For over two decades, Philosophicum Lech has been one of Europe’s top addresses for contemporary philosophy and discussions on current political and social upheavals. The Philosophicum Lech offers the perfect setting for discussing and reflecting on major social and political trends in a familiar atmosphere. Internationally renowned philosophers, social critics, politicians, humanists and historians come to Lech every year to attend these discussions or to discuss for themselves on the open stage. The new church in Lech is the ideal venue for discussions in a quiet atmosphere.
In 2019, the Philosophicum was dedicated to the theme “The values of the few. Elites and Democracy”.
Elites are being talked about again. Top politicians, top managers, opinion leaders and pro-minute intellectuals are exposed to sharp criticism, not from the left as in the sixties of the last century, but from right-wing populists and neoconservatives. It is said that the elites acted self-righteously and detachedly, that they had lost contact with the worries and needs of the people, and that they contributed to the division of society. At the same time, the voices that defend the concept of the elite are increasing. Elites guaranteed technical, scientific, economic and moral progress, they represented a bulwark against the populist temptation and the erosion of democracy.
But who are these elites? Is it really a selection of the best? How are elites formed and who belongs to them? How do you live? How do you think? Which values do you orientate yourself on? And to what extent do these values represent a distinguishing feature that should distinguish the few from the many? Doesn’t the idea of political, cultural or social elites even contradict the concept of democracy, which should be committed to the idea of equality, social mobility and the principle of power sharing and change?
The relationship between elites and democracy is central to the development and perspectives of a modern society. How this relationship is shaped, in what form it is lived and criticized, also determines the possibility of a prosperous coexistence of people with different political ideas and life experiences. At the 23rd Philosophicum Lech, philosophers, sociologists and cultural scientists will present and discuss these burning questions with the audience.
Konrad Paul Liessmann
Scientific Director of the Philosophicum Lech