Skip to main content
The starting point as well as the final goal of every normative analysis have to be be reflected and disclosed concepts or ideas of human being and society: If jurisprudence should not be reduced to a game ball of any interests, it must be lived against the background of an idea of people and their position in the relevant social fabric. This is the only way to avoid that the evaluations, which are inevitable in every legal assessment, slide off arbitrarily.
I myself assume that on the one hand, as a zoon politikon, people are called to individuality, but on the other hand, they can only do justice to their individuality as a person if individuals are embedded in social relationships. Finding a balance between individual references and group orientation against the background of the respective economic reality is for me the real challenge of humanity.
From this point of view, I consider the undifferentiated overemphasis on both individuality and sociality to be inadequate in legal and political discussion: it is crucial for me to maintain the tension between personal responsibility and solidarity and thus to avoid undesirable social developments. On the one hand, this tension is to be seen as a challenge that ultimately cannot be mastered: a state of total personal responsibility with simultaneous total solidarity assurance is only promised to us for paradise. On the other hand, the tension is also necessary to push forward social development: Therefore, the levels of personal responsibility or solidarity that have been layed down in the legal regulations have to beremodelled in case changes in reality require a new balancing of personal responsibility and solidarity.
This fundamental openness of the system to gaining ever new balances poses particular challenges for complex social systems in democratic states: If change has to surrender to populism, the humanity of society can be endangered a la longue because to live independently one should be able to trust solidarity. In my view, in a democracy this is only possible if a balance is found between these poles that is adequate for the respective situation and the deficits inherent in the system are accepted as the result of a democratic compromise - even more conceivable - even greater personal responsibility and greater solidarity as a result of a democratic compromise.
© Dr. Wolfgang Mazal 2000