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Pierre Madelin: “We Cannot Wait for Industrial Society to Collapse While Preparing for the Future”

I spoke with Pierre Madelin, who has translated into French several environmental writers including Arne Naess, John Baird Callicott, Rolston Holmes, and soon Val Plumwood, and who is himself the author of a very good little book entitled “After capitalism”.

Nicolas Casaux: In your book “After Capitalism”, you state that the idea of external or ecological limits to capitalism is wrong. I would like to come back to that. This would mean that capitalism would not be threatened by the increasing contamination, degradation, consumption, destruction, or disruption of all environments (biomes, biotopes, etc.) and all the organisms it inexorably generates?

Pierre Madelin: “That’s not exactly what I say to my memory. I note that capitalism is indeed confronted with an ecological limit insofar as it exerts increasing pressure on our environment, from which it destroys the diversity and from which it compromises functionality, resilience, and, ultimately, habitability. By exhausting limited resources, such as fossil energy deposits, and by exerting pressure on so-called ‘renewable’ resources, such as soils, forests or water cycles, a pressure that just does not allow them to renew themselves anymore. Capitalism contributes to undermining the conditions of its own reproduction.”

What I emphasise, however, is that these ecological limits facing the reproduction of capital are not, strictly speaking, ‘good news’, because the end of capitalism that they give rise to would unfortunately coincide with a deterioration of conditions of life on Earth that would make it difficult to imagine the advent of societies that are ‘decent’, more egalitarian, and less destructive of nature. I do not believe too much in the idea of ​​a happy collapse, at the end of which, on the still smoking ruins of industrial civilisation, we could build convivial collective organisations in the gaps opened by the weakening or the disappearance of commercial logics and the state; the damage caused by the devastating dynamics of capital and by the completely delirious growth compulsion that animates it will be too great …

So if I quote the famous expression of W. Benjamin – ‘capitalism will not die of natural death’ – it is to insist on the necessity of the action: we can not wait for industrial society to collapse by preparing for the ‘after’, because this society is characterised precisely by the destruction of everything possible ‘after’, or at least everything desirable after. Only a global insurgency, a violent, nonviolent, and systematic resistance – particularly to such mafia and criminal organisations called ‘states’ – and a profound transformation of social relations can save what can still be saved. And there is still much to save; many degrees, millions of species, the lives of billions of human brothers and ‘feathered and furry cousins’, the beauty of the world far from gone, etc.”

So you do not think, like Cyril Dion, Isabelle Delannoy, Maxim de Rostolan, etc., that it is possible to do an ecological transition, a kind of virtuous transformation of capitalist industrial society that would make it ecological and democratic (by means of “industrial symbiosis”, new technologies that are more efficient and greener, recycling processes ever more advanced, the introduction of some “elements of direct democracy like the Citizens’ Initiative Referendum or the drawing or lots in our democracies” that would suddenly make them truly democratic, etc.)?

“It is obviously not possible to transform industrial and capitalist society into a sustainable and ‘green’ society! All the experiments carried out so far to substitute one resource for another in order to perpetuate any consumption practice have proved to be disastrous. Bio-fuels, which are supposed to make motorised mobility green and make it ‘sustainable’, create serious problems of deforestation and stimulate monocultures that are devastating for soils and biodiversity. The balance sheet for the electric car is becoming more and more calamitous. Plastic is a poison for the planet, but bio-plastics that claim to replace it (the Carrefour store next to my home is already full of them) will probably only displace the problem, since in all likelihood it will be necessary to exploit and destroy environments to provide the raw materials necessary for their manufacture.

But the deception that is the most dangerous is obviously to make people believe that it would be possible to maintain the same level of energy consumption – which amounts to saying the same ‘standard of living’ since energy is at the base of our material life – by switching from fossil fuels to so-called ‘renewable’ energies. Let us not forget that it is partly to offset the deforestation caused by an energy system based on the burning of wood that fossil fuels developed in Europe in the 19th century, with the consequences that we now know. And today we would like to believe that renewables will effectively mitigate the global warming caused by the combustion of these fossil fuels. However, the industrial development of solar energy and wind power risks, on the contrary, also worsening the ecological crisis, since without a decrease in consumption, no source of energy can be sustainable. We already know that solar and wind are very metal intensive, so they involve mining practices very destructive for nature, and they also need huge areas to establish themselves (often, the appropriation of these areas is done to the detriment of the human communities that live there, for example in Mexico, in the isthmus of Tehuantepec, where there is a violent conflict between farmers and a wind farm).

In a recent interview, Jean-Marc Jancovici points out that from a strictly ecological point of view (if we put aside the problem of nuclear disasters …), nuclear energy is much less destructive than ‘renewable’ energies, because at an equal production level, it requires infinitely fewer metals and productive surface (a nuclear power station occupies infinitely less space than a solar or wind complex). He concludes that we must focus on nuclear, which is obviously not my case … But his thinking at least has the merit of showing how naive it is that the environmental movement today places all its hopes in an energy transition whose main motto would be the massive investment in carbon-free energy sources, whether this investment is made in the framework of private initiatives or in the context of a state ecological planning. This naivety is dangerous, because without knowing it, by trying to ‘save the climate’, the ecologist movement would actually contribute to save, at least temporarily, a moribund capitalism, by allowing it to trigger a new phase of accumulation that is supposedly ‘green’. The ecological consequences of such a policy would be all the more devastating as it would be demobilising; it would give many of us the feeling that everything is finally changing, so that finally nothing changes, and that we find at the end of the road the same destructive and self-destructive capitalism of always.

Now, to the question ‘what to do?’, I obviously do not have a ready answer. Decrease, obviously. But how and how far? Serge Latouche argues that the average standard of living of the French in the 1960s could be universalised within the limits of the Earth, which implies on a world scale a partial deindustrialization of the economy and an important re-ruralisation. Others, including you, think that only a complete deindustrialization of society could save us. Me, to tell you the truth, I do not know, and I think that only trial and error and social and political experiments can tell us how far to go in material sobriety … What is certain is that so far no alternative experience to capitalism (Zapatism, ZAD, Rojava, etc.) has really succeeded in setting up autonomous and decentralised energy infrastructures.”

Yes. That said, I do not encourage a complete deindustrialization “to save us”, but rather the dismantling of the industrial society, the cessation of all harmful activities for life on Earth (not to save us specifically). Moreover, I very much appreciate Serge Latouche, his work is very rich, very interesting, and his remarks often relevant, but when he states that (“the average standard of living of the French in the 1960s would be universalizable within the limits of the Earth”), frankly, I do not understand. In 1960, in France, we consumed 72 TWh of electricity, versus 478 in 2018. We therefore consumed much less (almost 7 times less) electricity at the time. But on the other hand, we consumed 70 Mt of coal against 20 Mt today. And overall, per capita, we consumed just over half the energy at the time (1,699 kg of oil equivalent against 3,690 in 2015). The gap is not colossal. Moreover, in 1960, more than 50% of the population was urban (more than 50% of urban dwellers as of 1931 in France), thus, “an important re-ruralisation”, not necessarily. Moreover, as the INSEE report puts it, “in the early 1960s, the workforce was overwhelmingly male, rather working class, and low-skilled. Often only the head of the household was active outside the home. It is the reign of the great industrial enterprise marked by a labor organisation of the Fordist or Taylorist type”. Exemplary. And yet Serge Latouche says that in 1960 the average French person is a model of sustainability. Can you explain why he says that? And then, if we continue with what Latouche advocates, do you think that a “partial deindustrialisation”, therefore a partially industrial society, could in any way lead to a sustainable and democratic society?

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Another question: you say that no “alternative experience to capitalism […] has really succeeded in setting up autonomous and decentralized energy infrastructures”. What about the few societies that still live in a non-industrial, non-capitalist way (some communities in Brazil, or in the mountains of Colombia, others in Africa, Asia, Oceania)? And of all those who in history did it? (Or, by autonomous and decentralised energy infrastructures, did you mean highly technological?)

“To tell the truth, I mentioned this date put forward by Latouche because it is a part of the answers given to the question: ‘how far to decrease?’, in this case of one of the most important theoreticians of political ecology in France. I think this is a rather crude way used by Latouche to avoid the question with the idea that the decay would involve a ‘return to the stone age’. But it is obvious that the trajectory of France in the 1960s, that of frenzied economic development, hardly allows to make a model of sustainability…

When I say that no alternative experience to capitalism has really managed to set up autonomous and decentralised energy infrastructures, I am obviously talking about conscious resistance experiments carried out by collectives whose daily lives already include the use of energy produced by industrial infrastructures. So far, these collectives have not managed to reach a level of energy decrease such that they could do without it (in Chiapas, if I’m not mistaken, electricity is hacked by the Zapatista communities, and not produced by them autonomously); Let’s say that ‘energy sovereignty’ seems more difficult to achieve than ‘food sovereignty’. On the other hand, there still exist today a certain number of human groups who live without electricity (even if these groups do not have the wind in their sails …), and this has obviously been the rule for most of human history.

Finally, concerning the question of deindustrialisation, I repeat that I do not really have an answer to this question, which seems to me to raise problems of an abysmal complexity … On the one hand, we do not erase centuries of the nationalisation, commodification, and technologisation process of everyday life in one fell swoop; we are not going beyond the level of maximal heteronomy that is ours today (an almost total dependence on the commercial networks and their technological structures for the satisfaction of our needs, an unprecedented hold of the State on the organisation of our collective life, etc.) to a situation of absolute autonomy, where re-territorialised human communities could satisfy almost all their needs independently. On the other hand, one may wonder whether a totally unindustrialised society can satisfy the basic needs of nearly 10 billion human beings. If we answer this question in the negative, this poses in turn the thorny question of demographic decline, and since we are obviously not in favour of violent (elimination of hundreds or billions of human beings by famine or disease) and coercive methods, we do not see how it could happen, except at the end of a collapse that would not be pleasant either …

But perhaps it is also necessary to ask what meaning we give to the term ‘autonomy’. If by autonomy we mean the suppression of all social, technological, and political mediations, the re-appropriation by local communities of the entirety of their living conditions, and if we consider that only the creation of an autonomous society in this sense will be able to save us, so very frankly I think we can say goodbye to salvation, because it is rigorously impossible for such a society to happen on a global scale in the coming decades. Like André Gorz, I do not think that it is a question at the moment of ‘suppressing everything by which society is a system whose functioning is not entirely controllable by individuals nor reducible to their common will. It is rather a question of reducing the empire of the system and subjecting it to the service and the control of forms of self-determined social and individual activity’. The balance of power is against us, we must adopt a defensive posture and multiply the counter-powers”.

Protesters hold a banner during a demonstration against “EuropaCity”, a project of a giant commercial and leisure complex developed by Auchan retail French group, on May 21, 2017 in Gonesse, north of Paris. / AFP PHOTO / Thomas SAMSON

People have gone from a total independence from industrial civilisation to a complete dependency in a few years or decades. Of course, we do not necessarily rebuild as quickly as we demolish. But is it a problem of impossibility or improbability? That said, I agree with you, I do not think it can or should be a goal. That being so, we could consider that the environmental movement has been on the defensive for years. The Deep Green Resistance organisation believes that we should go on the offensive, by precipitating the collapse of industrial society (and recalls in passing that this collapse will in any case not be immediate, but gradual, that there is therefore no need to worry about a sudden hecatomb), especially by disrupting, blocking, or sabotaging its neuralgic infrastructure points. The balance of power is against us, but industrial society is technically quite fragile, its operation could be fundamentally disrupted by activists who would not need to be millions (a slug, alone, has paralysed many railway lines in Japan, a nifty army of nothing but a few crumbs of bread disrupted the operation of the CERN particle accelerator, etc.). The idea is not that it will happen tomorrow morning, but that it becomes the goal of a movement that will take place over the next few years, based on a culture of resistance, and therefore on the development of subsistence activities, alternative institutions. What do you think?

“You are right to point out that there is a paradoxical fragility in the technological power deployed by industrial society, because this power depends entirely on networks of infrastructures that are not resilient and that nothing can keep a hold of, like the examples in the comic and cheerful times that you quote, that of the slug and the owl. Personally, I think that we must privilege the defence of societies whose social and political organisation still remains today at least partially independent of industrial capitalism (the indigenous populations and the peasantry of the South), while stimulating and by defending systematically, in the northern countries, movements that seek to recreate autonomous spaces where they have been completely destroyed or almost (we are obviously thinking of ZAD). It is in such a context, where a concrete and new autonomy would have occurred on a significant scale, that large-scale sabotage actions (which would no longer be content simply to attack useless new large projects, but would also attack old infrastructure) could make sense. Otherwise, they would risk, as you yourself have noticed, to plunge large sections of the population into a situation of great precariousness and vulnerability.

This is a similar question that arises in relation to wage labor, which is one of the pillars of our society. In many circumstances, ecologically destructive economic activities are defended, including by people who will suffer the effects, because they create ‘jobs’, because they provide ‘work’. The problem posed by these situations is more thorny than it seems, because it reveals in essence one of the most difficult contradictions to be solved in the perspective of a radical transformation of society: how to make sure that the productive activities that allow us to survive in the short term (by providing us with means of subsistence to feed us, to heal us, to house us, etc.) are no longer activities that threaten our survival in the medium and long term by destroying the conditions of habitability of the Earth? How can we recover livelihoods that free us from the dependence on ‘work’ that is almost always devastating?”

I would like to return to a paragraph in the introduction to your book After Capitalism:

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“Although it has a long-lasting impact on many ecosystems, species and components of nature, and we are also convinced that it is necessary to give them an intrinsic value, independent of their usefulness for human beings, this crisis is not, however, a crisis of nature. At the long time scale of history, the Earth’s ability to regenerate and reinvent itself is not threatened. What is threatened is the ability of ecosystems to self-regenerate at a rate fast enough that the Earth can continue to be habitable for human beings. For even the lifespan of nuclear waste, which extends for some hundreds of thousands of years, which is obviously considerable in human history, is nothing on the scale of geological time. This crisis is a crisis of humanity or, to put it another way, of civilisation.”

On the one hand you remind us that all living things have intrinsic value – what the mainstream ecologist movement tends to forget, or ignore – but on the other hand you reduce the living to a quantitative one, with the idea that “the Earth’s ability to regenerate and reinvent itself is not endangered,” a way of saying “life will remain”, as one would say butter or money [having one’s cake and eating it too – ed] – and here you join a a fairly widespread perspective in the mainstream ecologist movement, according to which it is humanity that must be saved, a very anthropocentric perspective. Yet what is threatened is also survival, the existence of innumerable species, the specific individuals that make them, and the natural communities in which they fit (to use a less functionalist expression than the ecosystem). It is the habitability of the Earth for all the beings that currently inhabit it (not only humans). Most of the ecologist trends in which I find myself rely on biocentric or ecocentric ethics. Their value systems do not place the human being at the top of a hierarchy of the living, and they are not led to consider that the most important is to preserve and perpetuate the human species (or to “satisfy the basic needs of nearly 10 billion human beings”). You have translated authors who discuss different “environmental ethics” (like Callicott), so I would like you to explain to me your choice, your perspective.

“You are definitely an attentive reader of my book because you point there a contradiction in my reflection, which did not escape me and which is one of the failed passages of the book, where I did not really manage to say what I wanted say. Having translated Callicott, Rolston, Naess, and soon Val Plumwood, I am also close to the ecocentric ethics you mention, in whose eyes nature has intrinsic value, regardless of the interests it has for human beings, who must not be regarded as the ‘lords’ or ‘summits’ of the cosmos. On the other hand, you are absolutely right to point out that the ecological crisis is threatening the earth’s habitable conditions today not only for humans, but also for myriads of species and specimens of plants and animals. That being said, and this is a point where I do not necessarily agree with Deep Green Resistance, I do not think that the planet or living is in danger: a certain state of life is effectively threatened, its power is diminished and this diminishment creates in return, for many humans and non-humans, the extreme vulnerability that I have just mentioned. But the ecological dynamics and evolutionary trajectories of life are still there, more powerful and more resilient than we will ever be as a species. Even if the worst ecological perspectives come, life on earth will return, perhaps without us and without countless numbers of species swept away by our voracity, but it would probably not take long, at least on its temporal scale, to prosper again, in a new form.

But to deepen the question of anthropocentrism, I still think that the classic pattern of Anglo-Saxon environmental ethics deserves to be criticised, because in a way, it reproduces the modern ‘grand narrative’ of a unified humanity triumphing over nature. It simply reverses the meaning: it does not celebrate it, it deplores it. However, the dualism between man and nature, which characterises much of modern philosophy, has been accompanied, from the very beginning, by a split, within humanity itself, between individuals and groups associated with nature, or supposedly have remained close to it, and those who, on the contrary, are supposed to have emancipated themselves from it. Since nature was ontologically constituted as a lower sphere that humanity is called upon to dominate and exploit, it is logical that the domination of certain groups of human beings has systematically been legitimised on the pretext that they were more ‘close’ to nature. In other words, in the modern age nature has in many ways constituted what might be called the grammar of domination. It was the semantic referent and the ultimate source of ideological legitimation of the exploitation of ‘gendered’ and ‘racialised’ groups, either directly, like when the indigenous populations of New Spain were designated as naturals, or indirectly, when a specific group of human beings – often women – has been marginalised by being associated with one of nature’s subcategories (body, emotions, etc.).

However, if the concept of anthropocentrism can be equivocal, it is not only because it covers the split that separates, within humanity, the dominant groups ’emancipated’ from nature and the dominated groups associated with nature. Even if humanity is not fractured, divided, and hierarchised into classes, genres and races, even if humanity emancipates itself from nature in the framework of a strictly egalitarian society, the human being who ‘triumphs’ in modern anthropocentrism is a one-dimensional and atrophied human. For by instituting a relationship with the world based on domination and instrumentalisation, it also reduces the human to its technical and economic action, thereby obscuring the other potentialities of its being, be they social, poetic, or spiritual, which we can rightly regard as more fundamental, or at least of equal importance.

Consider a forest. For a walker or a pilgrim on a hot summer’s day, this one and the torrents or rivers that cross it eventually are a source of freshness and shade. For a group of children, the possibility of a huge game of hide and seek. For a botanist or an ecologist not subservient to a quantitative vision of nature, a place of a meticulous study of life and its abundance. For an American hermit in the 19th century or a Chinese poet in the Tang Dynasty, a place for recollection and a silent concentration of the spirit. For a gatherer of mushrooms or wild plants, a complex carnal space where their multiple quests make up so many traces and itineraries that they like to repeat from year to year. For a revolutionary or formerly a slave, the possibility of guerrilla or quilombo. For a certain type of Christian or Muslim, the theophanic manifestation of God. Finally, for a shaman, whether he lives in Siberia or the Amazon, a universe populated by minds sometimes benevolent and sometimes malicious. But for a certain type of human being, the forest is nothing more than a quantity of wood or carbon whose stocks and profitability must be calculated to the exclusion of all other considerations and any other use. . Erected as a norm, this purely instrumental relationship is, moreover, presented as the engine of a civilisational dynamic as virtuous as necessary, and towards which no deviation is allowed. It is in this sense that it is imprecise, or at least insufficient to speak of anthropocentrism to characterise the modern attitude towards nature.

The point of reduction of nature to its instrumental value without a reduction of the human being to their instrumental action. It is that domination, even though it claims to separate and hierarchise, that nonetheless remains a relationship affecting the two terms it implies: ‘dualism is a process in which power determines identity and distorts the identity of the two parts of the entity that it separates,’ writes Val Plumwood. To summarise all of this in a simple way, I think I would have liked to say in the book that well-understood ecocentrism takes into account the human and their interests, because the human is a living thing among other living things. And conversely, a well-understood anthropocentrism could ultimately only lead to ecocentrism, because humans can only survive and flourish if they respect the community of the living that they are a part of and without which they are nothing.”

Very interesting. I agree with you about anthropocentrism. That said, when Deep Green Revolution speaks about “saving the planet,” it is most often an abuse of language to speak about living species, the individuals that compose them, and the natural communities they form – even if some talk about a Venus scenario, as unlikely as it may be, that could threaten the continuation of life on Earth, and even if we do not know much about the potential consequences of the growing nuclearisation of the world, and future experiments of mad scientists that industrial civilisation could undertake in the future. And then, should the fact that it is only a certain state of life that is threatened and not the very existence of life change something?

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Levi-Strauss believed that “a well-ordered humanism does not begin with oneself, but places the world before life, life before man, respect for other beings before amour-propre”, and that “man, beginning to respect all forms of life outside his own, would be protected from the risk of not respecting all forms of life within humanity itself”. It seems to me that this fits the perspective of Deep Green Revolution. DGR therefore believes that the main objective is to put an end to the destruction of these species, individuals, and natural communities by industrial civilisation, which, moreover, is a hell for a good part of its own members. You formulate brief glimpses in your answers, but I still would like to ask you the question so that you can develop: what, in your opinion, should be the main objective of the environmental movement?

“Destroy the entire global car fleet to start with (not to mention motorcycles). No, kidding aside (although the disappearance of cars must obviously be an important goal!), and staying at a fairly abstract and general level, I think that the environmental movement must set itself the goal of creating a society that stops destroying the biosphere as we know it today, to annihilate the conditions of habitability of the Earth. For this, it is obviously essential to resist the growing aggressiveness of capitalism and States on territories, extractivist practices, and unnecessary big projects (almost all of them). At the same time, as we have already pointed out, we must multiply the construction of autonomous spaces, freed from state and commercial tyranny. This is a somewhat vague answer, but I do not really pretend to be a theoretician ‘strategist’ of political ecology and to define precisely what its objectives should be.

But I also believe that it is essential that the environmental movement deepen its links with other movements fighting against forms of domination – feminism, anti-racism, animalism, etc. For not only is human history the history of relations of domination, but the domination of humans over the nature and the domination of certain human groups by others is deeply connected; they make a system, like Murray Bookchin, eco-feminism, and primitivism point out in their own way. This system of domination legitimises, to varying degrees, the violent appropriation of the object-bodies of all beings belonging to one of the dominated categories, whether to exploit them, to enjoy them or, in certain circumstances, to destroy and eliminate them. The appropriation of the bodies of exploited, prostituted, raped or murdered women, both in the domestic sphere and in the public sphere. The appropriation of the body of workers exploited in factories or plantations. The appropriation of the body of animals raised in factory farms before being taken to the slaughterhouse. And when certain populations inhabit territories coveted for their wealth (mining, agriculture, tourism, etc.), the appropriation/expropriation of human bodies is coupled with the appropriation of the body-territories and their animal populations. It is unthinkable to create a more horizontal link with the living world other than human if we do not succeed in undermining the hierarchies that structure our societies, and vice versa.”

What do you think of collapsology?

“I do not think much about it to say the least. I liked the first book of Servigne and Stevens, How everything can collapse. I found that it offered a stimulating and clear synthesis and panorama of the many dysfunctions and disasters that lie in wait for our society. On the other hand, I did not read the last one which was very controversial, and obviously rightly … In my book I try to question myself about the political effects of the collapse. Any historical prognosis is obviously risky, but at the political level, I think that this generalised systemic collapse could in turn give rise to two major scenarios: 1) The economic collapse does not provoke a political collapse, but on the contrary the State, which adopts an eco-totalitarian management of resources and populations; 2) the State collapses at the same time as the economy, it loses all capacity to supervise society and to ensure the safety of its citizens. This second scenario can itself be subdivided into two distinct scenarios: 1) The collapse of the state is to the benefit of mafia or terrorist type parastatal armed forces, which impose their monopoly on the management of resources and populations by arbitrariness and violence; 2) Or, on the contrary, the populations left to themselves self-organise and create somehow new social institutions on the ruins of the old world: it is the convivial way in its post-catastrophic version.

Note that these different scenarios are by no means exclusive. In some countries, the state can maintain itself while it crumbles or collapses in others; similarly, within the same territory where the state tends to retreat, mafia management and self-organisation of populations can coexist and compete with each other. As of today, the situation of some countries can help us to better visualise these future scenarios, even if it is not necessarily due to ecological causes and continues to be part of a more traditional political crises. Thus, in Mexico, state sovereignty is challenged on two levels; on the one hand by the powerful drug cartels that de facto control a growing number of territories and resources, and on the other hand by social movements like the EZLN or the self-defence citizen militias who decided to take control of their destiny by fighting, with arms in their hands, against the exactions of organised crime or the armed arms of the state (which are in reality often accomplices).

This obviously confronts us with the question of violence. I’m not pleased to say that and I’m not frankly open to violence, but I cannot really see how it would be possible to get out of this society without going through violence, as the Deep Green Movement also says. And this will not necessarily be a choice, but a mere condition of survival. At the rate things are going, the ‘resilient’ people will not only be those who will have a house in the countryside and a vegetable plot at the bottom of the garden, but also those who will have weapons and know how to use them. When one sees the current condition of the State’s wretchedness in France and in many countries, when one sees that even non-violent actions (one thinks of the strong images of the Extinction Rebellion mobilisation in Paris, gassed and clubbed by hordes of uniformed criminals) are increasingly repressed and criminalised, and this while the living conditions on Earth deteriorate, and thus the hardening of relations of domination that surround access to resources and wealth, is still far from having reached its acme, there is something to be worried about. Let’s say that the radicalisation of the State and capitalism everywhere calls for our own radicalisation, it leaves little choice…”

You are currently preparing a book on primitivism, could you quickly tell us about it?

“Yes, of course, I can say a few words briefly. I just finished writing a little book on primitivism. I myself am clearly not primitivist, and it is not the writing of this book that will have made me change my mind as it is clear, especially when reading Alain Testart’s masterpieces, that the hunter-gatherer societies are and were traversed by reports of extremely hard domination. Nevertheless, even if it brings false and often very ideological answers, primitivism raises fascinating questions and sometimes has very stimulating intuitions. To be interested in it is to question how historically social hierarchies and the domination of the living have interpenetrated and fertilised each other. It is therefore ultimately questioning the theoretical foundations of political ecology.”


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