The Second convivial manifesto, For a post-neoliberal world has just been published (éditions Actes sud), seven years after the first, and it is an event for all those who, faced with present emergencies and the domination of neoliberal choices, no longer know which remedies or which doctrines to turn to.
Because there is no question of returning to the old words in -ism: socialism, Marxism, anarchism, liberalism …, have had their day and proved their inadequacies. None of these ideologies are up to the challenges of today, and the convivialisme here is not just one more -ism.
I have, in two previous posts, “Fighting excessiveness” and “Why I come to convivialism”, already presented this current which, if it is now equipped with a program, does not constitute a party or an ideology. A sum of reflections and discussions, rather, from MAUSS notebooks (Anti-Utilitarian Movement in Social Sciences) and the writings of Alain Caillé, by a group of French and foreign intellectuals whose signatures can be found at the end of the book. In this list of three hundred names, I note with pleasure those of researchers as robust and respected as Edgar Morin (who presents himself as a “mediologist”, happy effect of his complicity with Régis Debray, alas absent from our panel?), Mireille Delmas-Marty, Philippe Descola, Dany-Robert Dufour, Jean-Pierre Dupuy or Bruno Latour… The thought or friendly breakthrough is therefore neither the fad of a sect, nor a utopia of commercial coffee. But the presentation carefully weighed by this collective of the dangers which assail us, and the reasoned examination of the remedies or the measures to be taken to avoid the worst.
Although requested and kept informed of the different states of the text, I did not personally participate in its drafting, too busy with the work of moving last fall; I hope to catch up here by helping at least to disseminate this remarkable effort of synthesis, and intellectual courage. Many people are indeed divided, in front of the state of our world, between the skeptical denial (“global warming, what a joke!”) And the catastrophism of collapsologists, two attitudes which also make powerless, or push the status quo . The first merit of this Manifesto is to equip us intellectually and morally. Yes, the obstacles are almost insurmountable since climate change, and all that it entails, is not a local thing but a global one: only an international of coordinated thinkers and actors can measure up to the dangers. And the climate itself is just one facet of an old multi-factorial process that has evidence of routine and proven recipes for it. It is against this laziness, and this comfort of thought, that Convivialism invites us to react; it’s not easy, and this little book is anything but simplistic.
Let’s go back to his main theses, to try to put him as he deserves (and requires) “in all hands”. A first question, that which one invincibly asks oneself at the opening of the work, is to evaluate its power of training: all that it advances is undoubtedly just, but how to propagate in the public, how to spread these disturbing truths and transform its readers into actors? Because informing is not enough, and the paths of persuasion are obscure. “I know very well, many sympathizers will think, but still …” The very act of reading supposes isolation, if not separation, against which the book protests from its very first pages by hammering the word together : written by a collective, the Manifesto endeavors to shape another, that of the (international) agents determined to take control of the (disastrous) course of events. It is aimed at the huge crowd of those who do not ask for the moon – but respect for their simple humanity. For example, by not tolerating the abjection of misery any more than that, also unbearable, of extreme wealth.
We are right to write books, to argue and think against the dominant disorder, to stand against those opposite, the proponents of the neoliberal ideology, that is to say of capitalism delivered from its Keynesian shackles, and who now seeks pure profit. The battle, insists the Manifesto, is also played with words, ideas, in order to name things and reason. To the ridiculously narrow paradigm of this financial and rentier economy which triumphs everywhere today, it is urgent to oppose other ways of counting, of desire and especially of sharing. Urgent to deny Thatcher and his famous TINA: “There is no alternative”. (We will read on page 12 the luminous summary, in six theses, of this neoliberal catechism which does so much harm, and which the convivialists oppose point by point. Nothing would be worse, in the current situation, than to remain at a surface indignation, to a lamentation without target or opponents. In a constant manner, this pugnacious little book, and always very clear, names the adversary and refutes it foot by foot.)
Faced with a situation of hegemony (in Gramcsi’s sense), Convivialism therefore endeavors to construct what could become an alternative paradigm, which is at the same time political, economic, moral or anthropological. Project too ambitious? He deserves better than disdain or mockery in principle. Imagine the work falling into the hands of a resident of a devastated Earth, around 2060, who would discover too late, and with what anger, these warnings from a time when there was still time, of the time that the convivialists were right!
Because, the Manifesto insists, it is not too late, and a lot of associative initiatives or reasoning among us are going in the right direction (we will read pages 21-25 the partial review of these allies, since the work of the IPCC to the AMAP in my neighborhood). A very tough battle is engaged, which also involves ideas, which requires a philosophical burst capable of making us “get out of the square”; or, as Nietzsche asked, a transmutation of values, the emergence of which remains uncertain: what are our chances of luck, how much time do we have left? The first score to score against the adversary, who wants to lock us in fatalism, is to affirm that there is an alternative, another program, a paradigm or a substitution philosophy (failing a replacement planet! ); the articles of this program should be listed point by point.
The first of the “values” to be fought in the opponent is greed, his assertion that “greed is good” or that, by trickling, the greed of one will make everyone happy. The neoliberal catechism does not put limits to the hubris, this excess so much denounced among the Greek Tragics and which results, for example, in a Land where the forty people who are today the richest have as much fortune as four billion other men – where a man can therefore weigh or “be worth” as much as one hundred million of his fellows! We measure by such figures, or by the career at home of a Tapie or Carlos Ghosn, to what extent inequalities have exploded, since the classical age of capitalism which, for a Franklin Roosevelt, tolerated in a business wage differentials from 1 to 20. Left to themselves in a market dominated by extreme individualism, its operators lose all respect for common, and common sense, only matters a desire which, far beyond the need, is no longer held back when men compare and envy each other. The enigma of desire, when it is praceless without brake or stop, is at the heart of this little book (in the way that René Girard, or Jean-Pierre Dupuy, made it the pivot of their thoughts).
I said that friendliness was not going to be another -ism. Rather, it achieves a hug between the proposals of previous -isms, it presents itself as their “common minimum doctrinal background”, by formulating this art of living together which values relationship and cooperation, so as to oppose without slaughtering each other, taking care of others and Nature (page 38). Or the enumeration of the five principles (pages 42-45), now canonical, which found this new paradigm, principle of common naturality, common humanity, common sociality, legitimate individuation and creative opposition (these last two principles providing and even encouraging conflict – within the limits of the common good and the proscription ofhubris). The insistent reminder of the common therefore opposes neoliberal individualism in every way.
Work where is formulated for the first time
the theory of “runoff”
accolade seems to me the right word to summarize the effect, on me, of a body of doctrine which indeed welcomes me or enlists me, with the feeling not of extreme novelty but of recognizing a background or a fund ancient, or resonates the heritage of the Greeks, Christianity, Nietzsche (the transmutation of values) and of course and always ecology. Different wisdoms intersect here, with happiness and profit. What a joy, for example, to recall, against all profiteers with low fronts, that the greatest wealth comes from our intersubjective relationships, that gift and cooperation make us stronger than the rivalry of all against all, that the feeling of ease or a good life is not linked to accounting wealth, that economic calculation when it stops at market value is a restriction of thought which leads right to social hell and to psychological and moral suffocation, etc!
Neoliberalism, this political and social illiteracy, leads our world to ruin on all fronts; conviviality by weaving old links, old care, gives us a shelter, a house out of the icy waters of selfish calculation.
Many points would be developed in this too short presentation of a major little book, for example when it sends back to back the false alternative of universalism and communitarianism (how convivrewith fundamentalists and veiled women?), introducing the idea of a necessary “pluriversalism” (page 72); or when he convincingly discusses the means and the chances of fairer taxation. The MAUSS review was carried by sociologists and economists who, while denouncing the tyranny of figures, do not joke with them, and I trust them on this point.
Grab this Manifesto, discuss it, propagate it, try to enrich it, go beyond it or at least copy it… The most dear wish of its editors is to be recovered, or melted in a broader set: in the crowd, still too sparse, anonymous and sentimental, of all those who feel how it can no longer last, and will crack, how much it must change!