Self-determination and the limits of freedom

Self-determination, that sounds good. Individuals want to be able to act autonomously. Everyone who has children knows that this desire sets in early. But where does this personal freedom end? “The freedom of the individual ends where the freedom of the other begins,” said the philosopher Immanuel Kant over 200 years ago. Individuals, communities, cities, cantons and states have developed regulations to organize the boundaries of absolute freedom. They form the foundation for peaceful coexistence. Swiss federalism organises this at the appropriate level and recognises the next largest unit as binding. In this we are masterful, even world champions. 65 years ago, shortly after the Second World War, Europe agreed on the European Convention on Human Rights and thus laid the foundations for the longest period of peace in the region. Twenty years later, this also came into force in Switzerland. Our country thus recognises that it is geographically located in the heart of Europe and that it wants to agree with its neighbours on certain basic rules of peaceful coexistence. In the course of globalisation, Switzerland also joined the United Nations in 2002 in order to be able to participate in peaceful coexistence on a global level and at the appropriate level. We are globally networked and intertwined and thus part of a sustainable fabric that ensures our stability and prosperity.

Basic rules of peaceful coexistence

Why would we want to give up this order? To defiantly enforce our own head as a tiny thing? To set our own rules above those of the community? Yes, small children try again and again to fathom the limits of adults in order to push their own interests through. Good education – at home, in day nurseries, kindergartens and schools – is all about making these young people mature, cooperative members of our society. In the so-called self-determination initiative, the egocentric defiance of those who have not learnt to recognize the limits of freedom and the value of community order is the way forward.

Column in the Handelszeitung of the 20th September 2018 by Esther-Mirjam de Boer

Esther-Mirjam de Boer is co-owner and CEO of GetDiversity GmbH and conveys diversity to board members. The entrepreneur is actively involved in several companies and works as a board member in four companies. As president of the Women’s Business Association and board member of the association geschä, she is committed to women’s entrepreneurship – also in succession. As a columnist in the Handelszeitung, she critically reflects on political and economic events in Switzerland from the perspective of a progressive-liberal woman. She acts as a lecturer, speaker and moderator and illuminates diversity and leadership from a strategic perspective.