Share on facebook
Share on pinterest
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Share on email

Languages

Menu
LOGOTIPO8
Share on facebook
Share on pinterest
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Share on email

Languages

Menu
LOGOTIPO8

“De-growth” — From Theory to Practice¹ (VIII)

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on whatsapp
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on email
Share on print

Introduction

The unrelenting praise of the organizers of the coming Amazon Synod’s for the rudimentary production system of that region’s indigenous people gives rise to a  question: Does this praise include a condemnation of human progress? If so, what is the doctrine underpinning this condemnation? What does “de-growth” mean?

These are the topics we will discuss, taken from the book From Liberation Theology to Eco-feminist Theology.

If progress and the material improvement of living conditions are an evil, “de-growth” must be good.

An enlightening example of this mentality in the ecclesiastical field are the recommendations of the “Justice and Peace Commission of the Order of Preachers,” which proposes “a drastic reduction in current energy consumption so that fossil energy would be reduced to survival or medical uses. According to the de-growth philosopher Fernandez Ox, this would entail, among other things, the practical disappearance of air transport and combustion engine vehicles, which would be replaced by sailing boats, bicycles, trains and animal traction; … the end of intensive agriculture, replaced by traditional peasants’ agriculture; and the shift to a mostly vegetarian diet which would replace meat.[2]

Fernández Buey, an admirer of Che Guevara and miserabilism

However, it is not enough for humanity to stop consuming meat and become vegetarian. According to Dominican prescriptions, it is also necessary to “change the production system… Our societies need to be reorganized on other values that demand the triumph of social life … in the face of private property and unlimited consumption. One must demand leisure as opposed to obsessive work … the desirability of closing or at least significantly reducing the activity of manufacturing such as the military industry, automobiles, pharmaceuticals, aviation, and much of the construction industry.” [3]

Comment: One can easily imagine how this advocacy of leisure and the end of private property can harmonize with a certain “indigenous worldview.” However, such tenets condemn indigenous peoples to permanent economic and social stagnation, a kind of “apartheid” that can only be seen as a glaring injustice. 

A Few Pretexts for Degrowth

According to this “zero growth logic,” any economic investment for the exploitation of natural resources is detrimental. However, since few have “converted” to this eco-feminist belief, other arguments to combat progress are needed. These include the negative consequences investments can cause to small producers and any environmental contamination they may produce.

The magazine Pastoral Popular has dedicated several issues to express its outrage in the face of the ecological damage allegedly caused by the project to search and exploit gold deposits in the “Pascua Lama” mountain range.[4] Among the damages, the magazine denounces the crime of “building an airstrip on a wetland that is an indigenous ceremonial place” and stresses that “Christian communities have played a very important role in opposing the project … by creating the Pastoral to Safeguard Creation. Bishop Gaspar Quintana has also had a very clear position on the project…” [5]

For its part, the CONFERRE organized a protest in Copiapó against the mining company: “We, a group of men and women religious, convoked by the Conference of Men and Women Religious of Chile (CONFERRE) arrived in Copiapó from Santiago to show solidarity with our brothers and sisters fighting to protect all forms of life and save scarce water resources in this desert region by opposing the controversial “Pascua Lama” mining project of the Canadian Barrick Gold Company. As consecrated persons in religious life, we responded to this call with a march initiated on the bed of the Copiapó River, recently dried up by different mining companies, bearing witness to this act of violence towards nature. We are witnesses that what used to be water is now just dry land.”[6]

Comment: Without delving into the technical aspects of the project, which is up to specific state agencies that must ensure the protection of public health and respect for the local communities, it is easy to note how these actions are logical consequences of the principle by which man should not dominate the Earth.

We do not claim that this “domination” should be arbitrary and predatory.Man can plan for the future , so he has an interest in not exhausting the resources of nature. The fact that the resources belong to individuals, through private property, is another guarantee that they will be cared for.

Indeed, in addition to the perfect moral legitimacy of the right to correctly dispose of the goods of the earth through private property, one should recall that, according to Saint Thomas Aquinas, “when a thing belongs to everyone, nobody takes care of it.” Suffice it to see how public spaces without defined caretaker inexorably decay into garbage dumps.

Nor is the fact of belonging to the state a guarantee. Ecological predation in the former Soviet Union such as the disappearance of the Aral Sea is characteristic of the way socialism cares for the environment.[7]    

Whenever the state, ignoring the principle of subsidiarity, meddles into the sphere proper to individuals, the supposed beneficiaries are those who are most harmed.

Un acto de desagravio a la Creación

The “Ecumenical Coalition for the Care of Creation” gathered about 200 people, including the bishop emeritus of Ancud, the Most Rev. Juan Luis Ysern, and the expert on Mapuche culture and worldview, Julio Marileo, to address the issue, “Water, a Source of Life and Spirituality, Is Threatened.”[8]

[8] Cf. Pastoral Popular, N° 314, May/June 2009.

 

At the session, a variety of accusations were made against the predatory action of the companies: “Other testimonies came from San Pedro de Melipilla, affected by drought and the action of agro-industrial companies; still others from the Maule coast, between Constitución and Chanco, where they plan to build the Los Robles Thermoelectric Power Plant; others, from the Mehuín cove and the resistance of fishermen to the duct of the cellulose company CELCO … These testimonies were commented on in three theological approaches: one, by Lutheran theologian Ute Seibert (Con-spirando); another, by the bishop emeritus of Ancud and president of CARITAS Chile, Juan Luis Ysern; and a third, by Julio Marileo, a specialist in Mapuche culture and worldview.”  [9]  

Comment: As the reader can see, ecofeminists present all initiatives by individuals or companies as the cause of damages, including the drought in Melipilla. While entrepreneurs are always the culprits, those who attack them are always innocent. Thus, it is no wonder that Julio Marileo, who was convicted of arson attacks, participates as a “specialist in Mapuche culture” and takes the floor with Bishop Ysern. [10]

On the other hand, we cannot fail to note that the same theological current that venerates elements of nature such as water and fire, tries at the same time to legalize sexual and reproductive “rights” which include the “right” to abortion. For them, this is not a blatant contradiction, for in their logic a man is nothing but a speck in the cosmos, and most of the time a dangerous and predatory one.

In this sense, it is interesting to know the ‘liturgy’ with which the religious celebrated the care of water. They even give the Our Father  an ecological meaning: “Liturgy of water management, the task of all: Symbol: a Jar with Water, vessels. The animator invites someone in the group or assembly to distribute the vessels, and another person to distribute the water. Introduction: Today we will talk about water distribution and pray to the Lord to help us see how He wants us to participate with Him in caring for our brethren and what our responsibility is in their management. Prayer: Give us today our daily bread and water, forgive us our trespasses and give us love to forgive. Let us pray to the Lord: Deliver us from the enemies of your life: the violators of people’s dignity and the mysteries of Mother Earth. Let us pray to the Lord – Let us not fall into the temptation of consumerism and evil. Let us pray to the Lord.”[11]

“Bases for a bio-civilization centered on life, on the Earth.”

CONFERRE’s magazine Testimonio dedicates a full issue to the “pains of childbirth” that the Earth suffers. Its editorial calls on those in religious life to give “mother earth … the mantle of mercy (and) the ring and sandals of its dignity.” To illustrate this “communion” with “Mother Earth,” the magazine translates several articles of religious of different orders, all aligned with this ecological theology.[12]    

 Among the articles published as a guide to this doctrine, it is worth noting the speech by Father Miguel D’Escoto[13]  at the United Nations. It is the best summary of this doctrine, also disseminated by the presidency of the U.N. General Assembly.[14]

Addressing that Assembly regarding the global economic crisis and the ways to solve it, Father D’Escoto states: “We must incorporate the views coming to us from the so-called earth sciences according to which the Earth is part of a vast and complex evolving cosmos. She is alive, she is Mother Earth, an expression approved by this Assembly on April 22nd … This contemporary conception is consistent with the ancestral vision of Humanity and the original peoples, for whom the Earth always was and is revered as a Mother … or Pacha Mama, as the Aymaras call it in Bolivia. … A new ethic is born from this new prism. A new way of interrelating ourselves with all who live in our human abode and with the surrounding nature. Today, ethics will either be planetary or unethical.”

Comment: So far, the priest has repeated ecological maxims. Now he will teach what ethical obligations arise from them: 

“We start from the premise that the community of peoples is simultaneously a community of common goods (sic) … what are the fundamental goods that constitute the Common Good of Humanity and the Earth? Who owns the Earth? The Earth does not belong to the powerful who appropriated its goods and services, but to the whole of the ecosystems that constitute it … By being alive and generating all living beings, it has dignity (dignitas Terrae). This dignity demands respect and veneration and makes it a carrier of rights: the right to be cared for, protected, and maintained in a position to continue producing lives. We have yet to recognize that, to a great extent, the mode of production that became globalized in its industrialist voracity has devastated the Earth … It is urgent that we seek other ways that are more human and more favorable to life: the paths of justice and solidarity, which are the paths that lead to peace and happiness.”

Comment: Father D’Escoto, a Lenin Peace Prize recipient, blames the “powerful who appropriated its [the earth’s] goods and services” for the economic crisis, and claims that the solution lies in “a community of common goods.” This preaching is nothing but a reformulation of communism with “ancestral” trappings.

As a priest, Father D’Escoto could not fail to invoke the moral aspect of this new theology, which he proposes in “Strategies for Overcoming the Crisis.” Among the five measures suggested to solve it, he says, “Fourth: To forge a minimum ethos from a multicultural exchange and the philosophical and religious traditions of peoples so they can participate in the definition of the Common Good … and in the development of new values. Fifth: Empowering a spiritual view of the world … We achieve this through an economy of that provides what is sufficient and decent to the whole community, living in communion with other human beings, with nature, and with the All, of which we are part. Here is the basis for a bio-civilization centered on life, Earth and Humanity” (emphasis in the original).

One could expect that a priest occupying such a high rostrum would take the opportunity to close his address with a call for people to confide that the economic crisis is temporary and will be resolved by taking prudent measures and with the help of Providence. However, this would not be consistent with ecofeminism. Let us see what drives this priest’s hopes for the future.

“Finally, to the Common Good of Humanity belongs the belief, witnessed by spiritual traditions and affirmed by contemporary cosmologists and astrophysicists, that behind the whole universe and behind every being, person, event, and our crisis today acts the mysterious and ineffable Background Energy, also called the Feeding Source of the whole Being. This nameless Energy – we are sure – will also act in this moment of chaos by helping us and empowering us to overcome selfishness and take the necessary measures…” (emphasis ours).

We’ll continue with this topic in an upcoming article.

 

  • [1]“(…) Así pues, el termino decrecimiento no es nuevo. Empieza a tomar fuerza como movimiento en Francia en los años 90, donde diversos autores trabajan en su desarrollo teórico: Latouche, Cheynet, Schneider, Aryés… La revista del colectivo ecologista ‘Silence’ le dedica ya un monográfico en 1993 y otro más reciente en 2002. En Francia toma forma incluso un partido político, que se presenta a las últimas elecciones, el PPLD (Partido por el Decrecimiento). En París en 2002 la asociación ‘Ligne d’Horizon’ organiza el encuentro: Deshacer el Desarrollo, Rehacer el Mundo. El periódico semanal ‘La
  • Décroissance’ alcanza una tirada de 50.000 ejemplares, y en el año 2003 el libro ‘Objectif
  • Décroissance’ marca un hito”. Cf. Pepa Gisbert Aguilar. “Decrecimiento: camino hacia la sustentabilidad
  • http://www.ua.es/personal/fernando.ballenilla/Preocupacion/Pepa_Decrecimiento.pdf
  • [2] “Francisco Fernández Buey. Palencia, 1943. Professor of Philosophy of Law, Moral and Politics. Philosopher and writer. He teaches History of Ideas and Political Philosophy at the UPF since 1994. Author of various essays: Lenin, Essays on Gramsci, Contribution to the Critique of Scientific MarxismThe Illusion of Method, Ideas for a Well-tempered RationalismSpeeches for Discrete RebelsNetworks that Give FreedomBarbarism: Theirs and Ours” http://www.kaosenlared.net/colaboradores/franciscofernandezbuey.
  • [3] Cf. José María García-Mauriño, “Justicia y Paz – Orden de Predicadores,” emphasis ours. Cf. http://justiciaypaz.dominicos.org/noticia.aspx?noticia=810
  • [4]  “Pascua–Lama is the world’s first binational mining project and consists of developing an open pit gold mine located more than 4,000 meters high on Chile’s border with Argentina. On the Chilean side, Pascua is located in Huasco Province, Atacama Region, while on the Argentine side, Lama is located in the Province of San Juan. For Pascua-Lama one projects an estimated investment of between US$2.8 billion and US$3 billion and a lifespan of at least 25 years, and it has proven reserves of 17.8 million ounces of gold containing 718 million ounces of silver.” Cf. http://www.barricksudamerica.com/proyectos/pascua-lama_informacion.php
  • [5] Cf. Pastoral Popular, May/June 2009 Year 58 – n° 314, emphasis ours.
  • [6] http://www.providenceintl.org/CGUploadDir/bulletinAssoc_fev09-ESP.pdf
  • [7]  “Today the Aral Sea is located between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. This place is an ecological disaster which is not taken with the seriousness and relevance it should. In the last 50 years, the area of the Aral Sea was reduced by 80%. … This whole disaster began during World War I when the Soviet Union decided that the Aral Sea was a geographical accident and would sooner or later disappear. … Today, fishing ports with hundreds of boats, towns and villages are ghosts in a desert of polluted sands” Cf. “¿Cómo secar un mar en 30 años?” http://www.taringa.net/posts/info/3533183/Como-secar-un-mar-en-30-a%C3%B1os–real-.html.
  • [9] Cf. Ibid. pp. 18 & 19, emphasis ours.
  • [10] Julio Marileo graduated as a professor of basic education at the Catholic University of Temuco, but his occupations have been more focused on field fires in the south of the country. “The Mapuche Wallmapuwen party, with the patronage of the Citizen Observatory, filed this morning with the Court of Appeals of Temuco a protection appeal in favor of Julio Marileo, a professor of basic education, who received a suspended sentence of 3 years and a day for setting the fire that damaged the Santa Ana farm near the town of Collipulli a few years ago. … Like other Mapuches charged and/or convicted of crimes linked to territorial claims, last January Julio Marileo was contacted by the Gendarmerie to undergo the blood test that will record him in the National DNA-I Registry” (cf. “Interponen recurso de protección por Registro de ADN,” Diario Crítico de Chile, Santiago, February 4, 2009).
  • [11] Cf. “Litugia La gestión del agua, tarea de todos”. Conferre.
  • [12] Cf. Testimonio, n° 236, November/ December 2009.
  • [13] Fr. Miguel D’Escoto was a militant of liberation theology, a Sandinista activist from Nicaragua, and a Senior Advisor to President Daniel Ortega in International Affairs, a position he held from 2007 and which entails the rank of minister. He temporarily assumed the presidency of the sixty-third session of the United Nations General Assembly (2008), when he made this statement. He was ordained a priest of the Maryknoll Missionaries in the early 1960s. He received the Lenin Prize for Peace (1985/1986), awarded by the Soviet Union, and was Chancellor of Nicaragua under Sandinism. He died on June 8, 2017.
  • [14] United Nations Conference on the Financial Crisis and World Economy and Its Impact on Development, New York, June 24-26, 2009. Cf. Op. cit. Testimonio, pp. 80 a 88.
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on whatsapp
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on email
Share on print

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Solve : *
18 − 11 =