Introduction to the English edition of The A to Z of Alternatives 2.0
There can be no doubt that the world today is moving in the wrong direction. Neoliberal capitalism increasingly appears to go hand-in-hand with authoritarian regimes. Right-wing parties and politicians are winning elections around the globe, from long-serving authoritarian leaders such as Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey or Viktor Orbán in Hungary, to more recent ones like Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil or Donald Trump in the US. In many parts of the world, an authoritarian turn in the political sphere is accompanied by a shift in the social atmosphere, which in turn enables electoral victories for the hard right. Racist, authoritarian, and anti-feminist orientations predominate. Significant sections of the economic and political elites view their interests as best protected by the alliance of conservative and right-wing forces. The deepening ecological crisis threatens to further reinforce this dynamic, as the Right insists that economic growth, competitiveness, “development”, and “progress” must come first—favouring elites’ interests while jeopardizing the future of humanity on this planet.
The A to Z of Alternatives 2.0 was originally published in 2012 in German by VSA Verlag as a joint project of the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung, Attac, and taz.die tageszeitung. The English translation was supported by our Southeast Asia Regional Office.
Despite such difficult times, however, there is hope. Remarkable movements have emerged in recent years, like the Ni Una Menos (Not One Woman Less) protests against patriarchal violence, the Right to the City movement, or the Fridays for Futuremobilizations worldwide. We can also observe a strengthening of manifold local practices like community-supported agriculture or solidarity economies.
The A to Z of Alternatives 2.0 is rooted in a firm conviction: namely, in times when right-wing, conservative, and neoliberal forces and discourses are gaining political and social terrain and when social-democratic political currents are unable (or unwilling) to provide adequate answers to pressing problems, formulating radical alternatives is key. Not because we believe in their immediate realization, but because they serve as points of orientation. Without guiding ideas, we are lost. The numerous contributions to this volume show that manifold real alternatives exist, that we have concepts and horizons that can orient emancipatory struggles and practices, and that alternatives to authoritarian capitalism can be realized.
We understand the various contributions to the A to Z of Alternatives 2.0 as tools for social movements in their respective struggles. The success of the German edition shows that such an “ABC” can achieve this. We hope that the English version also succeeds in contributing to a better understanding of historical and contemporary emancipatory perspectives, and in informing strategies for their realization.
We are grateful to all the contributors to the A to Z of Alternatives 2.0, and would like to extend a special thanks to Liliane Danso-Dahmen, former director of the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung’s South East Asia office in Hanoi, who made the idea of publishing the A to Z of Alternatives 2.0 in English a reality.
Ulrich Brand, Bettina Lösch, Benjamin Opratko, and Stefan Thimmel
Berlin, Cologne, Jena, and Vienna