Tomorrow’s show

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The success of Tomorrow and the hopes placed in this film speak volumes about our profound difficulty in collectively inventing a new paradigm, revealing also our political infantilisation and reminding us of the crying lack of places in which true public debate — with conflicts and disagreements — can take place. If Tomorrow easily creates this feeling of « cohesion », unity of all in the ecological fight in a blissful absence of a conflictual dimension — « cohesion » stopping most certainly at the doors of the cinema -, it is because it omits to name an essential thing: the deep inequalities, which are the intrinsic creation of the capitalist system. So sorry for those who believed in it: Tomorrow will not be part of the change. 

« The bourgeoisie working for itself alone, exploiting for itself alone, massacring for itself alone, it is necessary for it to make believe that it works, that it exploits, that it massacres for the final good of humanity. It must make people believe that it is right. Paul Nizan, Les chiens de garde, 1932. (1)

« Intimidation is part of symbolic violence. For the latter to be effective, that is, for social hierarchies to be respected in practice, even if they are ideologically contested, it is necessary for the dominated to be intimidated by the universe of the dominant (…).(…) Entering Dior, when one has nothing to do, is like going to the other side of the iconostasis in Orthodox churches, it is crossing the limit between the profane and the sacred, overstepping one’s rights and possibilities, challenging forces that are not up to one’s standards. Michel Pinçon and Monique Pinçot-Charlot, « La violence des riches ». (2)

 

When I left the screening of the documentary Demain, a strange feeling of injustice mixed with disgust assailed me: everything seemed so easy for Mélanie Laurent and her friends, the second highest paid French actress in 2011 with 1.005 million euros, close to the power and the jet set. The solutions were there, there was only to seize them and apply them. But isn’t the problem not the solutions, but rather the means and the obstacles to their deployment? Did ecology need a fashion and luxury icon to represent it? It was immediately difficult for me to resolve this difficult contradiction: how to reconcile the inevitable combative dimension of ecology with a passive cohabitation with people of power and captains of industry, like all these sponsors of the cop21 of which Mélanie Laurent was the « French muse »?

Because Melanie Laurent likes to strut her stuff in high places and knows who to talk to and how: « Melanie Laurent beaming for « Demain » in front of the Schönberg/Borloo couple » (3), was the recent headline in Pure People magazine. Radiant, the « French star » was, responding present, on Thursday, November 19, 2015, « at the Grand Hotel intercontinental in Paris, where she presented her documentary Demain, a film for which the Akuo Foundation had raised funds.

Jean-Louis Borloo, you know, the former Minister of Ecology under Sarkozy, who made a gift estimated at two billion euros to French freeway companies (4)but also dissolved in 2008 the French Institute for the Environment (IFEN), an organization that collected information on the state of the environment in France and evaluated the State’s environmental policies in complete independence (5). This will certainly allow Borloo to come up with an excellent idea: that of « recycling » radioactive waste from the nuclear industry in consumer goods (6). This will undoubtedly please Jean-Jacques Gauthier, Chief Financial Officer and Deputy CEO of Lafarge, the world leader in building materials (cement, concrete and aggregates), who is also present at the Grand Hôtel Intercontinental, since in this « radioactive recycling », « sOnly industrialists have an interest in this. Instead of storing this waste, which is expensive, they will be able to get rid of it and make money at the same time. (7). Of course, it is more profitable for them to expose people to radioactivity in their homes than to make the industry pay. This also suits operators such as EDF or Areva, who will have to deal with the dismantling of power plants, starting with their big sister, the life-size test object, the power plant of Brennilis (8) in Brittany. We will pass over the contradictions,  » Tomorrow is worth it ».

Seated next to Jean-Jacques Gauthier, Yamina Benguigui, all ears for Mélanie Laurent and Demain, former minister for the Francophonie, sentenced on September 23, 2015 by the Paris correctional court for « incomplete declarations of assets and interests. » Obviously, she will not be disturbed, since, unlike the prolo who commits his second petty theft — all the more so if he is « Arab » — the court has chosen (sic) « to grant Mr.
me
Benguigui an exemption from punishment » (…) « Given the absence of any conviction (…) on his criminal record, his professional and political career and the filing of an amending declaration, even if late ».(9). Class justice? Everything is said.

Moreover, Yamini Benguigui and Jean-Louis Borloo know each other well, both being stakeholders of the Energy-Africa Foundation (a name that hardly conceals its primary intention — energy-to-money), the first as president, the second as vice-president, a foundation supported by the official French authorities (the National Assembly, the Senate, the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs…) — for which the Élysée has made available a plane of the Republic -, but also the Bolloré group, which is taking legal action against the online information site Bastamag(10)which denounced, based on reports from the United Nations and international organizations, the land grab in Africa, Latin America and Asia, and the large French companies involved — including the Bolloré Group (11). A « story that doesn’t do any good », unlike Demain, from the Bolloré Group. There’s money to be made, that’s for sure, and the other supporters know it. Which ones? Air France, Carrefour, Bouygues, Toyota, JC Decaux, EDF, the Dassault Group, Engie, Orange, Schneider Electric, Total, Vinci, Veolia, Geocoton (etc.) and… Akuo Energy, which raised funds for Demain and which Mélanie Laurent represented at the Gala dinner in honor of the foundation at the Grand Hôtel intercontinental.

Akuo, whose foundation is itself under the aegis of the Fondation de Luxembourg, supervised in particular by Mr. Serge de Cillia, Director of the ABBL (Association des Banques et Banquiers de Luxembourg), Mr. Pit Hentgen, Managing Director of the Compagnie Financière La Luxembourgeoise, Chairman and CEO of LaLux Assurances, and Mr. Jean-Jacques Rommes, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the UEL (Union des Entreprises luxembourgeoises) (12) Its « strategic partners » are European Venture Philanthropy, European Foundation Centre, Inclusive Finance Network, Institut pour le mouvement sociétal Luxembourg (IMS). Ah! Finance and philanthropy, what a good match! And what a good way for the multinationals and the multimillionaires who do not share — not being taxed -, to distribute parsimoniously the money they do not pay in order to privilege industrial projects that will benefit… their companies, and their aura, giving the illusion of sharing. They know and appreciate energy-for-money. Win-Win.

The loop is closed. Oh no! let’s add that they are assured that Béatrice Schönberg, former presenter of the JT of France 2 and wife of Jean-Louis Borloo, will not evoke the cronyism of her husband and his cronies in his television programs, she would risk offending him, who will benefit from four billion euros of subsidies per year for 12 years, and 200 billion in loans, for his foundation.

On December 1, 2015, Melanie Laurent is back at it, for the premiere of Demain, where « All smiles », she « posed with the No. 3 in the government, Ségolène Royal, Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy ». It is obvious that the beauty has learned to sell herself, prostitute of Dior, the government and industries, to whom she repeats:  » we need you to be the leaders that the world is calling for, that your courage, your vision, your determination, go beyond financial and political interests; we need your example to give the people of this planet the strength to invent a world where nature and humans are truly respected  » (13). Others would rather talk about the envy they all exude. It promises.…

AUTONOMOUS THINKING?

This cryptic message to politicians and captains of industry — « change everything without changing anything » — is possible because of our political infantilization in societies where, for a long time, we no longer know what true democracy is. The film, under the impression of stating the autonomy of the people, expects the powers that be to initiate the movement:  » hundreds of millions of people are already ready to act if they are given a direction « . In addition to the fact that these words show a deep ignorance of the links between money, power and politics, giving them the appearance of pious wishes, they indicate above all that they are a lie, because the person who expresses them is caught in what she says, and if her demands were really to materialize, she would not be what she is and would lose her status: that of a multimillionaire representative of a luxury clothing brand. And this is where we see that behind the revolutionary aspect of her request, she sells easy change:  » for our film, we traveled to 10 countries, we saw their solutions and they do not necessarily require colossal sums of money nor inaccessible technological developments « … no, just maybe to eradicate tax havens, to put a ceiling on incomes, to tax dividends in a moratorium before making them disappear, to curb the return flows of capital leaving the countries of the South, to introduce progressive taxation, and that a country, failing a European unanimity that will not come, takes the courage to leave Europe and impose its solutions; to get out of nuclear power, to tax the big fortunes while waiting to make them disappear, to shoot Monsanto and all the multinationals that sell death, etc. So Melanie, whose efforts won’t require « huge sums »? To the crowd of politicians and journalists to whom you address yourself and who have been struggling for decades to make the system in which we live more unequal, and that, subtly, you do not forget to reassure: no worries my friends, it will be change in the continuity, you will not be disturbed, as I will remain the muse of Dior or one or the other brand that sells wind, just as I will keep my appreciable fees for my films and advertisements in which I show myself. Indecent fees and publicity being a big part of the problem… But hush! We don’t talk about that.

This misunderstanding alone should make Tomorrow obsolete: how can we value overconsumption while saying we want change and « save the planet ». Let us specify: the attack against Melanie Laurent has nothing to do with an ad hominem attack, because the image that she represents and that she conveys, could very well have been carried by Marion Cotillard, Leonardo di Caprio or Arnold Swarzenegger, she is only a person-object kind of « interchangeable representative ». And this instrumentalization of the person « at the service » of the economy, she uses it knowingly: « If an actress uses her glamorous image to protest against overfishing or deforestation, that’s fine. The Americans are much better at this than we are »… the problem is that this glamorous image, she uses it first to sell Dior products, and get rich. Moreover, it is certain that the notoriety after Tomorrow (no pun intended), will ensure future contracts certainly juicy to Melanie Laurent. Instrumentalization of ecology? If Mélanie Laurent decided to become a vegetarian after the film, she certainly didn’t decide to stop being a « star ».

 

TOMORROW. LUBIE DE STAR

An abyssal perspective where the « star » uses his star image to promote a cause and in turn uses the cause to promote his star image. As Baudrillard said:  » Thus celebrities, stars and « heroes of consumption »: in the past, heroes represented a model: celebrity is a tautology… the only title of glory of celebrities is their very fame, the fact of being known… » (14). No longer a « model », the stars have smelled the scent of the rapid decay of our world, for which they could one day find themselves named among those responsible, and have seized the opportunity of the « ecological fight ». And they preach  » one day we will have to give an account » to the politicians whose friends they are. We already have to give an account, more than ever, and the sudden awakening of the 1% class carries with it the denial of the past and present Western destruction that has made this world possible.

They drown us, if we are not aware of what is going on — and, as we shall see, sometimes even if we are aware of it -, hiding an enemy that exists, but that they do not want to name — being most often part of it, or hoping to join the gang.

Could we first realize that the world does not need « stars »? They kill initiative and, in a consumerist society where conspicuous consumption — a consumption that exists only in the eyes of the other — dictates the relationship to the other — especially that of young girls who are required to conform to the model of the woman-object -, they destroy thought:  » most of the time — apart from outbreaks of protest or revolution — the much-maligned « elite » does not arouse disgust and mistrust, but, on the contrary, respect and envy. His way of life, which is displayed in the media, represents the ideal to which the anonymous masses of the popular middle classes aspire  » (15). Women, who are essential to the ecological struggle, then lose themselves, dreaming by proxy of being Mélanie Laurent.  » The pressure on their physique, the surveillance of which it is the object, is a dreamed means to contain them, to control them. These preoccupations waste considerable time, energy and money; they keep them in a state of psychological insecurity and subordination which prevents them from giving the full measure of their capacities and from enjoying their hard-won freedom without restriction  » (16).

Not to mention the irreversible depredations and the slave-like exploitation of the workforce that the shopping behaviors subsequent to billboard viewing produce. But we don’t talk about that at Akuo’s gala at the Grand Hotel Intercontinental, where simple people sleep when they pass through Paris… (17)

 

WHY DOES TOMORROW MAKE US « WALK »?

Tomorrow works with two main audiences:

- those who enjoy the iniquitous advantages of this world and know that the film is safe;

- the middle classes, caught in this ambiguity of the in-between, who feel that « it is possible » (to stay well without too much effort and not to disappear).

It would be necessary to know the effect of Tomorrow on the pariahs, those left behind by globalization, the suburban kids who have fallen off the treadmill of unbridled liberalism, the « South » of the « North », the homeless, undocumented, hungry and damned of the earth, a fringe of which is now easily classified as « potential terrorists » so as not to raise the question of the origins, which makes us very uncomfortable. Let’s bet, however, that their minds will be more astute when faced with the film — if they see it at all… ‑and that they will not be fooled.

We already know that they are not naïve about their social position, as shown by the testimony of young people from a working-class high school, visiting the beautiful districts of Paris:

« The visit to Dior was particularly memorable: « The cultural and social distances are manifested, for example, in the way we say « hello ». Indeed, when entering and leaving Dior, the salesmen and saleswomen, the doormen too, would say « hello » to us, on the one hand to be polite, but on the other hand also to show us their superiority, to show us that we belonged to a different class from them » « . (18)

There remains a third audience, « apart », whose enthusiasm for Tomorrow may at first glance seem surprising: those who are aware of the situation and the issues at stake, and who are fighting for change, which is normally the case. We think that in front of the continuation towards the worst in spite of their resistances, taken by the despair, some of those in struggle have, certainly without having the impression to betray the cause, coalesced with the very ones that they should have fought. For it was there, besides for reasons of recognition and power proper to the individual, a way to mediate the struggle. But at the same time, it was the best way to make it lose its foundations and what made it strong. Because Leonardo, Melanie and the other millionaire stars cannot, as we have already shown, express a radical thought, they would burst the protective bubble in which they are, fictitious but real privileged enclave deeply unequal, and seller of dreams. Dream that kills the revolt and pollutes our world.

ECOLOGY WITHOUT CLASS CONSCIOUSNESS

They thus tacitly accepted ecology without class consciousness: this was the price of their compromise, which quickly became compromise. Because by not putting into play the question of the deep iniquity of our world in the ecological stagnation, they emptied it of the criticism of mass consumption and of the bourgeoisie, thus bringing back the ecological fight to the rank of opinion: true or false according to who one is… more truth, that’s what they wanted and what we all agreed to.

Ecology without class consciousness is the equivalent of ecology without ecology. It is the ecology of the offering, the atonement without recognition of the origin of the fault, which is not coincidentally close to the philanthropy that we mentioned earlier; it is the absolution that allows us to get better without changing anything. Doesn’t Mélanie Laurent admit to being « calmer and more serene » since she made this documentary and realized that solutions were possible? (19). First the « career », then the ecology… it is that starting with the latter rarely serves the former. This ecology is therefore the ecology of image, where form is more important than substance, it is the ecology of power, which separates struggles and never shows their common point that would allow them to be federated. These are the solutions that do not require a collective effort, but  » above all solidarity, intelligence and bravery « . To veto them right away would therefore undoubtedly be to take a step forward.

There is therefore little chance of seeing the directors of Tomorrow hand in hand with the Goodyear workers. The ecology must remain pleasure, and consumption:

 » This week, ELLE sees life in circles. In addition to the usual issue that will be released on Friday, we are publishing a special issue entirely dedicated to ecology. Don’t yawn: no virtue lessons here, but amazing investigations, glamorous portraits of green heroines (including Mélanie Laurent, on the cover), reports from the corner of the street as well as from the end of the world… The ink used? Vegetal to reduce pollution. The paper? 100% recycled. While it usually takes 2 tons of wood to produce 1 ton of paper, here only 1.2 tons of waste paper are needed for 1 ton of recycled paper. It’s called the circular economy. Give it a whirl! « . (20)

 

QUESTIONING THIS SENSE OF COHESION

The elements described above will hopefully be sufficient to understand that Tomorrow is a mass, a totally apolitical religion at the service of big business. Mélanie Laurent, in a fit of spontaneity, admits it:« Making this documentary as a director is almost a political act for me ». Some might have doubted. Phew! It reassures us, it is only a distraction.
So of course you have to come up with the usual truisms and contritions:

  • Tomorrow shows some really interesting experiences. But we didn’t need them and their propaganda networks to know that. Many books, films and websites have already said all this, but very little has been said about it in the editorial offices of the dominant media: the Christopher Columbus of Tomorrow has not discovered anything.
  • Yes, Demain will undoubtedly have some positive effects on individual initiatives, allowing the average person to subscribe to the organic basket of the local farm, which he doubted, or the farmer to accept that his descendants take over the farm by doing permaculture… But beyond these few « unavoidable effects, » the film will have mostly demobilizing effects on most, because it sidesteps the fundamental problem; the « collateral benefits » argument sidesteps the reality of « central damage. »

 

Because in a world where conformist and conforming thought is the rule, one must constantly justify oneself, say that « yes, there is truth », but that « the truth hides the false ». No matter, for many, we will look like indefatigable pessimists.

If the desire for an « optimistic ecology », in the face of a world that we know to be more and more unstable, is legitimate, we must not conceal the fact that this search for positive emotion is only the result of our negative emotions that are born of the reality of the world. It is because we are sometimes deprived, that, fighting for a cause, a thousand others being added each day, we humanly need « stories »:  » The starting point of Demain: what if showing solutions, telling a feel-good story was the best way to solve the ecological, economic and social crises our countries are going through?  » (21) Yet,  » optimism is a false hope for cowards and fools. Hope is a virtue, virtus, a heroic determination of the soul. The highest form of hope is despair overcome « . (22)

The emotional counter-reaction will not bring the necessary and sufficient trigger to the causes that make possible the perpetuation of a world like ours. Among these causes, there are us, of course — the middle classes who benefit from the system while undergoing it, in a schizophrenic position -; the working classes who undergo the world while being alienated by the consumption that perpetually and momentarily extinguishes their frustrations. But there is also and above all theTheupper class of the « 1% », the banks, the multinationals and their media propaganda services, who should not be expected to act for real change, because that would be like acting against their interests — which everything proves they want to see continue to grow.

On this point, the first lesson should be that if all the media are talking about it, it is a priori a bad sign… or a good sign: it all depends on where you look. In order to avoid falling into the trap, it will be necessary to pay attention to the publicity that the mass media give to the event. Because it is illusory to think that a film that is being praised everywhere will change the collective consciousness and that, like the Messiah we were waiting for, it will open the way to « transition ». Indeed, if, daily, the mass media isolate us from the really subversive contents, it is necessary to see in those that they privilege and repeat the absence of risk for them and the politico-economic system that they support. We think we have shown this above. If some doubts remain, ask yourself why other productions were not sponsored by Engie, Bouygues, Carrefour or the Dassault group, such as the documentary « There is no tomorrow », or why for the first time in its fifteen years of existence, the National Film Center refused to help a film: « Merci Patron!

Of course, the media tales are more popular because, as we have said, many of us want to be reassured, but also more simply because the films that really name the problem are being shut down by the traditional broadcasting channels and the money printing press.

 

CONCLUSION :  » TOMORROW IS FAR  » (23)...

The fashion is therefore that of optimistic ecology (24), where we are all friends and we act collectively, even if Albert Frère or Lagardère have a few more responsibilities than the Carrefour cashier. All of this makes it possible not to see, reassuring the oligarchy, but also us:  » The knowledge of society, especially in this violent phase of the class war, is frightening « . (25) Tomorrow is this distractor, perfect, because it does not say its name, this Hypnotic Poison®. (26)
The opening of Demain on the collapse of our civilization obviously gives the idea of lucidity, the illusion that the dominant class has made its aggiornamento. There is, however, an intrinsic contradiction in the narrative: while Tomorrow initiates the story with the Nature study, which highlights the likely end of humanity through human-caused collapse, it continues to blind us to the root cause of our downfall. In fact, Demain does not reject the notion of development, this Western development, metaphor of a life that could not stop growing, and which contains in itself the negation of the catastrophe — that everything could stop. As François Partant said,  » As soon as we, in the West, assimilate this development to human evolution, we cannot imagine that it could stop, even less that it could lead to catastrophes. We believe in our future because we believe in the future of mankind « . (27) This is how the collapse opens the show of Tomorrow, to better evade it. We cannot believe in the catastrophes to come, if we cannot fully consider rethinking our western way of life — whose model has spread to the whole planet.

In the same way, the woman-object represented by Mélanie Laurent in the advertisements removes women — and men — from the deep anxieties of our society — including ecological collapse — by trying to comfort them in buying practices that allow them to show off.

The first and essential step seems to be to stop believing in their religion, which is that of profit, even when it is dressed up in the clothes of solidarity. For them, ecology, like everything else, is an investment. It is not political: it is a means to an end. And their ends are destroying this world and its inhabitants a little more each day.

Once we have achieved this, we will certainly not see tomorrow in the same way.

Alexandre Penasse

Notes et références
  1. Cité dans Michel Pinçon et Monique Pinçot-Charlot, « La violence des riches », Éditions La Découverte, Paris, 2013.
  2. Éditions La Découverte, Paris, 2013, p.184.
  3. http://www.purepeople.com/article/melanie-laurent-rayonnante-pour-demain…
  4. http://www.bastamag.net/Le-juteux-business-des-societes‑d
  5. http://www.bastamag.net/Borloo-met-fin-a-l-independance
  6. « Depuis 2002, le Code de la santé publique interdisait l’ajout ou l’utilisation de substances radioactives pour la fabrication de biens de consommation et de matériaux de construction. Toute acquisition et cession de sources radioactives étaient sévèrement encadrées. Ce n’est désormais plus le cas. Le 5 mai 2009, quatre ministères – celui de l’Écologie, de la Santé, de l’Économie et du Logement – ont signé un arrêté interministériel qui permet de déroger à cette interdiction ». http://www.bastamag.net/Borloo-et-Bachelot-veulent-ils
  7. Selon Corinne Castanier, Directrice de la Commission de recherche et d’information indépendantes sur la radioactivité (Criirad). Voir http://www.bastamag.net/Borloo-et-Bachelot-veulent-ils
  8. Voir La centrale indémontable, petite histoire explosive du nucléaire français, Claude-Marie Vadrot, Editions Max Milo, Paris, 2012.
  9. http://www.lemonde.fr/politique/article/2015/09/23/declarations-de-patri…,
  10. Dont nombreux articles sont cités supra et qui co-publie avec le journal Kairos la rubrique de Pablo Servigne et Rapahaël Stevens « Comprendre l’effondrement qui vient ». Bolloré a récemment perdu ce procès, voir http://www.bastamag.net/Plainte-en-diffamation-Bollore-perd-son-proces‑c…
  11. http://www.bastamag.net/Est-il-encore-permis-d-informer-sur-les-activite…. Voir aussi http://www.bastamag.net/Liberte-de-la-presse-Bollore-porte-de-nouveau-pl…
  12. http://www.fdlux.lu/fr/page/supervision-fondation-luxembourg
  13. http://www.leparisien.fr/politique/hollande-a-manille-pourquoi-melanie‑l…
  14. Jean Baudrillard, La société de consommation, Éditions Denoël, 1970, p.314.
  15. Mona Chollet, Beauté fatale, Éditions Zones, 2012, p.64.
  16. Mona Chollet, Beauté fatale, Ibid., p.28–29.
  17. http://www.intercontinental.com/intercontinental/hotels/gb/en/reservation
  18. Michel Pinçon et Monique Pinçot-Charlot, Ibid., p.180. Voilà pourquoi la révolution ne se fera pas sans eux.
  19. http://www.purepeople.com/article/melanie-laurent-rayonnante-pour-demain…
  20. « ELLE aime la planète », hors-série en kiosque actuellement, 9,90 €
  21. http://www.demain-lefilm.com/sites/default/files/assets/demain_dossier_d…
  22. George Bernanos, La liberté pour quoi faire, Gallimard, Paris, 1953, cité dans Décroissance ou décadence, Vincent Cheynet, Editons Le pas de côté, Vierzon, 2014, p.19.
  23. Titre d’une chanson du groupe de rap Iam.
  24. Elle du 27 novembre avec Mélanie Laurent en couverture : « Mélanie Laurent : On adopte son écologie optimiste, sa mode Green… ».
  25. Michel Pinçon et Monique Pinçot-Charlot, Ibid., p.133.
  26. Parfum de Dior dont Mélanie Laurent fait la réclame: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3bIClWnaOw
  27. Partant, F., La ligne d’horizon, essai sur l’après-développement, La découverte, 2007, p.60.
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