Konservatismus | 23.01.2023 | Katharina Bluhm

Prof. Dr. Katharina Bluhm (Sociology at the Institute for Eastern European Studies at FU Berlin & SCRIPTS) on: Russia as the Pioneer of a New Illiberal Conservatism?

11. The liberal script read postcolonially (in German) | 30.01.2023 | Schirin Amir-Moazami

Prof. Dr. Schirin Amir-Moazami, Institut für Islamwissenschaft an der Freien Universität Berlin & Exzellenzcluster SCRIPTS: Das liberale Skript postkolonial gelesen.

12. Solidarität mit dem Liberalismus im Augenblick seines Sturzes? | 6.2.23 | Jaeggi

Vortrag von Prof. Dr. Rahel Jaeggi, Praktische Philosophie, Rechts- und Sozialphilosophie, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

13. Zukunft der Demokratie und der liberalen Ordnungen | 13.2.23 | Zürn

Lecture by Prof. Dr. Michael Zürn, Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung (WZB), Fachbereich Politik- und Sozialwissenschaften, Freie Universität Berlin/SCRIPTS