“If you want apples in your garden, plant an apple tree. Nothing will happen if you only hope that one day the wind will carry a seed to your home. “ It’s simple and obvious. Without appeal. If several dozen people suffer and threaten to jump into the water aboard the boat of which you are captain, you dock as soon as possible. You don’t wait for permission to be given or not. It’s simple and without appeal. This is how Carola Rackete also thinks of contemporary political action: “Let’s act instead of hoping. “
In June 2019, the media around the world baptized her “captain courage” or “Antigone of the 21st century”. At the helm of the lifeboat Sea-Watch 3, she had just defied the ban placed on her to enter the port of Lampedusa. A real act of resistance to the xenophobic policies of the then Italian Minister of the Interior and leader of the far right, Matteo Salvini.
At the start of the week, Carola Rackete was in Paris for the Wednesday release of her book, It’s time to act. It is a young woman of 32, smiling and wearing a colorful summer dress, who confided this Tuesday to Humanity in the premises of the Iconoclaste publishing house. “His book is an invitation to radically change society. It is an embodied manifesto ”insists its editor, Charlotte Rotman, sitting behind her desk, in the room where Carola Rackete sat down. “But it’s not a book about me”, intervenes the latter.
Not an icon, just a fighting woman
The young woman, for whom notoriety is only one “Media accident”, denies being an icon of solidarity with refugees. Not an icon of feminism either. Simply a scientist, carrier of “Polar virus”, who at 25 obtained a license allowing him to operate the boats that would take him to his research grounds in Antarctica. She also wrote a thesis on albatrosses and sea lions. An environmental activist, engaged for a time within Greenpeace, for whom the rescue at sea of the exiles only represents a small part of her commitment. Not an icon, therefore: just a woman of the 21st century, aware of the ecological, social, geopolitical perils of our time, and who has decided to fight.
In her book, Carola Rackete of course looks back on the events of the summer of 2019. The long wait, the moral questions, the tension on board and all these people in exile, drawn from the waters, bearing both physical and psychological wounds… But if she takes up this story, above all to put it in perspective with the need to collectively get out of the system, inegalitarian and ecocidal, of capitalist growth.
A decryption of domination relations
“When I started to worry about the fate of exiles, we talked a lot about economic migrants, people who left their homes to be able to live better, she always explains with calm, serenity and a smile. They are, in fact, the victims of the unequal distribution of the world’s resources. “ Without ideology, even in a scientific way, it deciphers the relations of domination between rich countries and poor countries, countries emitting greenhouse gases and countries where life is made impossible by global warming, countries plundering resources and countries where population dies of hunger or goes into exile.
We need to understand that change can make things better. That, however, the system in which we live is harmful and promotes inequality and poverty. (…) Protest and be creative, these are our ways of dealing with the crisis. ”
Another world is possible, “But it takes courage, Carola Rackete also writes in her book. (…) We need to understand that change can make things better. That, however, the system in which we live is harmful and promotes inequality and poverty. That seen on a planet scale, small elites are making extreme profits, while billions of human beings have no chance of getting out and are suffering. That together we can make it happen. (…) Protest and be creative, these are our ways of dealing with the crisis. (…) We must join forces. And we must be many. “ And to take up the phrase of Winston Churchill: “Act like it’s impossible to fail. “
In her book, as during this Tuesday afternoon spent with us in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, the gaze carried by this young cargo captain on the violence of the capitalist system is without appeal, and her speech surprisingly calm and specific. Examples of the hypocrisy used by the rich countries to consolidate their power, it points to the tensions which are developing today in the Mediterranean, between Greece on the one hand, supported by France, and Turkey on the other; the ambiguous support of Paris for General Haftar, in Libya, against that of the Italians and Turks for the militias of Tripolitania; or the French hotspots in Niger and the Turkish mosques on the Algerian border. All of them appear to him as so many strategies aimed at the appropriation of resources, in the Aegean Sea or in Africa, to the detriment of populations ultimately forced into exile.
And should the members of civil society, who compensate for the failings of States, make them feel guilty, or even be considered delinquents? Even though these States no longer respect the international conventions and agreements to which they are signatories … “Things have to change and hope is not enough, it’s vital, we have to act”, this is the message carried by Carola Rackete in her book, dedicated “To all victims of civil obedience”.