How is the crisis being perceived in Switzerland?

6. Overview and perspectives

Finally I want to mention that the current crisis is the deepest economic and financial crisis within capitalist states since 1929. We assume that this crisis has multiple dimensions that are related and shouldn’t be reduced to each individual phenomenon. Next to the economic crisis that is often being mentioned as setting the main dynamic, some others are important: For example the energy or climate change crisis, crisis of democracy and of parties, of representation, the crisis of education and the crisis in gender relations. We will now focus on some aspects concerning gender relations and the financial crisis[ix].

Gender relations and the financial crisis

The financial markets work with a specific constellation of masculinity: reckless, autonomous, competitive, sexist, success oriented, and so on. At the same time, women play an important role in some investment structures, especially in the ‘micro credit industry’: women from Asia, Latin America and Africa are being valued as autonomous economic subjects – and are subordinated to male dominant profit making strategies. Gender has been an important aspect of discussions and explanations about the current financial crisis as well: it lead to a fundamental change in the understanding of masculinity. The values that had been seen as positive (strong, risk friendly), are now seen as negative[x]. We will have to see, in what way gender relations will transform and in which geographies and temporalities, but the struggles about gender relations are one form of crisis that is shaping the multiple forms of crisis that we are currently part of and that we discussed in this summer school.


We mentioned in the very beginning, there are struggles in Switzerland, but they aren’t being ‘heard’ in the dominant discourse. At least they aren’t being heard in the way we want to express them. We therefore struggle more with a kind of impotence. We think that there are some specifically Swiss ways of making these struggles and critiques unhearable. On the one hand Switzerland is being presented as clean, pure and stable – towards the inside as well as towards the outside. The nationalist discourses help reaffirm this image – while it is crumbling. Needing to hold on to this image of a safe haven – conflicts with the criticism that tries to confront that image of purity. On the other hand the Swiss direct democracy does give Swiss citizens more possibilities to decide political issues – but they also result in a ‘making unhearable’. If you criticize something, you may hear: “Just make an referendum and the majority will decide” – as if opinions were already formed within subjects, as fixed parts of their identities and they only have to be expressed in the form of a vote. From this perspective discussions are unnecessary; critical thinking is unnecessary.

In the discussion these problems within and due to the Swiss direct democracy show that solutions aren’t to be found within a governmental apparatus, that instead we need to find forms of self-organization that work without this mediation.

It is part of the maintenance of the current power structure to not make the constitutive connection between those different forms of crisis visible – if they were thought together, it would become obvious that they can only be solved, if the totality of those social relations is changed. Our aim would be to develop emancipatory practices that carry with them the potential to overcome all the different social relations in which people are subordinated.


[i]    Staatssekretariat für Wirtschaft,, consulted 01.07.2013.
[ii]   Michel Foucault, Das Leben der infamen Menschen, ed. Walter Seitter (Berlin: Merve Verlag, 2001), 14.
[iii]   Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Marx Engels Werke (MEW) Band 13 (Berlin, 1961).
[iv]   Theodore W. Adorno, “Aberglaube aus zweiter Hand,” in  Soziologische Schriften 1 (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1979), 173.
[v]    Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire. Die Neue Weltordnung (Frankfurt am Main; New York: Campus, 2003), 90.
[vi]   Marx and Engels, Marx Engels Werke (MEW) Band 13, 9.
[vii]  Andrea Maihofer and Alex Demirović, “Vielfachkrise und die Krise der Geschlechterverhältnisse” (about to appear in print, quoted after the manuscript, 2013), 6.
[viii]  Vgl. Friedrich, Sebastian; Schreiner, Patrick (2013): Nation-Ausgrenzung-Krise. Kritische Perspektiven auf Europa. M¨nster: edition assemblage.
[ix]   This paragraph refers to Andrea Maihofer and Alex Demirović, “Vielfachkrise und die Krise der Geschlechterverhältnisse” (about to appear in print, quoted after the manuscript, 2013).
[x]    Ibidem.

<< Prev    1 2 3 4 5 6