The Encylcopédie des Nuisances analyzes the phenomenon of state- and corporate-approved environmentalism and provides some stark examples of the collaboration of consensus building environmentalists and government and industry paladins of ecological consciousness (“those who are rendering the earth uninhabitable”) in the “well-intentioned unanimity of the environmental state of emergency”.
Abracadabrant – Encyclopédie des Nuisances
Everything that used to be part of the sphere of knowledge, its transmission and its acquisition, has disappeared into the hands of those who confiscated it. The consequences of such a strange victory must necessarily be reproduced in a chain reaction and affect a wide range of domains, and must do so in a spectacular way [“de modo abracadabrante”]. Since the announcement of the unfolding of potential disasters crowns the techno-scientific marvels of our time, and since the latter, whatever else may happen, will know no other course, now is the time to organize the confusion by making the slaves take responsibility, so as to cause them to deposit their still-embryonic anger in the test tubes of those whose job is to make it disappear.
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The existence of harmful phenomena can no longer be denied. The industries and the powers that, in the fullest sense of the word, own the world have drawn the obligatory conclusions and have ostensibly taken command of the ecological struggle against these evils.
They have done so in such a manner as to unambiguously transform this struggle into the economic management of the effects of a mode of production which, for just that reason, must appear to be unvanquishable. From this recently adopted privileged and henceforth central position in domination’s strategy, the outstanding instruments for the defense of the existing reality tend to circumscribe social discontent and unease by steering it towards the electoral, managerial or lobbying cattle yards. This rabidly contemporary juggling act consists, by way of discussing generalities when quite precise causes exist as well as enemies who can be called by their names, or by the placing of blame for particular harmful phenomena when it is a question of universal evils, of making everyone responsible so that the culprits can hide among the population.
This operation became indispensable in France three or four years ago, when the first skirmishes of something like a confrontation over the truth began. Due to one thing or another, whether it was barrels of toxic waste or artificial bacteria, rancid industrial foods or nuclear waste dumps in plain sight, the official version of the facts was too easily refuted.
At the beginning it was done quite subtly, while this was more suitable for the particular reality of modern management which in a certain sense had no official version. The “counter-experts” of environmentalism made their modest contribution to democratic debate wherever they were invited, and the scanty evidence they presented, due to the simple fact of being in the company of the testimony of paid experts, was unproblematically raised to the level of hypotheses, more of the same. What was important was that the hopes of discovering the truth should be frustrated. Later, the falsifiers would try to accommodate it in their own way.
“Modesty and reserve accompany some of the most spectacular lies for the simple reason that only they allow them to be accepted,” as Chesterton observed.
When they speak of converting industry to the cause of ecology, the objective sought is obviously the opposite, and has already been partially achieved. For example, the enemy, responsible for harmful phenomena, is said not to be in industry or the public powers, because now both are responsible for eliminating such phenomena, and in order to do so, even the most obvious conclusions must literally be threatened with eclipse before so urgent a task, and the population must trust the environmentalism of authority even if, for the moment, it does not necessarily obtain any results.
The effect of a clean break produced by this tactic—ceasing to defend themselves from the accusation of being polluters and suddenly claiming the leadership of the struggle against pollution—is playing its role to perfection, so much so that the nuclear industry, having proclaimed itself “ecological” with reference to the greenhouse effect, proposes the discrete recycling (in metallurgy, for example) of that part of its wastes which, thanks to the new rules, can be declared to be non-radioactive. Thanks to examples of this kind it is easy to understand the principle task of State environmentalism: to manage the truth concerning harmful phenomena and to adapt it to the imperatives of the permanent modernization of production.
The environmental spokesperson for a Japanese political party candidly summarized it in this way: “Even if economic prosperity is incompatible with the protection of nature, our primary task must consist in working hard to harmonize them.” (Shigeru Ishimoto, Le Monde Diplomatique, March 1989).
Nonetheless, the real movement in opposition to harmful phenomena has not come to an end. In some conflicts (nuclear and industrial wastes, highway construction) the stubbornness of the struggle has persisted; the issues have become known and the movement has begun to federate local opposition groups.
But it is still under the influence of the dominant environmentalist ideas, which are reducible to just one idea: adequately managing the catastrophe. If the will to finally put an end to the catastrophe does not prevail, the whole world, with the exception of the technicians, the only ones who can discuss palliatives, are variables in the social hierarchy according to the position occupied or the position that is sought by those to whom such palliatives are proposed.
Environmentalism seeks to assume the responsibility for the entirety of human practice (of its preconditions and its effects) without confronting the separations and alignments which account for its deviations. It has the pretense of concentrating all partial knowledge in itself, considering the whole world its laboratory. But since its experts are not based on Sirius, they are divided according to easily-identifiable terrestrial interests. And the last word of scientific thought remains unspeakable.
When, for example, a “UNESCO coordinator for the environment” expresses his desire for an “ecological catastrophe” in the expectation that it would generate “a much more mobilizing effect than a whole series of disturbances of minor importance” (Le Monde, June 12, 1991), he clearly demonstrates just what he means by mobilize: mobilizing additional funds. And when a philosopher waxes poetic over “the great unknown adventure” towards which history, undoubtedly irritated by “the complexity of the world’s problems”, is dragging “the earth, a wandering orb” (Morin), we must deduce that bold captains, ready to lead such a great Odyssey, have aligned themselves with the socialist party, and with no other official thinker than himself.
In addition, this author rests comfortably in the shade of vast sociological problems on stage right, and on stage left he teaches the engineers of the Ecole Nationale how to “communicate” effectively with the local population, that is, how to deceive them (Libération, October 12-13, 1991).
But if we want to more accurately sketch this valiant troop which is crowding the halls of Salvationist environmentalism, we succumb to the temptation to borrow for a moment the “unmentionable broom” of Jarry. “An entirely grey steel jacket”, an often-recycled Father Ubu, shows the effects of his biospheric belly by shouting at each step: “Vote for my cube of green trash!” In an oracular tone learned at the Ecole Nationale of pataphysics, (1) he grows excited by the idea of definitively accommodating the “phinance” bomb with the “shit” bomb, in order to realize the closed circuit of the Ubuesque economy: “…since the environment does not give rise to commercial exchanges, no mechanism is opposed to its destruction. In order to perpetuate the concept of economic rationality, a price must be put on the environment, that is, its value must be translated into monetary terms” (Hervé Kempf, L’Economie àlépreuve de l’écologie, 1991). Oh, my stomach! Put a price on all of this, I still have not sunk my teeth of phinances into it!
And the innumerable pretenders to the role of captain Bordure line up to tell the impressionable troops that the soup is good: “The art of keeping the earth inhabitable is a matter of planetary engineering. Ten years ago this was science fiction, today it is a job” (Brice Lalonde, Le Figaro, March 11-12, 1989).
All the other jobs seem to converge in this type of occupation: the last avatar of labor when an increasingly important part of the latter is devoted to repairing its own imperfections. From the highest echelons of State-recognized environmentalists to the grassroots groups, along with the officers of the national environmental organizations, numerous are the examples of all of these variously-qualified personnel offering their services to those who have the means to employ them, that is, to those who are rendering the earth uninhabitable.
Certain changes of course, taking advantage of the new policy of transparency, have been made public without batting an eyelash, as if by mistake: “Finally, two authorities, the mayors of Lyon and Grenoble, have called upon two specialists from FRAPNA (the Rhône-Alps Federation for the Protection of Nature), Yves Perillac and Jean Françoise Noblet, to help them in their debate with their opponents on the environmental terrain” (Libération, Nov. 27, 1991).
Although the new scientific synthesis to which environmentalism aspires is still in the ideological gossip stage (in the style of the “Gaia Hypothesis”), this feature helps it to easily achieve unity, contributing to the development of a new police control.
Currently, in France, contending against harmful phenomena, the subject of a special university discipline, gives career plans a second chance or awakens new aptitudes. Thus, a certain Lagadec, who apparently has a leftist background (like most C.E.A. researchers) (2), devotes himself to instructing industrial and political leaders concerning various strategic and tactical aspects of the war that they have been prosecuting against the demoralizing effects of harmful phenomena and against the demoralizers themselves. In accordance with the advice of this new type of military advisor on the preventive or active management of technological crises, the security services, technicians, industrial and political officials, scientific experts and media spokespersons should enter into partnership, so that the whole group should ultimately stick together, dispelling suspicions and imposing itself as the faithful and legitimate servant of the general interest.
Pretending to believe that the authoritarian concentration of power is a threat to a hypothetical future, this democrat reveals his real fear when he proposes “the only solution”: “some organized citizens, a powerful life of solidarity that does not allow for deviation, against authorities swamped by the difficulties of the crisis, an atomized unstructured social body, without an advisory committee, ready for any adventure that is directed against what the authorities (including the press and the experts) propose” (États d’urgence, défaillances technologiques et déstabilisation sociale, 1988). This organized citizenry, the advisory committee upon which Lagadec relies in order to prevent any kind of anti-authoritarian deviation, is none other than the Martín Arnould (13) type of kind apparatchik, the overseer of the countryside, who takes care of agitation, ludic activities or the environment, in short, the new neo-trade unionist of this exhausting labor called survival.
One must not, however, believe that the “men of confidence” of environmentalism, when they defend “responsible” solutions in local struggles, the need for media effectiveness and of an advisory committee with specialized spokespersons, must have received particular instructions in this respect. What actually happens is that they have been educated in another manner for a long time. The kind of life that they have lived, the conditions of existence that they have found integrally available and that they have accepted without complaint, prescribe the ideas they must imperatively have which, with utter good faith and spontaneously, they imagine to be the principle part of human activity as if it were an activity of management, where they believe they have found the realization of the individual, and even individual fulfillment. Above all, this realization of the managers, which is in prosaic terms nothing but a new expansion of the bureaucratic machine, can be sublimated in the well-intentioned unanimity of the environmental state of emergency.
It would not be fair to denounce their actions as exclusively motivated by the opportunities for career advancement offered by a rejuvenated capitalism in need of a new category of advisors and managers. It is much worse than that: they have never even imagined that life could be otherwise. They are convinced that career advancement is the normal compensation for their effectiveness and their sacrifice.
It is no longer surprising that such defenders of the common cause should act as if it was a “public relations” campaign, simultaneously commercial and cultural, and that they reduce it to the manifestation of those sorts of good intentions which can gain the inactive adherence of a majority of the population.
The truth about the effects of harmful phenomena becomes, in accordance with the model opinion registered by the polls, something accepted by all and which nobody really contests: the search for authentic means, the practical consequences, the conflict, the ad hominem critique are proscribed for being an attack against the unanimity, edifyingly bland, of the general interest.
They will speak of vast abstractions (Nature, Man, Earth, and the most audacious ones will even speak of “productivism” or “technoscience”), or insignificant details which go to the heart of the “concrete” (which for them amounts to the same thing). But they will speak as little as possible about who is really the enemy, who are its agents, what are their methods and their goals. Instead, they will prove that they are all democrats and will remove themselves from the fight for reasons of “credibility” but also for the sake of the enemy, because it is necessary for negotiation to re-establish the consensus so insistently demanded, as if nothing had taken place. Such “opposition”, of course, cannot be effective, even in its dreams, unless it throws the publicity bomb, which will shortly become its only strategy. The local population, the real opposition which surrenders to this script, may be liberated from some harmful phenomenon or be protected from it, or maybe not, but it is certain that it will be dispossessed of its struggle. “By means of the image with which one complacently conforms, it can practically be contained from a distance” (Complément d’enquête sur un engagement différe, Comité de acción de Serre de la Fare, January 1990).
The particular evil that must be suffered will be inflicted elsewhere, that is, upon one’s next-door neighbors, while the general malady which causes the particular one, that of being separated from all decision-making power, will continue.
While the environmentalists will basically act like responsible managers and are organized according to the model of the pressure group or lobby, at the commanding heights of industry the executives act like environmentalists and adopt the methods of the pressure group or lobby. “Fourteen large industrial groups have just formed Businesses for the Environment,” an association devoted to supporting joint actions in the environmental field, but also to defending its point of view.
The Association’s president is the manager of Rhône-Poulenc, Jean-René Fourtou. As Jean-René Fourtou reminds us, the Association’s corporate founders, operating primarily in the dirtiest industries responsible for most pollution, now spend more than 10 billion francs per year on the environment. But he has also emphasized that the Association intends to act as a lobby with regard to the authorities, not only the French but also the European, especially in elaborating regulations and legislation on the environment (Libération, March 18, 1992). The negotiations taking place behind the scenes, among experts, industrialists and politicians, are related in principle to the official homogenization of harmful phenomena, and to the definition of the thresholds of harmfulness and to the standards which must consequently be adopted.
It is in these negotiations that State-sanctioned environmentalism finds its privileged field of application: the labor of apportioning and eventually restricting harmful phenomena in a sustainable way (sustainable for the economy, above all). And no industrialist from any sector will ever complain when some minor crime paralyzes it, if the restrictions that State-sanctioned environmentalism seeks to implement open up a new market, which would certainly be all the more beneficial were the standards mentioned above to be the ones that they had created and are now defending. “…[T]he F.R.G. has appropriated the ‘acid rain induced death of the forests’ theme by transforming a real environmental problem into a commercial strategy, focusing the debate solely on the causes of automobile-related pollution…the standards established in Brussells (vehicular pollution standards cannot be met without electronic fuel injection systems, whose world leader is Bosch, and catalytic converters, whose leading European manufacturer is Dasgussa), have been transformed into windfall profits for Bosch and Dasgussa” (Le Monde Diplomatique, April 1989).
Another good method for apportioning harmful phenomena so as to program their dilution into the imperceptible (along the lines of the nuclear model and low doses of radioactivity), consists in exporting polluting industries and toxic wastes to countries which a recent report written by experts at the World Bank, inventing a new and more accurate standard of measurement, defined as “under-polluted”.
The indignant outcry which greeted the insinuation that one should “encourage a more significant emigration of polluting industries to less-developed countries” was doubly hypocritical: first, because this is what is being done and what will continue to be done; second, because the economic calculus upon which such a proposition is based is the logical corollary of that environmentalism of the economy that “puts a price on the environment”.
Air quality is of no use where there is no market for it (environmentally motivated consumers, standards, credits, that is, a pollution-abatement industry and, finally, profits) which would ruin it so as to create the need for a market for quality, a new extension of the commodity form which its greatest critic could not foresee: “Something can have use value without having value. It just needs to be useful for man without being the result of his labor. Such as the air, the natural grasslands, a virgin soil, etc.” (Capital).
Torn from their extra-economic existence by pollution, the remaining natural conditions are being brought to market, so as to be assessed at their fair market value. In the United States, for example, a sort of stock-exchange has been organized where corporations either buy or sell “pollution rights”, depending on whether they exceeded or fell short of “normal” pollution quotas established by the State.
Even if the battle against harmful phenomena has led to various economically profitable operations, it must not be forgotten that, even in this case (not to mention the disasters that are simply ignored by the official reports on harmful phenomena), we are still far from the measures which a minimal realism would have dictated. In respect to, for example, the gases which are responsible for the disappearance of the ozone layer, industrialists, after having denied this phenomenon for 15 years through their paid experts, now that they have prepared the substitute products, pressure the State to come to a decision as soon as possible.
But such haste is, however, excessively moderate when measured against the non-economic emergency, because even if the production of CFCs were to be immediately and completely terminated, the compounds that are now present in the atmosphere will continue to slowly devour the ozone for another thirty years; so, nothing will come of this but to reduce the production of CFCs in 1999 to half the 1986 level, in accordance with the Montreal Protocol of September 1987.
As for the famous “greenhouse effect”, it is used as an argument primarily by the nuclear lobby. It is clear that for it to prevail, the consumption of fossil fuels will have to end, which the entire world considers to be hardly viable in modern society, as bound as it is by its motorized chains (see our article, “Aberration”).
An Assistant Secretary of the United States Environmental Protection Agency has proclaimed, without making too much of an ecological fuss, the last word of the ruling reflection on the topic: “For good or for ill, Americans are married to their cars” (Libération, February 22-23, 1992). And they have had many children, to judge by the design of some natives who have taught us to admire them.
La Republica has provided the best summary of the situation with its sensational headline on November 12, 1991: “The Earth is heating up again, but Bus is opposed.”
As extensive as nature’s resources and as adaptable as human nature may be, they cannot both be adapted to the indefinite prolongation of the current mode of production, so others will have to be found. This delirium, not without its “ecological” justifications, now counts on getting some initial result that is illustrative enough of its future success.
The failure of the attempt to construct an artificial ecosystem (“Biosphere II”) that we have previously discussed, has proven that, in matters of “prototypes”, the development of an excessively simplified environment almost immediately escapes its inventors.
But other experts, posing the problem in an even more radical form—“the root for man is man himself”—attempt to adapt man to unbearable conditions, by genetically modifying him: the “Hugo” project of deciphering the human genome openly points in that direction, with the help of commercial patents. One can easily foresee the new disasters implied by such an enterprise of managed mutation, which only expresses humanity’s final dispossession, which includes that which previously constituted its irreducible biological identity.
This irrealism cannot itself disturb the social layers that State environmentalism and its techno-strategy are trying to seduce: it is their habitual element. These wage workers or neo-courtiers, although not lucky enough to put themselves beyond the reach of the harmful phenomena that affect everyone, even if they think that they have, if they take holy communion often enough, through the kind of activities they perform, with modernist ideology, they can nourish the hope that the social system will satisfy their demand for a “good quality of life”.
They therefore want to be consumers, since they also believe themselves to be favored by fate: they are content enough with their work, which they think they have chosen, just as they believe they have consciously chosen the commodities set before them at each stage of the programming of their needs. All the dissatisfaction of these customers of the Greens can be reduced to one demand: the commodity, of course, but without its bad side.
The only “Green” municipal councilor in Paris, when asked if his party had an alternative plan for the restructuring of the ZAC Tolbiac (in the ancient tongue, the final destruction of the Left Bank of the Seine), naively replied: “We do not have the financial means at our disposal to elaborate one” (Libération, November 13, 1991).
The historical destiny of environmentalism will not of course be that of social democratic reformism. It will not even be capable of devoting itself to repairing the evils that it has dared to denounce. All it will do is participate in their allocation, and thus also in their concealment. Their activity will have no effect on the course of the general catastrophe. From now on there is no way to escape the coming decline, but it will be decorated with their insipid jeremiads and their fake indignation, as hackneyed as the left-Christian lamentations of Le Monde Diplomatique.
Environmentalism does not “revalorize” work, but contributes to diluting it in the fog of parodic activities that represent, in a necessarily creative way, the simulacrum of a destroyed social life (see our article, “Abrenuntio). It is also capable of maintaining circles of influence in politics and industry, where it is useful to preserve the fiction of a general interest. Its experts are accepting decorative positions, and will serve on request as stage props for the new “transparencies”. It confers a sense of vitality to spectacular propaganda and its political personnel, but without managing to entirely compensate for the widespread lack of belief in the former or the scorn in which the latter are held. It will not be long before one cannot distinguish between the two.
The issues addressed in such an abstract and confused way by environmentalism are no less real however unrealistically they are addressed. As an independent force that dictates men’s conditions, nature has been defeated.
This defeat, which this century’s end is making plain to see, is, however, of no avail. The wealth that the economy produces is put entirely at its disposal; the misery that it creates remains entirely beyond the reach of its solutions. Everything confirms this in the current stage of the precipitous decline in the standard of living. Production, in its entirety, is no longer legitimized by its social use and becomes suspect. It is for this reason that harmful phenomena are discovered everywhere, whereas they had not been noticed before.
The spectacle can, as if it were a matter of victories that should be entered to its account, recall that for better or for worse, life goes on: in the French countryside the meadow grass still grows in the spring, no nuclear power plants have exploded, children are still being born, etc. But each individual, however deprived he may be of the necessary means for an exact knowledge and is therefore limited to suspecting, sees unavoidable disaster oozing from every pore of this society.
When the latent consciousness of an era combines the confirmation of the constant impoverishment of the world of man by the market economy with the feeling of being increasingly more subject to this impoverishment, a historical threshold is on the verge of being crossed. In 1985 we wrote that “the abstraction of such an impersonal system of domination, where the leaders hide behind the experts and the experts hide behind technological imperatives, continues to protect it from the rejection that it inspires, wherever people become aware of the fact that as the years pass, a large part of their former way of life has been lost. Since there is no one at hand to blame, people resign themselves to despising the world without fighting against it”. This protection sustained by all the half-experts and semi-critics who perpetuate abstraction and impersonality through inapplicable denunciations, in which it is never clearly said who is to blame or even who they think is to blame, this protection is therefore a factor promoting a growing weakness.
With respect to this kind of useless generality, it suffices to recall that “indignation which bristles against impersonal circumstances, and which therefore does not treat them as if they can be attacked and modified, is soon exhausted” (Provisional Notice Concerning Our Offenses Against the Despotism of Velocity) (4); and that as a result, those who devote themselves to repetitive indignation or make a show of it without ever bothering to formulate concrete denunciations or participating in exemplary struggles, do not even rise to the level of the generalization about the person who is “like the hawk that ascends to the heights to await the rabbit it will strike” but is more “like the bird that falls from the sun because it is too hot”.
No scientific proof can by itself convince anyone to act against these imposed conditions; nor are moralizing reproaches able to do so. The unhappy consciousness of catastrophe is aware of its impotence, and does not take the next step. Since it does not stimulate much interest, it will not waste an opportunity to complain about the faint echo generated by its warnings. In order to attempt even the least modification in the spirit of the times, it is still proper to distinguish some of their principle configurations, in their baffling arrangements, in which the feelings of the past undergo a change of significance.
The freedom to act unconsciously is the freedom granted by the spectacle, which makes it more popular. As a result, the continuous labor of destruction that makes this possible appropriates various evil passions long ago claimed by the revolutionary movement as the very expression of negation.
The spectacle is very careful not to propagandize openly in favor of these passions, since it does not need to do so; the evil passions referred to above propagandize in favor of the spectacle. Madness, granted a dynamic status by the president of the Rhône-Poulenc gang, the fire-proof Fourtou: “The mad reasoning of the project prevails over the good reasoning of the budget…. The motor of the company is the vitality of the project, not that of accounting” (Le Monde, February 18, 1989); the conspiratorial passion, now the rule in domination and the one that has animated those pioneers, the French pro-nuclear forces, from the beginning; the contempt for what exists and the declared taste for illegality—“we need rogues”, the owner of a large company told the press, shocked by the negligence and conformism of his leadership team and therefore obligated to publicly announce such a curious advertisement (Le Monde, March 27, 1991); rapid and permanent motion—“Quickly” is today’s slogan for the “decision makers” of the useless, drugged by deadlines, the leaders’ conscious adventure, or more precisely what remains of that adventure, of navigating blindly and taking risks.
In fact, all of these positions converge in a kind of vertigo of irresponsibility mimetically proclaimed before a world in full regression. The arguments of desperate lucidity have never been so convincing, because they have always remained anchored there, together with the motives of living and pleasure. But the moment we confront is such that, what such arguments deplore is now part of the ordinary themes of the most highly-evolved submission, which considers the precipitation of the data of disaster as one more reason to “live for the moment and enjoy existence”.
To a lucidity so lacking in a sense of what is offensive that it actually embraces the latter, one must also add the platitudes of an era in decline.
Domination has set the world on fire and man’s feelings have been transformed. From a passage of a recent book on the greenhouse effect: “The die is cast. We have boarded a bobsled that is ready to go down the chute.” “Last call has sounded in the gardens of the West,” as an author from a previous era put it more soberly while contemplating the beginning of our era.
Vanguard unconsciousness flirts with the idea and even becomes excited at the prospect of a few “crazy years” and the revelry it expects to enjoy. The least complacency regarding this issue signals a kind of twilight acquiescence in the process as a whole. In 1948, when the threat of nuclear weapons quickly overshadowed any kind of apocalyptic lyricism, André Breton wrote, with reference to modern poetry, about “the temptation of the end of the world,” to which modern poetry has been committed for a century, and of its own accord, which is also “the leading edge of modern sensibility”: “And yet I have no qualms about saying that this is an end of the world that we no longer want…. This end of the world is not ours. As long as it remains a possibility, we have no compunction about doing an about-face with regard to this issue, to proceed deliberately to an inversion of sign.” (The Lamp in the Clock)
The irrationality of the current form of organization of life, whose expression is harmful phenomena taken as a whole, and the impotence of all political representation to mitigate it, are the two concrete sides by which the practical movement of opposition to the activities of the ruling class can discover its universal content. If it unifies the critique of these two sides, finding reasons in the first, and means in the second, it will then be capable, in the coming years, of posing the social question in its true terms, or will at least contribute as much as possible to such a task (see our Appeal to All Those Who Would Rather Eliminate Harmful Phenomena than Manage Them, June 1990).
To boldly approach the problems of real life by unequivocally asserting that they are insoluble within the existing social domain, constitutes the qualitative leap of negation, necessary everywhere, which as an alternative does not seem to be within the grasp of the conflicts of the moment, not because the possibility of such an approach is unknown—the social question comes up in all conversations about harmful phenomena and the question of harmful phenomena comes up in all conversations—but, simply because it has never been done.
There are no precedents, and this is what is missing. But there is no lack at all of what is needed to create a precedent. The electoralist imposture of the French ecologists will lead them to Mitterandism, and shameful discredit.
When they come into contact with institutions they will become as biodegradable as the German Greens had previously become, or like that Armenian leader who declared that being a state official, he had to reopen a deadly factory which he had previously managed to shut down when he was an ecologist.
Those who still wish to remain ignorant of the nature of modern power and its activities, will have to accept a quite depressing reality which, on the other hand, is not so new: “In the most democratic and impersonal field of action possible, where the sovereign public, meeting in shareholders assemblies, hires and fires in accordance with statutory procedures, an oligarchy as closed as that of Venice has formed within the space of a generation. Three hundred men, who all know one another, direct the economic destiny of the continent and seek successors from their own ranks” (Walther Rathenau, Neue Freie Press, 1909, quoted by Benoit-Méchin, Histoire de l’Armée Allemande). We now know, some members of the CEA finding out later than others, just how much stronger this modality of power has become.
The increasing disorder of the era is the consequence of a malaise which is far from unfounded. On the one hand we note that none of the old norms of human activity, defined independently of individuals (whether religious, economic or scientific) can regulate and rationally order that activity in the current stage of development of its means; on the other hand, precisely because that same development is going disastrously out of control, there are those who resort, for lack of anything better, to arguments based upon now-dead ancient systems of rules, which leads to various regressions, whether towards morality, the invocation of “nature”, or even juridical or religious illusions.
Environmentalism embraces it all, and contributes its own techno-bureaucratic ambition of regulating and re-establishing order in its own way, transforming itself, as the science of the generalized economy, into the new thought of domination. “Either us or chaos”, the Ecolocrats and recycled experts say, promoters of a totalitarian control which exists thanks to them, in order to place themselves in the front ranks of the coming catastrophe. So that it will therefore be them and chaos.
From the journal Encyclopédie des Nuisances, No. 15, Paris, 1992.
1. A science invented by Alfred Jarry, who studied the laws ruling exceptions. The paragraph imitates Ubu’s manner of speaking, Jarry’s character who symbolizes the arbitrary vulgarity of power.
2. Commissariat de l’Energie Atomique.
3. Municipal deputy from Puy and Vice President of “SOS Loire Vivante”, small-town social climber, militant of environmental quality with an eye to the media and tourism, ecologist without principles, bought and paid for, worthy representative of the impotence of those who see no other alternative to degradation than vain lamentation or garbage collection.
4. Published in Spanish by Virus Editorial in June 1999 together with the Appeal to All Those Who Would Rather Eliminate Harmful Phenomena Than Manage Them, quoted above.