décroissance

                 

"Je hais la ville. J’ai besoin de voir loin, de respirer librement, de marcher au rythme qui me plaît sans me faire bousculer ou devoir zigzaguer entre des bovins hébétés. Je comprends la réaction des Goths devant Rome : « Vivre là-dedans c’est s’enterrer vivant. » Je comprends aussi la réponse d’Attila à l’empereur de Byzance : « tu as pensé m’éblouir par ton luxe, mais je mets mon honneur à vivre aussi simplement que le plus pauvre de mes guerriers »."


Robert Dun - Une vie de Combat



« M'appuyant sur le long manche de ma faux, je fais une pause dans mon travail au verger et j'enveloppe du regard les montagnes et le village en-dessous. Je m'étonne que les philosophies des gens en soient venues à évoluer plus vite que les saisons changeantes.


Le chemin que j'ai suivi, cette agriculture sauvage, qui paraît étrange à beaucoup, s'explique d'abord en réaction à l'évolution irréfléchie et constante de la science. Mais tout ce que j'ai fait en travaillant la terre ici à la campagne, c'est essayer de montrer que l'humanité ne sait rien. Parce que le monde marche dans la direction opposée avec une énergie si violente, il peut sembler que je suis rétrograde, mais je crois fermement que le chemin que j'ai suivi est le plus intelligent.

 

Ces dernières années le nombre de gens intéressés par l'agriculture sauvage a considérablement augmenté. Il semble que la limite du développement scientifique a été atteinte, on commence à avoir des inquiétudes, et le moment est venu d'un réexamen. Ce qui était perçu comme primitif et rétrograde est considéré maintenant subitement comme bien en avance sur la science moderne. Ceci peut sembler à priori étrange, mais je ne le trouve pas du tout étrange.

 

J'en ai récemment discuté avec le Professeur Iinuma de l'Université de Kyoto. Il y a mille ans au Japon, on pratiquait l'agriculture sans labourer, et la culture de la terre sur une faible profondeur n'a pas été introduite avant l'ère Tokugawa il y a 300 à 400 ans. Le labour profond a été introduit au Japon avec l'agriculture occidentale. Je disais que pour faire face aux problèmes futurs la nouvelle génération reviendrait à cette méthode traditionnelle consistant à ne pas cultiver.

 

Faire pousser des céréales dans un champ non labouré peut sembler à priori une régression vers l'agriculture primitive, mais, avec les années, cette méthode s'est révélée dans les laboratoires universitaires et les centres d'essai agricoles du pays, la méthode la plus simple, la plus efficace et la plus moderne de toutes. Tout en désavouant la science moderne cette manière de travailler la terre se place maintenant au tout premier plan du développement de l'agriculture moderne.

 

J'ai présenté cette « succession céréale d'hiver/riz en ensemencement direct sans culture » dans des journaux agricoles il y a vingt ans. Depuis ce temps-là et jusqu'à aujourd'hui, elle a souvent fait l'objet de publications et a été présentée au public le plus large dans les programmes de radio et de télévision, mais personne n'y a prêté beaucoup d'attention.

 

Aujourd'hui, tout à coup, c'est une histoire complètement différente. Vous pourriez dire que l'agriculture sauvage est devenue une grande mode. Journalistes, professeurs, chercheurs techniques viennent en foule visiter mes champs et les cabanes de la montagne.

 

Chacun la voit d'un point de vue différent, fait sa propre interprétation, et puis s'en va. On la trouve primitive, l'autre rétrograde, pour un autre c'est le pinacle de la création agricole, et un quatrième la salue comme une brèche dans le futur. En général les gens s'intéressent à cette forme d'agriculture uniquement pour savoir si c'est un pas dans le futur ou un retour à la vie du passé. Peu sont capables de saisir correctement que l'agriculture sauvage est au centre immuable et inchangeable de la vie agricole.

 

Dans la mesure où les gens se séparent de la nature, ils s'écartent de plus en plus de ce centre. En même temps une force centripète revendique ses droits et le désir de retourner à la nature grandit. Mais si les gens se laissent simplement gagner par la réaction, allant vers la gauche ou vers la droite selon la situation, le résultat c'est qu'un accroissement des efforts. On passe, sans voir le point immuable de notre origine qui se trouve hors du royaume de la relation. Je crois que même les actes de « retour-à-la-nature » et d'anti-pollution, si recommandables soient-ils, ne conduisent pas à un dénouement vrai, originel, s'ils sont uniquement menés en réaction au surdéveloppement d'aujourd'hui.

 

La nature ne change pas bien que la manière de la considérer change invariablement d'un âge à l'autre. Peu importe l'âge, l'agriculture sauvage existe pour toujours comme source de l'agriculture. »

Masanobu Fukuoka – La révolution d'un seul brin de paille (1975)


Mankind, the human species, seems to have reached its end. We are in the midst of ecocatastrophes, in the eye of the storm. No natural scientist or serious futurologist believes we have more than thirty or — at the most — one hundred years left. Researchers hired by the fanatical business world spew out their data for money and contradict the views of true scientists. The human language say that the sun rises in the west and sets in the east.

Plenty of severe warnings can be found: individual biologists, population scientists, philosophers and thinkers have issued terrifying warnings to the public; a hundred Nobel laureates have signed a declaration calling for an immediate end to economic growth.


The most wretched of all current trends is of course the mass extinction of organisms, which has been escalating for decades and is still increasing in magnitude.


While doomsday omens can be said to be old news, in the present century they are based on something other than intuition or revelation: modern forecasts are founded on scientific facts, data, calculations and figures. This kind of news is no more than a century old.


The point, however, is that neither mankind nor the nation — I am here referring to Finland — are reacting to this information in any way at all. In the media, news about the impending end of the world is drowned amid thousands of other news items. Even though news concerning the gradual suppression of life is really the only significant news, which all other human aspirations are subordinate to, it never really makes the headlines.

The most striking titles and the most enormous amount of space is reserved for unbelievably uninteresting nonsense: Diana, Clinton, Sundqvist, Vennamo and so on. Political and business leaders speak and act as if there were no threat to life. A man aware of what is actually happening wouldn't know whether to compare the behaviour of a minister, president or general manager to that of a lunatic or an ignorant brat. When asked about the current endangerment of life, ordinary citizens will stutter in bewilderment. All signs of collective suicide are perceptible in our society.


Many are the ecocatastrophes that threaten land, water and sky, or are already occurring, and which amplify one another. I will here mention only one among many possible examples: climate change, a phenomenon that is unfolding before our very eyes at an even faster rate than what was predicted.


To put it briefly, what follows the warming of the climate is the submerging of wide, fertile coastal plains under the sea level, and, most importantly, the destruction of the essential cultivated areas around the world because of drought. Then again, in the north — in places like Finland — harvests seem to be increasing, although the lack of direct sunlight may balance the rise in temperature. Yet, the massive increase in rainfall will prevent harvests from being gathered either mechanically or by hand. According to a different scenario, the Gulf Stream will change its course, and Finland, along with its neighbouring regions, will turn into tundra. Other than these two, no other scenarios are possible.


The supposed awakening of governments to the reality of climate change has produced shows like the conferences of Rio and Kyoto. Despite all the buffoonery, business-making and cynical swindling, climate researchers and ecologists have calculated that to actually stop climate change it would be necessary to cut emissions by ten percent. Other plans to end various ecocatastrophes also yield similar estimates. Naturally, overall consumption in industrial countries would have to be reduced by over ninety percent.

All these programmes, figures and percentages are remodelled in such a way as not to call for the most essential thing, an end to the extinction of organisms, by forcing the human species to retire from the domineering position it has acquired. Such a step would mean a return to the so-called natural frequency of extinctions, which is one thousand times smaller than the present one (or something close to that — I cannot recall the exact figure).


Undoubtedly, human population would also have to be reduced to about ten percent of what it is now.


In drafting a few guidelines, I will here limit myself to a less ambitious programme that only aims at the preservation of mankind and its few companion species. I will provide a brief outline of what changes in society would really be needed to stop climate change.


It is possible that even this more limited objective would require lightening the intolerable burden of human population — although the present population would in this case not be reduced to one tenth, but only stripped of around two billion people. The resulting figure would roughly be equivalent to that of the world population just over half a century ago, when the great ecosystems of the world began to waver and collapse. A reasonable hypothesis can be formulated: that the globe could handle a demographic load of such a size, provided that the levels of material consumption do not rise to what they are today.


In my presentation, I will be even less ambitious: I wish to begin by outlining a reckless attempt to lessen the present demographic strain by the sole means of controlling human birth-rates. This policy is deeply humane — and, precisely for this reason, probably too soft. Whatever the case, what is required is a radical turn, under the guidance of reason, away from the stray path of Western culture.


I will proceed in such a way as to first suggest some practical solutions, and only at the end address philosophical and psychological questions.


A Demographic Plan


The cornerstone of any population platform is the dismantling of the freedom of procreation, the most senseless form of individual freedom. Puzzlingly, this policy has only been implemented so far in the country with the oldest culture of the world: China.


Procreation should be licensed: on average, every woman should be allowed to bear only one child. This policy should be followed for several generations, until a sustainable population is reached. The quality of the population must in all cases be taken into account as well: procreation licences would be denied to homes deemed genetically inadequate or unsuitable for the raising of children, whereas families capable of providing a stimulating environment for children would be granted several licences.

Various means of contraception and abortion would be made freely available anywhere.


The opulent excess of fat, even obesity, which is widespread in our present society, would be decreased by regulating, controlling and normalising the nutrition, vitamin and hormonal levels of adolescents. A drop of twenty centimetres in the average height could realistically be achieved; the same goes for a drop of twenty kilos in the average weight. This is a very important step to be taken — and among one of the most humane ones — in order to reduce the demographic burden.


Energy


Fossil fuels, including peat, will be abolished on the first day the programme is implemented. Even the production and distribution of electricity — the harnessing of which should probably be seen as a great misfortune in the history of mankind — will largely be brought to an end. Electricity may continue to be used as a source of energy by the media and to illuminate rooms (strict quotas would have to be set in this case); but street lights and other external lighting would be banned. Households, as well as businesses, will have to switch to manual labour.


Firewood will be used in heating and its use will be tightly regulated. Fireplaces will be made as efficient as possible. Within walls, bodies will first be warmed by clothing rather than air.

The necessary electricity will be produced by wind power — yet with the awareness that the construction of wind power plants, with the transportation of resources it entails, and their use represent a considerable drawback in environmental terms.


Other power plants will be demolished. The worst kind of plants, energy dams, will be the first to go. Indeed, waterpower has caused the third great ecocatastrophe alongside the clearing of fields and the forest economy: the faltering of our whole marine economy. The new policy will restore our waters to their natural state.


The Collection of Carbon Dioxide


The only large-scale method of removing the colossal surplus of carbon that has already been released into the atmosphere is by absorbing it with vegetation: firstly with trees, then with bushes. In Finland the mean volume of living trees on growing forestland now amounts to 70 cubic metres per hectare. This figure will be increased to about 400 cubic metres, which corresponds to the natural density of forests. Additionally, a significant amount of carbon is stored in fallen trees: this increases the more north the woodland is and the slower the decomposition. Fallen wood also transfers a part of the carbon into peat, if the tree is left alone.


It will take about one hundred years to reach the suggested figure of 400 cubic metres. In the meanwhile, the forest industry will largely have to be shut down. Still, in order to deliver orders and announcements to the population, to maintain the media and literary culture (all of which must be preserved in order to sustain society), the production of paper will continue. Paper, however, will become the most strictly regulated of commodities: perhaps two percent of the current amount of paper will then be produced.


A remarkable obstacle to trees' absorption of carbon and a corresponding source of carbon emissions into the atmosphere will be the use of firewood, even when controlled as described. Firewood will be harvested from fast-growing deciduous trees in small, carefully outlined areas. For a long time we will survive by burning the waste wood of Suicidal Society.


When binding carbon, there will be no room for forest fires: fire-fighting troops will be trained to carry out efficient actions on terrain devoid of forest roads.

An increase in woodland acreage will also be necessary. All wastelands, banks and fields that absorb little or no carbon will be forested. In different phases of the programme, the forest acreage will progressively be incremented in a multitude of ways.


Reforesting a significant portion of field acreage is the most notable step that will be taken. This will be made possible by replacing grain with mostly animal protein for nutrition. The resources of inland and coastal waters, vastly under-utilised in Suicidal Society, will be put to good use: annual profit will be reaped from all species of fish, including fish species that have been dubbed "junk fish" because of fashion whims or popular prejudice, although they serve equally well as food. The fish catch can sustainably be increased a hundred fold, so that it will be possible to replace a third or even half of the nutritional content of grain and other plant-food with first-class animal protein. A corresponding percentage of fields will be forested to contribute to the binding of carbon.


Hunting will also be rendered more effective, although it is a less profitable activity than fishing. Small mammals and highly prolific rodents — and perhaps invertebrate animals too — will be added to the list of game species. With detailed research, care will be taken to keep food chains intact and functional through both hunting and fishing: both activities will take account of the natural growth rate of species.


Agriculture


Farming will be organised in small units, while machines will be abolished and a major portion of the population will be made to practise light agricultural work. Once methods of transport become limited, the population will have to disperse in order to live closer to raw materials and sources of sustenance: close to farming, fishing and gathering. Almost everyone else will have at least a plot of vegetables, and a garden with fruits and berries in the south. A comprehensive network of advisors will operate in order to secure sufficient harvests.


Depots, cleared of machines, and the inner road network of farms will either be added to the cultivated area or forested. Half a million horses will have to be reintroduced onto farms to perform heavy duties — even if this will mean that many hectares of land will be devoted to the production of fodder. The collection, transportation and use of human and animal manure will be organised on a local basis. Greenhouses will operate — when at all — exclusively by solar energy during the warm season. Fresh vegetables, fruits and berries will be available only in their natural ripening seasons. Food will be preserved in each household — either by drying, souring or salting. Forest berries and mushrooms are of great nutritional importance because they provide valuable vitamins and minerals. The lingonberry will be preferred to other berries as it keeps for years, when turned into puree. On good berry years hundreds of millions of kilos of this berry will be gathered and stored safely for many years to come. The same applies to mushrooms in good years.


Finland will be more than self-sufficient in its food production: some quantities of food will be reserved for export. Research into plant cultivation — like that into fish and game economy — would be greatly subsidised in order to develop subspecies that withstand moisture.


Traffic


Traffic conditions will change radically. The main rule will be for people to live in their native areas and home districts. Services will be provided that are reachable on foot, by skiing, cycling, rowing and paddling. Public means of transport on roads and water will be available for long trips. The old system of guesthouses will be restored.


Private car and motorboat traffic will cease. The only road traffic will be that of public transport vehicles and a small number of cars that will be used to transport goods. Most heavy transport will operate via railroads and on water.

Since metal, plastic and rubber junk will be in little demand in the future, the majority of cars, household appliances and other metal and plastic waste will be pressed into solid blocks and transferred to the unproductive rocky grounds of junkyards; the first places to be filled will be mine shafts. Most of the road network will be cleared and reforested, starting from forest roads and those roads built near holiday resorts.


Foreign Relations


After all international trade agreements will have been revoked and all trade coalitions abandoned, foreign trade will drop to a minimum. What will mostly be imported will be metals not found in our country and salt, as the use of salt will rise sharply due to food preservation. After some decades, when railroad and bus equipment will probably cease functioning despite all attempts at repair, equipment and mechanical parts that cannot be manufactured domestically will probably have to be imported as well.


Products of handicraft, woodwork and foodstuff such as fish and berries will be used as exchange currency, Mass travel will end and will be replaced by hiking in one's home area. Only professional correspondents, negotiating officials, and individuals or delegations practising cultural exchanges will travel abroad. Ships will travel at sparse intervals to carry both these people and the mail. Most of the transport will be on open waters. Ships will not sail against the wind.


Foreign visas will be issues to hikers moving on foot and by bicycle. Presumably, they will survive on packed lunches and by working in the countries they visit. Customs will be able to inspect the backpacks and bags of these travellers without any hassle.


All air traffic will cease. Related equipment will be scrapped, while airfields and terminals will be reforested. Most ships, icebreakers and structures in most coastal harbours will be demolished, with the exception of what is left for inland traffic. Consideration will be given to preserve basic ice-breaking equipment, to be used in emergencies.


Industry and Wares


Industrial manufacturing will be subject to licensing: no product will be manufactured unless there is a buyer in real need of its use. In all cases, ecological balance will be a central factor in evaluating whether to issue a permit for industrial manufacture.


Most business enterprises will come to an end. Only a handful of large corporations will be maintained: for instance, those linked to the production of equipment used for public transportation, bicycles and paper. These industries will be in the hands of the state. Long-distance hauling will be avoided in the case of small production units and firms: many people will work in local handcrafting trades.


Only sturdy, well-built equipment will be used, which will last several generations. The mending and maintenance of objects will be central to society: the intentional abandonment of usable objects will be punished.


Construction


The construction of new buildings will cease. Once people dispense with electrical household appliances and excess furniture, more rooms will be available to inhabit. The number of currently uninhabited houses in rural areas would be sufficient to meet the needs of the population, provided a few repairs are made here and there. Most buildings in the suburbs will be demolished, along with construction sites, parking lots and streets, which will all be forested.


A small number of public buildings will be left intact to be used as schools and conference halls or to host cultural events. Smaller gatherings will take place in private households. Sports will be practised in the open In the appropriate season.


Holiday resorts will be demolished and replaced by tents, as holidays will take place in the wilderness The wooden parts of these demolished buildings, likt> Nil wooden material gathered from elsewhere, will be stoired and protected from damage by moisture and decay, to hi later employed as firewood, in such a way as to save living trees.


Education


The school system will be cherished as the most preclotli aspect of society. Foreign languages will be removed In iffl the syllabus of elementary schools (and transferred to t lint of the more specialised schools for the training of fill in I workers in the field of foreign relations); less matheinnl Icn will also be taught. The greatest emphasis will be placet Ion all-round education (natural sciences, history, Finnlwli), sports, arts and, most importantly, civil skills (which 11im adult population will also be taught). Throughout the ynm camp schools will be set up in the wilderness.


Civil skills include responsibility towards one'* neighbour, nature and mankind; social skills, behavioural education and practical abilities. Every citizen will leu in how to mend, patch, handle the most common tool*, build axe shafts, file saws, gut fish and skin animals. Thl handling of food will be painstakingly taught: everyone will learn how to bone a fish in such a way that only thl largest ribs are left and to use their teeth in mincing foo<| in such a way that the skin, innards, fat and bone marrow will not be wasted.

Right from the start, the school system will root out all competition from society.


Universities will be maintained whatever their cost. However, as universities will be investing in spiritual capital, their buildings and tools will be modest. Basic research will focus on the humanities, philosophy and natural sciences. Those fields of science and research requiring the most expensive equipment will be removed. Applied sciences will concentrate on research and the fine-tuning of the new economy (the development of soft technology, repair of buildings, production and preservation of foodstuffs). Commercial sciences will come to an end as society will shift away from materialism and trade will be reduced to a minimum.


While art and music will be widely practised and taught, heavy or bulky equipment and buildings specifically devoted to the practice of the arts will be abolished. In the literary field, the ministry of education will grant permissions to print only fictional and non-fictional works of high quality: trashy novels will vanish. The inherited capital of public and private libraries will be carefully managed. Afternoon newspapers and pulp literature will be abolished. The nu mber of pages in newspapers will be reduced by removing all advertising, making all announcements consist only of text, and banning the repetition of any item of news in the same publication. News, events and trends will still be thoroughly investigated.


The school system, like the whole of society, will be extremely prejudiced against technology. Suicidal Society has taught us that every new phase of technological advancement is more destructive than the previous one. It has also taught us that technology is never a servant, but always a master. Tested solutions will be kept for decades, preferably centuries. Discoveries unrelated to the repair or preservation of technology will not be allowed.


Law and Order


The people most responsible for the present economic growth and competition will be transferred to the mounta i nit and highlands to be re-educated. To be employed for thin purpose will mostly be ex-sanatoriums with a healthy climate located on pine ridges.


The supervising staff, whose function shall include the tasks and mandates of both educators and police officers, shall be purposefully trained to have a clear sense of direction and to be goal oriented. Enough staff will be found locally throughout the country, both in uniform and civilian clothing.

Property crimes will be punished harshly. Sentence! will more generally be hardened.


From an economic perspective, society would not bt able to endure the health damage and disruptions wreaked by drugs. Hence, society will forbid the consumption of drugs, includingtobacco. Through pricing, the consumption of alcohol will be limited to only the largest festivities. With the population adequately under control, no home distilling will take place. Borders will be closed to prevent smuggling.


Subsistence Economy


Subsistence economy will penetrate the whole of society, Most commodities will be rationed: rationed foodstuff will be allotted according to the age, body build and profession of each citizen. In such a way, even the bulkiest performer! of heavy work will be guaranteed sufficient nutrition; but then again, obesity will be unknown. On the other hand, domestic cultivation and gathering of food will not be regulated. Attempts will be made to avoid any wastage of food during the phases of transport, distribution and consumption. Not a crust of bread will be wasted.


The hysteria about freshness and hygiene that has caused such squanders and frantic traffic will come to an end. From childhood, citizens will be made to develop immunity to the most common strains of bacteria (such as salmonella). In other ways too, the medical science will leave the path of Pasteur to embrace practices more in accordance with Darwin's teaching.


Money


Monetary transactions not aimed at immediate material acquisition will come to an end. Stock markets will be shut down; investments will stop.

The only function of banks will be to store currency, allow small-scale withdrawals and lend money. Payments will be made face-to-face, as automated systems of money transferral will only be seen in museums.


Information Technology


When human life and society will have made their way back from their most ghastly Odyssey yet, from virtual reality to concrete, material reality, we will do our best to move all information technology into the trash bin of history. It might be the case, however, that the present bubble will burst, and nothing will remain at the bottom of the bin.


A reader who is contently living in the absurd world of modern delusions may think that what has been presented above is only a form of humour — dark humour. The thought is not altogether absurd, for anguish may give birth to humour, for all we know..


The programme I have outlined is truly born of agony: agony and fear of collective death, the dread of extinction. This fear, however, does not result in dark humour, but in an absolutely serious plan. Hardly any of the pointl I have listed could be ignored in drafting a country's policy — provided different applications of these pointl will be sought in different societies — if our aim is that of preserving human life on Earth. The figures and ratios suggested, of course, must be verified.


The above programme is based on a number of assumptions: firstly, that faith in humanity is the greatest of all follies. If man knew what was good for him, would history be chock-full of wretchedness, war, murder, oppression, torment and misery? Would mankind have driven itself to the brink of total destruction by following millions of false beacons?


The programme also assumes that very few — perhaps one in a thousand or a hundred thousand individuals — are capable of being first-class mechanics, trapeze artists or pilots; and that similarly only very few are capable of sol vi ng national and worldwide problems. Only rare individuals are capable of seeing the greater picture and ascertaining the causes and consequences of given phenomena.


At this moment in history, in this part of the globe, we are madly clinging to democracy and parliamentarianism, although we are all seeing that these are some of the most irrational and hopeless experiments of mankind. It is in democratic countries with a parliamentary system that world destruction, the sum of all ecocatastrophes, has reached its most advanced stage — and not by chance. The sole glimmer of hope lies in a centralised government and the tireless control of citizens.


I will stress this point yet again: the underlying error that is leading us astray is a political system based on indulgence. Our society and ways of life are based on what man desires rather than what is best for him. The two things — desire and necessity — are as far from one another as east and west.

In moving towards a conclusion, I wish to add a rather amusing observation. Besides guaranteeing its main goal, the preservation of life, the suggested model of society would also secure an incomparably better standard of living. What are the sweet, cherished traits of the modern world that man would lose? Record suicide rates, exhausting competition, unemployment, stress, job insecurity, alienation, desperation, the need for psychological medication, bodily decay, individual arrogance, quarrel, corruption, crime...


What would be left, then, would be: an endless spectrum of arts and hobbies (singing, music, dancing, painting, sculpture, books, games, plays, riddles, shows...); numerous museums; the study of history, local customs and dialects, genealogy, the countless pursuits related to biology; handcrafts and gardens; clear waters, virgin forests, marshlands and fells; seasons, trees, flowers, homes, private life... — in other words: a genuine life.


Why, then, is a strict central government needed? I have already referred to the shameful history of mankind. If ordinary individuals, the people, masses, are given the chance to choose, like magpies they will again and again go for the shiny things, leaping like butterflies into the flames. A government led by a few wise individuals is necessary to protect the people from itself.


Power


As the reader may surmise, I will leave open the question of how those few wise individuals might rise to power and how the programme for the preservation of life might be implemented: I simply do not know the answer. Will salvation come at the last moment, after massive catastrophes? (Is there anything left to save?) Or will this happen suddenly, without notice, through some collective flash, like the utterly unpredictable collapse of socialist systems? Or will it perhaps not come to pass at all? ThilT is by far the most plausible scenario. Despite its horror, extinction does not strike the biologist as something exceptional, for it is an ever-present possibility.

What I wanted to emphasise is how distant the life of Western man, of Finns, is from a reasonable existence; how hopelessly deep we have sunk into the mire. I also wanted to outline what kind of options are available, what kind of debate should be articulated in society, and what kind of questions politicians should address, given the present state of the world. All other actions are nothing but a way of playing with fire, waiting to get burned.


Pentti Linkola 1999


« Tu ne dois pas entreprendre une œuvre au-delà de ta force. Tu ne dois pas compter sur Dieu par exemple pour te permettre de faire une prouesse, héroïque, sportive, ou vaincre un record stakhanoviste ! Ou bien une œuvre d'art au-dessus de tes moyens ! Non – ta force, pas plus.


Il te faut la connaître et en savoir la limite. Ainsi engage toute ta force, mais rien au-delà de ta force (il s'agit du travail, entendons-nous bien!).


C'est alors un ordre personnel. Ainsi apprendre à vieillir, et quand les forces déclinent ne pas prétendre que l'on peut aller au-delà, que l'on peut toujours ce qui était possible vingt ans plus tôt. Mais notre texte nous oblige à aller plus loin. Fais le travail avec ta force. Et se pose aussitôt tout un problème de civilisation. Peut-on multiplier la puissance énergétique à l'infini ? Peut-on substituer à la force limitée une source illimitée d'énergie ? Peut-on faire des œuvres qui consomment finalement les réserves du monde pour excéder par millions ce que l'homme pouvait accomplir ?


Certes, maintenant, on le peut, dans l'ordre du possible. Mais est-ce dans l'ordre du permis ? Je sais bien qu'aussitôt cette simple question provoquera colère et jugement contre l'esprit rétrograde qu'elle est censée manifester. Je réponds avec la simplicité du texte : de toute façon, ton travail est vanité, poursuite du vent. Et vos satellites et vos sondes spatiales, et vos centrales atomiques et vos milliards de volts et vos millions de voitures et de télés, poursuite du vent. Il n'en restera rien. Rien. Absolument rien. Dans le séjour des morts où tout va.


Alors, il suffit bien, pour satisfaire ta joie, de ce travail à portée de ta main, avec la force que tu as, et non celle des centrales atomiques. Il suffit bien de cette mesure de blé dans ta main, et de ce comblement par des petites choses, car l'angoisse est d'autant plus grande que les œuvres sont plus somptueuses, et la dévoration du monde pour produire l'inutile n'engendre que la conscience plus aiguë de la vanité de ces richesses, et le désespoir de les perdre aussitôt que gagnées. Fais tout ton travail, mais il est vanité ! »



La Raison d’Être - Jacques Ellul

"Mais aucune société avant la nôtre n'a été vouée au travail. Et c'est en même temps la nôtre qui est vraiment créatrice de pénurie. Ceci peut paraître un paradoxe car nous sommes habitués à l'idée inverse, à savoir que dans le passé l'homme manquait de tout, et que c'est depuis notre développement technique que paraît l'abondance, alors qu'il faut exactement envisager les choses autrement.


La Science économique, c'est la gestion de la rareté, de la pénurie. Nous sommes la société qui est, depuis les origines, la plus créatrice de Manque. Bien sûr nous avons produit massivement des biens industriels, mais en même temps une pénurie de biens naturels, allant maintenant jusqu'à celle de l'air, de l'eau, et des principales matières premières. Il s'agit d'évaluer ce rapport : plus nous travaillons, plus nous épuisons les richesses spontanées de la nature, plus nous voulons aussi consommer des biens toujours davantage complexes et glorifiants. Et plus ceci exige alors de nouvelles forces de travail engagées dans de nouveaux processus de production. Je dirais que, en définitive, l'histoire des sociétés humaines était celle du Non-Travail, en ce sens que l'on cherchait à y échapper; parfois le choix a été explicitement effectué, consciemment : travailler plus et consommer plus, ou bien accepter de consommer moins et se reposer, jouer, passer son temps en palabres.


Régulièrement, dans les sociétés traditionnelles, on a choisi la seconde orientation. Nous sommes la première société à avoir tout voué au travail, et celui-ci exigeant toujours plus de matières premières et de consommation, aboutissant, sous une apparente abondance, à l'organisation de la pénurie, immédiate ou future (par épuisement du sol et des ressources). Et le premier choc de cet excès de travail, nous l'avons fait supporter aux peuples extérieurs. C'est là que nous avons détruit les fragiles équilibres économiques qu'ils avaient habilement ménagés. Pour les besoins de l'expansion de notre travail (bien sûr on parlera de capitalisme et de technique : ce n'est pas faux, mais le tout s'organise autour des deux pôles Travail-Argent), on a remplacé les polycultures, les cultures vivrières, etc., par des monocultures, rentables pour alimenter nos industries, catastrophiques pour les peuples intéressés (qui devaient par exemple importer ensuite ce qui leur était nécessaire pour vivre). Ou encore on a détruit massivement les ressources de base, surabondantes pour ces populations peu nombreuses.


Ainsi les phoques et les baleines pour les Eskimos et tous les peuples du Nord. Nous étions en présence d'une minutieuse organisation de la vie avec un équilibre économique admirable (qui avait d'ailleurs aussi produit des institutions sociales très raffinées) fondée sur l'exacte proportion de consommation et de reproduction, avec la plus grande économie possible d'efforts. Nous sommes arrivées là-dedans comme des bulldozers, saccageant au nom du Travail, de l'Industrie et du Progrès, une sorte de miracle de civilisation étant donné les conditions de vie. L'histoire des hommes était faite d'une modération, parfois d'une défiance envers le Travail. Nous avons tout changé. Nous sommes devenus les adorateurs du travail et de nos œuvres. "


Jacques Ellul - Foi & Vie, n°4 Juillet 1980.