AND not OR

AND not OR

For the first By Design or by Disaster [1] conference in 2013 we wrote “Sustainability is unavoidable. It will happen anyway by the interplay of disastrous ecological, social and economic trends and events. But we could take initiatives: we can design and develop this transition in a process of collective decisions and actions.” [2] In other words, transformation is on its way, either by design or disaster [3]. Now, 10 years later, it has become brutally evident that even within our privileged global north: the disaster is happening. We have to deal with it, ideally with solidarity and in radically democratic ways (as opposed to through capitalistic or authoritarian pseudo-solutions). To not acknowledge the disaster is naïve. Consequently, the updated title of the conference and of this blog is By Design and by Disaster. Among other things, this brings more importance to questions of power in transformation. It also forwards the personal and collective challenge to overcome hopelessness [4]. How can we empower each other to cope with the bleakly realistic analysis? And thus, unfold the power and attitude to effectively engage in emancipatory transformations?

[1] The phrase “By Design or by Disaster” was probably shaped by Mathis Wackernagel. The earliest source I could find is from 2012:

[2] The website has suffered a few flaws as it has aged. Be nice to her.

[3] Assuming a broad understanding of design as formulated by the philosopher of science Herbert A. Simon: “Everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones.”, 1996

[4] “pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will?” Antonio Gramsci, Prison Letter, 1929

1 comment

Comments are closed.