Change our paradigm to rationalize productions and transports in space and time

Introduction faite à un débat aux rencontres européennes de l’écosocialisme:

Europe and world are face to ecological and economical crises that make necessary the overcoming of capitalist logic to rationalize and plan our productions and transports at “regional scale[1]”. My idea is that ecological crisis (resources, climate, biodiversity) requires an ecological plan at both Regional and European scales minimizing footprint of human activities and answering the human needs (alimentation, products…). This can be done if the way for organizing the territories shifts from profit maximization to the couple human needs and preservation of environment. First, I will shortly draw a picture of the ecological crisis. Then I will show why organizing production via the market cannot be a solution. Finally, I will propose some avenues to rationalize productions and transports across the territories. The main open questions are the definitions of environmental priorities and the harsh debates of how define the human needs.


This crisis includes four elements that are interrelated. The climatic change due to greenhouse effect is probably the most discussed one. Capitalist economy is based on the use of cheap fossil energy. Energy allows easy transport that is crucial for a “free” market at global scale and is a source for a continuous increase of productivity. For these reasons, fuel and capitalism are tightly related together and capitalism will not likely allow a decrease of atmospheric carbon dioxide release. Climatic change will impact all crops; the production of some of them will grow (due to fertilization effect of higher temperature and carbon dioxide) and others will disappear (due to drought and extreme heat). Whatever the case, an increase of more than 2 degrees Celsius makes necessary strong adaptations of cropping systems. But climatic change must not hide others aspects of the ecological crisis. A huge biodiversity crisis currently occurred due to the reduction in size of natural areas causing a loss of species diversity and also a loss of crop diversity that endanger the safety of foods supply. The high production rates of agronomy and factories have also generated two other phenomena: (1) higher pollution in both cities and fields causing new kinds of human diseases and finally (2) a decrease in water resources and in minerals.


Due to its internal contradictions, capitalism cannot make profit without increase in transport and production. Capitalism is condemned to growth. Moreover, the free market does not allow planning enough quickly a reorganization of our production and always produced more disorders than order in the production. Some ecologists think that it is possible to green wash capitalism by adding environmental externalities in the chain of producing economic values. However, we currently see that this method fails, but the reasons why must be further analyzed. First, adding green rules increases the cost of production for the enterprises and ecological dumping such as social dumping is unavoidable in a global market. Secondly, capitalism dominated by finance has not interest to provide the required funds to change the economical structures (transport, food production). For all these reasons, the only solution is to constraint production by law and plan, with external rules that limits transport and rationalize the production and develop public services.


We have first to focus on essential human needs that have to be accessible for all inhabitants. This list is not so easy to draw up: water, food, housing, energy, communication and heating appear to me essential. The accessibility of all these needs go through a development of public services at regional scale (a well-judged scale of interest for combining economy, ecology and democracy) with a real democracy where citizens and workers define these essential needs and find out the solutions to provide them while minimizing the human footprint on environment. This democracy is the only way to build an appropriate definition of essential needs available for all citizens. On the other way, the participation of workers and scientists is also required to find the appropriate solutions.  


Some guidelines can help us to better take into account the ecological crisis. The defense of environment could be taken into charge by a specific group, whose role will be to defend the environmental interests (i.e like a lawyer in the justice). All the dimensions of ecological preservations had to be studied: climate, soil, water, and endangered species…


If we were able to promote this new way for producing products and foods, we could greatly reduce the human footprint. For example, prefer local production and food consumption will strongly reduce transports and its carbon cost. Eating more vegetables would be also useful to decrease the pollution and some human diseases. Air and water pollutions caused by our factories should be treated directly when they are produced. Cheap common transports will reduce the use of cars and living in city center reduces overall energy cost. All these measures require strong reorganizations of our territories.


I will conclude on two main questions that I put forward for discussion: the first is to know in the current capitalist society what kind of transient measures we can defend. I think that all measures that build and reinforce public services, local democracy, local production (foods, energy and products) and small markets are welcome. We have also to obtain free public transports and reclaim that energy and water become a public service under citizen and workers controls. We have also to take off claims that push workers against the environment. Change in production and organization of the territories might be in line with the formation of workers.   


The second question concerns the respective roles of local market, regional plan of production and European rules. I think that some production and exchange has to remain in local market, but others have to be planned and come back to public services. Market does not mean capital and private property of production means. The capital and property could be shared across workers (or workers and citizens), while market constrained by laws could continue to rationalize exchanges of unessential productions.


[1] Regional or territories are used in the sense of French région.

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