City: Berlin

Presentation by Ralph Buchenhorst at the conference “Envisioning the Future: Zukunftsvisionen für Deutschland und Europa” (Interdisciplinary Conference of the DAAD-funded Centres for German and European Studies) / Panel: “Zukunftsfähigkeit der Gesellschaft – Welche Zukunft hat unsere Weltgesellschaft?”

Societies achieve future viability by pursuing accountability in ordering practices to produce predictability of future global scenarios. In this context, the relation communities and institutions establish to their natural environment plays a pivotal role. The notion of modernity entails that the evolution of rationally organized institutions like capitalism, techno-sciences and legal framings would finally allow us to control global policies and social development in the future. At the same time evidence of climate change, mass migration and heavy extractivism show how limited modern institutions are in their attempt to regulate global social and economic enmeshments. In Latin America and Europe different projects of de-growth and de-colonial approach attempt to present viable alternatives.
The paper seeks to compare two current debates on de-colonial and de-growth alternatives to the ongoing neo-liberal approach to globalization. Sumak Kawsay, the Ecuadorian concept of Full Life or Buen Vivir,is a community based local approach to organize harmonious social relations around the idea that the surrounding eco-systems has similar rights to those of human beings. Conviviality is a project established mainly by German and French intellectuals to develop a new social, moral and political philosophy that does not rely any longer on the idea of infinite economic growth, opposing the global hegemony of finance capitalism and looking for various forms of prosperity without growth. In Germany, both alternatives are being prominently discussed by influential Development Aid policy makers such as the Green Party, BUNDJugend, Heinrich-Böll Stiftung and Brot Für Die Welt.
Through this comparison, similarities and differences between both concepts should become clearly visible. Furthermore, the paper will ask if these new approaches present viable solutions for technologically advanced societies of the West. In a final step, it attempts to situate both debates within the larger question of how to handle counter-hegemonic discourses and practices without an essentialist approach that sells these discourses and practices as a self-legitimizing universal paradigm. To meet the open space format proposed by the organizers, one example of each concept is shortly presented and accompanied by questions regarding their implementation on a larger scale.

Further information on the conference