Which road will we take?
How are we to ‘remake’ society at the dawn of the 21st century? This is the central question at the beginning of this season, and it forms the leitmotif throughout the 2016-2017 programme at the Kaaitheater. In times of climate change, migration, international terrorism, extreme privatization, increasing inequality and fast-paced globalization, our society has become so complex that this question is increasingly difficult to answer. But it is precisely due to the challenge of these crises that the call for alternatives resounds ever louder. Where is our (political) imagination and how are we practically moving towards a different future? Which road will we take? Where do we want to go?
Flex-working, intensely consuming
Over the past few decades, faith in a social engineered society has waned. Critical reflection on the risks of modern progress and on our faith in nature governed by humanity has increased considerably. Trust in government intervention has decreased dramatically. The traumas of the twentieth-century utopian projects, communism and fascism, were tremendous. Ideological ideals became taboo. Instead, a management discourse was adopted from the world of private enterprise. Society was no longer formed based on a political ideal, but only needed to be managed efficiently. The neoliberal free market model eagerly appealed to its non-ideological, value-free character. Social engineering was dismissed as a ‘leftist’ aberration. But over the last few decades, it has become increasingly clear that neoliberalism had exchanged the direct ‘act of making’ on the level of society for an indirect one via socially engineered individuals. How can the individual be moulded into a flex-working, intensely consuming, self-redeeming person who could embody the neoliberal dream?
Alice: ‘Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’ The cat: ‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.’ – Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
In other words, society is always engineered. So it may be better to place this ‘making’ at the forefront of the agenda and not to pretend that there are any other options. There is a justified demand for alternatives, and it cannot be sounded loudly enough. ‘Business as usual’ is no longer an option. The dangers of realizing political utopias and of ‘total engineering’ are well known, but at the same time the need for inspiring political-utopian ideas has never been greater. What are the current impulses for new ideals of social engineering, for new utopias? Where is the necessary imagination born and what role might art and culture play? Who is taking concrete initiatives to start establishing that new society? RE:MAKE is a series of lectures and debates that bring both concrete practice and new ideas to the fore. You’ll find the first names below – the series will be completed throughout the season.