Buen Vivir and Beyond Searching for a New Paradigm of Action

Paper in Venice 2012 Degrowth Conference, Workshop Real Utopias. From Solidarity Economy to the ,Buen Vivir’

Ana Agostino, Franziska Dübgen, 2012

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Summary :

A Language of opposition, once turned into a principle of governance changes its appearance. On the one hand, the social activist necessarily bases her intervention on the vision of a better state of affairs. Hence, her intellectual work is grounded in counternarratives of what a different, alternative world should look like with the ultimate aim of transforming reality towards this alternative. However, by engaging into the actual game of power politics, the counter-language of critique runs the risk of getting contaminated and corrupted. Acting in the “falsches Leben” (Adorno 2003, engl.: false life) - in this case a globalised capitalism, an environment abused by resource exploitation and deepreaching power gaps between nations states – there exists a dialectic between counternarratives, such as those of post-development theories, and their operationalization.

This happens in many Latin American countries, even those led by so-called progressive regimes.

This dialectical turn is not only a result of global power politics, we claim, but also a product of a hegemonic mind-set of the majority of peoples that (still) want neoliberal development despite of its negative impacts. As a first step, we will analyse the gap between the representation of Uruguay as a country of great performance in human development and a phenomenology of its current social state. As a second step, we present Buen Vivir as an alternative paradigm of social transformation and then critically look at Bolivia’s government that claims to follow this principle. By way of conclusion, having considered the gap between alternative visions and actual modes of governance - we will reflect upon strategies of transgression beyond the present paradigm.