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The Lebensreform movement was a response to such feelings of crisis, whether or not in any particular case they were founded on reality. But the path that was supposed to lead out of the crisis was always an individual one. That means that according to the doctrine of Lebensreform, reform of the self always came before reform of society. Taken overall, Lebensreform appears to be a reaction to modernity, a reaction assoc­iated with an all-round change to its proponents’ lifestyle. That is why the utopias which found expression in a “return to Nature” were always linked to a broad range of practices which each person had to engage with individually. Since the end of the 19th century these have been among the many different responses to the ever accelerating modern world.


“Save our woods”, poster by the WWF by Hans Erni, 1983.

Profile for Bernisches Historisches Museum

Live better! The search for the ideal way of life