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I do think that “the reason why”, we “are still in the political defensive”, lies – in so far it is a cognitive and not just a power problem – in the fact that we have not dug deep enough in our own questions. We are not up against a body of ideas which are open to criticism and argument, we are facing a structured power machine of academic reproduction which is perpetuating the hegemony of neoclassical economics and neoliberal political consultancy. The “weaknesses of neo-liberal ideology” and “the deficits of neoclassical economics” may be “obvious” to extra-academic common-sense – which is doubtful, as they seem to be even more deeply entrenched in the media than in the economic faculties. They are, in fact, invisible from inside their respective academic and ‘think tank’ fields. To fight against this power machine mere “Wissenschaftskritik” (critique of established science) will not be sufficient. The very construction of the social, economic, political and cultural disciplines will have to be addressed and reorganised by a broad alliance of critical forces – including the new fields of studies emerging from the system critical social movements (ranging from critical Marxism to various kinds of subaltern studies – ecological, feminist, anti-racist).Achieving this kind of critical alliance for the restructuring of the very field of economics will be decisively furthered by attempting “to focus alternative economics on sustainable development”, and as this operation will not produce a new kind of all-encompassing critical stance easily, it “does … necessarily imply advocating pluralism in economics”, combining critical Marxist, ecological, feminist and anti-racist approaches.
This has the unavoidable effect of creating much more complexity, even opaqueness (Habermas’s ‘neue Unübersichtlichkeit’). And this, makes it a new challenge to establish a new kind of  a – ‘plural’, ‘overdetermined’ – “dividing line between pro-sustainability economic-doctrine pluralism, on the one hand, and arbitrariness, on the other hand”. Exploring this new kind of intersectional critique of structures of domination would be a challenge for intellectual rigour combined with sensitivity.

For research in economics and the teaching of economics this seems to imply a double movement: On the one hand developing the concepts and methods of economics in such a way as to make them compatible with other perspectives on its field of objective processes, while at the same time deepening the awareness for the specific limitations of the economic perspective. This does not imply the dissolution of either “the object of economic science” or of “economic policy”, but it does imply to reconfigure and to rearticulate them in their specific limitations in order to facilitate openings, bridges and transitions between the specialized perspectives on this field of objective processes. This could be a decisive help to establishing a new trans-disciplinary bundle of sustainability sciences, functioning as a cognitive support for a complex societal policy for sustainability.

In this way critical scientists from various critical perspectives could take up the experiences of critical social movement activists in order to deepen and to rearticulate the common issues of these ‘sustainability sciences’. “Sustainability economics” in particular should combine the analysis of capitalist accumulation with an analysis of its presupposed processes in the field of  humankind-nature-interaction as well as in the fields of gender interaction and trans-national dependency relations?

“For work on socio-ecological reconstruction and socialist transformation research” this means that there is an urgency now to look back critically on the work of the last four decades and develop a comparable degree of explicitation as achieved by Peter Söderbaum for the perspective of ecological economics.

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