Half a century ago the German legal philosopher and constitutional judge, Ernst-Wolfgang Böckenförde formulated what would rapidly become widely known as the Böckenförde Paradox: “The
liberal state lives on premises that it cannot itself guarantee. On one hand, it can only exist if the
freedom that is bestowed on its citizens is regulated from within, that is from within the moral
substance of individuals and a homogeneous society.” Today that paradox sounds like a prophecy. The unexpected worldwide rise of nationalism, populism and illiberal extremism as well as
the deep crisis in Western democracies seem to amply confirm his view: in the recent decades of extended globalisation, liberalism has worn down those very ethical foundations that allowed it to thrive in the first place. In fact, dominant individualism has not only challenged community and religious alliances and national borders. It has also greatly undermined social capital and the civil fabric on which societies are founded. The 2019 edition of Reset Dialogues on Civilizations will be dedicated to these topics. The Dialogues have been organised by Reset in collaboration with the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Ca’ Foscari University, Venice and the Mominoun Foundation.