“Philosophicum Lech 2019” / Vorarlberg

Sonnenaufgang Widderstein © Hannes Heigenhauser Lech Zürs

25.09.2019 – 29.09.2019; Vorarlberg.
The Values of the few. Elitist bubbles: At this year’s Philosophicum in Lech am Arlberg discussions will revolve around elites and democracy.

What about the relationship between elite and democracy nowadays? In times in which our society is breaking up into ever more fragmented digital filter bubbles and populist movements are gaining power in many countries? This year’s Philosophicum in Lech am Arlberg explores these topics.

This is one of the most relevant questions when it comes to the future of liberal democracy as we (still) know it in Europe. It’s very tempting for rich and powerful elites to use their own resources along with the Internet’s tools to manipulate opinions and enforce their own interests. In many countries there is a convenient alliance between right-wing populists and financial and economic elites. This alliance has far-reaching consequences with respect to a society’s distributive and social justice and to the upholding of democratic principles as such. In an interview with the newspaper Standard Andreas Treichl, CEO of Erste Bank, stated: “We have to contemplate whether or not our democracy can still work in its current form. I’m just collecting ideas here: Maybe countries should be directed by administrative institutions.” Nowadays financial elites are openly debating about democracy per se.

At the same time liberal academic elites have drawn back into the chosen isolation of an exclusive society and are not really able to sustain an effective dialogue with other social groups. Philosopher and publicist Alexander Grau calls this phenomenon “the cultural isolation of the open and tolerant ones”. In his talk at Lech Alexander Grau will analyse the new elites’ self-concepts and values.

Which elites are we talking about today? And who do they serve? Do the political elites still represent the people? Or are they just “usurpers” of democracy, who use democratic mechanisms like propaganda and message control to seize power, but who ultimately serve the financial elites that fund their rise to political power? The Ibiza video illustrated this debate very dramatically. The resulting criticism of elites however, is not directed against the fact that political elites don’t function, but that they do function. In many countries we can observe that this alliance between populist political and financial elites has successfully seized power, which is bad news for representative democracy. Viennese philosopher Isolde Charim will explore this question in her talk at this year’s Philosophicum.

Konrad Paul Liessmann, head of Philosophicum Lech, takes a fundamental question as the basis for this year’s programme: “Doesn’t the notion of political, cultural or social elites go against the concept of democracy, which should be that of equality, social mobility, power sharing and change of power?”

What better place to discuss this question than elitist ski resort Lech am Arlberg?

Die Werte der Wenigen. Eliten und Demokratie – Philosophicum Lech
25.09.2019 – 29.09.2019
Neue Kirche Lech
6764 Lech am Arlberg