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What moves the "Generation Greta"?
by Max Lill
Wednesday Jun 9th, 2021 5:10 AM
The global economy is in free fall. Social life and public debate are largely paralyzed, the usual protest and organizing formats of the social movements are completely blocked. Decisive decisions are made in the mode of emergency decrees and huge rescue packages.
The politically unthinkable suddenly becomes possible, and even seems to many to have no alternative.
What moves the "Generation Greta"?
by Max Lill in Luxembourg (26.05.2021)
[This article published on 5/26/2021 is translated from the German on the Internet, Was bewegt die »Generation Greta«? |]

The life-worlds of young people are riddled with class divisions. But there are common hopes that can be addressed from the left.
They still exist, the hope-giving major trends. Among them is the return of progressive, activist youth to the stage of world politics. Fridays for Future (FFF) is just the most obvious example of this, and part of a longer cycle that began in the aftermath of the 2008-09 crisis.

Germany tends to be one of the laggards in this process, but youth studies also underline here: after a decline in political interest in the 1990s and 2000s in favor of more "egotistical" orientations, "Generation Greta" increasingly emphasizes values of solidarity (Albert et al. 2019; Calmbach et al. 2020). They reclaim their sold future - not only by speaking out (clearly across classes!) for consistent environmental and climate protection. A (growing) majority also positions itself to the left of center on other key issues: social security and wealth distribution, rent policy and public services, or issues such as labor and equality policy, migration and racism, peacekeeping and network policy.

Nevertheless, only a minority still describe themselves as politically interested and committed. Feelings of distance and powerlessness toward organized politics, especially toward political parties, dominate. This applies especially, but not only, to precarious class situations, which affect young people with above-average frequency. Numerous studies show that young people feel that their experiences and demands are not represented and that they are demanding more rights to participate. The failure to turn the tide on climate protection, copyright reform (keyword: upload filters), and most recently the political failure on infection control, digitization, and relief in schools have further exacerbated this basic perception (Andresen et al. 2020).
This critical potential has also translated into a renaissance of democratic socialism in the Anglo-American world with the campaigns around Corbyn and Sanders, despite recent severe setbacks. In Germany, on the other hand, it has so far (after the intermezzo of the "Pirates") mainly proved to be grist to the mill of the Green government project. The LEFT party has succeeded in increasing the proportion of its members aged up to 30 no less than tenfold since the turn of the millennium to around 20 percent, making it the only party ahead of the Greens in which young people are represented roughly in proportion to their share of the total population (Niedermayer 2020). At the ballot box, however, it continues to achieve only average scores in this age group, while the Greens have nearly tripled their voter share to around 30 percent since the last federal election. In a survey of FFF activists, as many as 62 percent said they saw the Greens as at least the least evil, with only 10 percent leaning toward the LEFT. Even among the trainees at Opel surveyed in the same study, the Greens were clearly ahead of all other parties at around 25 percent (LEFT: 7 percent) - although here the proportion of those who abstain from voting or support marginal parties is even significantly higher at 38 percent (Karg/Laßhof 2021).

What experiences and moods are expressed in this? And what might a more successful approach from the left look like?

Pragmatic "Re-Grounding" - Petty-Bourgeois or Solidarity?
In approaching these questions, one thing should be clear: Generalized talk about 'the youth of today' is ideologically mined terrain. This is not only because each generation is contradictory in itself and differentiated in many ways according to class milieus. In the decades of market-radical politics and social fragmentation, youth lifeworlds have also developed further apart (Lill 2016).

On the one hand, this is true vertically with regard to family income and access to education: social mobility, especially from lower status positions, has decreased. Class divisions have become entrenched and are the most influential factor for action orientations and future expectations. But values and priorities are also widely differentiated across hierarchical stratification: Among some young people, the search for creative self-realization and pushing boundaries predominates, albeit at a much slower pace (the Sinus studies speak of "charisma" orientation, typically combined with a quest for higher qualifications). Another part, on the other hand, emphasizes more traditional forms of authority and ties to the homeland, which correlates with a greater susceptibility to resentment and anti-democratic statements (although such attitudes are weaker overall than in the population as a whole and tend to decline in the long term).

However, these differences do not translate into a clear polarization of camps, as is the case today in the strategy debates of almost all parties, where the distinction between "cosmopolitans" and "populists" is not very clear-cut. The overarching trends that unite these life-worlds are not only a pragmatic attitude that flexibly combines seemingly contradictory elements and values cooperative problem-solving more than sharp fronts and radical slogans. There is also a greater emphasis on social values such as justice, security and altruism, coupled with ideals such as motivation, expertise and self-determination.

The Sinus studies speak of "re-grounding": In view of the perception of increasing social disintegration, a deeper anchoring in close-world relationships is sought. Self-care and seriousness are highly valued. Modest hopes for security emerge: stable friendships, a lasting and meaningful job, one's own home and nuclear family promise protection from the gathering storms. From the left's point of view, this may be deplored as a retreat to bourgeois ideas of small happiness. On the positive side, however, it is an impulse against isolation, egoism and division.

The Greens address these needs by promising to "renew the foundations of trust" (Habeck) - through socio-ecological change and the reanimation of an orderly state on the basis of broad majorities, without major rifts and camp battles: a pragmatic idealism in line with the boom of post-neoliberal centrism. Despite the increasing questioning of austerity dogmas, even in the bourgeois camp, this perspective appears objectively unrealistic. Sustainability is mainly simulated in the political mainstream, while the climate and biodiversity crisis are rapidly escalating. After the conflict over the logging of the Dannenröder Forest, further disappointments seem pre-programmed - all the more so if a black-green federal government is formed in the fall.

This could foreseeably widen the representation gap. What starting points for a left-wing approach can be identified in the everyday experiences of young people?

Growing pressure at school and in training
One problem acutely aggravated by Corona concerns the conditions of education. On the one hand, access to qualifications determines life chances, especially in Germany, and thus stabilizes class divisions. On the other hand, young people from all walks of life describe school in particular as a place where claims to participation are disregarded. The suppression of individual initiative and creative solutions in infection control has now caused anger at ministries of education and school bureaucracies to boil up - especially since a large majority of young people were already critical of rapid school openings in April 2020 and called for a cautious approach to relaxations (Sinus Youth Study 2020; Andresen et al. 2020). These experiences could be taken up offensively in the election campaign in favor of better equipment and participatory reform of the education system.

At the same time, Corona's exacerbation points to something fundamental: As a result of the pressure to conform to qualification constraints and standardized performance norms that began early on in the process, leisure youth cultures, which in the second half of the 20th century formed relatively independent, pop-music framed fields of experimentation and often also spaces of politicization, have been severely repressed (Lill 2011). Many young people today, not only in lower social situations, complain of massive time and competitive stress. Girls and young women in particular anticipate early on the difficulties of reconciling work and family life as a result of the increasing demands of working life and the resulting retreat to a traditional division of labor in the family. All this deprives young people of the concrete utopian energies that are so important for left-wing politics and has considerable psychological consequences: There are increasing indications, not only since the lockdown, of a rise in loneliness, depression and anxiety.

In this respect, it is misleading when Klaus Hurrelmann and Erik Albrecht attribute the commitment of FFF, in analogy to the 68ers, to a supposed relief of large parts of "Generation Greta" from (especially occupational) insecurity and worries about the future (Hurrelmann/Albrecht 2020a, 2020b): on the contrary, the last Shell study (whose surveys took place in the initial phase of FFF at the beginning of 2019) found that confidence has decreased especially in the middle and higher classes. The education situation, which was still improving at that time due to the upswing from 2010 and demographic change, had more of an encouraging effect on the lower strata (albeit at a lower level) (Shell Youth Study 2019).1 The cliché image of privileged, self-confident middle- and upper-class kids who can 'afford' the climate protest and even further divide the generation not only ignores the fact that fear of the destruction of nature and anti-growth positions have increased sharply in all strata. It also trivializes the everyday concerns beyond the 20 percent of the 'disconnected.'

Loss of trust and collective knowledge appropriation
Of course, it is not difficult to recognize the upscale, politically particularly active and strongly female "post-material" lifeworld (Sinus Youth Study 2020) at FFF: Demonstration surveys showed a clear dominance of higher educational levels (also among parents) in Europe in 2019 (Haunss/Sommer 2020, 15ff). A majority assigned themselves to the upper middle class. 83 percent saw themselves as politically left of center, with an upward trend in the course of mobilization (although only 12 percent tended toward the LEFT and 43 percent were not affiliated with any party). Between March and November 2019, dissatisfaction with real-world democracy continued to increase significantly among the young people surveyed, while confidence that they could curb climate change politically or through changes in consumer behavior declined. Instead of an often-claimed split between consumerism and system critique (Karg/Laßhof 2021), reformism and radicalization, an accelerated loss of confidence in the solution competence of government and business is emerging (in most countries, both values were below 10 percent). In contrast, the expertise of the sciences inspires hope among about 80 percent of the demonstrators.

This reveals a parallel between corona and climate as politicization issues: In both cases, processes of collective knowledge appropriation in critical sub-publics and alliances with researchers who are increasingly present in the media and politically play a key role. Greta's "Unite behind the science!" by no means stands for a naïve belief in the one objective scientific standpoint from which political negotiations could be circumvented. Rather, what is perceived as scandalous is the fact that large sections of politics and the media public are proving unable or unwilling to receive even fundamental findings in an emergency, to communicate honestly and to translate them into comprehensible decisions. The disastrous Corona management has demonstrated, as if in fast motion, what is also so outrageous in climate policy: the dominance of short-term corporate (capital) interests, present-fixated repression and populist instincts.

In view of this, the LEFT would be well advised not to limit itself solely to its 'brand core', the social question, nor to protest and system criticism. The Greens are also more likely to be elected because they are assumed to have more technical - especially ecological - expertise and reform concepts. It would therefore be important to give more prominence not only to young activists, but also to committed experts and intellectuals, and to force the substantive debate on concrete restructuring projects.

In addition, the left wing of the climate movement should distance itself from the widespread skepticism towards technological solutions, which are often discredited as mere efficiency strategies of a "green capitalism". Instead, it should be emphasized that short-term cost control along the lines of exploitation interests blocks sustainable innovations. Young, highly qualified wage earners are often particularly aware of this, because it shapes their own work experience as a permanent conflict over creative leeway, raising questions about public or private control.2 Entry-level projects should be presented in this respect as an effort to free employees' collective knowledge and ability to cooperate from their tight business management shackles - instead of signaling: We already have the ready answers.

Invisible policy program and personal representation
At the same time, it must be a matter of addressing that "invisible policy program" (Kohl/Seibring 2012) that can also be traced in the less education-oriented lifeworlds. For example, strong experiences of injustice due to poverty or discrimination are evident in the life worlds described by the Sinus Institute as "precarious" and "consumer-materialistic." In addition to pressure at school and a lack of space for leisure activities, issues of housing shortage, old-age provision and immigration are very present in the everyday narratives of these young people. The welfare state and municipal infrastructures clearly have a positive connotation.

Many connectable themes can also be identified in the "experimentalist" lifeworld in middle-class educational settings, where a scene-specific aestheticized differentiation from the mainstream and hedonistic pleasure are still most clearly sought: Gentrification, poverty and wealth, the control of public space.

All this, however, is hardly understood as political. For 'politics' appears as a distant, highly uninteresting event. Where this strangeness breaks out selectively, it makes itself felt in concrete persons who are present in the media or local public sphere and are habitually perceived as approachable and authentic.

This points to the central importance of personal representation (Lill 2020, 58 - 63). Throughout all life-worlds, young people miss politicians who offer identification potential. In addition to an empathetic orientation toward the common good, especially in the more emancipatory life-worlds with a "charisma" orientation, the ability to learn and self-criticism are emphasized as important qualities (Sinus Youth Study 2020, 431 ff). Aesthetic signals are also particularly important here, as in the "consumer materialistic" and "precarious" life-worlds.

The appearance and organization of campaigns should be further developed in light of such findings. From the Obama election campaign in 2008 to "Momentum" (UK) to Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez and "Sunrise" (USA), there are now enough examples of participatory online and grassroots campaigns with contemporary iconography. So why not give commissions and resources for the design of posters, video clips and memes to the army of young, precarious artists* and merely provide a framing that can be filled creatively and target group-specifically at the grassroots?

The Underlying Ferment and Greta's Spirit
In all of this, it would be important not only to address established patterns of attitudes or current moods, but also what is fermenting underneath, or even to look for access to this semi-conscious and unconscious in the first place - emotionally and credibly, beyond the usual rituals of indignation and (necessary) programmatic complexity. It is true that "Generation Z", out of insecurity, has a recognizable tendency to idealize rather conventional life plans and to seek social harmony, with the result that older countercultural patterns of left-wing dissidence and negation appear attractive to only a few. But there are cracks in this picture. Beneath the surface of the personal confidence often emphasized in youth studies, which can also have an auto-suggestive effect, there smolders the realization that the universal crisis of societal natural relations threatens even modest dreams of life. With the pandemic, the impacts have come closer, and the leap of faith briefly granted once again in the spring of 2020, after years of disillusionment, has been spectacularly negligently gambled away by governments.

Against this backdrop, neither green rhetoric of new beginnings nor leftist narratives of progress or even dogmas of any kind are likely to carry much weight. However, the struggle for a sustainability and care revolution can be convincing as a rational project of collective survival - as well as a search for resonant world relations (Rosa 2016) in conflict with the culture of routinized repression.

In any case, it is probably no coincidence that a nerdy outsider who had been bullied for years, with literally 'pathological' non-conformity, inspired millions to protest and powerfully shifted the climate discourse. Greta Thunberg voiced a fear and grief that had been taboo until then (even on the left). She made visible the "crisis of imagination" (Luisa Neubauer) by forcing us to face an increasingly likely apocalyptic scenario. At the same time, she embodied the transformation of powerlessness into activism: until the school strike, rather the type of the 'skeptically inconspicuous' with sympathy for other 'weak', to which Shell studies attribute about a quarter of all young people, she abruptly stepped out of the shadows to merge the political with the highly intimate in the mirror of world publicity (very densely captured in the film "I am Greta" by Nathan Grossman). As the epicenter of the movement, she thus revitalized a secular spirituality that feeds on deep attachment to a world on the brink.3 In the dwindling of promising futures, the left needs this spirit more urgently than ever.
This article appeared in "Learning to Win" - LUXEMBOURG 1/21, pp. 12-19.
How to overcome the rigidity of shock?
Perspectives of the climate movement in times of pandemic
by Max Lill
[This article published on 8/4/2020 is translated from the German on the Internet, Wie die Schockstarre überwinden? |]

Corona hits the climate justice movement as well as the social left completely unprepared. The partly feared, partly longed for "rupture," the great systemic crisis, is now here. In a flash, it is plowing up everyday life, exacerbating social exclusions within the broken and commercialized services of general interest. The global economy is in free fall. Social life and public debate are largely paralyzed, the usual protest and organizing formats of the social movements are completely blocked. Decisive decisions are made in the mode of emergency decrees and huge rescue packages. News from all over the world is pouring in. The politically unthinkable suddenly becomes possible, and even seems to many to have no alternative. And no one is talking about climate change anymore.

In this situation, there is no room for hasty answers and the continuation of familiar interpretive schemes. Everything is in flux; we are driving on sight. Nevertheless, we need to start thinking beyond the immediate socio-economic and political-cultural consequences of the shutdown and how to deal with the acute emergency in the hospitals. What medium-term trends are emerging and what does this imply for the climate justice movement? Attempting an approach.

So far, it is unclear how long and to what extent the wheels will come to a standstill (a longer time horizon of several months to a year, with progressively relaxed but still significant restrictions, seems likely at present from an epidemiological perspective). In any case, one thing is foreseeable: The synchronicity and ferocity with which the epidemic and the deep crash of the global economy hit societies on all continents is likely to lead to a new wave of chaotic upheaval and repressive violence, but perhaps also open up scope for progressive experimentation. In any case, it is true that the world will not simply return to the status quo ante after mass extinction.

At present, these prospects are still beyond the imagination of most people, climate activists (myself included). For instead of uproar and collectivity, the crisis initially brings isolation and an even further shift of the public sphere to social media and its filter bubbles. It thus takes on unreal features, especially among the middle and upper classes who are not immediately facing insolvency: like one of the many pandemic blockbusters flickering across screens as part of the skyrocketing Netflix consumption these days.

This sense of unreality is also supported by the image of an "external shock" (von der Leyen) [1] that dominates the political and media landscape, which needs to be cushioned with a lot of money, national consensus morality and expert advice in order to then return to a supposed normality, even a new boom. The capitalist machine is sputtering violently, but is to be kept running as much as possible in order to soon be able to rev it up to full speed again.

The first task of the social left and the climate movement is to offensively contradict this hegemonic orientation.[2] First, out of the immediate need to practice a solidarity-based form of combating the epidemic - the central challenge on which all capacities of the various sub-sector movements should now be concentrated. Secondly, however, also in view of the further accelerating climate catastrophe and the systemic causes of the multiple global disaster, which preclude a "back to normal". In this context, the dramatic events should also be an occasion to question some positions common in the movement itself, in order to strengthen - beyond a mere critique of authoritarian solution strategies - an eco-socialist transformation project.

First, we should make one thing clear: It is not only physical contacts in the realm of leisure and reproduction that must be reduced as much as possible in order to flatten the curve of infections and relieve the burden on the health care system. Also, and above all, transnationally closely interwoven production must be consistently reduced to the socially elementary areas (or those that can be handled by home offices) in order to contain the pandemic. Social labor must be reoriented to the material and human needs of protecting human lives.[3]

This, of course, touches on the systemic issue: it was and is essentially the fear of stalling capital accumulation that made our elites (more so than the Chinese) hesitate for weeks and downplay the danger so that the Western world could become the epicenter of the pandemic.[4] Trump and his disciples have already announced that they are willing to sacrifice hundreds of thousands of citizens* in order to give U.S. companies a competitive advantage by getting them back up and running quickly.

Meanwhile, value chains are falling like dominoes, with millions of people literally facing nothing overnight. Given the chaotic form of national and individual economic emergency measures, this process, which builds on pre-existing recessionary tendencies, is taking place much more violently and destructively than would have been necessary with a reasonably coordinated approach. Wildcat strikes are breaking out in many countries. People no longer see why they should continue to expose themselves to the risk of infection at work or on the way there, while they are affected by sometimes rigorous curfews in their free time.

In this highly dangerous situation, the left's room for maneuver is limited, yet in it also lies an opportunity: a broader debate could be initiated about which areas of production and reproduction are truly "system-relevant," which social needs matter, and how these can be secured for all in an internationalist perspective and in the face of growing ecological threats. Many of the answers currently intrude (even beyond leftist circles): Health care, food production, social infrastructures, but also culture, education, and neighborhood support networks, as they are emerging en masse right now and could become the starting point of new organizing processes. These - and not, for example, automobile or armaments corporations - are the supporting pillars of civil society!

These sectors must now be supported and expanded in a targeted manner, and ideally, they should be socialized, combined with immediate and unconditional transfer payments to secure their existence, otherwise there is a threat of fatal chain reactions, such as those that are already emerging in many countries of the South, but also in the USA. The fact that even French President Emmanuel Macron recently announced a political U-turn in favor of regaining public control in the area of health and social security indicates (with all due skepticism) what kind of political possibilities could open up here.
At the same time, some of the most climate-damaging industries - coal-fired power generation, the cruise and aviation industries, for example - are collapsing across the board. As problematic as arguments along the lines of "Corona is good for the climate" are: Political resistance to an unconditional state bailout of these industries can currently be justified in political communication by calling for a concentration of resources on protecting wage earners and socially particularly vulnerable groups and strengthening the health care system. What is more, in view of the expected explosion of unemployment figures, a massive expansion of the public employment system along the lines of social emergency needs, as well as ecological restructuring measures, is currently being called for even in bourgeois leading media such as the New York Times.[5] The Left is often criticized in its political communication for the need to concentrate resources on protecting wage earners and socially particularly vulnerable groups, as well as on strengthening the health care system.

The war rhetoric of Macron and others, often criticized on the left, is instructive in this context. In fact, major wars have often been those exceptional historical situations in which not only revolutions broke out, but also a radical redirection of production and social life under state guidance was implemented in a short period of time-with all the repressive aspects that this typically implies. The latter would have to be mitigated as far as possible through militant self-organization and control by the rule of law, without lapsing into an undifferentiated blanket criticism of all state action in a state of emergency.[6]

The debate about a slowdown and political control of the economy must now be initiated and organized in online forums and telephone conferences - not only as a question to experts, but as far as possible as a democratic process in the individual sectors, organizations and professions, where corresponding steps could be enforced by building counter-power.[7] The trade unions would have a key role to play here, but political actors like DIE LINKE are also called upon to initiate such debates and thus go on the offensive.

The climate movement, especially its largest flagship Fridays for Future, also has considerable (albeit currently weakened) discursive intervention possibilities - and it is already using these in many cases to solidarize with care workers or refugees.[8] This is linked to the opportunity to force a thematic opening (already begun before Corona) and in particular to focus more strongly than before on the social question, which is now coming to a head as an immediate question of survival. Initial contacts with ver.di, for example, have been established in recent months in preparation for a mobility campaign and should be intensified under the changed conditions. The same applies to the links with solidarity networks such as Seebrücke or Unteilbar, which, in view of the looming catastrophe at the EU's external borders, could become the crystallization point of an overarching rallying movement (with possibly new, physically distanced forms of protest) after the lockdown at the latest.

Thus, the climate movement, which in its one-point logic has so far tried to locate itself to a large extent (more rhetorically-tactically than actually) "beyond left and right," is likely to be drawn more clearly into the polarizing camp dynamics. In other words, its profile, critical of capitalism and emancipatory, would become even more explicit, including a critical distance from the increasingly statist Greens.

In building these thematic and political-organizational bridges, it would be important to consider the period after Corona from the outset. In particular, many of the industries that are now massively affected, for example in the transport sector and the fossil industry, will have to be radically shrunk and transformed anyway. And on an enormously short-term horizon. This is because the window of opportunity to avert the possibly final decline of human civilization is rapidly closing in view of the inertial and feedback effects of the climate system - all recent data on global warming and biodiversity loss clearly point to this. It is to the hard-to-overestimate credit of Greta Thunberg and the new climate movement that they have been hammering this into the international public's head all last year.

So far, however, it has been difficult to follow up this uncomfortable insight with action. The discourse has been shifted, the real politics, the modes of production and living have not. The socio-psychological dynamics of the climate debate are not at all dissimilar to those of the (initial) perception of Corona, but the latter proceeds as if in fast motion: in the face of the approaching catastrophe, repression mechanisms and cognitive dissociation phenomena initially take hold. Routines are supposed to help against the latent panic, while conspiracy theories, sheer ignorance and fanaticism take on partly endemic proportions. The systemic causes - in the case of climate, as in the case of Corona - are still largely suppressed and externalized. They must therefore be named as concretely as possible and linked with demands for entry into a completely different social practice.
What is now being racially exoticized as a "Chinese virus" (Trump), for example (and will surely soon be associated with refugees), is above all a consequence of the destruction of biodiversity and the advance of industrial agriculture into all corners of the planet: The ruthless exploitation of nature for the purpose of surplus value production is tearing down the biological barriers against viruses jumping from species to species, and capitalist globalization is ensuring rapid spread to all regions of the world.[9]

In addition to educating people about these interconnections, the movement's common slogan of "system change" must finally be taken seriously. It is not enough to formulate appeals for emission reduction to a political and managerial class that is currently obviously unwilling to act. Programmatically, a lot has been happening in this respect recently [10] and the upheavals that are now imminent should indeed create a potentially revolutionary situation in many countries. Much of the debate in the German climate movement, however, still moves between two unsatisfactory poles:

On the one hand, the discussion tends to focus on technical proposals for saving resources, increasing efficiency and reducing CO2: What are the benefits of electromobility? How can emissions be priced in? How do we create an expansion of grids and storage capacities for renewables? All these questions, which dominate the field of NGOs and eco-research institutes or the environment of the Greens, are relevant and complex. But they have little to do with the implementation of a societal system change.

On the other side (though often in social proximity to these debates in the left-liberal-academic milieu) is an alternative post-growth scene that tends to mantra-like repetition of the importance of decentralized cycles, local self-management collectives, and consumerism. Much of this, too, makes sense on a small scale. What is fatal, however, is the widespread neglect of the conditions of production in society as a whole, of class relations and heterogeneous lifestyles, and the often-sweeping criticism of the search for - also - technical solutions and innovations that link productivity with sustainability.[11]

For some years now, these two tendencies of the ecology movement, which have existed for some time, have been supplemented by a radical left activist scene, for which Ende Gelände is particularly prominent in Germany. This spectrum has successfully built political pressure through mass civil disobedience and strengthened a climate justice perspective in the movement. However, it is also less capable of speaking when it comes to concretizing its critique of capitalism and its ideas of an energy transition. Slogans such as "immediate coal phase-out is manual labor" aim at subjective empowerment experiences, but illustrate realpolitical helplessness. Internal debates about ways out of capitalism also show a dominance of exit ideas oriented towards rather small-scale radical-democratic self-management (along the lines of climate camps, political small groups or cooperatives and house projects).

Against this background, the Corona crisis should be a reason to look more realistically at the necessity of central coordination and implementation of political and economic interventions - i.e., essentially also state steering policies. Overcoming the state as an independent form of political community in capitalism - i.e., bringing political steering power into civil society - remains a central aspect of democratic-socialist transformation in the long term, which must also be reflected in initial demands for socialization. But it is negligent that in large parts of the climate justice movement, struggles within the state and large social institutions - in parliaments, trade unions, social associations and companies - continue to be little perceived or even generally reduced to a mere representation of overall capital interests. Practices of a mosaic left struggling for hegemony, whose individual elements act relatively autonomously and also in conflict with each other, but as cooperatively coordinated as possible, are still weakly anchored in the climate movement.

Even in the LEFT and in the trade union spectrum, the debate about a Green New Deal is sometimes conducted emphatically.[12] As correct as the combination of ecological restructuring of the economy through massive public investment in renewable energy and social infrastructures with material security and democratic control in companies and institutions is: So far, there has been too little discussion of how the rapid dismantling of ecologically destructive industries and the fundamental turning away from the growth paradigm could look in real terms.[13] In the case of Ocasio-Corte, the debate on a Green New Deal is not yet over.

In the case of Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders in the U.S. or Jeremy Corbyn in the U.K., there were electoral reasons for this, in addition to possibly existing illusions in the Keynesian welfare-state tradition - after all, they appeared in the broader media public as hard-to-elect radicals anyway. Their mobilization, which was impressive in many respects and was also supported by powerful social movements such as Sunrise and Momentum, is in shambles in view of the latest election results.

And the situation has just changed fundamentally with Corona. "Degrowth" is now being brutally enforced, whereby - beyond the consequences of the shutdown - the contradictions of the global economy built up since the 2008 crisis are also being unloaded. It is therefore necessary to go a step further and put on the agenda the general reorientation towards a social governance of the economy along basic social needs and international solidarity.

This requires hard struggles, for instance starting from far-reaching expropriation and redistribution demands. So far, such things have seemed unrealistic - at least here, in the heart of the beast. But this beast is now writhing in intensive care, and the authoritarian-nationalist or even fascist troops, who have long since oriented themselves strategically much more consistently than the left toward such a breaking moment, are sharpening their hooves. In this situation, only the flight forward will help.

Published in LuXemburg Online, Online Dossier on the Corona Crisis
[1] Cf. EU Commission President von der Leyen on 20.3.2020 on Deutschlandfunk:
[2] Cf. Max Haiven: No return to normal: for a post-pandemic liberation:
3] On the incipient debate about the delimitation of such areas, see Thomas Sablowski:
4] Cf. on this very pointedly Verena Kreilinger and Christian Zeller:
5] Cf. also Kate Aronoff on 3/18/2020 in The New Republic:
[6] See, for example, Panagiotis Sotiris' critique of Agamben on the initially embarrassingly ignorant downplaying of the pandemic, even in left-wing circles:
[7] This would also give new practical relevance to the debates about a participatory labor policy "from below" as part of an economic-democratic strategy that re-emerged in the aftermath of the 2008 crisis, especially in IG Metall (see Detje, Richard/Sauer, Dieter: Vom Kopf auf die Füße stellen. Für eine arbeitspolitische Fundierung wirtschaftsdemokratischer Perspektiven, in: Fricke, Werner/Wagner, Hilde (eds.): Demokratisierung der Arbeit. New Approaches to Humanization and Economic Democracy, VSA:Verlag, Hamburg 2012, pp. 55-86).
8] Cf. for example Fridays for Future Berlin:
9] Cf. Rob Wallace:
[10] Cf. for example the initiative for the development of a climate plan from below:
[11] Cf. on the critique of the concept of the "imperial way of life" by Brand/Wissen, often used in these circles, for example Stefanie Hürtgen: as well as Guido Speckmann:; on the chances of an emancipatory appropriation of digital technologies for a democratic control of the economy cf. Simon Schaupp and Georg Jochum:
12] On the Green New Deal from a Marxist perspective, see Jan Rehmann:
[13] Further approaches to this can be found in political proposals for the conversion of the automobile industry as part of a comprehensive mobility turnaround towards the expansion of local public transport, cf. Bernd Riexinger: "Ein linker Green New Deal. For a Mobility Turnaround and a Social, Ecological and Democratic Transformation of the Auto Industry."

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