There are moments when we are overwhelmed by a pleasant melancholy. Perhaps we look out of the window and see the sunset and remember past perfect summer days or think back to a time when we were young or to people who were once close to us.
Nostalgia – an individual feeling turned into a social phenomenon through digitalisation
The longing for the past is omnipresent in today’s world. Many people feel a lack of connection to others and see the social context crumbling, while technological progress and consumption are advancing inexorably. The sociologist Zygmunt Bauman calls this longing for old times “Retrotopia”, the past is idealised like a utopia. For Rosa, the reason for this is the current situation of instability, insecurity and fragmentation, in which people are increasingly looking for security and control.
Lack of connectedness due to unleashed capitalism
According to Rosa, fulfilled existence and harmonious relationships are related to our capacity for resonance, which comes from physically and emotionally resonating with our environment and our fellow human beings. Today, in his view, we are in a crisis of resonance that has its roots in the capitalist drive for growth, which follows the principle of competition rather than togetherness. Overcoming the current crises therefore first requires overcoming the logic of growth, he concludes.
On the way to post-capitalism: New technologies as drivers of a future without economic growth logic?
Although it is obvious that in the virtual world one’s physical senses can only be used in a limited way and thus one’s physical connections with the world, the people and things in it are also limited, there are nevertheless technologies that enable a completely new kind of connections. Especially with regard to the idea of post-capitalism, amazingly, technological products could help the economy to overcome its own logic of growth.
Minimalism: the paradox of a post-capitalist trend, made possible by capitalist products.
The influence of new technologies has already fundamentally changed some models of life. An example of this is the minimalism movement, which first developed through the possibility of the virtual world. Reading books on a tablet or streaming music online means that people need fewer material goods today than they once did. Fax machines, record players or video equipment hardly exist anymore. Living in a Tiny Home and calling oneself a minimalist:in would have involved considerable sacrifice of wealth just a few decades ago, but today one can have both without major restrictions. The new technologies enable prosperity and resource conservation at the same time, as many objects have been relocated to the virtual world. But it is not only our consumption that has changed, but also the way we interact with each other.
Virtual connections and a sense of belonging: How technology has changed our social relationships
We used to live in manageable groups and depend on direct communication. Today, through new technologies, we have to deal with millions of people, which requires a higher degree of inner differentiation. The emergence of the now inflationary profession of “coach” is just one of the results of these changes.
Together instead of against each other? Co-creation in the economy
Co-creation means working together and is currently a real buzzword of the new economy. It is about achieving processes and results together in diverse groups. If one follows the actual idea of co-creation, it is important that the cooperation remains open-ended. In business, however, cooperation is invariably expected to serve the old and linear principle of competitiveness as well as profit maximisation. But this does not fit with an idea that is based primarily on sharing and giving. Co-creation is not a new alternative for the old economic order of competition. If we want to wake up to a better world tomorrow, the economy must reinvent itself and not just change its methods.
Business and technology as a catalyst for the meditation and mindfulness movement.
Meditation, once a means of religious ritual and spirituality, has now arrived at the centre of society as more and more people use it as a balance to their hectic everyday lives as well as their digital existence.
To be successful in the intersection of the real and digitalized world, one needs the ability to go offline occasionally and be mindful of oneself and one’s resources.
Companies today use mindfulness practices to build resilience in their employees, but the fear is that these will be misused to merely improve employee performance in order to remain competitive in global markets. It is unlikely that the economy itself will lead us into a post-capitalist system.
The way out of the crises of our time can and must be through society itself.
“Society over economy, together instead of against each other” seems to be the solution against people’s omnipresent nostalgia.
The not-so-new concept of the global unconditional basic income (BGE) possibly offers a real way out of the nostalgia and the dictates of competition of unleashed capitalism.
The idea of providing all people with regular financial support to secure their existence regardless of their work has the potential to help people redefine their identity and strengthen the innovative power of entire nations.
According to Statista, 1.2 per cent of the world’s rich population owned around 47.8 per cent of the world’s wealth at the end of 2020. Given this inequality, it is hardly surprising that 98.8 per cent of the population is not comfortable with it
The question of why these 1.2 per cent of the world’s population seek even more profit despite their already considerable property remains unanswered. But there is no doubt that the future of the entire world population is at risk if we do not collectively move away from our unleashed consumption. The exploitation of people, animals and resources must come to an end in this digital industrial era to ensure the survival of our species. Otherwise, humanity will bring about its own end.
But instead of taking action themselves, many seem to be waiting for the tiny minority of only 1.2 per cent of the population to change the system
It is time we realised that change must come from all of us and we cannot rely solely on a small elite who seem to feel no compulsion to do anything. On the contrary, in fact: according to an Oxfam report “Confronting Carbon Inequality”, it is precisely the richest ten percent of the world’s population who are responsible for over half of greenhouse gas emissions. The richest one percent damage the climate even more than the poorest 50 percent. Their consumption is related to luxury goods like cars, flights and meat. Strangely enough, they act as if they are all about to emigrate to Mars together with Elon Musk.
And for the 99 per cent of people who will stay on Earth, we should get a handle on climate change. – Friday for Future, USA 2021
A global economy that is oriented towards stability instead of growth and a society that guarantees the livelihood of workers through an unconditional basic income (BGE) could offer a way out of the current (meaning) crisis.
Although there are controversial discussions about whether the BGE is actually a path to post-capitalism, there is currently no better alternative to meet the challenges of the future. Happiness researchers agree on one thing: the more people have a secure existence, the less warlike they will be.
So it is time to focus on new solutions like a worldwide BGE and a resource-efficient global economy that have the potential to make the world we live in a peaceful place and our future a sustainable place to live.
By focusing on forward-looking ideas instead of collectively falling into nostalgia, we may be able to find our utopia of a livable world in the future instead of in the past.
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