Engulfed in the Great Whole

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Whatever the more or less learned name given to it, every society has its ideological-religious system. Starting with those who live in the pretence of having freed themselves from it. Because according to the basic psychological rule: the degree of alienation is measured by the illusion of freedom. The feeling of omnipotence is thus the mark of the adolescent convinced that everything comes from him. 

In order to answer in one page the inexhaustible question of our colleagues and friends of Kairos, « What kind of world do we live in? », it is necessary to go to the essence by focusing on this ideological-religious system. On the subject that motivates us, ecology, a major expression is the world-famous figure of Greta Thunberg. I would immediately compare her to another young woman, Bernadette Soubirous(1). The merciless look of a child soldier in Chinese propaganda, with frowns, characterizes this hard, accusing, guilt-ridden posture(2) typical of children manipulated for propaganda purposes. These same eyes are striking in the photos of the little shepherds of Fátima who claimed to have seen the Virgin Mary six times in 1917. 

Behind these similarities, the same psychological mechanisms, individual for these two young women, and social for their context, are at work. Just as yesterday the criticism of Saint Bernadette provoked an outburst of fright among the devout, it is the same tense reaction, similar big eyes of priests, that one reads on many faces of « religious atheists » when one has the affront of asking about Saint Greta. The reference to heresy and to the figures of Evil (Messrs. Trump, Putin, Zemmour, Bolsonaro & co.) is here a conditioned reflex which allows to free oneself from any critical reflection. 

We feel that something sacred, like a halo, has been placed on her mats(3). It is here that the sacred, which is never touched with impunity, of our society is revealed. A statue(4) or a gigantic wall painted(5) in his effigy testify to this unconscious sacralization. TV stations are already fighting to bring his life to the screen(6).  » How dare you?!  » (« How dare you?! » she indignantly exclaims.  » This man [son ex-ami Nicolas Sarkozy] who mocked Greta Thunberg spits on the youth « , indignant, for example, the rentier of Ushuaia® shampoos(7). Irony is not in good taste with Greta;  » The sacred strikes down and never supports humor  » observed Jacques Ellul in a text on the transfer of the sacred(8):  » the commonplace (« It’s sacred ») only reveals a need and a quest for the sacred. But a sacred created by man, or rather by society, secreted in a way by the social corpus, which also gives this to man, responding to all his needs. And since it is not a question of returning to old religions, of reviving old rites, of investing outdated beliefs with sacredness, we can say that we are witnessing the invention of the new sacred. Because what has been desacralized cannot become sacred again. But the need, the taste, the call of the sacred is looking for the new crystal, the institution, the phenomenon that can be invested with the fullness of the sacred, in full agreement of all. « Behind the accusing look of the young Swedish girl, a trinity religion is emerging that we could name as follows: GAFA-GAIA-TESLA. I would define the essential perspective as a great regression towards the « archaic mother(9) « .

The great precursors of degrowth to whom we refer, Bernard Charbonneau, Ivan Illich, Dwight McDonald… reminded us that their reflection on ecology only made sense if it had freedom as its goal. As a now seasoned professional observer of the literary production on ecology, I would say that the contemporary discourse, in its overwhelming majority, defends a rigorously opposite position. The man, and more especially the white male cis-gender of more than 50 years, would have precisely « sinned » by claiming that the freedom specified him in the nature, that is to say that he would be well « an animal but not that ». This claim would be the essence of the great planetary « collapse ». In the midst of a plethora of essays developing this credo, one of them, that of the researcher Jacques Tassin, gives us cash this speech most often unthought of: « Sf our culture dissociates us from Nature, our body has never separated us from it. It is up to us to find this living womb which, at our birth, appears as an extension of the maternal womb in which we lived as a fetus. […] It is up to us to find this matrix and to burst the invisible bubble that we have shaped while growing up, locking us into our individuality. Then, the world can join us by itself, like an amniotic liquid that immerses us(10).  »

It would be advisable to repent in order to understand, in humility, that we must melt into the undifferentiated, the Grant All, Pachamama, Mother Earth. In this perspective, it is logical that the « separating third party », the man who separates the mother from the child, must be fought by all means. In symbolic terms, the Word, after having emerged from matter, should be re-embodied in it. The paradox is that this archaic ecology accommodates, supports and regularly praises the worst technological delusions(11). It is not surprising, then, that James Cameron’s film Avatar is constantly cited as the grand narrative of this « cosmology. 

This is an analysis that can only exceed the collapsologists cloistered in a purely quantitative approach of ecology. It is sure to be laughed at. The scientist’s arrogance is matched only by their ignorance of the symbolic world. In any case, I think that this analytical grid allows us to shed light on a number of current events that are incomprehensible at first glance .

Vincent Cheynet, editor-in-chief of La Décroissance

Pascale Vanhal
Notes et références
  1. (1844–1879) Elle aurait vu la Vierge 18 fois à Lourdes.
  2. « Je ne veux pas de votre espoir, je veux que vous paniquiez. » Greta Thunberg au Forum de Davos le 25 janvier 2019.
  3. Jusqu’au député de La France insoumise François Ruffin pour qui « Greta Thunberg a une force prophétique » (France 2, 9 novembre 2019).
  4. « L’université de Winchester (sud de l’Angleterre) s’est offert une statue de Greta Thunberg [à 28 000 euros]. L’initiative a été critiquée par le syndicat de l’université qui a jugé que les fonds auraient dû être utilisés pour éviter licenciements et coupes budgétaires. » Paris Match, 30 mars 2021.
  5. « A San Francisco. Le portrait mesure 18m de haut sur 9 m de large. L’immense visage aux grands yeux sombres et à l’air farouche »… Ouest France, 10 novembre 2019.
  6. Louis Nadau, « Alléluia ! La vie de Greta bientôt en série documentaire sur la BBC », Marianne, 11 février 2020.
  7. Nicolas Hulot, 29 septembre 2019..
  8. « C’est sacré », Exégèse des nouveaux lieux communs, 1996.
  9. Il existe tout autant un « père archaïque ». Si le masculin poussé à sa caricature correspond à la brute tueuse, le tyran, le féminin absolutisé conduit symétriquement à la mère englobante et étouffante : le totalitarisme.
  10. Jacques Tassin, Pour une écologie du sensible, Odile Jacob 2020.
  11. « Notre unique chance est de déléguer tout ce qui doit être fait aux scientifiques », écrit dans la famille Thunberg, qui roule dans, et pour, Tesla, dans Scènes du cœur, Calmann-Lévy, 2019.
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