SHAPING THE GREAT TRANSFORMATION: IMPLICATIONS FOR EUROPE
The world is in upheaval. The indicators of a multiple crisis of the environment, economy, society and politics are manifold: IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) reports point to the increasing likelihood of uncontrollable climate changes; competition over the control of resources is intensifying, and solution-oriented cooperation is being blocked by global conflicts of interest. In September 2008, the world was on the brink of an abyss, a crash with unpredictable consequences for the economy and society seemed possible. That did not happen. However, the increase in poverty and unemployment in parts of Europe reminds that particularly our continent is not immune to civilizational regresses (Schwarz 2014). The current crisis is not a small one that will at its end restore the pre-crisis state of affairs. In fact, this upheaval will lead to comprehensive changes of our existing social forms, or in other words, it will challenge the way we think, work and make decisions. It is what I call transformation, trans-form-ation, because it implies systematic changes in three social forms: commodities, capital and State.
Reflections on the future of Europe in this transformation must equally take into account the previously privileged status and the rapid loss of importance of Europe as a fundamentally new geo-economic constellation (UNDP 2013: 12-18). This text is searching for ways in which the people of Europe can not simply accept and suffer from these problematic changes, but also shape the future themselves. This is necessary due to both a sense of responsibility and self-interest. Europe‘s prosperity is substantially based on the excessive resource consumption of a mode of production and living that is dependent on fossil energy sources. It therefore has a historic responsibility to initiate the transformation to a post-fossil fuel society immediately. European self-interest requires replacing competitive forms of crisis management by cooperative and solidarity driven modes of governance, because the distribution of scarce resources according to the “right of the strongest”- in a military or economic sense – will be at the expense of European stability in the medium run.