Two months after the rally of 30,000 people in Sainte-Soline (Deux-Sèvres) against the construction of mega-water retention basins, the violent clashes with the police which took place there and the announcement of the dissolution of the movement by Gérald Darmanin, the Uprisings of the earth publish a collective book. Forty voices follow one another in this primer to defend the environmental movement and its offensive strategy. For the contributors, “what is at stake” would be “nothing other than the battle of this century”, a battle to preserve water and land, subject to the assaults of private interests, when they should be sanctuarized as commons. How to act then? The inaction and repressive violence of the state would justify radicalizing the environmental struggle. Among the methods defended: creation of local support networks, establishment of ZADs, demonstrations and actions of civil disobedience. Radicality is embodied in particular in the assumed recourse to sabotage, for example of concrete plants, to which we prefer the term “disarmament”.
The list of forty contributors to this sort of “handbook of the ongoing struggle” offers a vast overview of the new geography of radical ecology. There are obviously activists there, but also artists, like the author Virginie Despentes, researchers, like Françoise Vergès or Baptiste Morizot.
In this surprisingly aesthetic little book, a Scout publication from the 1970s, there is everything to annoy those allergic to the radical left: inclusive grammar and vocabulary, apology for the convergence of struggles (ecologists, decolonialists, queer…), rejection of reformism, etc. But there are also enriching and well-kept texts.
Let us cite, for example, the anthropologist Philippe Descola, who integrates the fight against basins into the historical struggle against the appropriation of land, from the English enclosures of the Middle Ages to colonization. Further on, the author François Jarrige makes the link with the history of “Luddism”, this movement of English workers at the beginning of the 19th century who attacked the weaving machines which were to destroy their communities, annihilate the work of artisans , and put generations of children to the factory.
The philosophical reflection of the historian Jérôme Baschet on autonomy is also stimulating. He criticizes a very modern vision of freedom “thought in the denial of interdependencies” for a society of “atomized” individuals, and explains on the contrary that we “feed on relations with others”. These nourishing reflections are followed by more quirky texts, which amuse or disconcert, such as the poem by science fiction author Alain Damasio, or the instructions for cooking for thousands of demonstrators…
A work both uneven and invigorating, this little book offers a fine exploration of the state of mind of activists we have not finished hearing about. The historian of the future will surely delve into it, to understand how, at the dawn of the 21st century, the environmental cause was crossed by poignant debates. The curious reader will recognize that with sometimes clumsiness or even excess, these women and men tried to answer a haunting and vital question: “Let’s take the generation born in 2020: in what world will they live at 50?” “.