Dominique Méda: “Wouldn’t it be more mobilizing to announce the era of a new abundance? »

Ln August 24, at the opening of the Council of Ministers and as a back-to-school speech, the President of the Republic solemnly announced “the end of abundance”. The formula has already caused a lot of ink to flow, with many commentators pointing out that millions of our fellow citizens have known this situation for a very long time, or even had never known any other. This affirmation nevertheless conceals a form of performativity: everything happens as if, by this word, the politician validated (finally) the warnings of the scientists and officially recognized the imperative need for a change of era.

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We now know quite precisely how it is possible to achieve the greenhouse gas emission reduction targets that we have set ourselves. This involves in particular modifying our production and our consumption in the direction of greater sobriety, thanks to changes in individual practices, but above all thanks to structural transformations obtained by massive investments in renewable energies, thermal renovation buildings, alternatives to thermal transport and agriculture, in particular. But for the government, walking the talk will require resolving at least four contradictions.

“Great swing”

First of all, it will have to be able to mobilize the entire population in favor of a policy of sobriety, whereas it has so far refused to use coercion, in particular with regard to better off, in the name of his belief in the trickle down theory. This presupposes, on the one hand, making the richest 1%, and even more so the 0.1%, understand that it is up to them to make the greatest efforts and, on the other hand, to reassure the most modest , who fear to be once again the turkeys of the stuffing. Without this, the “big rocker” desired by the President of the Republic could well turn into a “great change”similar to that described by Karl Polanyi in the eponymous work: in the 1930s, societies traumatized by the excesses of “self-regulating market” had thrown themselves into the arms of authoritarian regimes believing they would find protection there.

Read Françoise Fressoz’s column: Article reserved for our subscribers “It will not be enough for Emmanuel Macron to proclaim the end of abundance to put the country in order of battle”

Now that it is clear that the overconsumption of some is destroying the basis of life for others, the fight to reduce income and wealth inequalities appears to be one of the main ecological policies. The deployment of public policies encouraging the development of activities with a light ecological footprint and contributing to social utility is another. This should lead the government to take seriously the issue of staffing and remuneration in the public sector, one of the advantages of which, moreover, is that it is not subject to the obligation to produce more in order to provide a profit.

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Dominique Méda: “Wouldn’t it be more mobilizing to announce the era of a new abundance? »