The next state – Rethinking State
Do we want full employment or full automation? Do we need an unconditional basic income? Do we want more or less state? In the two-day event, members of the public came together and developed new forms of state and work in workshops.
The gap between a global class of global citizens and a society increasingly dissatisfied with dwindling opportunities is growing. How can democracy, legal systems and our ways of working and living adapt to the digital revolution? What role does a future state play in protecting assets and caring for the common good? Is the state the custodian of an Unconditional Basic Income? Is the power of transnationals already eroding it down to its foundations? Will it be abolished in the long term and replaced by self-directed units of free individuals?
These questions were the focus of the two-day symposium "The Next State - Rethinking State", in which interested people could actively participate. Together with representatives from culture, activism and science, they developed new models of work, wages, governance and participation in various workshops and examined their feasibility. Participation in the symposium was free and required registration and presence on both days.
Saturday, 21 April 2018
5 p.m. – 9.30 p.m., Kronprinzenpalais Berlin
Saturday, 22. April 2018
10 a.m. – 8 p.m., Kronprinzenpalais Berlin
Fotos: David von Becker
SATURDAY, 21 April 2018
"Did that just happen?"
PLENARY FINANCIAL CRISIS
The symposium started with a review. Around ten invited experts from everyday life came together to reconstruct the history of the financial and euro crisis from 2007 to the present day in a multi-perspective way. Together they analysed and evaluated the chain of events that has led from the housing bubble to the quasi nationalisation of numerous banks worldwide. Are there winners and losers? As in the laboratory, the digital scenario table was used again.
For Switzerland: Dr. Jürg Müller. For the role of the Media in Financial and Euro Crisis: Harald Schumann. For the banks: Otto Steinmetz . For the UK: Dr. Cho-Oon Khong. For Greece: Prof. Evangelos Liaras. For Portugal: José Soeiro. For the USA: Prof. Pavlina R. Tcherneva. For Island: Prof. Eyvindur Gunnarson. For European Law: Prof. Dr. Isabel Feichtner. History of labour: Cornelia Daheim . For the German jurisdiction: Prof. Dr. Kai von Lewinski. For Sustainability: Dr. Ariella Helfgott. For literature: Prof. Dr. Joseph Vogl.
"And since then?"
REGULAR'S TABLE FINANCIAL CRISIS
The repercussions of the last crisis can still be drastically felt: in Greece and Portugal people are talking of a “lost generation”, while in the United States pensioners are living in mobile homes or on the street and in the global South the land prices have increased exponentially. In Iceland some bankers are in prison yet Germany has returned to “business as usual”. The ECB is continuing to flood the market with billions. Land prices and rents have exploded. Do we actually know what has happened to individual nations’ guarantees for banks or what quantitative easing means for us?
In small groups, the participants discussed the effects of the financial crisis that can still be felt today. A few days before the symposium, we sent them various newspaper articles on the financial crisis by email as preparation and as a basis for discussion. But you could also just talk about money, your own account balance or capitalism. Each table should finally formulate a sentence, note it down and return to the plenary hall. What followed - and no one of the participants had ever suspected before - was a musical choir installation, conducted by Sven Kacirek and Daniel Muhuni. The participants sang, proclaimed, whispered, shouted their sentences formulated at the regulars' table. This part of the symposium is not documented.
"And next time?"
The turnover of the world’s largest investment banks has already risen far above the level of the crisis years 2007/2008. People are saying it’s only a question of time before the next bubble bursts – but who will foot the bill when it happens? In the final round of discussions the symposium will address
the options for intervention: will we be able to count on a strong state? Or are state and financial markets so inextricably linked that the impetus for regulation needs to come from and be implemented by completely different forces? Which forces might they be?
Choice of workshop: during the first day of the symposium the participants chose which workshops they wish to attend on Sunday.
Sunday 22 April 2018
10 a.m. – 7.30 p.m., Kronprinzenpalais
Sunday consisted mainly of two 90-minute sessions with various workshops, in which reform models – such as a basic income or new ideas for work and employment – were developed with the support of experts, followed by entirely new models for future forms of government. Strategies were considered for implementing such reforms. From reform through to revolution, anything is allowed. Each workshop had between 10 and 15 participants. Each workshop unit was followed by a plenary session in which the results of the workshops were presented and discussed. The workshops were designed to complement rather than compete with one another.
WORKSHOP SESSION I
"Work or income? Freedom or dependency?"
Only ten years ago the idea of an unconditional basic income was regarded as a utopia espoused by a few eccentrics. Now the director of Telekom, the Social Democrats and Silicon Valley are all talking about it as if it were only a matter of time before it is introduced. Notions like “surplus societies” and job losses of up to 50 per cent over the next twenty years are being discussed. The motives for these future scenarios and various models for how they could be realized and financed vary enormously and they are directly connected with ideas about the future role of the state. Will the unconditional basic income be paid so that capitalism can continue “undisturbed”, as it were, or so that we as a civil society can progress? Who will pay it? Will it be the state (us, in other words), the robots (i.e. the producers and investors), or “micro-financing” in the form of contributions by the biggest data collectors? And will we then finally be able to lead a self-determined existence as we have always dreamed of doing? On Sunday morning the participants will develop various models of work and remuneration for the future in a number of workshops.
Evaluation of workshop session I
Joint plenary session. All participants in the symposium assembled round a large table at which the workshop leaders and one member of each workshop presented their results. Moderation: Ulrike Hermann & Dr. Thomas R. Henschel
WORKSHOP SESSION II
"The next state"
What role do we want to assign to a future state? With the camps divided, people’s positions are becoming ever more radical and irreconcilable. Some people want a state that protects the public good and shapes necessary processes of transformation. For others the state should protect property while the future is shaped by visionary companies and individuals who are quicker to recognize the signs of the times and can respond to the digital revolution more flexibly. The state is viewed as a corporation in which only shareholders have civil rights. Can the construct of the welfare state survive the internet, blockchain and the globalized economy? What alternatives do we have and what strategies are conceivable for organizing inclusion?
As in the laboratory, we again invited the cultural scientist Joseph Vogl to the symposium. He accompanied the workshop day as a silent observer and finally, at the end of the event, drew his conclusion.
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