Democracies are regimes in which inequalities abound. The freedom of expression and organization used as a means to claim for social protection produces a multitude of demands directed to formal institutions as the State. These demands make explicit the various forms of inequality between citizens: each one of them can result in the creation of different public policies. Moreover, public policies themselves can give place to more inequalities, whether resulting from its daily management or from the unjustified exclusion of a portion of the citizens of their reach. Under a democratic regime it is impossible to contain the emergence of new demands, which maintain formal institutions under constant pressure.
It is no longer possible to describe all social conflicts using the concept of "class", nor is it possible to study issues related to development only dealing with economic growth and income distribution. It is now known that these two themes express only one part of the problems of a society.For example, the economic organization of society is not the cause of the discrimination against blacks, women and indigenous people.Discrimination occurs in poor and rich countries and varied social structures.
Economic conflicts are still relevant and are part of the agenda of any discussion about development in Brazil and worldwide. However, these problems do not exhaust this agenda. They need to be considered along with many other issues. Several of them are discussed in this number of DIREITO GV LAW JOURNAL on "Law and Inequalities in XXI Century ".
The articles put together here serve as an introduction to the complex and conflicting reality of democracy. They cover topics such as the creation of an international currency, the transfer of technology between countries,labor and welfare,incarceration of indigenous people and their cultural rights, the relationship between food and human rights, urban housing,hate speech in social networks and the relationship between feminism and capitalism. They were written by authors from several Brazilian states and by foreign authors.
Furthermore, this edition includes translations of texts by Nancy Fraser and Ronald Dworkin, two of the most prominent contemporary theorists. Fraser writes about the relationship between feminism and capitalism based on the work of Karl Polanyi. The author shows how the feminist demands for inclusion in the labor market and in the social protection system were manipulated by neo-liberalism. That is the reason why feminist politics must be critically examined and renew to keep its emancipatory character.
Ronald Dworkin writes on one of the themes of his new book, Justice for Hedgehogs, the concept of "good life". This concept intends to reconcile the demands of an universalistic moral with the interests of each individual, a traditional problem in the field of Moral Philosophy. After all, if moral values are seen as merely external to the individual, the theory of justice becomes merely heteronomous and ceases to be an expression of the autonomy of women and men.
Reflection on contemporary inequalities, on the institutional responses given to them, about justice and empowerment, are fundamental to a democratic rule of law. After all, the legitimacy of democracy is tested every day by social conflicts. There is no institutional arrangement that solves all problems for good and there is no list of values that accounts for all the visions of justice and emancipation disputed by the various social agents.Whenever we imagine that these problems are completely solved we put democracy at risk by freezing the reflection on inequality and on institutional reform.
In this context, the role of Law research, very well represented by the texts of this edition, is to make constant efforts to identify new social demands and reflect on its possible impact on the institutions and on the legitimacy of democracy. For the price of democracy, to paraphrase and change the meaning of a famous definition, is the eternal dissatisfaction, which makes us essentially human and never gods.
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09 Apr 2012
Date of issue