Jean-Pierre Chamoux reviews Ferghane Azihari’s essay “Les écologistes contre la modernité — Le procès de Prométhée” (“Ecologists versus modernity: the trial of Prometheus”). This is a translation from French of his paper for Culture-Tops, a site of columns covering the whole of cultural activity.
Are our contemporaries so ill at ease with themselves that they forget the benefits they owe to modernity? Are they so saturated by these benefits that they are ready to write off the virtuous effect of the effort made in terms of health, serenity and comfort, both moral and material?
Brought up in the cosy comfort of an organised, protected and policed society, unaware ecologists suggest that we return to the “state of nature”, which they present as a pristine and benevolent “Rousseauist Eden”.
In so doing, they deceive us because anyone who observes the real world discovers that, without the support of modernity and its industries, our living conditions are collapsing, life is shortening, health is deteriorating, women are despised, malignant children aredying out at a young age; abandoned, the environment is deteriorating while the famine that had been eradicated is coming back with itstrail of evils, prevarications and prebends!
The author provides multiple proofs of this. It would therefore be suicidal to give in to the Edenic mirage of “deep ecology” and “green theocracy”, which offer nothing more than a remake of the “singing tomorrows” that were thought to have been consigned to the dustbin of history since the implosion of Soviet socialism.
Voluntary degrowth would lead to social suicide. Whether by passion or unconsciousness, those who propose to “deify the Earth” and return to the Malthusianism of yesteryear are preparing (more or less secretly) the advent of a new despotism!
This essay dismantles the process that the proselytizers of militant ecology exploit to satiety in order to instil anguish in the socialbody and to impose on the mind that authoritarian constraint alone could limit the imminent damage that is prognosticated with greatfanfare: disasters are multiplying, it is said (blood on the frontpage); and this risk is imminent for all (hyperbole of the millenarians).
The ultimate goal of this approach is obviously to put the political world under tension in order to make it admit the inescapable character of the authoritarian measures envisaged by deep ecology: faced with phenomena that would be both uncontrollable and inescapable, only coercive measures would be able to preserve for eachperson a little of the comfort that he or she hopes to salvage from the rising waters of the coming Flood!
It is regrettable that this “Trial of Prometheus” opens up several avenues that it only half exploits. For example, the author has undertaken a judicious survey of recent improvements in the efficiency of crops, livestock and the exploitation of resources necessary formodern life (Appendix 4 for 1980 to 2018). He thus praises (but does not clearly name) the gains in “productivity” that have fuelled welfare for half a century (a beneficial effect highlighted by Kuznets, Clarke, Solow and Fourastié among others). Azihari holds a masterful trump card here that he unfortunately hardly exploits (p.108)! Let’s hope it’s only a postponement!
Two more words…
Combining good rhetorical skills, good curiosity and a real ability tohold the reader’s attention, this little essay by Ferghane Azihari continues his critique of militant ecology. He points out that the proponents of political ecology bear a strange resemblance to the Marxists of the past who, in order to eradicate their “class enemies”,promised the people a “singing tomorrow” at the end of the long road of abstinence that immediate necessity would impose on them (chapter 6)!
… On unsafe water in poor countries (p. 61): “Economic development is the best method of sanitation”.
… On the ecological prescription to abandon growth (p. 192): “Today’s degrowthists are like yesterday’s Marxists: torn between those who predict the inevitable downfall of capitalism and those who wish toforce fate”.
… On child labour (p. 33): “Indignation only arises when the possibility arises to eradicate these revolting phenomena!”
… On Neo-Malthusianism (p. 76): “Multiplied by four since the beginning of the 20th century, (the world population) has never been so rich… the number of victims of natural disasters has never been solow!” etc.
Approaching thirty, Ferghane Azihari actively contributes to the public debate on economics, ecology and, more generally, on public policies in France, Switzerland and elsewhere. Inspired by Austrian-inspired political, economic and societal liberalism (Mises, Hayek and others) his socio-political contributions have been appreciated for several years.