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Notes towards an emancipatory ecologistics? * What would be required of us cognitively, technically, and practically in our attempts to alter our ways of existing for more adaptive modes?

Bruno Latour, from ‘To modernize or to ecologize? That’s the Question’ (1998):

In the new regime, everything is complicated and every decision demands caution and prudence. One can never go straight or fast. It is impossible to go on without circumspection and without modesty. We now know, for example, that if it is necessary to take account of everything along the length of a river, we will not succeed with a hierarchised system that might give the impression, on paper, of being a wonderful science with wonderful feedback loops but which will not generate new political life. To obtain a stirring up of politics, you have to add uncertainty so that the actors, who until now knew what a river could and could not tolerate, begin to entertain sufficient doubts. The word ‘doubt’ is in fact inadequate, since it gives the impression of scepticism, whereas it is more a case of enquiry, research and experimentation. In short, it is a collective experimentation on the possible associations between things and people without any of these entities being used, from now on, as a simple means by the others.

Political ecology, as we have now understood it, is not defined by taking account of nature, but by the different career now taken by all objects. A planner for the local agricultural authority, an irrigator, a fisherman or a concessionaire for drinking water used to know the needs of water. They could guarantee its form by assuming its limits and being ignorant of all the ins and outs. The big difference between the present and the previous situation does not lie in the fact that, before, we did not know about rivers and now we are concerned about them, but in the fact that we can no longer delimit the ins and outs of this river as an object. Its career as an object no longer has the same form if each stream, each meander, each source and each copse must serve both as an end and a means for those claiming to manage them.

At the risk of doing a little philosophising, we could say that the ontological forms of the river have changed. There are, literally speaking, no more things. This expression has nothing to do with a sentimentalism of Mother Earth, with the merging of the fisherman, kingfisher and fish. It only designates the uncertain, dishevelled character of the entities taken into account by the smallest river contract or the smallest management plan. Nor does the expression refer to the inevitable complexity of natural milieux and human–environment interactions, for the new relationships are no more complex than the old ones (if they were, no science, management or politics could be done on their behalf, as Florian Charvolin [1993] demonstrated so well). It solely refers to the obligation to be prepared to take account of other participants who may appear unforeseen, or disappear as if by magic, and who all aspire to take part in the ‘kingdom of ends’ by suddenly combining the relationships of the local and global. In order to monitor these quasiobjects, it is therefore necessary to invent new procedures capable of managing these arrivals and departures, these ends and these means — procedures that are completely different from those used in the past to manage things.

In fact, to summarise this argument, it would have to be said that ecology has nothing to do with taking account of nature, its own interests or goals, but that it is rather another way of considering everything. ‘Ecologising’ a question, an object or datum, does not mean putting it back into context and giving it an ecosystem. It means setting it in opposition, term for term, to another activity, pursued for three centuries and which is known, for want of a better term, as ‘modernisation.’.

Everywhere we have ‘modernised’ we must now ‘ecologise.’ This slogan obviously remains ambiguous and even false, if we think of ecology as a complete system of relationships, as if it were only a matter of taking everything into account. But it becomes profoundly apposite if we use the term ecology by applying to it the principle of selection defined above and by referring it to the Kantian principle for the justification of the green regime.

‘Ecologising’ means creating the procedures that make it possible to follow a network of quasi-objects whose relations of subordination remain uncertain and which thus require a new form of political activity adapted to following them.

SOURCE: http://bruno-latour.fr/sites/default/files/73-7TH-CITY-GB.pdf

Seminar introducing John Foster’s new book ‘After Sustainability’

with discussion by Prof Jonathan Wolff, Philosophy, UCL, and Prof Albert Weale, Political Theory and Public Policy, UCL

Summary:

Dangerous climate change is coming. It has been clear since Copenhagen that the political will to make adequate cuts in global CO2 emissions isn’t going to be generated in any foreseeable future. The international attempt to shift the world by agreement onto a “sustainable” trajectory, always half-hearted, has failed.

But denial is not confined to those who refuse to see the serious environmental damage we are doing; it extends equally to those who refuse to see that we have missed our chance to stop it. The roots of such embedded denial lie in progressivism. Exorbitant resource consumption is the form in which this mindset has caused environmental damage in the first place; latterly, it has manifested itself as wilfully self-blinded technological optimism.

But what if we stopped pretending?

Environmentalism is about what is wrong with us here and now, not only what that might mean for the future. Our environmental situation is tragic in the full sense. Tragedy entails losses which can’t be mitigated or compensated, but it can also reveal us to ourselves in ways from which we may be able to learn.

We can’t really predict what will happen on the ground as global economic and ecological systems unravel. We must build existential as well as economic and social resilience, arming ourselves with recognition, insight and flexibility rather than with plans or blueprints. If we approach what is coming with a realism thus grounded in genuinely non-optimistic life-hope, we may here and there come through it.

Also check out: http://dark-mountain.net/blog/retrieval-resilience-and-wild-planning/

 

“Have you heard about the Wisconsin Mining Standoff? The GTac mining proposal? What about the Enbridge pipeline expansion? guest host Rebecca Kemble was joined by Wisconsin’s 29th Senate District Candidate Paul DeMain, Harvard educated economist Winona LaDuke, founding member of the Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative Barbara With, and chairman of the Bad River Ojibwe Mike Wiggins to discuss the creative responses to resource extraction proposals in the Lake Superior Basin.

AFTER THE FICTIONS: Notes Towards a Phenomenology of the Multitude
By Dilip Gaonkar

People do not riot every day, but they have rioted often enough in the past, especially since the onset of modernity. People continue to riot with alarming regularity in the present, especially in the so-called Global South, as the saga of modernity continues to unfold now in its global phase. This repeated and continued reliance on rioting as a distinctive, but historically and culturally variable, mode of collective action (if not agency) merits greater attention than it has hitherto received. People riot over all sorts of things—the price of bread, oil, and onions; the publication of a book; the screening of a film; the drawing of a cartoon. 

Hong Kong

They riot on account of police brutality, political corruption, and the desecration of the holy places. They riot when subjected to ethnic or racial slurs (real or imagined) and when continuously deprived of basic necessities like water, electricity, and sanitation. They riot for being ill-treated at health care facilities, for being denied entrance to once public, now privatized, spaces of pleasure and recreation, and generally for justice denied and petitions ignored. They riot after soccer games, cricket games, music concerts, and also before, during, and after elections. The list can be extended indefinitely.

READ MORE: HERE

#riotseed

“Zero-hour contracts, collapsing real wages, multiple jobs, and unpaid internships – most of us are experiencing a crisis in the relationship between ‘work’ and the wage. But is fighting for ‘more work’ the answer to our problems, or must we question the very nature of work? Why does the increasing automation of work currently present a crisis, rather than an opportunity for liberation? What does the future of work look like? Can we organize towards worlds that break the relationship between useful activity and the wage?

‘A Future That Doesn’t Work?’ was a public conversation with Natalie Bennett (leader of the Green Party) and Nick Srnicek (co-author of the Accelerationist Manifesto).”

audio @ http://www.weareplanc.org/a-future-that-doesnt-work-podcast/#.VB15xRawQg8

Rob’s talk starts around 6:55 if like me you can do without the pipedreamer intro

See also: Slow Violence and The Environmentalism of the Poor

Transformation Without Apocalypse: How to Live Well on an Altered Planet:

Whether you are inspired by alternative visions of the future, or haunted by scenarios of climate chaos, or simply motivated to live with compassion and awareness, we need your help in imagining and creating a saner future. This symposium brought together a diverse, energetic, engaged community to celebrate and create tangible visions of new/old ways to prosper without exhausting the planet.

Rob Nixon is the Rachel Carson Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he teaches environmental studies, postcolonial studies, creative nonfiction, African literature, world literature, and twentieth century British literature. He is the author of Homelands, Harlem and Hollywood: South African Culture and the World Beyond; Dreambirds: the Natural History of a Fantasy; and Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor. http://www.english.wisc.edu/rdnixon/