The third “On the social contract” seminar: the maturity of society as a guarantee for a prosperous state

Aspen Institute Kyiv continues to involve the Ukrainian leaders in the dialogue on the future of our society. On November 9, the third On a social contract for Ukraine project took place. Members of the Aspen community and alumni attended the event.

The participants discussed the unifying principles of Ukrainian society after the victory. Denys Poltavets, director of program development at Aspen Institute Kyiv, and Andriy Kulakov, program coordinator of the Aspen Community, moderated the event.

The mission and values ​​of the state as a common denominator for a diverse society

The seminar participants voiced the idea that the social contract should be transformed into a civil contract and will be consciously agreed to by all its participants. Some participants suggested raising the question of the necessity of a social contract in a post-war exhausted society.

Participants emphasized a social contract is impossible in a small group of people. It is also impossible with many participants who have too significant differences in values ​​and positions. It is necessary to take into account the great diversity of our society, in which exists a large number of micro societies with their views and rules. The social contract must outline a common foundation through which these micro-societies can find agreement. After all, it will guarant that we will be able to explain to ourselves and the world who we are and for what we are fighting.

The question of coercion and violence and the equality of all citizens before rules

Classic authors of the concept of social contract pay considerable attention to coercion and violence as the main tools of power. The social contract should ensure the justice and equality of all citizens in compliance with the specified rules, protection from excessive coercion by the state, and balance the main social groups.

Any turbulence in the state is a problem of the absence or non-observance of a social contract, so such an agreement must force everyone to obey the general rules without exception. The Rule of law must prevail in the state. That raises the question of how to structure the use of violence and coercion.

Seminar participants mentioned that Ukraine is now gaining an experience in the culture of attitude toward the military. The general attitude changes to a feeling of kinship with the army soldiers. That highest level of trust in the Armed Forces would make their role in the social contract much more visible. Both Maidans showed that the armed forces are always with the people. But there is also the issue of accountability for violence by private armies and law enforcement agencies. Therefore, political control over the armed part of the population should become one of the key aspects because its loss would be similar to a catastrophe.

Global agenda and flexibility in the face of change

The participants agreed on the importance of working on social maturity. One of the biggest challenges for post-war society would be not to fall into the state of a “child” and not to look for a “father”. Ukraine should not make concessions to stronger partners. It has a unique historical chance to influence the global social contract and impact the civilization it belongs.

The issue of the social contract must be unified after victory. Some participants noted that the agreement should help every citizen to accept the agreements and values ​​of the new society and not look for ready-made models of state building. We should not adhere to existing social contracts but should invent ourselves and be subject. At the same time, there was an opinion that today we are in the position of an experimental site and can be open to all models and possibilities.

Participants stated that the social contract is a process that is constantly developing and changing because of new realities.

The event was held within the framework of the Integrity and Governance project. The Integrity and Governance project is supported by a grant from the National Endowment for Democracy.