This interview was conducted by Javier Toro.
Ryszard Legutko is a Professor at the Institute of Philosophy at the Jagiellonian University, a member of the European Parliament and a former Minister of National Education of Poland. He is the author of The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies.
Liberal democracy consists of two elements —liberalism and democracy. The word liberalism derives from liberty, the word democracy means, as everybody knows, the rule of the people. Let us take those two words separately.
While it is true that liberalism took its name from liberty, it is not obvious that liberty should be its basic component. Liberalism is primarily a system of distribution of power, which is based on assumptions that are far from self-evident. First, that society consists of individuals; second, that the relations among individuals are primarily contractual; third, that individuals are defined by minimal characteristics, such as utility and self-preservation. These assumptions are controversial, and yet liberalism always takes a superior position towards other philosophies. It considers itself to be a meta-theory, a supra-theory, a theory to evaluate other political theories, to organize other opinions and points of view. It promises to construct a general framework within which freedom will be distributed in such a way that individuals and groups will each have an equal maximum share.
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