Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation

Omnipotence, growth and liberation processes

Comune Info 09.10.2022 Paolo Cacciari Translated by: Jpic-jp.org

Environmental devastation, global warming and wars show more and more clearly how the destructive agent of life on the planet is us, starting with those who fuel economic competition. The solution, some say, is technology. Not sure, so, what to do? The first step is to increase awareness of the abyss into which we have fallen. To have the strength to react, one must also feel the suffering of the world within oneself. "To activate ourselves, we should involve the spiritual dimension of being," writes Paolo Cacciari in his book 'King Midas' (La Vela, 2022), from which we publish a few excerpts. A serious reflection that, too bad, strays into stereotypes accusing a single target. It is interesting to read the whole article and the comments at the bottom of it.

The species jumping of viruses and bacteria (spillover), zoonoses combined with diseases caused by pollutions, bad nutrition and incorrect medical practices (iatrogenesis) cause a 'syndemic', a synergic interrelation between several diseases and bad living conditions. According to the evolutionary epidemiologist Rob Wallace (The Origins of Industrial Agricultural Pathogens), the destruction of habitats by agroindustry creates the conditions for the development of new pathogens and their passage from the animal to the human world at the speed of the circulation of goods through the networks of global trade, following the pathways of urbanisation, transforming megacities into epicentres of contagion, impacting public health systems destroyed by decades of neo-liberal policies.

We are an invasive species, by what we are and, above all, by what we eat. "Humans make up 36% of the all-mammals’ weight, while farmed animals make up 60%. Practically one third of mammals (us) live by eating the other two thirds. Wildlife, from Asiatic tigers to Carpathian bears, from sperm whales to kangaroos, makes up just 4% of the biomass' (Telmo Pievani: Il peso delle cose, La Lettura, n. 483, 2021).

In other words, animal biomass has reached alarming quantities and concentrations. We raise for food: 22.7 billion chickens, 1.47 billion cattle, 1.17 billion sheep, 1 billion goats, 981 million pigs, 1.2 million ducks. This is to say just one of the factors contributing to global warming, loss of biodiversity, and deforestation. Then there are the thermoelectric power plants, internal combustion engines, plastics and toxic synthetic products derived from oil, uninsulated buildings, and an enormity of everyday objects that cover the surface of the earth and the depths of the oceans like a poisonous crust.

Further confirmation of the overuse of natural resources emerges from the unprecedented growth of material flows used by the economic system, as documented by Nature (Volume 588, 2020). It is estimated that by the year 2020 the 'anthropogenic mass' consisting of the stocks of solid materials incorporated and accumulated in objects produced by human beings (buildings, roads, machinery, consumer goods, and so on) has now exceeded in 'dry weight' (excluding water) the volume of the total global living animal and plant biomass.

Having silenced the last climate change deniers, the 'in-activists' have appeared, as Michael Mann, a US climatologist engaged in countering the red herring in the 'war' on warming climate, apostrophises them. I would call them shit-doubters looking for any excuse they can think of to procrastinate the action needed to get out of the fossil fuel era. Scores of brakemen embedded in delegations succeed in emptying the final COP agreements of any binding commitment for states. In this category are the 'realist and pragmatist' politicians who fear economic repercussions and social uprisings in the event that the 'ecological transition' proceeds too quickly and the most energy-intensive factories close their doors, bringing unemployment and misery. The revolt of the yellow waistcoats in France - triggered by an increase in fuel excise duties - has been repeatedly evoked as a spectre hovering over the good intentions of environmentalism. But even here, the instrumental intent to turn the popular classes against environmental policies is too blatant.

It is clear that carbon taxes and other measures needed to achieve an energy conversion to alternative renewable sources should be worthwhile not only for nature conservation, but also for citizens' pockets. If this is not the case, it is only because of government policies that continue to incentivise fossil fuels and penalise renewables. In addition to this, it is necessary to imagine, as the Democrats in the United States have done with the Protecting the Right to Organise law, a guarantee for workers who risk losing their jobs due to the decarbonisation of industry.

Finally, there is another category of enemies of the ecological transition, the advocates of the leap of the quail, technological by the way. According to them, the solution to every environmental problem would depend on technological innovation so that all our needs and desires, present and future, would be satisfied with less energy, fewer raw materials, less pollution, less land consumption and less time spent on necessary work. A new industrial revolution (the fourth or fifth) made possible by a combination of automation, artificial intelligence, robotics, telecommunications, bio-informatics, nanotechnology, geo-engineering, reconfiguration of matter at the atomic level, genetic modification. And so on by leaps and bounds towards a dystopian world. All without questioning the dominant economic and social relations, behaviours and ordinary lifestyles.

In one way or another, the 'ecological transition' has become the main field of action of economic policies worldwide. 'Reset Capitalism' is the banner waved by innovators operating in the fields of big business and high finance. We would like to trust it, but I wonder whether an ecologically sustainable capitalist market economic system is ever credible. To many - myself among them - there seems to be a contradiction as obvious as it is irremediable between the logic that drives the economic system dominated by unlimited growth and the preservation of the biogeochemical cycles that govern life on Earth. The imperative of perpetual growth in the exchange value of goods placed on the market cannot but drag with it the commodification of natural resources, the continuous extraction of raw materials, the increase in polluting waste, and the progressive artificialisation of the earth's surface.

The predatory, individualistic, and selfish logic induced by the capitalist economic system has also penetrated our way of thinking, performed our behaviour, and obscured our very intelligence. Regret for the loss of conditions of relative security is "so acute, it makes one stupid, dull, in the face of the actual threat" and leads to the "removal of the cause of one's pain". A sort of more or less voluntary slavery conditions us and binds us to the automatisms of the system's reproductive mechanisms, which act both psychologically (think of advertising and the cultural industry in general) and, very trivially, by dragging us into the spiral of the euphoria of debt consumption.

World GDP was 84 trillion dollars, while the aggregate debt (private, of states, companies, and so on) at the beginning of 2021 was 281 trillion dollars (355% of world GDP) which 'generates' 100 trillion dollars in interest. A flow of money that feeds the financial rents of those who own 'debt securities', issued in their various forms (sovereigns, bonds, etc.). This is how the surplus gets channelled down a certain path, accumulates and concentrates in the pockets of that richest 0.8% of the world's population who control 25% of the world's GDP. The economy is trapped by (privatised) debt and we are all forced to work to pay it back, with interest.

How to stop this destructive spiral?

The first step is surely to raise awareness of the abyss into which we are plunging. But suffering and pain cannot demoralise and paralyse us. The oppressed, the dominated, the excluded must find their own way of resistance and liberation. The younger generations are teaching us much. Women even more so. The oppressed, the dominated, the excluded must find their own path of resistance and liberation. The origin of all destruction, at bottom, lies in the insane idea of the domination of man (understood as a male, white, adult, healthy and wealthy individual) over everything he can subjugate. Patriarchy, colonialism, imperialism, extractivism, classism, speciesism are the various known forms of this domination.

But knowing is not enough. To have the strength to react, one must also feel the suffering of the world within oneself, enter into a relationship of solidarity with others and with nature. Life is a network of connections between species. To activate ourselves, we should also involve the spiritual dimension of being. I am not proposing any 'new age pamphlet', no aestheticizing romanticism, no flight into the transcendental, but on the contrary the initiation of a process of liberation from heteronomous conditioning, from submission to falsely neutral technocratic logics, from delegation to constituted powers. A real conflict, in short, with the constituted powers and a struggle with ourselves to decolonise our minds from the productivism and consumerist imaginary. The idea is the construction of a post-growth society as a project of community self-government.

See, L’onnipotenza, la crescita e i processi di liberazione

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