lateral thinking

Post photo: flashcards for better social behavior | © moses.Verlag

Not so long ago a term for lateral thinking, which by Edward de Bono was introduced as early as 1967 and wanted to reorganize thought processes in terms of problem solving. Even in the 1990s, you could find one in many households Books Find. But also Joy Paul Guilford dealt with the topic and also published his theory of the "Structure of Intellect" in 1967.

From 2009 to 2014 there was even a corresponding magazine, "Querdenker", whose website I liked to watch because it was based on the same software as a website I was responsible for at the time.

Since 2020, the term lateral thinker has had a completely different meaning with the "sudden" appearance of the so-called lateral thinker movement, and since I myself passed such a protest action on a walk in 2021, such gatherings have also made me uncomfortable.

But there's no point in just ignoring such movements and waiting for them to fade away — I made that mistake myself in the 1970s-1980s, when I was sure a "green" movement could exist without actual content can hardly be manifested. Nevertheless, this movement at the time obviously managed to fill a gap that was simply not properly recognized by established parties and other political associations. And once you've established yourself in a society, it's quite difficult to disappear again - we can see this very well in the SPD at the moment, and maybe also in the Union parties in the near future.

The fact that we have a problem for society as a whole since the 1990s (Berlin Republic) can not only be seen from the still acute Ossi-Wessi debate, but above all from the turnout in the elections, whereby it can be seen that Europe -, federal, state, district and local level, voter turnout has been falling steadily since its peak in the 1970s.

Even more, the number of members of our parties has more than halved in this period, whereby only the previous "newcomers" can still book profits for themselves, which is only too human, since many fellow citizens simply hang their flag to the wind.

Today, just over a million German citizens are still organized in parties, and if more citizens were not active in other political organizations, associations and movements, the ratio of politically committed citizens to the population would be even worse.

The good thing is that these maybe 10 million citizens still manage to motivate the 75% of those entitled to vote to vote in the federal elections, which is then probably called a multiplier function.

It is also good that, at least so far, the majority of our fellow citizens vote democratically, and left-wing and right-wing extremist parties that appear again and again usually disappear again.

But it is better that the increasing emptiness of our "existing parties" now means that more and more new parties, groups of voters and lists of citizens are forming, which not only stand up for our democracy itself, but also very specific and own ideas about our future - for the first time also in the field of ecology, which incidentally took a very long time.

Here, after 30 years of the Berlin Republic, a generational change seems to be in the offing, which also means that younger people are no longer as quickly integrated into traditional structures and are looking for new ways to have a political impact and assert their own interests.

This goes hand in hand with the increasing loss of trust for which our professional politicians, not the many politically active volunteers in and outside of parties, are responsible.

That is why it also happens that more and more citizens, who have not been politically active at all or only marginally, are motivated by young people to also begin to articulate and organize (Hic, the lateral thinkers).

The founding of parties in recent decades has shown that such self-organization can take a long time and that the "most interesting" and often very conflicting interests collide and have to be connected with one another.

In the case of the lateral thinkers, however, it seems to be the case that this is the last rebellion of an outgoing generation, which until now has viewed politics from the sidelines and was satisfied that their interests were somehow already represented by the parties, and now has to realize, quite astonished, that we will all be asked to pay at some point.

Thus, the lateral thinkers are a product of our people's parties, a temporary voter potential for "fringe parties" and a phenomenon of an overall social upheaval.

This upheaval needs to be shaped now, and we will be able to observe how our young people come together in new structures or perhaps how the existing structures are reused. This depends entirely on whether and how the existing parties develop further, the new parties ultimately set up, but above all whether they are prepared to actually accept the problems and challenges of our time and thus help shape the future of coming generations to want.

The realistic political approach of the current coalition: "After us the deluge" will unfortunately probably also be that of the coming coalition, and then hopefully lead to the fact that today's young people become more politicized. Because this is very urgently needed, since these young people, in contrast to my youth, cannot draw on unlimited resources, but only find empty coffers and a destroyed nature, and will be involved in existential struggles over distribution.


"Lateral thinking ... is the process of using information to bring about creativity and insight restructuring. Lateral thinking can be learned, practiced and used. It is possible to acquire skill in it just as it is possible to acquire skill in mathematics."

Edward de Bono, Lateral thinking: creativity step by step (1970: 5)

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