Università degli Studi di Urbino Carlo Bo / Portale Web di Ateneo


Liberalism, socialism and modern democracy
Liberalismo, socialismo e democrazia moderna

A.Y. Credits
2020/2021 5
Lecturer Email Office hours for students
Giuseppe Stefano Azzarà Reception will take place electronically by appointment and will mostly take place at the end of the lessons.

Assigned to the Degree Course

Educational Sciences (L-19)
Date Time Classroom / Location
Date Time Classroom / Location

Learning Objectives

The road that led to the affirmation of modern democracy has been long and troubled. It is the result of overcoming three major discrimination - that of class, that of gender, that of race or ethnicity - and has developed in the constant comparison between the liberal tradition and the radical and socialist one. Imperfect and unfinished, it entered a crisis when the leap from an almost exclusively national dimension to a supranational horizon had not yet been completed, despite the lessons linked to the catastrophes of the two world wars. What happens today in the European Union - a stage of a centuries-old path of continental convergence - and in the relationships of power between geopolitical areas in a world in the midst of a contradictory globalization, offers in this sense considerable food for thought, also starting from the teaching Domenico Losurdo.
The student will have to understand the complexity of the historical processes that characterized the political-social conflict within the nations and the international conflict in the 19th and 20th centuries, in order to understand the context of the affirmation and the decline of modern democracy and the axes political orientation of the contemporary cultural debate.

It therefore proposes the following educational objectives:

- help students understand the fundamental concepts of contemporary political philosophy (modern / antimodern / postmodern; emancipation / de-emancipation; progress; freedom; equality; totality / immediacy ...);

- help them understand the complexity of the historical movement and its origin in the conflict between social classes;

- to help them understand the right / left oppositions, particularism / universalism, and the way in which they condition the formation of modern democracy and its crisis;

- to help them orient themselves in the contemporary political-cultural context starting from the theoretical elements learned (the subsequent inevitable changes of each philosophical-political nucleus over time) and from their application to today's communication contexts (TV, newspapers, social networks).


1) Democracy and modern democracy
2) Social classes and political-social conflict
3) The stages of modern democracy
4) Modern democracy, socialism, Marxism
5) Crisis of Marxism and real socialism
6) Historical transformations and crisis of modern democracy
7) The problem of democracy on a supranational scale
8) Globalization and imperialism
9) European convergence
10) Crisis of universalistic dynamics
11) Lessons of the past for the present

Bridging Courses


Learning Achievements (Dublin Descriptors)

In relation to the discipline and its specificities, the student must show:

Knowledge and understanding:
- Knowledge of the fundamental themes of the history of political philosophy exposed in class and deepened in the textbooks and understanding of its fundamental concepts (see the learning objectives);
- Knowledge of the historical and socio-political dynamics of the contemporary age exposed in class and deepened in the textbooks and understanding of the processes that innervated them;
- Understanding of the building blocks of modern democracy and of the left / right and top / bottom axes;

Applied knowledge and understanding:
- Ability to orientate oneself in contemporary political debate and to understand the elements that today can strengthen or further weaken modern democracy.

Making judgments:
- Ability to take an autonomous position with respect to the main historical-political issues of debate and contemporary conflicts (eg centralization and spectacularisation of power; migration; "conflicts of civilization", etc. etc.).

Communication skills:
Ability to communicate what has been learned in the appropriate forms for a university-level study; ability to transmit and communicate the fundamental aspects and principles of democratic politics (link freedom / equality and couple recognition / exclusion in the first place) also in basic educational work.

Ability to learn
- Based on the knowledge acquired through the course, the student must be able to independently build in-depth courses and understand which readings and experiences can help him in this regard.

Teaching Material

The teaching material prepared by the lecturer in addition to recommended textbooks (such as for instance slides, lecture notes, exercises, bibliography) and communications from the lecturer specific to the course can be found inside the Moodle platform › blended.uniurb.it

Supporting Activities

Seminar by dr. Giorgio Grimaldi (10 hours)

Didactics, Attendance, Course Books and Assessment


Frontal lessons and seminar.


At the beginning of the course a verification of the initial preparation of the students inherent to the main historical-philosophical problems will be carried out. On this basis, students will attend an intensive seminar to strengthen their skills by dr. Matteo Gargani.

Course books

- Stefano G. Azzarà: Democrazia cercasi, Imprimatur, Reggio Emilia 2014: pp. 25-215.

- Stefano G. Azzarà: La comune umanità. Memoria di Hegel, critica del liberalismo e ricostruzione del materialismo storico in Domenico Losurdo, La scuola di Pitagora editore, Napoli 2019: pp. 45-86, 129-178, 195-239;

- Domenico Losurdo: Democrazia o bonapartismo. Trionfo e decadenza del suffragio universale, Bollati Boringhieri, Torino 1993: capp. 1, 2, 8 (around 100 pages).


The exam aims to ascertain the student's understanding and knowledge with respect to the educational objectives of the course and his ability to present them in a reasoned way: it will therefore be an oral exam.

Additional Information for Non-Attending Students


Non-attending students will have to support the same program as attending students, helping in particular with the materials available on the Moodle platform and coordinating with the teacher and his assistants.



Course books

As for attending students.


Come per gli studenti frequentanti. Per i non frequentanti la prova farà però riferimento ai testi indicati nel programma didattico.

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