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When talking about degrowth, there are indispensable mnemonic shortcuts. Let’s think of Paul Ariès’ evocation of the word « degrowth » as a « bus word »(1), or Serge Latouche’s « 8Rs ». Michel Lepesant(2) also reminds us that degrowth is first of all a « journey », that of the decrease of an outdated ecological footprint, towards an acceptable ecological space for the biosphere. All these shortcuts complement each other, they allow to give a more and more precise picture of degrowth. This one is therefore a « word-bus », a route, not a goal, and it is made up of the famous « 8 R’s ». Let us now dwell on relocalization and its links with degrowth. 

There are, in my opinion, many misconceptions about this relocation. But the two biggest ones are the forgetfulness of its intimate link with degrowth and especially the fact that it occupies a preeminent place in it. In the Petit traité de la décroissance sereine (2008), Serge Latouche specifies that among the « 8 Rs », « three of them have a strategic role: revaluation, because it commands all change; reduction, because it condenses all the practical imperatives of degrowth; and relocalization, because it concerns the daily lives and employment of millions of people. » (3) . This « strategic » position has continued to be overstated,until his 2014 intervention during the seminar organized by Technologos on September 12 and 13, 2014 at the EHESS, where he clarifies this time that relocation has a pre-eminent place among these « 8 R’s  » and that « it is both the means and the end of degrowth ».(4). Paul Ariès speaks of it as a creation of « the conditions of degrowth »(5), relocalization will be political, of lifestyles and of the economy, it is intimately linked to degrowth, it is naturally the condition of degrowth. But Paul Ariès has a more political approach than Serge Latouche. 

The thesis developed here is the following: the more cultural the approach to degrowth, the greater the importance given to relocation. Latouche is perhaps one of the first to have shown that « development », what was once called theThe« primitive accumulation of capital » was not a « necessary evil », as Marx would have it(6) wanted to convince us of this, but the evil itself, intimately linked to our industrial and bourgeois civilization. Hence the increasing importance he gives to relocalization in his writings, a relocalization that one interprets (because it is not explicitly stated) as a primary opposition to development, to the destruction of basic communities everywhere in the world, in the name of the primitive accumulation of capital. Today, we believe that relocalization not only has a prominent place, but that it is the project of degrowth(7), its objective. But to be convinced of this, we must get rid of the idea that it is only a « withdrawal ». In this regard, it is legitimate to ask whether « relocalization equals deglobalization »(8). If we start from a critique of growth, we might think that it is as much opposed to globalization as to the « Thirty Pests ».(9) (or the « Piteous Thirty »), those three post-war decades otherwise known as the « Glorious Thirty » when « a change of scale of the French contribution to the human footprint on the planet, and [une] entry into the model of non-sustainable development, with direct effects and long-term effects induced by technical-economic choices that are difficult to reverse. »(10) If we start from the fact that growth began its ravages long before globalization, and has continued at its own pace since then, defending degrowth and therefore relocalization is more opposed to growth than to globalization. Relocation becomes more a reflection on productivism and production than on the return of factories and jobs to a country. All the more so since capitalism does not only equal globalization, but has already been known to « relocalize », repatriating jobs, precisely to increase the positive impact on growth(11). This is what one might call a capitalist definition of relocation. 

But one could retort that capitalism is also capable of thinking about the product, notably through the circular economy and the eco-design of products. The problem is that these are always concepts dominated by economism, the search for profit, and in any case it is hard to imagine that these « concepts » can be generalized in the capitalist framework without calling it into question. The example often put forward is that of Kalundborg in Denmark(12)But when you look closely at the experiment, you wonder if toxic sludge is not reused to produce fertilizer (not to mention the use of gypsum to make construction panels) and if the ultimate purpose of the project is not to reduce resource imports rather than to reduce waste emissions, in short, it is more a project of autarky than of relocalization 

The issue is territorial. Instead of inter-company competition, a cooperation is set up around the design of products, respectful of the ecological footprint within a bio-region framework, but also with a global thinking and taking into account the biosphere and the respect of other cultures, because the products contain the way of producing them and a certain vision of the world. 

But why do we often forget in the degrowth community this pre-eminent place of relocation, and especially its intrinsic link with degrowth? This is probably because relocalization is confused with a purely political project, that of defending jobs, whereas degrowth is first and foremost a more cultural project of political revolution with a social soul, where the most important thing is the « decolonization of one’s imagination ». The degrowth movement is probably still too dominated by an essentially political and legal vision of the social question. He still thinks in terms of « class struggle », whereas the religion of growth reminds us that it is an alienation common to all classes of society, it is a cultural « fetishism », a culture of growth that we must get rid of by relocalizing. 

The question is no longer that of « unpaid surplus value » or of the legal power to dispose of private property, but that of the social form of value itself, a form that is common to all the competing classes and which is, moreover, the first responsible for the divergence of their interests. This form is ‘fetishistic’ because it constitutes a structure without a subject, a structure acting ‘behind the back’ of men and subjecting them to the incessant cybernetic process of a transformation of abstract human energy into money. »(13)

If bourgeois culture was essentially an economist culture, its opposition is built around the awareness of the necessity of degrowth with a project whose name is relocalization. But it must be recognized that if we know what a revolution is, we do not yet know what form the « cultural break » contained in degrowth will take, which also explains why the close link between relocalization and degrowth has been forgotten. 

Jean-Luc Pasquinet, author of Relocaliser, pour une société démocratique et antiproductiviste, Libre et Solidaire, 2016 

Notes et références
  1. Serge Latouche, Le pari de la décroissance, éd. Fayardw, 2006.
  2. Michel Lepesant, Politique de la décroissance, éd. Utopia, 2013.
  3. Serge Latouche, Petit traité de la décroissance sereine, éd. Mille et une nuits, 2008.
  4. Séminaire organisé par Technologos ‚12 et 13 septembre 2014, l’EHESS, Paris. Intervention de Serge Latouche.
  5. Paul Ariès, Décroissance ou barbarie, éd. Golias, 2005, p.110.
  6. R. Kurtz, Le double Marx, http://www.palim-psao.fr/article-le
double-marx-par-robert-kurz-120538666.html .
  7. Jean-Luc Pasquinet, Relocaliser, éd. Libre et solidaire, 2016.
  8. Séminaire, cf. note 4.
  9. C. Pessis, S. Topçu, C. Bonneuil, Une autre histoire des Trente Glorieuses, éd. La Découverte, 2013.
  10. Idem ci-dessus.
  11. Les relocalisations capitalistes ne sont pas un phénomène nouveau, ni limité à la France. Il y aurait déjà eu quatre vagues de relocalisations depuis 1970 dans le monde. La première, à la fin des années 1970, concernait les firmes américaines qui avaient délocalisé les activités d’assemblage de certaines industries en Asie du sud-est. Un mouvement de relocalisation sera observé dans les années 1980. La deuxième concernait les entreprises allemandes qui avaient délocalisé leurs activités dans le secteur de l’électronique et relocalisé pour les plus importantes dans les années 1980–90. « Ces relocalisations [furent] motivées par des facteurs symétriquement inverses à ceux qui ont motivé la délocalisation c’est-à-dire la réduction des coûts unitaires que permettent l’automatisation et la robotisation des segments de fabrication et d’assemblage d’une part, et la réduction des coûts de transport et de transaction en général d’autre part. » D’après E. M. Mouhoud, Mondialisation et délocalisation des entreprises, éd. La Découverte, 2013. La troisième concernait les relocalisations d’entreprises européennes dans la moitié des années 1990 dans le secteur de l’électronique, les ordinateurs et le textile, cuir, habillement. Enfin, la dernière dans les années 2000 correspondrait souvent à des entreprises de services, comme des centres d’appels qui ont décidé de relocaliser suite à des imperfections de service.
  12. Les échanges se déroulent de la manière suivante : la raffinerie fournit de l’eau (usée, froide et/ou sous forme de vapeur) à la centrale électrique à l’aide d’un système de pipeline. Celle-ci, en plus de proposer de l’électricité fournit de la vapeur à l’entreprise de biotechnologies mais également de la chaleur excédentaire à une ferme d’aquaculture qui s’est installée par la suite. La chaleur est également utilisée pour alimenter la ville en chauffage. La centrale électrique produit du gypse (sous-produit issu de la production d’électricité) qui va être revendu à la société de panneaux de construction qui le valorisera pour sa production. Les cendres également produites par la centrale électrique serviront ensuite pour fabriquer du ciment et pour la construction de routes. L’entreprise de biotechnologies valorisera les boues issues de son processus de production pour réaliser des engrais… http://www.gresea.be/spip. php?article1171 .
  13. R. Kurz , Le double Marx, op. cit.

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