Building on Solid Rock

by Elias Blum

Today I’ve been nervously pondering Miroslav Volf’s words: “A post-truth world is a post-justice world, and a post-justice world looks either like North Korea or Syria.”

This poses a challenge to those, like me, who have spent a lot of time studying and supporting the structures of democracy.

I’m increasingly coming to the opinion that the structures we have (not in the UK, but in most advanced democracies with modern constitutions) are basically sound, give or take a little tinkering here and there. However, the foundations – the ethical expectations, norms and virtues that make a civic and democratic possible – are being corroded. If unchecked, this corrosion could have disastrous consequences, which no amount of institutional redesign can fix.

This isn’t to say that constitutions, laws and institutions are unimportant. Clearly they do matter. But they must rest upon solid foundations. Unless we value truth, justice, peace, decorum, public service and responsibility then  we are building on sand.

These values are not endogenous to the constitution itself. They come from outside of law and politics, arising from civil society, from education and from religion. They have to be nurtured anew in each generation.