Diagnose: Affluenza

meer
Ein unbefriedigendes Streben nach Meer…! (auf Saltspring Island, BC, Kanada)

In einer Jahreszeit, wo die Medien sich wälzen in der Fülle der Berichterstattung über Grippe Erkrankungen (zum Teil ausgelöst durch das Influenza Virus), scheint es mir wichtig ein viel grösseres Gesundheitsrisiko in der westlichen Hemisphäre mit ähnlichem Namen zu betrachten.

Affluenza: 1. Ein schmerzhafter, ansteckender, sozial übertragener Zustand von Überforderung, Schulden, Sorgen, Ängste und Verschwendung ausgelöst durch das ungehemmte Streben nach Mehr. 2. Das blähende, deprimierende, und unbefriedigende Gefühl das entsteht durch die Versuchung immer seine Nachbarn übertrumpfen zu müssen. 3. Eine Epidemie von Stress, Überarbeitung,  Verschwendung, und Verschuldung verursacht durch das Streben nach gesellschaftlichem Erfolg und materiellem Reichtum. 4. Eine instabile Sucht nach Wirtschaftswachstum. (nach www.affluenza.org)

und ein möglicher Therapie Ansatz:

Degrowth (“Entwachstum”): die beabsichtigte Umgestaltung der ökonomischen Systeme, weg vom ewigen Streben nach Wachstum. Für Wirtschaftssysteme, die über die Grenzen ihrer ökologischen Grundlagen hinaus operieren, beinhaltet das eine geplante und kontrollierte Schrumpfung um zurück in ein Verhältnis mit den natürlichen Grundlagen unserer Erde zu kommen, allenfalls durch die Schaffung eines ausgleichenden Wirtschaftssystems (Gleichgewichtsökonomie).

nach: Serge Latouche, “Growing a Degrowth Movement,” in Worldwatch Institute, State of the World 2010 (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2010), p. 181

für weitere Gedanken über das Krankheitsbild Affluenza, klicke hier: Affluenza

For an English version, click here: diagnosis: Affluenza

Ecopop Initiative – neue Textfassung

Die Ecopop Initiative ist zur Zeit in der Beratung durch die schweizerische Legislative. Es gibt viele Argumente für und gegen die verschiedenen Anliegen im Initiativtext. In der folgenden Fassung werden diese Anliegen noch deutlicher, und weniger restriktiv, vorgelegt.

Ein Grundgesetz soll meiner Meinung nach in erster Linie wahrhaftig sein und die enthaltenen Anliegen direkt ansprechen. Das Grundgesetz soll einen Gesetzesraum ermöglichen und nicht das Leben der Menschen einschränken.

Rappi

Initiativtext

Die Ecopop-Volksinitiative «Stopp der Überbevölkerung – zur Sicherung der natürlichen Lebensgrundlagen» stellt, gestützt auf Art. 34, 136, 139 und 194 der Bundesverfassung und nach dem Bundesgesetz vom 17. Dezember 1976 über die politischen Rechte, Art. 68ff, folgendes Begehren:

I    Die Bundesverfassung wird wie folgt geändert:

Art. 73a (neu) Bevölkerungszahl

1 Der Bund strebt auf dem Gebiet der Schweiz eine Einwohnerzahl auf einem Niveau an, auf dem die natürlichen Lebensgrundlagen dauerhaft sichergestellt sind. Er unterstützt dieses Ziel auch in anderen Ländern, namentlich im Rahmen einer globalen Debatte um die Grenzen des Wachstums und der Ausbeutung der natürlichen Lebensgrundlagen.

2 Die ständige Wohnbevölkerung in der Schweiz soll im dreijährigen Durchschnitt um maximal 0,2 Prozent pro Jahr wachsen.

3 Der Bund investiert mindestens 10 Prozent seiner in die Wirtschaftsförderung fliessenden Mittel in Massnahmen zur Förderung der Fortpflanzungsfähigkeit und –willigkeit der traditionsbewussten Schweizer und Schweizerinnen. Continue reading “Ecopop Initiative – neue Textfassung”

10 complex ways to lead a simple(r) life

Haus in Camana, Safiental. - House in Camana, located in the Nature Park Beverin, Switzerland.
Haus in Camana, Safiental. – House in Camana, located in the Nature Park Beverin, Switzerland.

In a postmodern trend to list anything for publication, I am adding ten attitudes and behaviours that could (hopefully) be endorsed by John Woolman to avoid superfluities. Continue reading “10 complex ways to lead a simple(r) life”

10 komplexe Weisen ein einfach(er)es Leben zu führen

Haus in Camana, Safiental. - House in Camana, located in the Nature Park Beverin, Switzerland.
Haus in Camana, Safiental. – House in Camana, located in the Nature Park Beverin, Switzerland.

Ganz im Sinne der postmodernen Erscheinung, alles Mögliche in Listenform zu publizieren, führe ich hier zehn Lebenseinstellungen und Verhaltensweisen an, die hoffentlich auch John Woolman vertreten könnte um Überflüssiges zu vermeiden. Continue reading “10 komplexe Weisen ein einfach(er)es Leben zu führen”

Diagnose: Affluenza (Konsumismus)

Affluenza: “Konsumismus, auch Konsumerismus oder Konsumentismus (von lat. consumere – verbrauchen), ist ein übersteigertes Konsumverhalten zum Zweck der gesellschaftlichen Distinktion oder des Strebens nach Identität, Lebenssinn und Glück.” (Wikipedia)

Eine satirische Abhandlung über einen potentiellen Ausbruch einer ansteckenden Krankheit in den USA hat mich gerade wieder in der Vorweihnachtszeit stark berührt. Affluenza, ein Begriff der im Englischen tönt wie Influenza (Grippe), ist ein Konstrukt das schon vor einigen Jahren geprägt wurde um aus gesellschaftskritischer Sicht auf unser für normal gehaltenes Konsum- und Sozialverhalten aufmerksam machen.

Hier gibt es eine tolle filmische Umsetzung der Problematik: Kinder und Jugendliche die in einer Überfluss- und Wegwerfgesellschaft aufwachsen haben oft keine Vorstellung, dass nur die wenigsten, auch in unseren Kulturkreisen, derart privilegiert sind. Das Video ist in Australien gemacht; hier eine Version mit deutschen Untertiteln.

Doch es sind ja nicht nur unsere Teenager betroffen von der Krankheit: Die englische Definition des Begriffs verdeutlicht dass viele Erwachsene den Virus auch in sich tragen: Continue reading “Diagnose: Affluenza (Konsumismus)”

CDC: Affluenza Outbreak Numbers Reach Critical Levels, No Vaccine In Sight

Affluenza is a growing problem – not just in the US.

For a definition of affluenza, click here: diagnosis Affluenza

Conservative Newswire

Disassociated Press–Ft. Worth, TX

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr Thomas R Frieden released numbers on the current outbreak of affluenza in the US at a press conference Monday morning, painting a chilling picture of the dangers posed to the population, in particular the wealthy.

“The latest affluenza case in Texas merely underscores the need to take steps in the development of preventative measures,” Frieden said to the press, in reference to Ethan Couch. Couch is the Texas teen who barely escaped up to 20 years in prison when his condition was revealed to have caused him to kill four people in a drunk driving accident, paralyzing a fifth person. “A young boy’s life has taken a tragic, irrevocable turn,” Frieden continued. “Ethan Couch’s life will forever center around his treatment. We hope our estimate, which indicates about 3 million or so of the wealthiest Americans could…

View original post 555 more words

Is Providence Road a dead-end street?

Is Providence Road a dead-end street?
Is Providence Road a dead-end street?

When I think about the extent of misery I described in “Mapping it out”, there are many questions that come up for me:

When is this misery, this crisis going to end? This statement implies where we generally see the problem: The misery of “poverty amidst prosperity” seems to be the apparent problem that needs to be addressed. Why else would we find evidence of hundreds of charities and social services initiatives, both from the public and the private sector in Kensington?

Poverty is not the problem – Affluence is!

The early church fathers (5th century) have formulated it this way: “Some people are indigent for the very reason that others hold a superfluity. Take away the rich man and you will find no pauper. No one should own more than is necessary but everyone should have what they need. A few rich people are the reason why there are so many poor” (Pelagius, as cited by Wallis, p.116)

There is nothing wrong with wealth in its original meaning of the word: Being well. But affluence has nothing to do with well-being.

Affluence in the United States refers to an individual’s or household’s state of being in an economically favorable position in contrast to a given reference group.” (Wikipedia)

Jim Wallis describes how that dynamic of maneuvering into a favourable position for individuals, households, or corporations has led to a rat race that is ultimately destructive for the world. We seem to have lost some old fashioned values, like the concern for the common good. It is a sense of individual entitlement (“it’s all about me!”), and the instant gratification of wants (“and I want it now!”) that has taken over.

And we are not satisfied if we have all we need: The consumerist discourse suggests that we need to compete and get ahead of everybody else. Keeping up with the Joneses is one of the symptoms of affluenza, a non-medical disease that has become widespread in affluent societies:

Af-flu-en-za n. 1. The bloated, sluggish and unfulfilled feeling that results from efforts to keep up with the Joneses. 2. An epidemic of stress, overwork, waste and indebtedness caused by dogged pursuit of the American Dream. 3. An unsustainable addiction to economic growth.”(http://www.pbs.org/kcts/affluenza/)

Wallis describes how the market has become like a god. It is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-present. We have subjected ourselves to the power of the market forces to the point where we start realizing and suffering from the symptoms of affluenza: This unfulfilled feeling.

However, the market does not give you the comfort of the divine. It is not all-loving. If we feel unfulfilled, the market will produce yet another consumable for us and will give us the promise that everything will be taken care of. It sounds like providence

Kensington is a prime example of the hollowness of that market providence. It is not meant to be shared among all human beings. It is not meant to be shared for the sustained well-being of all of creation. Most of us are aware that natural resources are limited. We have made everything on this planet and beyond a commodity that can be exploited for short term gain. Few decisions are driven by the concern of the seventh generation from now.

A perpetual and unregulated growth society needs millions of impoverished and middle-class people that sacrifice themselves and contribute to the extreme accumulation of wealth by a few. Wallis gives stunning examples of the growing gap between the rich and the rest in America and the world. The 400 wealthiest people in the United States control more assets than the 160,000,000 people at the bottom end of the wealth spectrum together!

And the gap is widening every year. That is why I am convinced that poverty is not the problem. Once we rediscover that we are happier with less, and that we are all in this together, we will be heading towards a state of providence. If we redesign our economy and polity, as an expression of the divine will, there will be enough to meet the needs of every human being.

Street scene along Providence Road in Media, PA
Street scene along Providence Road in Media, PA

In the meantime, the self-proclaimed “road to providence by perpetual and unlimited growth and consumption” is indeed a DEAD END. It has led to the financial collapse of recent years, and it will lead to further crises and catastrophes down the road.

Unless we decide to plan for de-growth and create a culture of sharing, we will have to ask ourselves again and again: when will this misery going to end? Wallis suggests that we better start with the question: “How is this crisis going to change me?”

Wallis, J. (2010). Rediscovering Values: On Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street; A moral compass for the new economy. New York, NY: Howard Books.

diagnosis: Affluenza

Affluenza: 1. A painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more. 2. The bloated, sluggish and unfulfilled feeling that results from efforts to keep up with the Joneses. 3. An epidemic of stress, overwork, waste and indebtedness caused by the pursuit of the American Dream. 4. An unstable addiction to economic growth. (from www.affluenza.org)

and a possible therapy approach:

Degrowth: the intentional redirection of economies away from the perpetual pursuit of growth. For economies beyond the limits of their ecosystems, this includes a planned and controlled contraction to get back in line with planetary boundaries, with the eventual creation of a steady-state economic system that is in balance with Earth’s limits.
from: Serge Latouche, “Growing a Degrowth Movement,” in Worldwatch Institute, State of the World 2010 (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2010), p. 181

for more thoughts on the condition of affluenza, click here: Affluenza

The time for giving – global needs you would have never dreamed of

Over the last few days, I came across several writings in the blogosphere about aid. It started with the blog from a Norwegian family that inquired whether providing employment for a person from a marginalized context (read: Third World country) could potentially constitute a form of development aid at the private, most direct level.

Is hosting an au pair the most direct form of developmental aid maybe?
I´m not being cynical. It is a sincere question. (from Au pair host: “Development Aid?“)

In response, I offered some of my own thoughts for finding an answer:

…However, I have some doubts about the notion of development aid. In the first case, the mother and child have migrated from the less affluent to the more affluent context due to marriage. They have uprooted themselves to significantly improve their social and hopefully economic standing – this is what I call upward mobility. There is no development in Kenya associated with that.
In the second case, the young woman has returned with hard earned and saved cash and is able to run a family business. At least that will have a development effect in the country of origin. But the process is a form of migrant labour, or maybe another form of remittance.
I think that if a person from a marginalized country comes and works as au pair in a highly privileged country and is treated like a human being and not simply as cheap labour, it is a noble exchange.
But it does not constitute charity:

Nick Negerli - the ubiquitous guilt-absorbing church collection boxes of a recent past (photo credit: vgntramp.wordpress.com)
(photo credit: vgntramp.wordpress.com)

Continue reading “The time for giving – global needs you would have never dreamed of”