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Chapter 7. Conclusions


Can relationism be or become an ideology for the 21st century? What will the new ideology be, following neo-liberal market thinking? How will thinking about society evolve after the post-modern era? 

It will be an ideology that unlike its predecessors will be rooted in necessity rather than in opportunity. Capitalism and Communism were ideals that came from a desire to either foster individual entrepreneurs or a collective workforce and possessions. Neo-liberalism, nurtured and brought to maturity by Reagan an Thatcher, further strengthened the individual freedoms of capitalism. 

This individual liberty was built on the presumption that we live on an infinite planet. This is simply not the case. 

The current crisis, now about six years of age, started not with a housing buble – although greed and credit for consumption did play a role. It is more plausible that rising inequality and diminishing fossil fuel reserves sparked the downfall. Inequality leads to status anxiety and thus increased consumption of status related goods. Social status is, as Wilkinson and Pickett discovered, such a strong driver that it may be held responsible for the increase in consumptional credit. However, these effects will be very hard to prove scientifically. 

The rising oil price just before the crisis hit is quite the opposite; it’s so hard to miss that it is amazing so few people came up with it as an explanation for the crisis. Between 2004 and 2008 the oil prices have risen five-fold (from about $25 per barrel to $125). No wonder people ran out of money to pay down their mortgages. 

But rising fossil fuel prices are an indication of something again related; globally resources are running out. That’s the bad news. 

The good news is that people do not become happier after a certain income threshold is reached (about $10.000 annually). If only status anxiety can be overcome, increasing patterns of consumption are unnecessary to become happy people. Most people in the West can easily do with less without giving in on quality of living, since happiness, or subjective well-being, is dependent mostly on the quality of human relationships. 

Now this is the case, the individually focussed neo-liberal ideal is obsolete. Although the liberation of the individual was necessary and still in some places is a prerequisite, now a strong focus on relationships between human beings with each other and the ecosystems supporting us is increasingly important. 

The visions in the Relationist Manifest are from this perspective within reach. Relationism can be the name for an ideology that has to be embraced in order for us to merely survive. And if we do so, we might even thrive and prosper, depending on the remaining stability of the climate and other highly contingent factors sustaining human life on earth. 

Outline of conclusions:

* how proposals help live with and solve crises

* balance between physical and mental survival crucial

* individual and social survival are strongly connected. social belonging main human need.

* know that the totally unexpected will happen; focus on dealing with consequences rather than probabilities. You don’t know what will happen. Work on improving your chances for riding positive waves of serendipity and avoid being hit by negative improbabilities.

* energy transition is a necessity (and underway)