No theory forbids me to say "Ah!" or "Ugh!", but it forbids me the bogus theorization of my "Ah!" and "Ugh!" - the value judgments. - Theodor Julius Geiger (1960)

Andreas Reckwitz (2019), Das Ende der Illusionen – Politik, Ökonomie und Kultur in der Spätmoderne (The End of Illusions: Politics, Economy and Culture in the Late Modern Age), Berlin: Suhrkamp.


The overarching characteristic of what Reckwitz calls "apertistic liberalism" (opening liberalism) and its form of governance is the general deregulation, dynamization and opening of previously fixed social structures.

After 1990, this apertistic liberalism emerged; it advertised social progress on the basis of a great narrative about economic, political, social, cultural and technical progress. A post-industrial knowledge economy established itself in North America and Europe, which has particularly benefited from the digital revolution. The process of digitization fits seamlessly into the history of progress: networks of individuals and organisations, the internet as an experimental space for new identities and collaborations. The new, young middle class is like a fish in water in the globalized world: the world is fundamentally open. However, social reality is more contradictory and vulnerable than the progress story would lead us to believe (see the financial crisis, Brexit, the terrorist attacks, the Trump election, etc.). Modern society, which has developed slowly but steadily in Western countries since the 18th century in the course of industrialization, democratization, urbanization, commodification, emancipation and scientificization, has, from the start, been linked with the progress narrative.

Sociology, as Reckwitz sees it, makes the paradoxes and ambivalences in our society visible, in order to be able to reflect on them and, through this changed view of the situation, to encourage realistic steps to change them. Clear evaluations and simple solutions are not to be expected, on the contrary, Reckwitz writes: those who can tolerate ambivalence and deal with it productively have a clear advantage in our late modern world.

Classical industrial modernity has been transformed over the past thirty years into a new form of modernity, referred to by Reckwitz as late modernity. Industrial modernity was formed at the beginning of the 20th century and reached its peak in the prosperous societies of the glorious three post-war decades until the 1970s. It was a form of society based on all-round rationalization, mechanization and planning. Characteristics were: Mass industrial production in large companies, mass housing construction, Keynesian global planning of the economy, the expansion of the welfare state and the firm belief in technical progress. Social control and cultural homogeneity and cultural conformity were the rule, as was a clear division of roles between the sexes as well as discrimination against sexual and ethnic minorities. It was a society of equals (a term coined by Pierre Rosanvallon) with all its light and dark sides: a society in which the rules of the general and the collective predominated. As the dominant social formation, it has been replaced by another that has been called postmodern, ultramodern, or hypermodern by different sociologists. This structural change had already started in the 1970s and 1980s - symbolic events include the student uprising of 1968, the oil crisis and the collapse of the centrally controlled global financial system of Bretton Woods in 1973, as well as the development of the Apple I, the first affordable personal computer in 1976. Late modernism has matured since the 1990s. It is characterized by, among other things, radical globalization. The liberal progress story is based on globalization (understood in a positive way), democratization, expansion of the markets, liberalization and networks.

Reckwitz understands late modernity as a contradictory, conflicting social formation characterized by a simultaneity of social rise and fall, of cultural appreciation and devaluation - ultimately by polarizations. These are neither planned nor intentionally brought about, but rather unintended consequences of action.

Late modern society aims at producing particularities and uniqueness, attributing qualitative differences, individuality, particularity and the extraordinary. The traditional concept of individualism, like that of individualization, seems too ambiguous and at the same time too narrow to accurately describe the social and cultural processes that characterize late modernity. Singularization describes the social processes in which idiosyncrasies and uniqueness, non-interchangeability, incomparability and superlatives are expected, fabricated, positively judged and experienced. General structures and practices develop in core areas of society whose interest is systematically focused on the specific. Of course, late modern society rewards the particularity of individual people, but it also distinguishes the individuality of things and objects, such as the alleged authenticity and non-interchangeability of desired goods and brands, some of which are revered as works of art. Ultimately, late modern society even distinguishes its collectives: from the project and the network to the self-chosen community, be it religious or regional, each claiming incomparability. Only that which is experienced as singular and valorized gains value in the truest sense of the word.

Reckwitz observes different causes of the transformation of the society of equals to the society of singularities:

(1) the economic structural change from industrial to cognitive-cultural capitalism;

(2) the technological revolution of digitization;

(3) the socio-cultural process in which a new, urban middle class of highly skilled, self-developing and individual prestige-oriented academics have advanced to society's new leading milieu.

What cannot, will not or may not be unique is devalued, remains invisible in the background and receives only minimal recognition, if any. The distinction of the singular means the devaluation of what is now seen as standardized. There is a double structure of singularization and polarization.

Economy: Ambitious, globally networked cognitive-cultural capitalism finds its downside in the increasing importance of so-called simple services, routine jobs and repetitive work by low-skilled workers, whose prestige and social security are low. Conversely, market structures that follow a winner-takes-all logic prevail.

Education: There is a rapidly growing share of university graduates and a fierce competition between schools and universities, as well as between graduates for excellence and a unique position. The flip side of academization is the indirect devaluation of low or medium educational qualifications.

Life forms: The life model of successful self-realization, which seeks the uniqueness of one's life and accumulates singularity capital, greatly devalues ​​the traditional middle and precarious classes. The singularistic lifestyle contains a systematically justified high potential for disappointment.

Digital world: the poorly connected remain invisible and isolated.

Spatial structures: there is a "boom" of metropolitan regions and at the same time remote regions get trapped in a downward spiral of emigration and loss of attractiveness.

Politics: Since the 1980s, a new liberalism has dominated, which is radically based on competition and difference, on dynamization and worldwide demarcation of the social, economic and cultural. In response to this, an aggressive populism has emerged, which promotes a social closure of the nation-states.

According to Reckwitz, there are two fundamentally opposite ways of dealing with culture worldwide:

- In hyperculture, culture provides space for individual self-development and diversity in global markets.

- In cultural essentialism, culture is understood as a medium for the collective identity of communities.

Out of the all-encompassing middle class of industrial modernity, a new class structure has emerged in the course of post-industrialization and the expansion of education. On the one hand, a highly educated, urban new middle class has emerged, and a new, insecure lower class has appeared, mainly consisting of members of a service proletariat. The traditional middle class, which is oriented to order and sedentary life, remains between the two.

The cultural factor of symbolic appreciation and depreciation, according to Reckwitz, has a fundamental effect. The transformation from the industrial to the post-industrial economy is the answer to a double crisis of saturation and productivity. The goods in cognitive capitalism acquire characteristics based on intangible assets, knowledge work and scalability.

Cognitive-cultural capitalism turns out to be a capitalism of extremes, which also paves the way for a profound economization of the social. Subjective experience and psychological satisfaction have become vulnerable measures of a successful life:

- The paradoxical culture of emotions relies extremely on positive feelings as a life goal;

- Cognitive-cultural capitalism does not support dealing with negative feelings, i.e. with those disappointments and frustrations that it systematically creates. 

In the 1990s, there was an abundance of optimism about globalization, and most observers expected a global triumph of western-influenced modernization. According to Reckwitz, we are currently (after 2000) seeing a strengthening of new cultural conflicts:

- the terrorist attacks of Islamic fundamentalism;

- the nationalist tendencies in Eastern and Southeastern Europe;

- the self-conscious defense of one's own culture in China or India;

- the right-wing populist centrifugal forces in the West.

There is a dispute about what is meant by culture and how to deal with it. In late modernity, life forms are cultivated, and individuals striving for self-fulfillment bring together fixed pieces of culture from a mobile world market of cultural goods (cosmopolitan hyperculture). There is also a culturalization of collectives (moral identity communities).

For the Jewish-German philosopher Ernst Cassirer (1874-1945), culture was the respective way in which the world is perceived, how it is interpreted in worldviews and everyday ideas, and what meaning is assigned to it. Therefore, any practice can be understood as cultural by figuring out what definitions and terms, what distinctions and interpretive assumptions it contains. Not only religion or art are then cultural; nature, gender or technology also have a cultural dimension insofar as they depend on worlds of social significance that define and interpret them in a certain way. The cultural field is the dynamic social area in which value is assigned and denied. The process of value creation is dynamic and often conflict-laden. Every human society has its own procedures for assigning value to certain things, spaces, events, groups or subjects and denying them to others. Culture has a powerful antagonist in formal rationality; the field of procedures, laws and cognitive processes. The cultural sphere negotiates what is sacred, while the sphere of rationality is home to the profane, the factual, the emotionless, the disenchanted. The positive and negative valorizations of culture are linked to strong emotions and affects, while the profanity of rationality remains relatively low in emotion.

Culture as a sphere of valorisation dynamics expands in late modernity because more and more things - beyond the question of use, interests and function - are being sucked into the cultural game of appreciation and devaluation. Culture, according to Reckwitz, now refers to the multiplicity of cultural goods circulating in world markets and the making available of resources to individuals for their self-fulfillment. The cultural sphere of hyperculture is a dynamic and unpredictable market in which there is competition for visibility, attractiveness and the enhancement of being productive. It focuses on the new, the innovative and the creative, but it also appreciates those cultural goods that have acquired the status of classics. Global cultural capitalism is the central pillar of hyperculture markets, which in turn are focused on the individual.

There is an essentially open attitude towards the diversity of cultural practices and goods, regardless of their origin. The transnational new middle class of the highly educated, equipped with above-average cultural, economic and social capital (as Bourdieu would call it), seeks and finds its identity in the hypercultural, which is aimed at self-fulfillment and singularity. 

Cultural capitalism, which no longer centers on industrial functional goods, but rather on goods and services with symbolic and experiential value, continuously introduces new cultural goods into the world and makes existing local cultures useful.

A liberal cultural policy that promotes diversity and globalism has reinforced the hypercultural tendency, especially in the metropolis, as well as - fourth - the global migration processes, which constantly feed new elements into the global cultural circulation.

The post-industrialization of the economy, the expansion of education and the liberalization process of the change of values ​​are central, interrelated factors in the transformation from the leveled medium-sized society to the late modern three-class society.

New information technologies are making it easier for companies to coordinate their work across geographical distances. They thus provide the infrastructure for the distribution of worldwide production networks. Manufacturing firms are moved from their traditional locations to countries and regions with significantly lower location and labor costs. It is an economy of speed; permanent innovation has become a central task.

"Crappy jobs" in simple services can be productive and profitable by cutting costs - low wages, cuts in social benefits, increased work due to precarious pressures for flexible labor rights. Routine physical service work aims to maintain a normal state (safety, cleanliness, etc.). Therefore the work often remains invisible - or only becomes visible when it is not performed. Due to the extreme specialization in this segment, anything but the entire personality of the employees is in demand. Because the work requires only a low formal qualification, competition is high (including through migration), and pay is below average.

The highly educated who work in the knowledge economy are gaining ground in the post-industrial era. The consumer revolution and the mobilization of the need for new goods with an immaterial effect, the increased demand for cognitive expertise, the exploitation of the possibilities of the digital revolution, the new impulse of automation in production, global networks and production sites, and finally the expansion of innovation-oriented knowledge work and simple services are immediate conditions and features of the transformation from industrial- to post-industrial capitalism.

Structural preconditions for this transformation are:

- the globalization of capitalism;

- the paradigm shift from state economic policy to neoliberalism;

- the intensified financialization of the economy. 

Beginning in the 1980s, national Keynesian control and welfare states became innovation-oriented competitive states. The aim of state policy is no longer the regulation of the economy and social issues, directly aimed at the common good, within a national framework, but rather to safeguard and maintain the competitiveness of the economy, its individual companies and employees. The neoliberal competitive state promotes future technologies, cuts subsidies for old industries, eases global supply chains, cuts income and corporate taxes, cuts public benefits, privatizes social benefits, and allows both a low-wage sector and the accumulation of large fortunes. The neoliberal state deregulates international financial markets. It thus contributes to a profound economization of the social, to the marketing of areas that were previously not organized in the form of a market (infrastructure, cultural institutions).

Finally, the financialization of the economy, which has intensified since the 1980s, is an important precondition for structural change. It mainly comprises two elements: capitalism in the financial markets and indebtedness (investment funds). Top management is much more focused on short-term profit maximization than during Fordism, as they believe they have to monitor shareholder value. Financialization has led to an economization and an accompanying competition for the best stock market performance, which leads to optimization pressures in the short term.

The second consequence of financialization is the increasing indebtedness of both private households and governments. The post-industrial economy of the West is largely financed by credit and debt. She constantly needs fresh money, which can be produced out of thin air after the end of the Bretton Woods system.

In its basic structure, post-industrial capitalism is cognitive capitalism. Goods are offered in markets and demanded by consumers: things, services, events, media formats;  these forms of goods can move within the framework of cognitive-cultural capitalism, insofar as they are essentially presented as cognitive goods, which contain intellectual capital (e.g. knowledge scripts and copyrights; the digital knowledge base; the employees' skills; its collaborative relationships and the organizational routines it has developed and proven). 

In general, cultural goods are associated with emotions and affects. Rarity and exclusivity can play a part in their symbolic prestige. Singularity is not an objective property of the good, but depends on the opinion of the consumer and of evaluation bodies that certify aesthetic, ethical, narrative or playful uniqueness. Cognitive production and cultural consumption transform a non-spectacular (and actually cheap) functional good into a valuable (and therefore expensive) cognitive-cultural good. The monetary value of cognitive and cultural goods must be understood in relation to cognitive work and intangible capital. Cognitive goods are digitally distributed. There are huge discrepancies between success and failure in these commodities. Whether new cognitive goods will settle is unpredictable, because their appeal is  symbolically and emotionally based. Whether an innovation succeeds is unpredictable.

Risks of excessive demands seem to characterize the late modern subject, and diseases of exhaustion such as depression and burnout as well as psychosomatic disorders are becoming hallmark clinical pictures of the era. The culture of the self in the 1970s was associated with the hope of liberating the subject from the shackles of repressive industrial modernity and its petty-bourgeois everyday culture. The subject should be more emancipated, more hedonistic, more sensitive and alive, more focused on the good life and its own needs than on conforming to the old standards of self-discipline. Self-realization was and is the guiding principle of this advanced subject. Late modern culture promises the individual subjective fulfillment in a way like never before and suggests to him that he has a right to realize it. It's a radically emotional culture. The traditional perception of the risk of feelings, which should not be casually indulged, has almost completely given way in late modern times to a culture of positive emotions. The paradox of this positive-emotional life form is that it produces both unintentionally and systematically increasingly negative emotions: disappointment and frustration, excessive demands and jealousy, anger, fear, despair and futility. However, late modern culture has no legitimate place to deal with these negative emotions, and there is a lack of recognized methods of dealing with them in everyday culture.

The individual is not an autonomous unit, but a social product. The psychological structure is therefore always a psychosocial structure. Three features characterized the subject form of industrial modernity:

1. the model of social adaptation;

2. objectivity or skepticism of emotions;

3. the ideal of self-discipline and the fulfillment of duties.

The behavior of a subject was based on his/her peer group. It focuses on social adaptation, its purpose to demonstrate social normality. Deviation and individuality were suspect. The expansion of large companies in the world of work and the shaping power of the mass medium of television emerged as important institutional preconditions of the externally oriented self. The ideal was a cool, down-to-earth subject that had full control of negative emotions such as fear, sadness, or anger, but also did not overly celebrate positive emotions such as joy or lust. The subject had to fight against his naturally existing negative or otherwise problematic potential in order to fulfill his social obligations and to find a personal meaning in life in these imposed duties. From the 1970s, there was a complex mix of self-fulfillment (from the romantic ideal of self-realization) and successful self-expression for others (from the bourgeois ideal of investing in one's own status). The subject of late modernity now essentially wants both, and it demands both: self-fulfillment and social success.

The reasons for the profound transformation that the Western self has undergone since the last third of the 20th century: a change in values ​​from obligatory and acceptable values ​​to values ​​for self-fulfillment is related to the emergence of a new middle class, which is influenced by the expansion of education and increased prosperity because they profit from the economic boom. The change in the Western economy to consumer capitalism relies on the almost insatiable consumer needs for things, services, media formats and events.

The world of work of the highly educated is transformed towards a post-industrial new spirit of capitalism, according to which work is ideally no longer just a livelihood, but it creates meaning and satisfaction. Since the turn of the millennium, digital culture has intensified consumer capitalism, and ubiquitous social media provides topics with a platform for self-expression. Finally, there is the change in the political climate towards personality-sensitive liberalization and the rise of positive psychology.

Positive psychology is very successful in propagating an ideal of a successful life based on self-fulfillment and self-growth. For the late modern subject, ideally, all segments of daily life should not just be a means to an end, but should be done for themselves and thus be emotionally satisfying and subjectively meaningful. It now seems flawed to do a job just for the money, to be in a marriage only for reasons of social convention, to be involved in a leisure activity only to relax from work.

Self-realization is closely linked to an ideal of authenticity: you strive for a professional activity in which you can fully immerse yourself in your specific talents, a partnership in which the other feels an ideal counterpart, a family in which parents and children come together. The late modern subject strives for a constant appreciation and singularization of all possible elements of his life.

Singularization describes this process in which individuals strive not for the uniform and standardized, but for the individual, the special and non-exchangeable. Only what is experienced as singular and not as standardized seems authentic. It is a culture of positive emotions. The deciding factor is how you feel about your life, how the individual moments feel. The ideal seems to be a positive life of the highest intensity. Ideally, all components of life should generate positive emotions in the culture of self-fulfillment. Investments are made in wealth building, in training and skills, in useful social networks and in physical fitness and psychological balance: status work now appears to be the framework for successful self-realization.

The late modern subject knows that self-fulfillment can only be achieved through the forms of capital mediated by society. Ideally, these provide him with the resources apparently necessary to realize self-fulfillment: money, education, skills, networks, health, psychological balance. The subject ideal is the cosmopolitan creative and entrepreneur of him-/herself; he wants and must present himself to others as a happy, authentic subject in a life that is as stimulating and eventful as it is successful.

Late modern social recognition in terms of attractiveness requires an individual appearance. Recognition is paid in the currency of positive emotions, for example in the form of fascination. The late modern culture of successful and performative self-realization is an extraordinarily ambitious self-culture. The risk of failure is built into this ambitious late-modern professional culture from the start. The actors constantly observe and evaluate each other in an attitude of amicable jealousy. The broken hopes of these people are portrayed in books by Virginie Despentes, Sonja Hess, Meg Wolitzer, Mare Ade, Hans-Christian Schmid and Richard Linklater. 

The disappointment is based on a perceived discrepancy between expectation and reality. The neo-romantic ideal of self-realization and the contrary neo-bourgeois ideal of social success are linked. The risk is that this structure forms a double bind situation in which the individual finds himself in the dilemma of conflicting expectations of his own self. If individuals radically rely on self-realization, they run the risk that their social status will suffer.

The economization of the social divides the life chances and the chances of satisfaction very unequally. The inequality often damages the sense of justice of the disappointed, as they see themselves as devalued in their achievements and efforts. The legitimacy of the market seems absurd when coincidences and unplanned developments appear to be the decisive factor for success or failure.

Late modern society offers the individual unprecedented and intense opportunities to compare, accompanied with a social urge to compare. In this way subtle social and cultural differences become visible in a way that was neither the case nor possible in industrial modernity. Obviously, this long-term comparison can easily provoke disappointment, which can translate into sadness or even into anger. Envy is primarily an emotion that late modern culture systematically cultivates.

Since subjective experience, the sense of authenticity and the desire for self-fulfillment have become more important, quality assessment of life has become more demanding and complex, and more unpredictable and vulnerable. The culture of positive emotions developed a weak understanding of ambivalence. A feeling that cannot be easily classified as positive or negative tends to be pushed to the negative side. The extreme sensitization of the late modern individual to his/her inner world of experience and feelings also means that he/she is also sensitive to his/her own negative reactions and emotions, which someone in an emotionally less sensitive culture would not even have noticed. 

Furthermore, those who consciously do not exercise options are increasingly viewed with suspicion. The ideal of self-determination pressures the subject to experience as much as possible in his own life despite his natural limitations.

In general, all events that are not subjectively controlled can be described as unavailable, but events that remain unavailable from a negative, painful point of view are problematic: illness and death, accidents, (natural) disasters, stressful family constellations and unfortunate social situations including job loss.

In general, modernity can be interpreted as a society that aims to eliminate negative unavailability: social progress should make it redundant. People try to make life predictable and reduce unforeseen events. Despite all these attempts at control and planning, it is clear that negative unavailability cannot be completely eliminated. The modern age repeatedly reaches its limits here (see Amalberti; MF). In addition to attempting to face these situations again and again with controlling and optimizing approaches, it lacks the cultural models, narratives and attitudes to deal with unavailability, which not only seems meaningless from the point of view of the subjects involved. In the largely secular culture of the present, subjects are often left with little more than to find themselves more or less desperate that their life plans have failed, or to follow the path of projection, circumventing their own impotence, by identifying someone who is supposedly is responsible for their personal misery. The lack of cultural models to make peace with negative unavailability is painfully noticeable, which is based on a particularly demanding model of a self-determined and successful life.

There is no cultural way of life without internal contradictions and discontent. Nevertheless, the risk of disappointment with the highly ambitious late modern way of life is considerable. However, if expectations are deeply embedded in the culture and repeated attempts are unsuccessful, there is a risk that the disappointments will generate intense negative emotions that persist: either in the inner form of sadness over the unrealized or lost, outward form of anger at the failure and the supposedly responsible.

The unpredictability of partnership markets and family constellations could be undermined by solidarity-based permanent relationships in the form of friendship networks. However, in the life of the individual there are paradoxes that cannot be resolved and certainly cannot be positively transformed. The discrepancy between the pleasure and reality principle is inevitable, as is the imbalance between the id and the symbolic order. It depends on how you deal with the paradoxes. Psychoanalysis can certainly connect here with social analysis, which elaborates the social conditionality of some paradoxes and thus enables the individual to gain a comprehensive understanding of his situation. What is needed is a way of life that develops a tolerance for ambiguity in one's own life and realizes that the modern belief in progress cannot simply be transferred to the biography of the individual.

However, late modern culture does not provide an answer to the inevitable presence of disappointments and negative emotions. A sober look at the uncontrollability of life is required. This new form of affect control in terms of affect distance, is as much of a challenge like leaving the culture of self-optimization in favor of enduring contradictions. Reckwitz calls this less disappointing way of living a more ecological way: ecological in relation to the subject's finite psychological (and physical) resources.

The main symptom of Western liberalism's political crisis since 2010 has been what can be summarized as an international populist uprising: a stratified movement against the liberal functional elites and their economic and cultural hegemony in the name of an imagined people. It seems that we in Western democracies have reached a point where it is open to the direction of the political agenda. Beneath the left-right distinction is a succession of more abstract political paradigms at work. The following applies: An overarching paradigm shapes political discourse and governmental action over several decades; after it exhausts its problem-solving skills, it is replaced by another overarching political paradigm. At the time of its dominance, a paradigm typically spans almost the entire political spectrum from center-left to center-right. Both left and right versions of the respective paradigm exist. A political paradigm experiences a history of rise, dominance and decline, which are closely related to the corresponding stages of social development as a whole. In the phase of its dominance there seems to be no alternative and, in the sense of an order of the thinkable and sayable (Michel Foucault), how society and its structure is politically thought and how it is governed. We are currently in a transition phase. First, after the end of the Second World War, a social-corporatist paradigm emerged that dominated (New Deal and the Scandinavian welfare state up to the concervatism of Adenauer and de Gaulle). During the 1970s it went through a crisis and after 1980 it was gradually replaced by the paradigm of an apertist (opening) liberalism, ranging from the neoliberal Reagonmics to New Labor and the red-green government phase in Germany. While the social-corporatist paradigm is roughly economic and culturally oriented towards social regulation and order, apertist liberalization seeks to open and dynamize social development economically and culturally. Since 2010, the paradigm of apertist liberalism has apparently been in a fundamental crisis, of which the populist revolt is a symptom. What is the next paradigm? There is only one indication that it will be a matter of the paradigm of a regulatory, embedding of liberalism. The political paradigms that characterized Western political history after 1945 can also be understood as problem-solving complexes, namely as discourses and government techniques for dealing with social problems. But times are changing and new social problems arise, which the hitherto dominant political paradigm has been unable or only insufficiently able to solve and which ultimately fail. Contrary to the scientific paradigms Kuhn had in mind, political paradigms are not just cognitive problem-solving programs, but normative through and through: they contain value decisions, value antagonisms, and utopias of the desirable. In a political paradigm shift, an entire political way of thinking and governing is replaced by a new one. Reckwitz calls the political paradox the process in which a political paradigm creates new social problems at a time t+1 because it is no longer able to successfully solve the social problems it could solve at time t with its own policies. For modern societies, social change is the norm anyway, so that a successful political paradigm, if left unchanged, will inevitably become obsolete at some point. In the case of the political paradox, however, it is politics itself that, through the unintended consequences of its own actions, creates new problem situations that it can no longer solve. The expansion of the welfare state in response to social demand creates the problem of a culture of dependency: neoliberalism in response to state overregulation has neglected infrastructure and drastic social inequalities; the politics of multiculturalism in response to migration processes contributes to parallel societies; The expansion of education in response to the lack of education leads to the emergence of losers in education and a layer of highly ambitious people for whom living in the Fordist bureaucracy is no longer enough. An initially appropriate policy is overtaken by the results of your own actions. It is a dialectical process.

The paradigm of apertist liberalism, which initially successfully energized blocked society, seems to become more and more paradoxical after 2010, pointing to its replacement. In developing political paradigms since 1945, at least three problem complexes are present: socio-economic problems (economic crises, weak long-term growth, financial crises, high permanent unemployment, blatant social inequality, high national debt or low innovation dynamics), socio-cultural problems ( cultural disintegration, experiences of social alienation, legitimacy and motivation crises) and practical democratic problems (democratic participation and efficiency of the political order). For a new political paradigm to be convincing, it must provide resolution and reconfiguration on all three levels. Political paradigms differ in the way they deal with the formation and dissolution of orders, and thus the stabilization or dissolution of social boundaries. Regulatory paradigms and dynamization paradigms succeed each other. In a regulatory paradigm, socio-economic and socio-cultural as well as practical democratic problems are interpreted as problems resulting from a lack of social order and social regulation. In an animation paradigm, however, the socio-economic and socio-cultural and practical democratic problems are interpreted as problems resulting from an excess of collective regulation and a lack of dynamism. In this regard, this paradigm relies on the opening and deregulation of orders in the broadest sense - in favor of individual liberties, groups, markets, etc. - on the dismantling of rigid structures and on difference and variety. It is about enabling movement and mobility of the social and opening up contingencies. This also includes different types of edge openings. The paradigm of apertist liberalism—both in its neoliberal and left-liberal forms, both of which are decidedly pro-globalization—is such a dynamic paradigm. It can be assumed that the mode of government that follows this paradigm will again be a regulatory paradigm.

As is well known, the politics of neoliberalism was first put into practice in 1979/80 with the accession to the governments of Margaret Thatcher in Britain and Ronald Reagan in the US, having previously been taught by a neoliberal school of economic policy. (Friedrich von Hayek, Milton Friedman, Gary Becker, etc.) is intellectually prepared; after that it quickly spreads into other versions, including in the social-democratic parties. Its features are now known and, in Bob Jessop's apt terminology, amount to the replacement of the Kenese national welfare state, which is based on a new problem definition: the starting point is global capitalism, the world market, the individual nation, the individual city, the individual firm that places individual workers in a permanent competitive situation. It actively promotes the marketing of areas that were previously part of the competitive logic, such as infrastructure, housing, education and culture. This is often based on the neoliberal idea that the invisible hand of the market with its own dynamics is the optimal means to increase efficiency, innovation and prosperity. The image of a society that is not egalitarian and homogeneous, but which is and should be diverse and multicultural, is now becoming politically dominant.

Just as neoliberalism radicalises the old tradition of economic and market liberalism, progressive left liberalism radicalises the equally old liberal principle that every individual has subjective rights that he can claim against other individuals and the state. However, as these subjective rights are insufficiently realised, left-wing liberalism advocates a program for the systematic realization and extension of subjective rights and for the empowerment of individuals. Where there is a lack of recognition for individuals, left-wing liberalism is particularly active: equality between women and men is probably the main concern, but it also advocates for the rights of sexual minorities, ethnic groups, people with disabilities (inclusion) and rights of local groups (eg with regard to state planning) and for indirect rights attributed to nature in the context of ecological movements. In realizing subjective rights - which also includes the rights of cultural groups - a society as a whole is realized that is as free as it is diverse. The close interweaving of politics and economics on the one hand and politics and law on the other is gaining in importance in the formation of the domestic political will. Political-economic entanglements, for example in the form of public-private partnerships, are gaining in relevance, as is the political influence of the judiciary, which in the form of fundamental decisions is increasingly shifting from law enforcement to legislative actor. The democracy of apertist liberalism thus breaks out of its close link with the statesmen ("demos") in favor of a network of supranational and subpolitical actors.

A government practice that was once powerful, socially attractive and promising for the future, is becoming less and less a problem solver and more and more the cause of problems, and is also experienced as such. The unintended problematic consequences of the politics of apertist liberalism and its paradoxes become apparent. The characteristics of the singularity society, caused by the structural change from industrial to post-industrial modernity, are also problematic. The crisis is not a disaster, it is completely normal. With a view to social change processes, an overarching political paradigm inevitably has a limited time in which it can act sensitively. At some point, it will be overtaken by structural changes in society, which require new problem definitions and solutions. We are in another phase of the normal but conflict-ridden paradigm shift. The politics of the previous dominant paradigm is subjected to a deep critique, in which it appears fundamentally wrong. We can only understand the crisis of apertist liberalism if we recognize that it is simultaneously a socio-economic and socio-cultural crisis, which has also become a practical democratic crisis. Here the left-right scheme proves to be an obstacle. Neoliberalism, the globalization of markets and the emergence of the knowledge economy initially gave new dynamics to economic development, the downside of which, however, became drastically visible during the financial crisis of 2008: deregulation and dismantling of state control mechanisms have brought financial markets to the brink of collapse. and debt drastically tightened by states. In many places, neoliberal policies have led to a neglect of general public services, to some extent the social infrastructure from transport to education and from health care to housing. The marketing of the social has often not led to more efficient care, but to poor maintenance of public goods. Neoliberalism found itself in a crisis of deregulation in a crisis of over-dynamization, resulting from a lack of social and state framework of the economic markets. Central to this is the disintegration of the old, leveled middle-class society towards an - economically, culturally and spatially - polarized social structure. The new middle class of highly qualified people faces a new insecure class, while between the two a numerically reduced old middle class wavers between status preservation, status loss and experiences of cultural devaluation.

While the new middle class clings to the ideal of social progress through globalization, singularization and post-industrialization, the precarious class and sections of the old middle class are confronted with experiences of loss. The polarization between high- and low-skilled occupations, between academic and non-academic education, and between progressive and loss-oriented views of society corresponds to the new spatial inequality between the emerging metropolitan regions and the remote rural regions. Although neoliberalism contributed by promoting deindustrialization and urban knowledge clusters, it is essentially an unplanned economic, cultural and socio-structural process with a high degree of dynamism and complexity. However, neoliberalist thinking cannot or does not want to exert a regulatory influence on this process.

The crisis of apertistic liberalism has a cultural dimension too, which has to do with the effects of left-wing liberalism. It is about the politics of multiculturalism and identity politics, as well as about the dissolution of mutual ties in a liberalized society. The policy of multiculturalism has encouraged cultural disintegration in the countries of immigration. At the same time, it carries the risk of isolating cultural communities on the basis of criteria such as ethnicity and religion - a development that in some places is being answered by a new white identity politics.

In the society of singularities, individuals have internalized the liberal program of the extension of subjective rights and are transformed into rightholders as consumers, as employees, as entrepreneurs, as students, as spouses, etc. Empowerment of the responsible citizen has a danger of eventually turning into a selfishness of the individual towards institutions. 

The brutality of social media communication exemplifies an erosion of the cultural consensus regarding the general norms of coexistence. The crisis of apertistic liberalism, according to Reckwitz, turns out to be a crisis of deregulation, a crisis arising from a lack of cultural regulation. The growing power of international organizations and the judiciary, both of which evade direct democratic control, the reference to economic constraints, has democratized liberal democracy, meaning that important political decisions are de facto withdrawn from parliaments and elected representatives (see also Wendy Brown's Undoing the Demos; MF).

Reckwitz's basic assumption is that the emerging new political paradigm takes the contours of a regulatory or embedding liberalism, that it is concerned with the formation of social order. The new paradigm would regulate a new social demand as well as a new cultural demand. It would maintain a liberal foundation by adhering to the institutional framework of liberal democracy and its pluralism, and by continuing the insights of apertistic liberalism about dynamic identities and global markets.

According to Reckwitz, the paradigm of apertistic liberalism has been exhausted because it has naively maintained that its policy of legislation and the market would produce social progress in a natural and lossless way. Addressing the increasing social inequalities and the neglect of basic social services, as well as the cultural disintegration and the erosion of reciprocity, implies the need for new state and civil corporate rules.

Late modern society, according to Reckwitz, is and will never be a "Gemeinschaft" (community), a homogeneous collective. In late modern society there is no binding and shared way of life, but it nevertheless relies on rules and their enforcement and requires forms of recognition.

Liberalism is a form of governance that takes into account the dynamics and indeterminacy of society. It does not assume that it can control and plan and enforce the fabric of society at the drawing board. The social processes (market, individuals/groups, technological, media and ecological processes) are unpredictable and in a sense self-regulating. Society not only has the normative primacy over the state, it is in fact acting more and more complex than the state could ever predict. Reality evolves and proceeds according to the laws, principles and mechanisms of reality itself, but recognizing this does not mean a simple laissez-faire. The dynamics of society must be framed, and freedom cannot be unlimited. What is needed, according to Reckwitz, is a new social contract which recognizes the social necessity of all activities and which alleviates the social differences between them. The problem to be addressed here is that of a "ranking culture" in which differences in social rank, especially in the context of the system of work, translate into significant and ultimately unjustifiable discrepancies in the valuation of the individual.

The neoliberal economization of the social has in many cases privatized those institutions that provide the population with a basic stock of resources - transport, health, energy, social housing, education, public safety  - exposing them to market mechanisms. Contrary to what was planned, this commercialization has often not strengthened the infrastructure, but rather weakened it, including in terms of equal access for all. The parts of the infrastructure that remained in state hands were often neglected.

For a new "embedding liberalism", the maintenance and improvement of this state infrastructure is of central importance. Private consumption cannot replace the need for public infrastructure.