¿Es la libertad suficiente?

¿Necesitan valores las democracias? La pregunta parece absurda a la luz de las fotografías de los soldados estadounidenses torturando y humillando a prisioneros iraquíes. Pero el hecho es que el avance de la democracia históricamente ha implicado la erosión de los valores comunes y el aumento de la autonomía individual. Ha supuesto un agnosticismo moral y una pluralidad de significados, ninguno de los cuales son sagrados ni obligatorios para todo el mundo.

La democracia nutre algunos valores comunes, pero se trata de valores abrumadoramente liberales. En otras palabras, los derechos individuales se superponen a las obligaciones colectivas. Para los demócratas contemporáneos, el mayor respeto posible a la autonomía de las personas es, como lo expresara Thomas Jefferson, algo "evidente por si mismo". Pero, ¿son los derechos civiles, políticos y humanos suficientes para asegurar la solidez y la supervivencia de las democracias? ¿Son las democracias actuales lo suficientemente virtuosas como para reunir las energías, incluido el sacrificio personal, necesarias para derrotar a sus enemigos?

Tales preguntas nunca fueron tan urgentes en el pasado, en parte debido a que los valores democráticos fundamentales eran menos abstractos de lo que parecen hoy. Estos valores animaron la lucha contra el totalitarismo, el fascismo y la dictadura militar de los nazis y soviéticos; en su nombre se logró la descolonización y las minorías alcanzaron igualdad y dignidad. Los valores de la democracia pueden estar alineados a favor de los derechos individuales, pero esto también los ha hecho universales, legitimando la lucha contra la opresión donde sea que ello ocurra.

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