The idea that damage to the environment can be stopped by personal restraint gets a well-deserved hammering in a pamphlet (in French) posted on the web here … and the introduction is now published in English on People & Nature here.
Here’s a little bit of the first section, so that English language readers can get the flavour:
“You, you little guy! ‘Make yourself aware of your responsibilities’ with regard to the spoilation of the planet. By sorting your rubbish bins, and saving water and electricity … you can tighten your belt, in order to allow the industrial magnates to keep polluting in complete peace! That’s what ‘being aware of your responsibilities’ is all about!!!
“Why does society encourage this type of ‘responsibility’?
“Because it’s a way of making people accept austerity. Economise on water, gas, electricity. …
“‘Save the planet’, they say. A pretty shrewd way to make us tighten our belts! In fact why not get us to stop breathing all together?! That’s not far off. […]
“The masters of the world want to make you carry the burden of their filth. They want to make you culpable. Easy! One of the pillars of this society is the sense of culpability for everything and above all. The result: they will make you carry tonnes of excrement from their big factories without the slightest scruple.”
The pamphlet, entitled Ecological Servitude, rages against “ethical banking” and the fraud of “poverty relief”. It questions do-gooding “local solutions” in general and micro-credit in particular. In conclusion it insists that there is no “individual solution” either to global warming and industrial pollution, or to the inequalities and injustices produced by capitalism – and calls for people to struggle collectively.
I did not really understand where the authors think such struggles might lead or what they make of the struggles taking place now. Nor could I work out the context in which the pamphlet was written or the audience to which it is primarily addressed. And although it is rightly scathing about the claims of capitalist states to be concerned about ecology, I wasn’t clear about how its authors themselves see the relationship of society and ecology.
Admittedly, I may have missed some points because of my difficulty in reading French. But I’d encourage readers of French to look at the pamphlet. We now have the introduction in English on People & Nature here, and hopefully the rest will follow. If anyone can translate it, I’ll certainly post it. GL.