Editorial "Thinking after capitalism with André Gorz"
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Two years ago, a few days before our patron André Gorz and his wife passed away, he had sent us his last text.
EcoRev’s present issue pays tribute to this great thinker and father of political ecology. It is special also in the sense that it is published ten years after the original issue, which focused on “Surviving capitalism”. Yet, this tribute does not want to regard the “Gorzian philosophy” as sacred. Rather, in the present context of systemic global crisis, our reflection aims at exploring the premise of his last opus "that we have already started leaving capitalism behind" and building on it.
This issue also underlines how many of Gorz’ insights are more topical than ever, and capable of contributing to the building of a political ecology, which is no doubt complex but nonetheless necessary as an alternative to capitalism.
Capitalism in the 21st century is trapped between the deleterious effects of pollution and the fact that raw materials are becoming extinct both being direct consequences of its mode of production. These phenomena are amplified due to the fundamental principle of capitalism : its functioning aims almost exclusively at profit.
Furthermore, in a context of exacerbated productivism, robotization and automation actually destroy employment. Moreover, the digital era adds to the problem by installing a knowledge economy, with its consequent stress and lack of well-being at work, far from what André Gorz defined as a society of intelligence. In addition, this comes with a consumerism where all areas of life are merchandized. North or South, working-class neighbourhoods are of course the first victims of this consumerism. Nevertheless in is in these neighbourhoods that economic and social innovations are developed which can become a breeding ground for post-productivist practices.
Therefore, the present situation is not ineluctable, nor a fatality. Solutions do exist to leave capitalism behind in a civilized manner – otherwise what will eventually prevail is the savage solution of War.
The civilized solutions are to be found in the framework of a new paradigm. These are linked to the implementation of a voluntarist policy dealing with the impact of greenhouse gas emissions, through drastic decisions made in a democratic way.
These solutions would reinforce the recognition of a production mode similar to that of open source software, thus leading to its widespread use in all spheres of production. Challenging the notion of intellectual property, fundamental sciences and applied sciences alike also require that all actors in the science field be genuine stakeholders and own their work tools. Furthermore they require the pollination or dissemination of tools and knowledge necessary to an understanding of complex issues.
These solutions are also founded on a local or community-based production, relocating both agricultural and industrial activities through the creation of a network of cooperatives and of repair workshops, which would benefit from the emergence of “peer production”, for instance using 3D printing.
This whole architecture would be completed and sustained through the creation of a minimum social wage, thus enabling a new mode of organizing labour and mode of production, which will take new customs into account.
"I am not saying that these radical transformations will happen. I am only saying that, for the first time, we can want for them to be true. The means to reach these goals exist, as well as the people who strive purposefully to realize them." André Gorz (2007).
The editorial staff
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