Next to Us, the Deluge

3.12.19 / Video (in German)
Stephan Lessenich on the society of externalization and its costs
Lecture, 1.10.19, Forum Stadtpark

Stephan Lessenich’s lecture addresses the price of Western prosperity. His 2016 book describes the catastrophic impact of the economic growth of the last few years. As Lessenich emphasizes, the consequences of this development are largely being felt in the Global South, which not only supplies raw materials for all sorts of industries in the North but also functions as a place for outsourcing trash and violence. Because the dimensions of these problems are not reconcilable with European ideals and morality, all the effects and costs of this economic growth are repeatedly pushed aside by what Lessenich calls the “externalization society” and are not only relegated to the geographic periphery but also mentally repressed. In the face of increasingly drastic conditions, we are tempted to deny our responsibility and instead blame the corrupt postcolonial elites; fair-trade purchases and charity donations doing their job to soothe our guilty conscience. According to Lessenich, only radical rethinking and limiting one’s own consumption can really change the situation and hold back the impending deluge.

Stephan Lessenich (1965, Stuttgart) is a sociologist. His chief areas of research are theory of the welfare state, political sociology, institutional change, sociology of age and aging, and sociology of consumption. Lessenich lives in Munich.