“ E Between the end of the world and the end of the month, I choose the end of the month. “ We remember this punchline of the roundabouts occupied by the yellow vests. Even a slight increase in the fuel tax is, in our geographic and social context, synonymous with reduced purchasing power for many. This example is emblematic of the difficulties encountered by the proposals made to fight against global warming, even when political discourse continues to proclaim its urgency. Gilles Rotillon, professor emeritus of economics, pioneer of research in environmental economics and member of the Économistes aterrés, devotes his latest book to the study of the causes of this impotence, proposes political and social avenues for progress.
The first part of his book discusses the foundations of “Solutions” proposed, from economics to technology, and analyzes the causes of the failure of this ” toolbox “. The much debated carbon tax is the subject of a detailed analysis. By discussing a recent proposal for valuation (1), presented as theoretically basing its necessity, Gilles Rotillon shows that, beneath its apparent technicality, lie hidden presuppositions that are not very scientific, arguments of authority, circular reasoning, principles illegitimately taken for granted. So it is with the “Methodological individualism” dear to economists “Mainstream” for whom the economy is a matter of interactions between isolated individuals arbitrating “Freely” between “Preferences”.
More generally, the concepts used are based on an essentialization of ” the man “ singular or “Us” plural, “Typical example of what Marx called” bad abstractions “”.
The concept of “price of nature” in question
A particular fate is made to the concept, very in favor of some, of “Price of nature”. While it has the advantage of no longer considering it as an inexhaustible and free resource, it treats it as a factor of production to be remunerated like the others, formally satisfactory homogeneity, but unfounded. Because, if it is necessary to spend for the preservation of nature, that does not make it a factor of production. Not to mention the limitations of evaluation methods.
According to the author, the theoretical and political inefficiency of these “Tools” not due to selfishness or unconsciousness ” men “, but in the absence, in the diagnosis as in the solutions, of a critical vision of the company. In this sense, it is appropriate to speak not of the Anthropocene but of “Capitalocene”. It is also necessary to have a correct vision of it as a social relation and not as a master concept, writes the author.
Criticizing in passing, from Daniel Cohen to Thomas Piketty or Christian de Perthuis, all those who put aside the question of a social relationship based on the ownership of the means of production, relying heavily on Lucien Sève – to whom he devotes a chapter in the appendix – he calls for a “True” exit from capitalism, carried by a “Sufficiently powerful mass movement”. Without illusions, however, about its political difficulty. At least the reader will be better equipped to work on it at the end of this reading.