The Update


What we do, what we plan, what we think



Vladimir, at the polls

What we are rooting for: The Brazilian elections were not only close, but they were also close to our heart. Democracy was at stake, and our fellow Vladimir Safatle was running as a candidate for the Partido Socialismo e Liberdade. Vladimir made it clear: “The less we desire, the less we will get and the less will be given to us.”

Democracy won: Unfortunately, Vladimir did not. Still, there was elation and celebration—and the fellows working on The Future of Democracy and The Human Condition in the 21st Century have a lot to discuss about what can be learned from the outcome of the election. With Bolsonaro gone, what is next in the global authoritarian playbook?

And back in Hamburg? Vladimir convened a diverse group of scholars, activists, and journalists, some of whom are Indigenous, from Ecuador, Colombia, and Brazil to discuss the lessons of the election and how to build a new vision of democracy for our times. The workshop “Preserving the Future: Latin America Between Creation and Devastation” opened up debates on decolonization, technodiversity, the globalization of the extreme right, ecocide, and necropolis in contemporary Brazil.

What were the main takeaways? Democracy in the age of ecocide needs to look back in order to look ahead: Indigenous knowledge offers a perspective on how to live in peace with our planet and with each other in a very practical way—respecting nature means respecting people, different temporalities allow for different realities, and the political shape of a system not based on greed is clearly a universal promise. 

We will keep you posted, and publish some findings on our website in the coming weeks.


Surprise, surprise, we like books

At the corner, good vibes: It is a lovely street where our institute is based, lush trees, old houses, new houses, a bakery at the corner – but something was missing. Something. Yes, a bookstore. A bookstore at the corner of the Warburg Ensemble. And yes, again, see for yourself: It is open, and it is beautiful. 

What does the future hold? We are very pleased and a bit proud that we found the ideal partner to run this place: the legendary Hamburg bookstore Felix Jud, which will celebrate its centenary in 2023. The focus will be on the themes of the institute, including economy, ecology, democracy, and the possibility of change: Bücher für morgen, books for tomorrow.

And the coffee? There is a fantastic coffee machine and an inviting space for visitors to sit and chat. Starting in December we will have a barista who will introduce you to the best coffee around, hands down.


We are all animals

Says who? In his new book, our academic director Markus Gabriel explores the complicated relationship between man and nature, and locates a major rupture around the time of the Enlightenment—only then, says Markus, did the concept that man is part of nature develop and the subjection of nature really begin.

This is relevant: The way we think about nature is the way we deal with nature. At THE NEW INSTITUTE we are working on new paradigms, and a thorough examination of the basic assumptions of the first Enlightenment and the possible foundations of a New Enlightenment are at the core of this project.

And the audience? We had our first public book presentation, in which the podcaster Marilena Berends introduced Markus’s work and asked thoughtful questions. You can listen to their conversation here.

One favorite quote: “We need to learn to be humble.”

Source of inspiration: From our library

This is a book about the perfect bookstore. But it’s much more than that: it’s also a book about our complex world full of uncertainties, full of things we don’t know yet, and surrounded by the abyss of all the “unknown unknowns,” that is, things we didn’t even know we don’t know. This can make you feel like you’re drowning—or you can allow this book to inspire you to embrace that complexity and trust in good bookstores and serendipities. All this is available in just thirty-two pages, which makes this tiny book ideal for sending by snail mail as well as a good read even in busy times (both perhaps not entirely unimportant at this time of year)."

Christiane Müller, head of the library, on The Unknown Unknown: Bookshops and the Delight of Not Getting What You Wanted by Mark Forsyth (2014)


Lessons from Bhutan

Joy and equanimity: We all strive for happiness in our lives, but can we also base our policy design on it? Bhutan is one of the first countries in the world to monitor its citizens’ well-being in their Gross National Happiness index (GNH).

During a workshop last month, Dr. Dasho Karma Ura, President of the Centre for Bhutan and Gross National Happiness Studies, and Oxford professor Sabina Alkire presented the research methodology for this indicator. The workshop is part of the Measuring Prosperity project of the Socio-Economic Transformation program, in which we build a dashboard to keep stock of some conditions for happiness: solidarity, agency, material gain, and environmental sustainability.

Coming up: The nonfinancial performance of firms and how to measure it. Interested? Contact the program coordinator.

What lies ahead

One Radical Idea: Before the summer, we asked you, our readers, what you are missing, what you are valuing, what you want from us. The clear result: ideas. So this is what we do: we will introduce a new newsletter called “One Radical Idea,” which will feature one of our fellows and focus on his or her vision for change. You don’t need to do anything, you will get this newsletter in your inbox. 

Still anything missing? Please drop us a line and let us know at

Oh, one last thing: Our colleague Katja caught the personal side to our fellows on camera. As our fellow László Upor says: "I'd like to make people understand that although your achievements and talents make you a more valuable member of our society, they do not make you, as a person, superior to others."

Hamburg is our home.
The world is our habitat.
The future is our concern.


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