Abandoning the political slot machine

A look from the inside

In my early professional years, starting around 15 years ago, I worked in politics full-time, on the low decks of the federal political ship: as staffer for MPs in the German Parliament, as a campaigner for the Social Democratic headquarters, and so on. Roles of minor importance: yet they put me amid the messy, hectic, and complex realities of German federal politics.

An era of wilful ignorance

I left these jobs, but not the playing field. While starting to build my business as a organisational developer, I accepted a honorary role as Fellow in a Berlin-based political think tank, Das Progressive Zentrum. Today, Das Progressive Zentrum is a well-established, diverse, international and quite progressive organisation with an impressive network both in and beyond Germany. Back then, it was different: broke, small, fairly German, very much “Third Way” Social Democratic.

The endless hope for the silver bullet

Since 2016, I focused my think tank work on how democracy itself — its paradigms, culture, logic, structures, and processes — must transform to be able to effectively respond to climate change, and tackle the global social crisis. This work gained the interest of many like-minded researchers and practitioners. Yet, it lacked a professional political audience. While the political sector hectically tried to extinguish one fire after the next — the rise of populist nationalists, rising pressure to implement effective climate policy, etc — there was very little interest in understanding and tackling the root causes of these fires.

Building a field of transformative practitioners and thinkers

In 2017, I co-hosted the first Innocracy Conference in Berlin, aiming to provide a space for such people to connect and collaborate. Over the years that followed, Innocracy increasingly focused on democratic transformation and explored its “inner dimension”. How can democratic societies and their citizens develop an ability to consciously steer and shape transformation in times of fundamental ecological, social, and economic rupture? How can we unlearn the destructive paradigms and auto-pilots that, so far, keep us from doing what needs to be done?

Towards a different game

Since the first Innocracy Conference, I have grown increasingly impatient with this status quo. I do not believe friendly political advice from outside stakeholders, like think tanks, will bring the fundamental change we need. This is not the time to lobby the established field to change perspective. This is the time to transform the field itself.

  • to consolidate shared paradigms and visions
  • to develop a common language, and express it clearly and in positive terms
  • and to deeply connect these people with each other

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