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All the Same – What is valid if everything is valid?

Our societies are in a crisis of equality – although we are far removed from the goal of egalitarianism: The gap between rich and poor is growing ever larger, with no chance of equal opportunities. Other inequalities are upheld by intolerance, fear, protection of vested rights, and envy. Despite all of this, every ideology finds an equality argument to suit its agenda: Neoliberal desolidarisation campaigns propagate that anyone can achieve social advancement if only they want to. Elsewhere, tolerance becomes synonymous with indifference towards the fate of others or serves to avoid having one’s own opinions.
Amidst all of this there appears a call for new, old values that are believed to have been made the same. Values that ensure that social and geographical gaps are upheld, guaranteeing sovereignty of opinion and protection of property. But, on the other hand, values that also organise social life, defining criteria for acting or not acting, for our dealings with each other.
The fast-paced social and economic change in recent years creates a sense that nothing is equal any more, that there is not enough sameness in society, no longer enough things that are valid for everyone, to define a common standard. And, at the same time, that there is too much indifference, that the most varied biographies and identities are indiscriminately made equal, and that we ourselves are increasingly coming to resemble the others and becoming indistinguishable from them.
steirischer herbst festival 2009 and "Spielfeldforschung" ("Playing field research"), the theoretical backbone the festival, plays with the notion of “All the Same” that, on the one hand, describes a lack of interest that we develop towards the present, the future and the past. And, on the other hand, that demands the same validity: equal rights, respect for other cultural values, ways of life and cultures, making concessions as regards interests that are purely self-serving. As a social mission, as a utopia, and as an everyday demand.