Where does true change come from? Is it the realm of politics where innovation happens? Rarely. Politics is the art of the possible, but what if there is a time for the impossible – or rather: the near possible? This is what Otto Scharmer is working on, the emergence or, as he calls it: the presencing of what is already here but not readily accepted – the new way of doing things in a market economy which is not weighed down by capitalistic dogma. It is a truly original mix of new words and new thoughts coming from the heart of an outwardly very capitalistic institution – the MIT Sloan School of Management, where the German Scharmer is Senior Lecturer. But what if this was the place to look for answers for tomorrow’s questions? Wouldn’t “the Left” go mad?
Anger Management: The Emergence of the Future
Anger Management: The Future of Democracy is Local
This time we went to Yale to talk to Jennifer Klein, Professor for American History with a strong activist background. In this conversation she expands her critique of the present oligarchic regime in the US into new ways of thinking about democracy in general and coming up with concrete proposals for a political renewal from the bottom up, starting on a communal level with steps like community banking. She is an inspiration for anybody thinking creatively about how to break out of the confines of the present situation.
Anger Management: Capitalism Is Like A Tired Animal
Wolfgang Streeck is the first European that we meet in the course of this quest for new ideas about the future of democracy, and the conversation turns dark as he unfolds his scenario of the death throes of democratic capitalism: the lack of growth, the shift of public debt to private debt and the resulting societal inequality. Streeck has a sociologist’s view on the economic dilemma of our time, he is very clear in his analysis and very reticent when it comes to solutions. There is a tension throughout this conversation which has to do with the question of the role of social democracy in this whole scenario: Are these forces able to reform society, as Karin thinks, or is the politics of the old responsible for the lack of ideas about meaningful change, as Georg thinks. Wolfgang Streeck, even if he left the German SPD many years ago, seems to still have a heart for the organized left. And in the end he talks about Selena Gomez.
Anger Management: The Eternal Experiment
Roberto Mangabeira Unger is probably the most inspiring person you could think of, his mind is like a beautifully shaped stone which shines in all directions. He is clear about what he wants: A world where people see and live their full potential, not burdened or inhibited by the weight of the old or the ordinary. He is an inspiring political thinker in Harvard and a very hands on politician in his native Brazil. He masterfully spans both areas and lets his thinking be informed by the experiences he made in office. We met him at his house in Cambridge, MA, where he lives among books and music and serves a very nice Cognac in the late afternoon.
Anger Management: The Filter Democracy
Cass Sunstein is much much more than the bestselling author of the seminal book “Nudge” which changed the way that policy makers thought about policy – and one could argue if that was a good thing or a bad thing. Because, and this goes back to this conversation about the question of filter bubbles and echo chambers and the “#republic”, Sunstein’s new book: Who is the agent for change, politically, socially, economically? The election of Donald Trump upended a lot of things that were taken for granted about the way politics is done, about the way the public discourse is constructed. We have to rethink what this really means, says Sunstein. It is a democratic call to action.
Anger Management: The Ruins of Democracy
What is your place in society – this is the central question of politics today, it is at the heart of so many fights and struggles, about identity, about equality, about representation, symbolic and real. Dislocation, in other words, is the fundamental experience of our time, both dislocation in physical and spiritual terms. Do you belong? And what is your stake in society, very concretely, materially? This is the theme that drove the conversation with Peter Galison forward, historian of science at Harvard University.
Anger Management: What Is Wrong With Human Rights?
Sam Moyn is one of the most original thinkers when it comes to some of the most profound contradictions about common perceptions about politics: Human rights, for example, is a good thing, right? Or, isn’t it rather a proxy, something invented to fill the void that concrete policy left open? A weak claim without any real substance? And thus more harmful than helpful when it comes to rethinking and reshaping tomorrow’s world?
Anger Management: The Trump Challenge
Theda Skocpol is one of the great political scientists of the USA, and if she is torn about where this country is heading, this means there is real confusion. She talked to us, Karin Pettersson and me, about how the country got to this point, the massive failure on parts of the media, but also on the parts of the people refusing to acknowledge that Hillary Clinton was a viable candidate. She believes it is time for the American civil society to rise up to the challenge. She is a patriot, after all, she said. Which means today to withstand nationalism. Just one of the contradictions of our times.
Anger Management: Democracy For the 21st Century
This is exciting, we will start a new podcast, and this podcast will be shaped around the discussion which will be going on on 60pages and via the initiative Disrupt Democracy on Medium: Karin and I will be talking to thinkers and scientist from Harvard and MIT for the next few months to come up with clues and ideas about how we got here and what we might do to get out of this dilemma. Karin and I are in the USA at the moment, she is from Sweden where she used to work for Aftonbladet as the editor of the opinion page, I am on a leave of absence from my job as a columnist for Der Spiegel, we are both fellows of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. This conversation here is the beginning, we set out what we want to do, cover questions of populism, the relationship between capital and labor, the progressive dilemma, the progressive alternative. She says she is the pragmatist and I am the utopian. I am not sure about that. And I would not even see this two opposing sides. I think both are relevant and necessary. But, please, judge for yourself.
Trump is the Revenge of the Nineties
Josh has brought some beers. It is Sunday evening, he has some papers due soon, he has a cold, he has one hour to talk about the lessons from Trump. We sit in the deserted building of the Department of Government. I have been really looking forward to this conversation. Josh is one of those people you rarely meet even at a place like Harvard. He is young, he has a sharp intellect and a keen understanding of how to use it. He is all about politics, but not in the way that would make you feel that you know what he is going to say. He has a clear set of things he believes, I think, but he is also formulating his views as he goes along. He is a truly exciting voice in the desolate landscape of political thinking. Because this is what it is all about: How to revive the practise of left and liberal thinking. In the face of Trump. But also in the tradition of what the politics of rights and respect could be like for the 21st century.