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(en) France, UCL AL #317 - Ecology, Essay: radical observation, but still unclear solutions (ca, de, it, fr, pt)[machine translation]

Date Sat, 3 Jul 2021 10:18:25 +0300

From book to book, Hervé Kempf, founder of the Reporterre website, radicalizes his anti-capitalist discourse, and strongly underlines the threat that this system poses to the existence of humanity. And yet, reading his latest opus, we are more than once unsatisfied. ---- Hervé Kempf is no stranger to readers of Alternative Libertaire . Founder of Reporterre , an online daily committed to ecology that is meeting a growing audience, he is also the author of research works in this field and of essays that have helped to articulate more ecology and criticism of capitalism. . How the Rich Are Destroying the Planet and To Save the Planet, Get Out of Capitalism , available at Seuil in the Points Terre collection, were already working in this direction.

Let capitalism die. It will be him or us released last fall highlights this bias to break with capitalism even more clearly to the point of making it a central strategic issue and a major challenge for consistent environmentalists. He believes that the alternative arises between the collapse of capitalism and the collapse of the biosphere which will make life on earth more and more unbearable. Capitalism is not reformable and certainly not soluble in ecology as it is true that it needs to grow indefinitely to survive at the cost of the destruction of the planet.

An invitation to debate
The acceleration of the process of destruction of biodiversity and the increase of the greenhouse effect, without even emphasizing the risk of the development of other types of pandemics, leaves little time for decisive action at the international level. and macroeconomic in the face of the risk of uncontrollable warming.

Hervé Kempf believes that ecology is the Achilles heel of capitalism and that is how it has become a central issue. Worse, he sees capitalism caught in a quagmire of contradictions posed by the ecological stake, the indebtedness and the explosion of the inequalities which devour every day more the middle classes in addition to the popular classes.

He does not claim to be proposing the strategy that will make it possible to defeat capitalism, but gives us the state of his thoughts and wants to contribute to the debate. To do this, he explores several avenues. Thus he welcomes the convergences between environmental movement and social movements evoking key moments such as the movement of yellow vests and the collective Justice for Adama or the fight against the airport of Notre-Dame-des-Landes. He was seduced by the strategy of liberated spaces dear to a large part of the autonomous and libertarian movement and which permeates the work of the writer Alain Damasio.

However, to perceive anarchism only through the prism of the autonomous communities and a movement focused solely on the transformation of lifestyles is to see only part of its reality and to obscure its contribution to social and trade union struggles in businesses, neighborhoods and rural areas. Trade unionism, in its combative dimension, despite its weakening and its limits, remains the force which manages to put the most people in the street. In this, there is a collective force that it is difficult to ignore when we speak of a break with capitalism.

Capitalism is not reformable and certainly not soluble in ecology as it is true that it needs to grow indefinitely to survive at the cost of the destruction of the planet.
cc Pixabay / Pexels.com
This somewhat narrowed spectrum contributes to fuel the doubt that the convergence of struggles and the dynamics carried by the autonomous and libertarian movements are sufficient to reach the critical mass making it possible to overthrow the capitalist dictatorship. This is why his research is oriented more towards the construction of a social and political block associating social movements, anarchism, political ecology, institutional left, and enlightened technocrats no longer found in neoliberalism and police capitalism embodied by the right. and the far right. This alliance could embody a hope and a project of emancipation in which the popular classes and a large part of the middle classes, increasingly sacrificed by digital capitalism, would gain.

Points of agreement and differences
He evokes the means of action which seem to him the most appropriate to push for disruption, such as direct action and the sabotage of large useless, harmful and imposed industrial projects, conceived as a means of slowing them down. His question is also about the state and the least we can say is that it is contradictory. Thus he believes that "the state remains inescapable, if only to manage the disasters to come" while rejecting a takeover of the Leninist type.

There is in him the idea that the political and social alliance to which he aspires, would make it possible to build a social and ecological state by transforming this same state and by empowering it from capital. However, the recourse to taxation that he advocates is not trivial. It is more a means of correcting inequalities than of abolishing them, unlike a socialization by the base of society assumed by producers, in other words self-management.

We will gladly follow him when he talks about relocation, autonomy (we are talking about productive autonomy), the development of collective services or the management of common goods. There is still a crucial question to be answered in all these areas: who decides?

We would like Hervé Kempf to go to the end of his reasoning and his logic because he does not say much about the political organization of such a society. The state and the representative system have the effect of dispossessing the population of its power and resting on politically passive behavior. Also this question is unavoidable.

Of course, capitalism is in a quagmire in which it intends to sink us. But representative democracy, understood as the right to select its leaders to govern as they please, has less and less the wind in its sails. And the construction of an alternative cannot do without a reflection on this question which occupied a central place in the movement of the yellow vests.

At the end of this test, one is crossed by mixed feelings. First of all, we feel a certain satisfaction to see an author who gives himself the means to contribute to the debate of ideas, to articulate ecological and anti-capitalist awareness and to take into account the contribution of libertarian currents in his reflection, which is far from d 'be the case with most progressive intellectuals.

Points of agreement are important. As for the differences - they are real - but rather than seeking to freeze them, they must constitute more of an invitation to debate them in order to appreciate those which are surmountable and those which cannot be so do not prevent struggles from being built, alternative experiences, collective tools, alliance strategies and a balance of power capable of breaking with ever more deadly capitalism.

Laurent Esquerre (UCL Aveyron)

Hervé Kempf, Let capitalism die. It will be him or us , Seuil, 2020, 128 pages, 14.5 euros.

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