Telling visions and living utopias

Anyone who has visions could help the political left!

Oliver Nachtwey, professor of sociology at the University of Basel, sees in the unawareness of the political left the most important reason for the crisis, in which especially the social-democratic parties of Europe are present in many countries:

“The malaise of the left has its origins in the fact that it has lost the imagination of another, a better world and the will to reach it. The Left has basically internalized the neo-liberal mantra that there is no alternative to global capitalism. Therefore, it is no force of the future, no driver of progress, no source of energy for reform efforts. It does not have its own narrative of a society beyond universal competition, limitless growth, environmental destruction, the dissolution of local communities, where every pore of life is made a commodity. “[1]

At least in terms of the lack of counter-narratives to limitless growth, Nachtwey seems to be right. In any case, in the election campaign for the 2017 general election, it was only parties that were regularly grouped together in reports on election results under the heading “Other”, which included a departure from the growth paradigm in their election program . In contrast, the SPD, in cooperation with the Union, has negotiated a plan for the next four years, in which the word “growth” in the sense of the unquestioned paradigm is mentioned 25 times. It seems to be synonymous with trust and carelessness.

They exist, the visions. They just have to be told, discussed and above all lived.

In addition to the societal and political problems that Nachtwey particularly addresses, Frank Adloff, Professor of Sociology at the University of Hamburg, emphasizes the ecological level as well. In a readable article he refers to civil society projects such as the common good economy and peer-to-peer networks, as well as approaches such as the convivialism debate. All these projects and ideas have their origins in the need to create a livable future for all people within the ecological limits of the earth. Adloff points out that many ideas and visions already exist and are lived. However, “so far, these convivial experiments often abruptly side by side and learn by politics more of a disability than a promotion” [2].

It is clear to Adloff that economic growth has become obsolete as a global goal and that ways must be found to democratize the economic sphere. And where the cake is no longer growing, as he thinks it will soon be for the global North anyway, social justice must be achieved through redistribution. And: “In relation to the North-South relationship, a policy of conviviality must rely on global redistribution.” [2].

If a post-growth society is to be successful in terms of an inclusive, inter-generational and intragenerationally fair and ecological way of life, then these two debates must be linked together: the unawareness of the political left and the struggle for an alternative narrative of ubiquitous economization. These two debates have the potential to experience upheaval through their connection – one in content, the other in particular, in the sense that it could be brought to the breadth of society. The ideas, collaborations, and networks that may one day grow out of it could help to think and create a future worth living.


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