The Good Societies project offers a space to come together to reflect on what a ‘good’ society might look like. We think that, in an age of economic, political and ecological turmoil, it’s more important than ever to open our imaginations to formulate real alternatives to our current social arrangements.
Based in Amsterdam, the project consists of regular workshops and a reading group combining non-fiction and fiction. We tackle questions like: what economic models would a good society have? What political systems? What would gender look like in a good society? Would we have nation-states? What would ‘good’ globalisation look like?
Within an atmosphere of shared purpose and optimism, we aim to develop ideas in depth with each other, and ultimately to help change the public discourse by pushing the boundaries of the possible.
We’re also looking to work with all kinds of groups and individuals to create exhibitions, screenings, publications, media content, and any other activity that takes our fancy.
Regular workshops are designed to get us thinking deeply on how we could better organise different aspects of our societies. Take, for example, the economy. We would discuss the functioning of the current economic model and then go on to consider alternative models, such as steady state economies or participatory economics. Other possible topics might be: What would gender look like in a good society? What about ethnicity? What kind of political systems would we like? What family arrangements or educational systems? Would we have nation-states? These workshops are interactive, experimenting with different methods and group configurations to maximise inclusivity.
The reading group alternates between non-fiction and fiction works. In the wake of the 2008 financial collapse, there has been a renaissance in literature that tackles the question of what kind of societies we want to live in, in a context of rising global inequality, a far-right resurgence, and impending ecological disaster. The Good Societies reading group offers the opportunity for participants to get to grips with this new body of work as well as earlier texts. Examples are Nick Srnicek & Alex Williams’ Inventing the Future, CLR James’ The Future in the Present, Kate Rawlins’ Doughnut Economics and Roberto Mangabeira Unger’s The Religion of the Future.
At the same time, speculative and utopian fiction can illuminate society and can add colour and granularity to visions of better worlds in a way that non-fiction can’t. Examples of relevant fiction works are Octavia Butler’s Fledgling, Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed and Samuel Delany’s Triton. Combining fiction and non-fiction will allow us to open our imaginations and flesh out ideas. See the reading list for a full list of possible readings. Please contact us if you have any suggestions.
We aim to partner with individuals, art organisations, community organisations, media organisations, projects, groups and institutions whose interests resonate with ours. Please contact us if you’d like to collaborate.
Dr Laura Basu is an economics editor for the media platform openDemocracy. She is also a writer and independent scholar affiliated with the Communications and Media department at Goldsmiths, University of London, and the Institute for Cultural Inquiry, Utrecht University. Her book Media Amnesia: Rewriting the Economic Crisis (Pluto Press) and her edited volume, The Media and Austerity (Routledge), both came out in April 2018. She is currently working on a book on the theme of ‘Good Societies’.