Surveying Utopia

Abandoning Empire and Myopia Von:
Surveying Utopia
Unlike a chair, an idea can be shared by a whole people. The time is right for alternative economics, reduced working hours, redefining work, security, health and happiness, person-oriented work, labor-intensive investment (not capital-intensive investments) and soft power.

The only way to solve the three crises of mass unemployment,m environment destruction and trade imbalance is to move from quantitative to qualitative growth (cf. Hans-Christoph Binswanger). Access could replace excess as enou9gh could replace more.

Possessions possess us more than we possess them. The car is more than a metal box but is a whole way of thinking encouraging domination, narcissism, solipsism and self-righteousness. Consumerism goes through the roof, not population. We have enough for everyone's need, not for everyone's greed (cf. Gandhi).

The dialogue "Surviving Utopia" with Elmar Altvater and Raul Zelik intimates the wonders and obstacles to utopian thinking. Utopia, the place of no-place, is more a goal and objective than a concrete reality.

Economics changes with the times. Once savings was the elixirr and then spending became the elixir. States are different than Swabian housewives. They can become indebted and invest and safeguard their future. What is rational from a microeconomic perspective can be destructive from a macroeconomic perspective. Increasing competitiveness is sensible for an individual corporation or businessperson but may be disastrous if all countries reduce their workforces. Wages are both costs and demand or purchasing power. Neoliberal myths and assumptions give unbounded freedom to capital while demeaning labor as only an inevitable cost.

The articles "Learning from History," "Community Centers in O Canada," "Nature as Healer and Teacher," "Cinderella's Sisters and King Midas" and "Shouting from the Caboose" are invitations to ecological, sustainable, respectful and future-oriented change. "We must be wounded to be healed," Dorothee Soelle said. Have we been sufficiently wounded by materialism, imperial hubris, the financial crisis, deregulation, commodification, instrumental rationality, suburbanization and the work religion?

In "Surveying Utopia," the emeritus professor Elmar Altvater shares the Polish proverb: You can make fish soup out of an aquarium but you can't make an aquarium out of fish soup. The future should be anticipated and protected in the present, not extrapolated from the present.

The future could be full of community centers, free Internet books and soft power if we become active subjects and not passive objects, enthralled in the present and future like children. Music, books and questions make our lives rich and independent of the trickle-down market jingles.

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