With the third question, we enter a field full of key expressions of the eco-environmental culture. It is important to put some concepts in order and understand possible errors that can frustrate any prospect of liberating Earth from necropolitics. It deals with:
concept of "circular economy",
examine them one by one.
Today the "circular economy" is in fashion. This expression refers to an economy capable of self-regeneration. The goal would be to move from a linear economy - which takes materials from the outside and pours waste outwards - to a circular economy that makes nature return to biological cycles and assigns technology the task of re-evaluating industrialist wastes. According to circular economy theorists, attention should be paid to the design, production, consumption and release phases in order to minimize waste and losses.
Let's reflect on the very last words: "minimize waste and losses". In fact, a circular economy cannot exist absolutely because the law of entropy excludes perfectly circular production processes. In reality, in the conditions hypothesized by the circular economy, we are therefore faced with production processes characterized by open cycles which, therefore, discharge a certain amount of disorder and waste into the environment. Hence, the term "circular economy" is definitely misleading.
But there is more. A circular economy is desirable, if only to slow down the anthropic effect on the world, waiting to associate it with far more radical measures. However, it is absolutely inapplicable in the capitalist context. In fact, it presupposes a concept of savings that is incompatible with the philosophy of waste and acceleration of the life cycle of goods. The capitalist regime, if it does not dissipate, it suffocates! Again we are forced to point out that the so-called "circular economy" would be incompatible with profit. It can only be applied in a socialist system. We can ask ourselves why, then, there is a lot of talk about the circular economy (just as the prefix "eco" is wasted). The answer is simple. There is talk of a green economy within business contexts that exploit fashion for competitive purposes. The circular economy is nothing more than a joke: apart from a few impactless experiments, there remains the aspiration of dreamers or the trick of assault entrepreneurs.
In any case, if in a renewed social context - therefore socialist - "almost-circular" production methods will have to be adopted (we add the "almost" to constantly remind us that we humans are not gods) we must nevertheless be careful to assign too much hope to what this expression promises: the problem of the relationship of our species with the things of nature is solved exclusively by loosening in drastic terms our ravenous demand for resources and consumption.
B] Intangible economy
The "intangible economy" is another concept for dreamers of beautiful things. If the problem of anthropic impact is constituted by the excessive absorption of material and energy resources, just make sure that the intangible component of the economy develops to make that "material" residual and you're done.
The problem is that the intangible economy is found only in heaven among angels. The reality of what is called an intangible economy is nothing more than a solid economy that exploits the diffusion of data production. But reading the Divine Comedy at home or listening to Beethoven in the auditorium - activities, of course, beneficial for the spirit - presuppose material and energy consumption of various kinds. These are activities that are part of the relational network between individuals, demand a withdrawal of external (i.e. natural) resources and emit waste, like all things. Furthermore, it should be added that information is not entirely immaterial because it moves within colossal material structures. According to some, the energy to keep all things beautiful, ugly and useless things on the web adds up to 50% of the energy consumed by the world extractive industry. It is therefore not an angelic economy: quite the opposite!
Is this talk made to reject new technologies? No! Simply to emphasize that in the universe - and therefore also on Earth, the space that is dearest to us - nothing is free! "Nothing is free" is a phrase that we should sculpt on granite and always have in mind. So that we must also keep in mind the effects of our desires and make them compatible with the limits that nature assigns us. Establishing these limits will be fundamental to establishing our correct relationship with nature, the provider of life for us and other sentient beings.
Even "innovation" is an equivocal term. This word, widely used in the mainstream, is linked to the idea of perfecting the human place in the world, to the idea of civilization. In short, the becoming civil of the human being is linked not only to the refinement of the feelings that are presumed to manifest in the history "motu proprio", but also to the implementation capacities suitable for enabling it, consisting in the material development of well-being by means of increasingly advanced technologies.
There is something true in this. But what is never said is that well-being in Western countries has been achieved by subtracting material and human resources for centuries from other peoples who in history have assumed the role of pariah. It was a robbery process that continues today.
To return to the term placed under attention - "innovation" - we must note how it constitutes, within the dominant logic, the function of relaunching (as far as possible) the process of capital accumulation and, therefore, perpetuating that course of accentuation of the inequality that accompanied history and its victims. Should we therefore renounce innovation? Not absolutely. What you do, you can always do better, but we consider that the accumulation of experience that the human has produced has been truly remarkable. Perhaps the time has come to distribute it rather than continue to concentrate it at the expense of those who suffer from "innovation" for too long.
D] Ecological conversion
Here is another expression that would be better never heard. People who sincerely desire to see the life of human beings (who do not realize how dangerous this expression is) invoke it, but also many sly people. There is no entrepreneur who (in words) does not make it his own and even politicians of all colors invoke it. It is the way in which all think they can get away with continuing to maintain this destructive system. If there is a way to reconvert the economy in an ecological sense, we are in place. We can go on like this indefinitely. There is an ecological way of producing, of disposing of waste, of creating cities, of taking natural resources, of making tourism, of building cars, and so on.
We forget that the human being, having technology, manages to perform an operation precluded to other animals: he accesses the stocks of primary resources. This operation means that its action can never be defined as "ecological". This is the reason why "ecological reconversion" is a dangerous expression: we can transform one destructive activity into another less destructive, or even much less destructive, but we cannot think of carrying out an ecological activity because this it would require us to return to live like chimpanzees, our closest relatives. In this case we would have access to the flows of resources that nature makes available to the living, but we would not be able to access primary resources (stocks). However this is neither possible nor desirable; we cannot deny ourselves as humans and deprive ourselves of the properties that evolution has given us. Therefore we must resign ourselves to exercising an action on the world that, even if it is weak, would always be incisive. Today, considering the destructive activity to which the biosphere is subjected, the great objective of redefining the impact of our species is set in order to make our existence compatible with the rest of the living and with that environment that supports us all. But the expression "ecological reconversion" risks creating dangerous illusions with the effect of granting us consumer surpluses that, especially at this stage, we could never afford.
E] Alternative development models.
It is yet another ambiguous expression that, in some way, derives from the previous ambiguous concepts. Certainly there are peoples who have been left behind in history as suppliers of raw materials and underpaid workforce. They will have to develop to achieve that compensation imposed by inalienable principles of justice. But in "alternative models of development" the dangerous word is, precisely, "development", especially if applied to the Western world. What is meant by this word? Economical progress? Development of well-being or civilization? Development of productive forces? Development of machinism?
How to solve the elusive question of a "development" that everyone can invoke by interpreting it in his own way? Since the language and the human ability to manipulate it for the purposes of one's own interests is known, it will be enough to leave everyone's thought free to climb the most diverse roads, however, claiming that a border is not crossed. Which? Provisionally (since more restrictive principles should be adopted on which it is not possible to discuss here) a rigorous and essential condition can simply be put. The following two basic concepts have been defined:
– biocapacity (BC) = all the goods and services that can be supplied by a specific ecosystem, and ...
– ecological footprint (F) = the set of goods and services absorbed by the population acting in that particular ecosystem.
At least as a preliminary, equality must be given:
F = BC
It seems surprising, but this simple relationship that any child would be able to understand is not accessible to the intelligence of most economists and politicians. Currently in most developed countries, biocapacity is a small fraction of the ecological footprint, with the direct consequence of those anthropogenic events on the climate that are destroying the world.
But let's get down to it. What will be the cunning with which the "developers" will try to confuse the new eco-environmental movements? To insist on the need for development, they can say that the situation is now given. As an example, Italians have an ecological footprint that exceeds the regenerative capacity of their territory by about four times (F = 4.1 and BC = 1.1). Then they will exhibit all the concepts on which we have reasoned so far and will tell us: “with the circular economy, the intangible economy, technological innovation, ecological reconversion and new development models, little by little it will be possible to return to that balance that we have systematically overcome so far ”. But what will we have to tell them when the relationship between BC and F, instead of striving for equilibrium, will widen more and more in favor of F? At that point it will become clear that we are faced with subjects who, regardless of the declared intentions, have completely lost the legitimacy of their function. And this regardless of the popular consensus that they may have manipulated to obtain government functions.
Now it should be clear how ambiguous and dangerous some concepts born in the eco-environmental field and made their own by the necropolitics. Eco-environmentalists coined them with a considerable degree of approximation in an attempt to reconcile the devil and holy water, that is, the capitalist system with respect for the environment. But we have seen how these concepts can very well be taken up by the system to continue developing economic policies destined to lead humanity to ruin. Indeed, the assumption of those ideas represents the artifice with which the developers allow themselves to give reason to those who worry about environmental degradation. But it must be clear that any attempt to build virtuous capitalism will end up diminishing the time needed to repair (as far as possible) its inevitable damages. So the battle for the climate will have to build new models and conceptions because what has been produced so far is either useless, or carries dangerous ambiguities behind it. In principle, any reformist or radical idea that is considered plausible by the proponents of this economic-social system must be abandoned because it is destined to reverse itself in its opposite.
Finally, an important note is needed. If at this point it is clear that the salvation of the climate, the biotic community and the human being will depend exclusively on the reformulation of society in socialist terms, it must be equally clear that future socialism cannot have the same developmental nature as the previous twentieth-century attempts. The essential condition lies in the systematic reduction of anthropic pressure by operating both on demography (in long times) and on the reduction of production (in very short times). In other words, the marxian formulation of "development of the productive forces" must be questioned, allowing its application only in areas that have been made depressed by the ravenous and destructive demands of globalization.