Liberal Democratic Constitutionalism 25 Years After the End of the Cold War: A Visit to Moscow

In June 2015, Mattias Kumm was invited by the Institute of Social and Economic (ISEPR), a think tank with close links to the Kremlin to contribute to a research report entitled “Democracies 21: A Paradigm Shift”. He wrote a contribution with the title “Liberal Constitutional Democracy 25 Years After the End of the Cold War” that was subsequently included in the report by ISEPR.

The core argument of his contribution was that many of the reasons for the recent skepticism and backlash against liberal constitutional democracies are connected to the failures of taking liberal constitutional democracy seriously. Ultimately there was no better alternative for anyone, including Russia, then to seek to properly institutionalize liberal constitutional democracy and commit to an international rule of law.

The presentation of the report was covered prominently by Russian TV, which can be accessed here: (in Russian language)

Unfortunately the contribution by Mattias Kumm, which contained a highly critical analysis not only of the state of western liberal constitutional democracies, but also the political developments in Russia, was censored, as reported in the German daily Die Welt: (in German language)

Additionally he presented his article at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow (HSE), an institution that was created in the 1990s modelled after London’s London School of Economics and Political Science, and now arguably the leading academic institution in the social sciences and the humanities in Russia, as documented by HSE here

What this appears to illustrate is that, notwithstanding the fact that freedom of expression is seriously curtailed in Russia, there remains space for serious intellectual engagement and there are good reasons to keep engaged. Serious intellectual engagement may take place in academic institutions and may be discussed and publicly documented in peripheral channels, but it will not happen at Kremlin-linked think tanks and it will not be covered by Russian mainstream media.

The corrected uncensored version of the report has been made available by ISEPR on June 15 at:!democracies/crl

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