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Working Group Future Values


Freedom and Security

How will the relationship between freedom and security change in the future? What tensions do you associate with these values as you read this question?

The value of freedom is central to the “normative project of the West”, as described by Winkler (2019.  Werte und Mächte: Eine Geschichte der westlichen Welt. Munich: C.H. Beck, p. 76). In modern societies some agents or groups of agents have an unchanging allegiance to a specific value, e.g. to freedom as freedom of religion without restriction, while other agents, e.g. feminists, consider this value in relation to others, thereby showing a complex, fractured relationship to the same value, particularly if the subject who enjoys freedom is conceived of as (primarily) male. Historically, as postcolonial theory has established, imperialist aspirations and the elaboration of humanist ideals of freedom in Europe were closely linked: ideals of freedom were linked to specific qualities ascribed only to certain individuals and thus used to justify colonialism and slavery. In neoliberalism, freedom is primarily manifested as freedom of the market, and seems to erase any links to emancipatory and transformative movements in this framework. Lastly, freedom in a specific sense is strongly embraced by right-wing populist and far-right groups (Grubner et al. 2016. Feminismus und Freiheit: Geschlechterkritische Neuaneignung eines umkämpften Begriffs. Sulzbach/Taunus: Helmer, p. 10ff.). Once we realize all this it becomes obvious that values are subject to shifts in meaning.

This also applies to the value of security. However, security is not the only value contrasted with freedom. For some social agents, the contrast between freedom and equality, or freedom and justice, is much more important. The connections between values are contingent and relational, and are constantly being renegotiated.

The “Future Values” subgroup studying the conflict between the values of freedom and security examines what significance these two values will have in the future, and in what specific areas of tension they will be important for our society, for example in the contexts of digitalization and demographic change.