If someone had solemnly said to me at some point in my life: “in ten years time we will look back and realize that humanity is at a turning point at this very moment, and that its survival depends on the great decisions that must be taken now in a hurry”, I would have asked my interlocutor a question in return, I would have said to him: “Why this moment rather than any other: the human race has gone through many trials”. I might even have added, a bit sarcastically: “Perhaps you know something that the rest of the world doesn’t? Is an asteroid heading straight for us? “».
The great challenges of our time, San Patrignano 2015
An English translation by Bernard Bouvet of my « QUOI QU’ON FASSE, CE SERA LA MÊME CHOSE ! » of March 11.
77% of you, my dear blog readers, not all of you, but a “comfortable majority” of you, happens to be French. Your country is now in full “election showbiz” mode, and the mainstream media, in the press, on the radio, on television, are full of it, news on why the moment is “crucial” and “how to vote”, are front and centre.
Still, you are perfectly conscious of the fact that whatever which way you vote, either for one of the two candidates facing each other in the second round, or someone else, as a protest vote favouring either the extreme-left or the extreme-right, or a blank vote, or even if you don’t bother voting, all that is of no importance since the result will be the same: either actively or passively, you will elect or help elect a candidate who will either immediately set out to carry out the program of any such “troika” (EU, IMF, ECB) forgetful of the meaning of “democracy” – if it ever understood it – or a candidate who will, after a perfunctory six month delay, carry out the exact same program, in “former president Miterrand’s fashion”, following a “valiant” last stand.
No doubt, that last stand will turn out to be “valiant”, but again, a fat lot of good it’ll do you.
One can sense the weariness, the discouragement pervading your comments on this blog since the election campaign started.
Throughout history, particularly in the 19th century, that kind of hopelessness had led to several social change attempts from within the system. For instance, it gave birth to an array of communal groups, rendered vulnerable from the very start, to some extent, by an exaggeratedly idyllic view of human nature, but mostly due to the hostility of an outside world, a world which had stood unchanged. How many a grandiose project of a cooperative, of a social workshop, of abolishing money, of an alternative currency, did not succumb to the assaults of those from the outside who had retained their, let’s call it… “business sense”? Virtue, as Saint-Just realised far too late, can only be exercised within a protective institutional framework, otherwise, it is purely and simply trampled under foot.
What to do? Those unanswered questions require resolving, if the goal for a preferred tomorrow is to achieve a decent, livable world. A world where, in retrospect and in contrast, we will realise what a nightmare the previous world had been that we contended ourselves with.
Indeed, those 19th-century associationists, collectivists, socialists, communists, anarchists, even enlightened liberals such as Saint-Simon and Auguste Comte, posed those unanswered questions, but still, they remained unresolved. The 20th century, for its part, has had its share of false solutions ending in atrocities.
In France, the Revolution of 1848 gave birth to numerous projects founded on generosity but soon failing, due to the instigators’ lack of a proper analysis of principles. Proudhon laments the “premature birth” of the Revolution. But aren’t all revolutions always, and by definition, born prematurely, otherwise they wouldn’t even have been considered as necessary. The excuse has been abused throughout human history, of having been caught unprepared in the face of an “unpredictable” collapse, even if predicted with some accuracy by a few.
Last Sunday, I launched a five-part series called: “The Remaining Unresolved Questions”. I have only been back home last night, following a series of speeches in Belgium and Holland, with no time yet to read your contributions to the debate, but I am readying myself to do so.
Anyway, those “Remaining Unresolved Questions” are already well-known. What I am expecting of you, is for a few (the rest of the troops fill follow suit in no time) to initiate an undertaking of resolving those questions. A precise list will take shape along the way, but in the meantime a few questions can be clearly formulated: “How do we smash the wealth-concentrating machinery?”. “How do we terminate speculation?“. “How should newly created wealth be redistributed?”. “How do we re-invent an economic system neither based on private property, nor on “growth”, both recognised as life destroying on our planet?”. “How do we eliminate work, without reducing to misery those who lived from it?”. Etc. Etc.
Time has come to define in new terms this insane world that – because of weariness and because of discouragement – we have contented ourselves with until now.
So, have a nice day, get set, ready, go! Use your pens, emails, phone calls, your arms, your legs… whatever works!
I’m blessed with a very popular blog in French. One of the questions that came up lately in my dialogue with commentators is that of the reversibility of major ecological disasters induced by human activity and of the feasibility of reversing such disasters with the tools pertaining to our current technology.
This is a serious question, a very serious one, and I intend to use the popularity of my (French) blog to push the issue a far as needs be. I’ve chosen one example – so that we don’t get locked in trivial generalities – that of a possible interruption of the Gulf Stream due to human activity. The consensus is that such an interruption – which I understand already occurred for ten days in 2004 – would make the temperature in Western Europe drop permanently by 5 to 10 degrees Celsius, that is, 10 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Is the interruption a possibility – even remote – and should the event occur, what are our realistic chances of reversing it?
According to the response I get to my query, I would consider launching an appropriate form of action around it. I will not be waiting – passively – to get your response only: I will try to reach out to the people I understand are the true experts on this issue and will refer back to you what I’m hearing.
Also – in an attempt to make it a full-fledged effort – I will communicate in each of my two blogs any progress made on the other.