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Discussion | Futuring the Liberal Script #5: "Verbot und Verzicht" with Philipp Lepenies

Jun 01, 2022 | 07:00 PM - 08:30 PM

A conversation with Prof. Philipp Lepenies, holder of the SCRIPTS Professorship “Sustainable Development”, and economic journalist Ulrike Herrmann at silent green Berlin on occasion of Lepenies’ new book “Verbot und Verzicht”, moderated by Silke Burmester. Watch the recording on YouTube.

The fifth event of the conversation series "Futuring the liberal script" at Silent Green

The fifth event of the conversation series "Futuring the liberal script" at Silent Green
Image Credit: Linford Miles on Unsplash.

Renunciation and prohibition play a central role in a sustainable social and ecological transformation. But what can the state tell us, what interference in individual liberties is allowed/acceptable when it comes, for example, to climate protection or the management of social crises and the common good? A fundamental, emotionally heated defensive attitude has developed in recent years as soon as it comes to state regulations, states the political scientist Philipp Lepenies in his most recently published book Verbot und Verzicht. Politik aus dem Geist des Unterlassens“ (Suhrkamp 2022).

For Lepenies, this is also a consequence of an “everyday neoliberalism”, which transfigures consumer sovereignty into an inalienable right to freedom and the state into a principled opponent. But how can a concept of freedom be established that is more than the freedom to make individual consumption decisions? How much affect control does a stable democracy need in view of current upheavals and crises? Can a comprephensive ecological and social transformation succeed without prohibition and renunciation? In the 5th episode of the series "Futuring the Liberal Script" Philipp Lepenies discussed these and other questions with journalist Ulrike Herrmann, moderated by Silke Burmester.

In cooperation with Suhrkamp and silent green.

Watch the recorded livesteam on the SCRIPTS YouTube-channel.


Philipp Lepenies, Professor of Political Science, SCRIPTS Cluster Professorship for Sustainable Development, Freie Universität Berlin.

Ulrike Herrmann, journalist, author, economic editor for “die tageszeitung”.

Silke Burmester, author, freelance journalist.

About the Series - Futuring the Liberal Script

“Futuring the Liberal Script” is a conversation series live from the silent green. Researchers of the Cluster of Excellence “Contestations of the Liberal Script – SCRIPTS” discuss and analyze current crisis of liberal societies and democracies and reflect on future political imaginaries from diverse perspectives. As a script “in trouble” the liberal script needs manifold analytical and discursive registers for keeping track of open antagonisms but also of its inherent contradictions and tensions. 

As such, “futuring” is not necessarily a variant of optimizing, but rather relates to developing a critical and creative stance in response to current erosions and contestations of liberal values. The liberal script has to compete increasingly with alternative scripts and agendas for organizing societies, be they run by authoritarian, populist, Islamic fundamentalist, terrorist or technocratic autocracies. Whether liberal democracies are confident, flexible and agile enough to respond to the challenges posed by contrary political systems and alternative ideas is a central matter of acute political and social concern. The SCRIPTS conversations assemble a variety of views, concerns and actors by putting research topics and timely diagnosis up to public and ongoing debate.

Time & Location

Jun 01, 2022 | 07:00 PM - 08:30 PM

silent green
Gerichtstraße 35
13347 Berlin
YouTube Livestream at SCRIPTS Berlin