Ecosocialism travel notes
August 12-October 15, 8 AC – (After World Economic Crisis)
Excerpt from the last chapter entitled “Scenarios for a World, from the book” Le Macroscope “by Joel de Rosnay, Editions du Seuil, 1975
– Ecosocialism, ecosociety, eco-citizen, ecohealth, eco-friendly … This is not a new “ecocult”! … The prefix “eco” here symbolizes the close relationship between the economy and ecology; and focuses on the relationships between men and what they call their “home,” the ecosphere.
– At the first “electronic” referendum held on individual terminals, the eco-citizens preferred to any national anthem a quotation from Dennis Meadows (American academic who, in 1971, had drawn attention to the need for limits of growth).
“After two centuries of growth, we are left with natural and social sciences fraught with bias and blind spots. There is no current economic theory of a technology-based society in which interest rates are reduced to zero, where productive capital does not tend to accumulate, and the main concern is equality, rather than growth. There is no sociology of balance that addresses the social problems of a stabilized population, where men and women of a certain age are in the majority. There is no political science of balance capable of enlightening us on the means of practicing democratic choice, in a society where material gain in the short term would cease to be the criterion of political success. There is no technology of equilibrium that gives absolute priority to the recycling of matter in all its forms, to the use of solar energy that is not polluting, to my minimization of the flows of matter than energy. There is no psychology of the state of stability that allows man to find a new image of himself and other motivations, in a system where the material production is constant and balanced according to the resources limited of the earth.
This, then, would be the great challenge for each of our traditional disciplines: to develop the project of a society which finds its material springs and its attraction in a state of equilibrium. The task would be fraught with technical and conceptual difficulties: the solutions would be all the more satisfying to the mind, and of immense benefit to society “.
– The advent of the eco-society took place in three main stages, each based on a type of economy corresponding to a given environment: the economy of survival (primitive society), the growth economy (industrial society) , and the economy of balance (post-industrial society or eco-society).
The equilibrium economy (or stationary economy) that currently characterizes the ecosociety does not imply, as some thought towards the end of the 1970s, a “zero growth”. The limitation of the choice between “growth at any price” and “stopping growth” was probably due to the preponderant use of an exclusion logic peculiar to the time and which eliminated any nuance or complementarity. We realized that the real question was not “to grow or not to grow?” But rather, “how to reorient the economy so as to better serve, at the same time, human needs, the maintenance of evolution of the social system and the pursuit of genuine cooperation with nature. ”
– The equilibrium economy that characterizes the eco-society is therefore a “regulated” economy, in the cybernetic sense of the term. Some sectors may go through growth phases; others are maintained at dynamic equilibrium; and still others at a rate of
“negative” growth. But the “balance” of the economy results from the harmony of the whole. As for life, this stationary state is a controlled imbalance.
A model of society proposed in the course of the 70s, was close to the eco-company: the friendly society of Ivan Illich. But this model moves away from it as soon as we consider certain aspects that I will describe in a moment. We must first remember, according to Ivan Illich, what the two fundamental notions of conviviality and radical monopoly mean.
“I call conviviality a society where the modern tool is at the service of the person integrated in the community and not in the service of a body of specialists. Convivial is the society where the man controls the tool. ”
“The man who finds his joy and balance in the use of the user-friendly tool, I call it” austere “… Austerity does not have the virtue of isolation or closure on oneself. For Aristotle, as for Saint Thomas Aquinas, she is what founds friendship. ”
“A radical monopoly is established when people give up their innate ability to do what they can for themselves and for others, in exchange for something” better “than just a dominant tool for them. domination of the tool ensures the mandatory consumption and therefore restricts the autonomy of the person. This is a special type of social control reinforced by the compulsory consumption of mass production that only large industries can provide. ”
But Illich seems to have underestimated in his model some techniques whose development was not slowed down by crises or regime changes: the explosion of telecommunications, the miniaturization and decentralization of computers, and control by the Internet. man of certain natural processes, particularly in biology and ecology. Telecommunications and micro-computing have thus enabled the creation of decentralized “distributed intelligence” networks, controlled by the users themselves. These advances have been made possible by a closer association between the human brain and the computer; this association, based on the recognition of voice, writing or forms, and on an oral dialogue has gradually turned the computer into a true intellectual assistant.
– The mastery and imitation of certain natural processes have occurred at the industrial level through the use of micro-organisms and enzymes in the production of foods, drugs or chemicals useful to society. And, at the ecological level, through the control and regulation of natural cycles, with the aim of increasing agricultural yields or more effectively eliminating waste from the social metabolism. These bioengineering and eco-engineering techniques have paved the way for new, less polluting industrial processes that consume less energy and are easier to control and decentralize than the old mass production processes.
Lenin said: “Communism is the Soviets, plus electricity. ” Well, ecosociety is conviviality plus telecommunications!
Because the great economic crises and the technological breakthroughs have transformed the classical industrial society, as a result of a double movement: a decentralization (or differentiation) leading to the control and the control of the modern tools; and a refocus (or integration) resulting mainly from advances in telecommunications and micro-computing.
This double movement has made it possible to increase the effectiveness of grassroots community management (and thus the gradual disappearance of certain “radical monopolies”) and to increase the participation of everyone at every level of the life of the social system.
Decentralization is based on individual responsibilities. While the participation allows a regulation, (since the decentralized level until that of the big macroscopic regulations), of the metabolism of the society. This rebalancing of powers has of course been accompanied by profound changes in political, economic and social structures.
– Unlike conventional “top-down” conventional industrial societies, the eco-society was built from the bottom up. From the person and his sphere of responsibilities; by setting up communities of users, ensuring the decentralized management of the main organs of the life of society. In particular the means of transformation of energy; education systems, electronic means of communication, participation and information processing; and, in certain industrial sectors, means of production.
The eco-society recognizes the coexistence of private ownership of the means of production and ownership by the state. As an extension of the liberal regime, it favors the innovative gift and adaptability of free enterprise and free competition. But it subjects companies to strict control of consumer and user communities. Grassroots communities collaborate with country policy makers in participatory planning, allowing them to choose major goals and set key milestones.
– The “social feedback” exercised at all hierarchical levels of society, allows the control and the implementation of this planning, as well as the adaptation to new conditions of evolution.
The main regulations mainly concern the regulation of energy consumption; regulation of the investment rate; regulating the rate of growth of the population; and the regulation of the main cycles corresponding to the supply, production, consumption and recycling functions.
Energy consumption is maintained at the level it was in the early 80s. It is not monastic austerity, energy is better distributed, better saved, more efficiently used
– New investments are mainly used to balance the obsolescence of machinery and buildings, or to open up new sectors corresponding to social needs.
– The birth rate and maintained at the rate of renewal of the population; which is maintained in the stationary state.
– The supply, production, consumption and recycling circuits have been completely reorganized. The creation of recovery channels and decentralized sorting systems has made it possible to reconnect the cycles corresponding to the metabolism of the social organism with the natural cycles of the ecosystem.
– The eco-society is decentralized, community-based, participative. Responsibility and individual initiative really exist. The ecosociety is based on the pluralism of ideas, styles and ways of life. Consequence: equality and social justice are progressing. But also, upheaval habits, ways of thinking and manners. Men have invented a different life in a society in equilibrium. They found that maintaining a state of equilibrium was more delicate than maintaining a state of continuous growth.
Thanks to a new vision, to a new logic of complementarity, to new values, the men of the eco-society have invented an economic doctrine, a political science, a sociology, a technology and a psychology of the state of equilibrium. control. That’s what Dennis Meadows was asking for.
– This other way of life is reflected in all activities of society: and especially in the organization of cities, work, human relationships, culture, customs and morals. (Importance of total integration of telecommunications in everyday life.)
The cities of the eco-society have been deeply reorganized. The oldest neighborhoods are returned to men, rid of the car, the air has become breathable and silence is respected. The pedestrian routes are numerous. In the streets, in the parks, people take their time.
– New cities are bursting into multiple communities made up of interconnected villages. It is a “rural” society, integrated by an extraordinarily developed communication network. This network avoids unnecessary travel. Many people work at home.
– In companies, many employees are no longer subject to strict working hours. The extension of the methods of organization of working time has led to a real “liberation of time”. The bursting of individual times and the resulting desynchronization of activities are balanced by the recognition of a “collective time” which allows a better division of tasks; at the corporate and social level. The arrangement of time also relates to other periods of life; holidays, education, vocational training, career, retirement.
– The eco-society catalyses the spurt of service activities. It is the almost total dematerialization of the economy. Much of the social activity is based on mutual services, the exchange of services. The mixing of men and ideas is facilitated by consumer networks; intellectual effort by decentralized computing.
– The industrial societies, formerly, had not been able to support the exorbitant increase of the costs of the education and the health and the quality of these services had deteriorated. The eco-society is distributed from the nodes of the human network. Mutual education and mutual medical assistance are carried out on a large scale. But, while the control of the megamachine secreted by the industrial societies, demanded an over-education, the teaching of the eco-society is considerably reduced. It is at once global, more practical and more integrated with life. On the other hand, we consume fewer drugs, we use less doctors or we only go to the hospital in extreme cases. Life is healthier. Methods of preventing more effective diseases;
– Oil and energy are still widely used in the ecosociety, but the stabilization of energy consumption to a level allowing a fair distribution of resources, has led to profound changes. Programs to start up new nuclear power plants have been abandoned. Decentralization of energy transformation means has led to the exploitation of new sources. But it is still the energy savings and the widespread fight against waste that have helped to stabilize energy consumption. We have learned to use the clean energy of social systems; energy that was once liberated only in times of crisis, revolution or war.
– The motivation that led to the action was once based on the interest, (money, honors), the constraint (regulation, fear of the fine); or, sometimes on the understanding of the usefulness of his gesture and the sense of social responsibility. The “transparency” of the eco-society, better information, and more effective participation have gradually led to the latter two motivations, without which there is no real social cohesion.
– In industry and agriculture, energy-using processes have been replaced by milder technologies and natural processes. In some processing industries, such as petrochemicals, many activities that are too expensive in energy have been abandoned. The recycling of calories and raw materials is obviously practiced on a very large scale. Manufactured products are more robust, easier to repair. This revitalizes all kinds of maintenance and repair activities. The craft is reborn vigorously. The objects are destandardized, personalized.
– The bio-technological revolution has radically changed the methods of agriculture and the food industry. New bacterial species have become major allies of man in production and recycling activities. Artificial enzymes make it possible to manufacture fertilizers and foods. But there are restrictions because of the wasteful waste of industrial society.
– Eco-society is also the explosion of quality and sensitivity. Exploration and conquest of the interior space. Less concerned with growth, producing and consuming less, people found time to take care of themselves and others. Human relationships are rich, less competitive. We respect the choices and freedoms of others. Everyone is free to pursue the pursuit of pleasure in all its forms: sexual, aesthetic, intellectual, sports … Individual creation and personal accomplishment often come back in conversations. We admire the unique and irreplaceable nature of an artistic work, a scientific discovery or a sporting feat.
– Scientific progress is marked by the tremendous growth of biology. But, in a more acute way than ever before, are the problems of the relations between science and politics, science and religion, science and morality. A “bio-ethics” reinforces the new ethics of the eco-society. It is based on respect for the human person; guides and guides choices. For the men of the eco-society have formidable powers: hormonal and electronic manipulations of the brain, genetic manipulation, gene synthesis, chemical action on the embryo, implantation of embryo in vitro, choice of the sexes, or action on the processes of aging.
– Relationships between men and death have evolved. Death is accepted, reintegrated into life. Older people participate in social life; they are the object of respect and consideration.
– A religious feeling (an emerging religion, and not only revealed) irrigates all activities and ecosociety. It underlies and values the action. It gives hope that something can be saved. Because there is in each one a unique power of creation; and because the issue is in the collective creation.
That’s one of many scenarios. In a world among others. It contains a lot of dreams? I agree with that. But it is important to dream. And why should not one take one’s dreams for realities? Just the time to build a world.