Why sufficiency and why nothing less than an academy?


In the social sciences and in politics more and more people think about how to organise society after the growth era. In the academy, we want to ask with relish, and in a more practical way: What can we do with the things that are available? How can we put value to those things? By no means, we want new limits or new forms of abstinence. Instead, we want to explore the wealth that emerges from our own actions, the wealth based on things that are available in the region. This wealth will be developed in line with a growing knowledge and a growing ability to care for ourselves and others.
DSCN5674 DSCN9590 DSCN2857Appropriation of used material
In the context of climate change, scarce resources, and Green Economy, we can also express our general idea in more theoretical terms: It is the objective of the economy to allow humans a good life. In addition, an ecologically sustainable economy has to meet three goals:
  • It must be efficient -- that is to make the best of the resources used, as those resources are scarce.
  • It must be consistent -- there must not be a lasting damage to the eco-system, but economic activity must be bearable within this system.
  • It must be sufficient -- this is a value driven path to answer the questions: How much is enough? Where are reasonable limits? Which goods and services does a good life need?
 
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Creating consistent cycles 
Efficiency and consistency are important. But there is no limit in these two conditions. They do not give answer to the question how much, what for, for whom. Up to now, ecological relief that comes from efficiency and consistency has been annulled by a raise in consumption -- the rebound effect. Material growth is not challenged, injustice in distribution and ecological damage are deepened. It needs the ethical dimension of economic actions for a way out of the growth trap. Thus, sufficiency is a basic idea for organising a truly sustainable economy. Subsistence, sharing, bartering are local practices important for a sustainable economy.
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Relying on regional resources
These ideas and convictions define the working area of the Academy of Sufficiency. Its mission is to allow for experiences that follow a different logic than our economy of abundance. Instead of choosing from pre-fabricated goods and offers, the academy makes room for experiments in production, in care, and in making infrastructure. The designing of these processes draws on proven principles of sustainability and on current scholarly discourses. Starting point is the economical organisation of the Academy itself. It is built with and from resources that are available and given unconditionally. The usage of the Academy is not regulated either: users themselves decide what they want to contribute.
Without locations where sufficiency can be experienced, without structures where sufficiency is standard and plausible, it would remain in the domain of the individual life, in the realm of private ethical decisions. In order to become an economic force and unfold its economic potential, sufficiency must be made a guiding political idea. Therefore, we understand the Academy’s aim also in the political intervention and as a platform of interdisciplinary debate on the institutionalisation of less.
 
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