What’s next?

Like many people, I’m scratching my head about the state of the world, trying to make sense of the backlash against globalization, liberalism, science and secularism. The emphasis is on “trying”. It is not working. Too many dots to connect, too many contexts to consider, too many systems that are interdependent, too many ideologies and narratives that interfere with accurately assessing reality. Whenever I think I have arrived at some potentially all-comprising explanation, 10 other ideas pop up in my mind, some of them contradicting my previous hypotheses, while others adding additional layers to it, complicating everything.

And so, a lot of only loosely connected, unfinished thoughts are swirling through my head, which I’ll now pen down. Continue Reading

Saving obsolete jobs

Information technology, automation and globalization are eliminating many jobs. The intensity of this process keeps increasing.

Meanwhile, new jobs are emerging. But this process takes time, and the new jobs require different skill sets than those that disappear. In consequence, a growing number of people in the “modern” world are facing unemployment and existential crisis. People who often lack the resources and mental frameworks to choose alternative roads (such as self-education or entrepreneurship). Not the cognitive capacity, but the tools to access it.

Politicians are faced with 2 alternatives for how to deal with the situation: Continue Reading

My problem with left-right politics

Over the weekend, Christian Lindner, leader of the classical liberal party Free Democratic Party of Germany (FDP), had quite a moment of Internet fame: A video recording showed him holding a passionate, emotional speech criticizing the common absence of acceptance of entrepreneurial failure in Germany. His move was triggered by a member of the Social Democratic party who made a comment mocking Lindner’s own failure as a company founder. Unlike in the U.S. where failure often is considered being a step on the path to eventual success, Germans have little respect for entrepreneurial risk-taking that does not immediately turn out to be fruitful.

I am optimistic that Lindner’s speech will be quite impactful in regards to raising awareness for an important but still ignored topic. I did not hesitate to tweet about it, twice, and to post it on Facebook. After then I realized something: If seen in isolation, somebody who does not know me would likely conclude that I am a person closely sympathizing with the German liberals. Which I usually am not.

Not that I care much about whether I give this impression. But the event made me once again think about an issue that has been crossing my mind many times lately: The traditional political landscape with its scale from left via center to right and with the parties positioned along this range does not represent me or my political views at all. Consequently I have huge trouble to cast my vote for one of the traditional parties. Too often it would mean succumbing to a predefined set of ideologies which I in part do reject.

There are a couple of areas where I clearly sympathize with ideas that are traditionally represented by left-wing politics. At the same time identifying myself as a lefty and voting for a party representing left-wing ideas would mean giving up on a couple of other principles and ideas that I find too important to barter away. Nor would I be comfortable supporting right-wing, conservative or libertarian politicians, even if there are at least a few elements represented by this political classification that I do not completely reject. What about center parties? Well, at least in Germany, one either votes for center-left (Social Democrats) or center-right (Christian Democrats or FDP), so one is still bound to the system of left-right politics.

corsetThe left-right approach might have been an adequate way to explain, understand, simplify and describe politics in the past. But I believe that today’s world is too complex, polarized and complicated for  a two-dimensional approach that forces people into a corset of thoughts. I miss at least a 3rd dimension, if not more. I am missing thought concepts that take elements and ideas from the complete spectrum of traditional politics, as well as introducing completely new aspects. That would open up new ways of thinking and it would free voters as well as politicians from ideological baggage that comes with the left-right range.

Why does it hardly happen that a left-wing politician or party member publicly praises a successful entrepreneur who became a billionaire while otherwise holding on to traditional left-wing positions?

Why does it hardly happen that a conservative politician or party member publicly takes an exceptional pro-environment stance or pro-equality stance while otherwise holding to traditional right-wing positions?

It is not because we humans only have two possible sets of values that are completely distinct from each other and that cannot be combined in new ways. The more likely reason is that the left-right ideology and the legacy of political history creates mental obligations, which in some cases even are reinforced by official requests for party/fraction discipline. Millions of individuals are expected to reduce and simplify their political, economical and social values and opinions so they fit into a rather narrow political corset. This cannot be the future.

I have not spent enough time with political theory to be able to outline how the introduction of additional dimensions could look like, or what else could be done. I can only speak as a voter. As a voter, I do not see myself fitting into the existing political ideologies and I do not feel represented by the left-right indicators. They all come with trade-offs that, in 2015, are too big to accept, in my eyes.

What are your thoughts? Do you recognize yourself or not?

Update: On Twitter Andreas Clever points to a concept called “Nolan Chart”, which does exactly what I describe in the post: Adding an additional dimension to the left-right line. Very interesting! Read more on Wikipedia.

(Illustration: Flickr/NotionsCapital, CC BY 2.0)


Internet freedom is under pressure, but a loophole exists


With its growth in users and reach, the Internet is getting less free and more censored. This is a sad fact that can be witnessed in new legislations popping up around the globe meant to regulate and control the digital sphere. A recently published report illustrates the concerning state of Internet freedom in many countries, as reported by The Guardian. After 20 years of what in hindsight can be described as the “Wild West” of the digital world, leaders and governments have realized the threat that the Internet can pose to their power. Now they are trying hard to recreate the old order where citizens were predictable and easier to control.

For those who advocate democracy, equality, human rights and freedom, the Internet was a major achievement. Losing the Internet’s capabilities of collaboration, sharing information and organizing joint actions would be an equally major loss. Especially during a time when we see a comeback of the authoritarian and totalitarian leadership and a weakening of the principles of democracy.

But even though the prospects for Internet freedom are becoming less positive by the day, I think there is hope that we will not go back to the “dark ages”. One specific, constantly growing group of people could play a very important role in defending the Internet’s achievements as well as civil rights in general: people living outside their country of origin. Continue Reading