Open Political Science | Volume 4: Issue 1
Political alternatives for constitutional democracy: between utopia, pandemic and dystopia
Andraž Teršek 1
- 1 Faculty of Education & Faculty of Humanities, University of Primorska and European Faculty of Law, New University, Ljubljana, Slovenia
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/openps-2021-0006 | Published online: 22 Nov 2020
Perhaps there are never too many different theories about the organization of society, ideas about the normative framework of life in a political community and suggestions on how to institutionalize the political system. Perhaps they go out in public too early. This could also apply to those reflections on society and to those political philosophies that bear the label of utopia. There is no doubt about the importance of such human investigations of what is and what should be. And there is no doubt about the usefulness of constantly imagining what it should be. However, analytical and explanatory caution is required when the word utopia is used to suggest the utopian nature of an idea. In other words, what looks like a utopia can already be presented to us as a provable and tangible fact, only that too many people do not perceive it for too long, and therefore it remains unfulfilled in social practice. Is this really a utopia? On the other hand, what may seem completely understandable, feasible, or even self-evident can appear extremely utopian when it comes to the normative approaches to social regulation and the conditions for achieving a “better society.” The deviation of political practice and legal practice from what should be understandable or even self-evident according to the text of the constitution and international law, the findings of jurisprudence, philosophical insights, and common sense in political decision-making and in the drafting and implementation of the applicable law is so great that, paradoxically, precisely that which is understandable, feasible or even self-evident appears utopian. And how can utopianism be combined with the realization that so many major and persistent social problems can be solved so easily and quickly – even if only by rethinking the legal system and social realm? How can a human being efficiently oppose neoliberal politics and unbridled capitalist practice, the poor functioning of the rule of law, the low quality of the welfare state, the excessive threat to fundamental human rights and freedoms, the inadequate protection of social rights, the insufficient commitment to the value of solidarity and the inadequate role and weakness of morality in social practice? Can the answers to fundamental social questions and solutions to the greatest problems only be found in a real and literal utopia? I do not believe so. I believe that communitarianism can be a good political alternative. Understood as social liberalism and as a social democracy based on the rule of law, morally founded on social solidarity as a fundamental value. I am convinced that the constitutions of the EU Member States and the EU legal order enable it. A strong and interventionist state is needed to realize the constitutional possibilities of a high-quality welfare state, effectively protected social rights, the realized social function of property, and a society based on solidarity. Ideas are needed. Even if they seem so crazy, even if they seem utopian. In these times when the devil has taken the joke away, when people are again protesting massively in the streets, when they protest (unsuccessfully, of course), when it is difficult to know exactly what is happening and why, when more and more people are increasingly confused and frightened when systemic violence increasingly turns into physical violence when it is difficult to remain calm and thoughtful when it is difficult to tame anger and rage…, it is necessary to step out of the existing coordinate system, out of the cube, to form and communicate ideas that seem crazy, utopian… Now, right now, ideas are needed, crazy ideas. We need a utopia. And faith and hope in it. Faith and hope, which will be the driving force of active action, of striving for realization – of a utopia.
Keywords: Constitutional democracy; 2020 pandemic; utopia; political alternatives; solidarity; morality; welfare state; fundamental human rights and freedoms