The global growth society is rapidly destroying its ecological base and consequently also itself. Crushing one’s own foundation is surely a mark of stupidity. The madness in question, however, is of societal quality, not reducible to the properties of individuals. On the contrary, according to many opinion polls individual human beings widely recognize the absurdity of economic growth and the importance of other goals. Often they demonstrate great wisdom in their private sphere.
Society is characterized by how the ties or couplings between its members are usually made. At present there are two dominant ways of connecting people: monetary nexus and hierarchical or bureaucratic relationships. These both ties reduce the communication of knowledge and values between humans to its bare minimum. Therefore the society functions like a machine. This is underlined by the fact that often models based on statistical physics mimic surprisingly well the behaviour of our society on macro level. The society would function broadly speaking in the same destructive way if simple robots substituted for human beings.
Fortunately monetary nexus and bureaucracy are not the only possibilities of building a society. In the shadows of the official society there are a lot of examples how people are enhancing their wisdom by “laying their heads together”. These processes are characterized by free, adequate and reciprocal communication, equality, mutual respect and the lack of domination. Many contemporary ideas of radical democracy are based on such relationships. Therefore real democracy may be synonymous with wise and ecologically sound society.
This media entry was a contribution to the special session „From societal stupidity to the future based on wisdom enhancing ties between individuals“ at the 5th International Degrowth Conference in Budapest in 2016.