Ecosocialism and/or Degrowth? | Climate & Capitalism
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Should the ecological left aim to reduce all consumption, or to radically transform the prevalent type of consumption?
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OK this line of reasoning is really interesting. I agree it’s important to deconstruct the “primitivism”/“progress” binary (see our previous comment threads :D), though i strongly disagree with the “universalist” narrative here and with some interpretations of french politics (the introduction).

Universalism has many interpretations, but is usually inherited from a certain monotheist understanding of the world where one God has given the precise moral guidelines for all humans to live by. More recently, it has been advertised as a feature of “human rights” since the french revolution (1789). But as you probably know, the french revolution became a bloody dictatorship (la terreur, that’s when the guillotine comes in) and the popular claim of “abolishing privileges” turned into a distant dream.

Later was the empire. Then the republic again. I’m no history expert, but i believe the colonial enterprise went full ahead under both regimes. Under the republic however, colonization was achieved with the argument of “civilizing uneducated populations”. Under the third republic notably, the public school was introduced as a means to impose french language throughout the colonial empire and destroy local cultures: even speaking your own language would get you severely beaten by the teacher. Yes, also for “regional” languages from metropolitan France (breton, occitan, etc). More than a dozen of them are now extinct thanks to the french public school system.

So establishing fixed living/moral standards that must be applied in blood everywhere is one interpretation of universalism. It’s the one that stands to this day for the french government. Revolutionary universalism, on the other hand, is a form of universal solidarity against oppression (i'm not here to help you but to fight with you because my freedom is bound with yours, and none is free until all are free), or as it used to be called (and we’re now starting to call again) the abolition of privileges.

However good our intentions, universalism as it is commonly understood is a tool of colonization. It is in practice the imposition of western moral/religious standards, if and when those standards are respected at all. As an anarchist, i believe holding universal truths is too great a power for anyone to hold, because the avenue for abuse is large and filled with blood already. Incorporating antiracist/decolonial analysis into a ecological perspective (which concern the survival of our entire species) should not be an afterthought.

His critique of ecosocialist development proposals for countries of the Global South — more clean water, schools and hospitals — as “ethnocentric,” “Westernizing” and “destructive of local ways of life,” is quite unbearable.

This is about Serge Latouche. Never read about this person before, but he seems to be making interesting points. Whether you agree with him or not, there is something very wrong with the non-profit industrial complex and the way neocolonial humanitarianism is not always so bright. Real problems include:

  • people increasingly relying on a piece of tech that some years later they have no skills/resources to repair (eg with water pumps setup by NGOs)
  • “humanitarian operation” being a kind of acceptability bargain to better develop/control an area
  • a long tradition of white people coming over (whatever their intentions) and ruining everything, while nobody had asked anything in the first place
  • progressive humanitarian operations as a front for commercial activities, for example Monsanto and others offering free products (seeds and biocides), which considerably damage the land over time (and takes time/money to get away from once you’re in that system)

So this is really also about white/western ego that some folks around here like to improve their self-perception by giving away to “charities”, but the reality is far more nuanced and there have been serious anticolonial critiques of western humanitarianism over the years. In fact, historic colonization was often achieved with a progressive narrative (free women, build railroads…), and failing to understand that condemns us to repeat the same mistakes.

Nearer to the Left is the universalist current, represented in France by the journal La Décroissance (Degrowth)

So these folks are kind of left, but really there’s a bunch of horrible stuff published in their pages, and they’re really close to the far-rights (especially when it comes to opposing feminism and “the gay lobby”).

it will be the task of democratic planning, in an ecosocialist perspective, liberated from the imperatives of capital and profit-making, to solve them

I agree theoretically. However, in practice manufacturing complex goods like a computer is a logistical nightmare, that some comrades have argued would be impossible without coercion. I’d love to prove them wrong, but i’m tempted to agree with them when i look at the facts.

Move quietly and plant things :)

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