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Ecological capital

According to Bourdieu, there are several attributes that give a person value in a society. These include financial, cultural, symbolic, artistic and social capital.

Our rank in society would be determined by the sum of these different forms of capital. On the other hand, a consequence of the principle of capital is that it is easier to acquire other types of capital when you already possess a high degree of specific capital. For example, someone who possesses a title of nobility through their family lineage (symbolic capital) would find it easier to make influential friends (social capital), have a better chance of finding work in prestigious fields (financial capital) and so on.

The very notion of capital is interesting in that it reflects a society’s expectations at a given time and place.
One might be tempted to think that there is a form of societal unconsciousness at work here: a society would develop subjective criteria to promote certain elements so that they would have more power and could in turn help the society to grow and improve. A society that places the most eminent elements at the top, for their morality and intelligence, for example, enables these elements to benefit society as a whole. In principle, a virtuous circle is set in motion, but we also observe that the societal unconscious tends to place individuals on the pinnacle who will work to have devastating effects on the rest of the population. On the surface, we see incompetent people governing us, enjoying high symbolic and political capital. However, their power is counterbalanced by other influential members of the social group: the ultra-rich (financial capital), opinion leaders (social capital) and intellectuals (cultural capital). There is a balance of power between the different capitals of the members of society.

The Need For Ecological Capital

People who exercise power over a group generally do so through the moral ascendancy they possess over it. This same moral power derives from an initial power of coercion. We impose ourselves by force or violence, and then legitimize that power with a narrative that tends to confer moral authority. This is how the first European nobility was formed, which was a nobility of the sword. They were armed men who spread terror among less militarily equipped populations. Almost brigands armed with mace, helmets and hauberts reigned supreme after the fall of the Roman Empire. The barbarians who gradually swept across Europe partly replaced the pre-existing political elites, often mixed with a Roman population. Once power was seized, pre-existing narratives were recuperated in order to play the right role. The pagan barbarians who took possession of Christian Western Europe seized on Christian discourses to give their power a divine dimension. Similarly, the Aryan populations who invaded northern India used the religious narratives of the indigenous populations to create a society in which they were placed at the top of the social pyramid.

The Need For Environmentalist Rhetoric To Maintain Power By Force

If it’s true that every moralizing discourse has a political function, it’s worth asking what purpose is served by putting forward the environmentalist discourse. The global narrative of globalization is designed to serve those who initiated it: the West. It could be said that the beginnings of globalization have occurred in non-Western eras: the Muslim and Asian worlds in the context of the Silk Road, the Soviet vision of the world as an attempt to take over the globe, and so on. That said, previous attempts have never been truly global, having come up against the limits of their respective Empires.

Putting Yourself In The Chinese Shoes

From a non-Western point of view, environmentalist injunctions are revolting. Developing or underdeveloped countries are being forced to limit their carbon footprint, while at the same time these orders are coming from countries that have polluted throughout the 19th and 20th centuries without suffering any limits to their thirst for development. How can we accept these constraints when the countries requesting them have relocated most of their factories and their carbon footprint does not take these relocations into account (their production is mainly exported to Western countries). Isn’t this ironic, to say the least? Yes, I think it is. These populations are being treated unfairly, and they are right to turn a deaf ear.
The role of environmentalist discourse
Climate change exists, there’s no doubt about it. The problem here is who should bear the consequences, and who is responsible? Most of the responsibility lies with Western countries, and it is they who should bear the moral cost. However, the opposite is true, with Westerners slipping through the cracks to take on the good role while blaming developing countries. We’re walking on our heads.

Ecological Capital

Ecological capital is there to keep the power that was taken by force. The Europeans conquered the world (no moral judgment here, any other nation or regional era would have done the same if it had been technologically or militarily possible) by force, and intend to hold on to it morally, to coerce their political opponents (prevent them from developing). It’s a silent war, a conflict that doesn’t speak its name. Don’t be fooled. While ecology on an individual level is great, on a collective level it becomes political, like religion. What’s good on one scale can be harmful on another. That’s why I’m wary of so-called non-governmental institutions (they’re not, they’re subservient to the political agendas of the states that fund them) that advocate ecology while favoring individual ecological behavior. In any case, the real upheavals take place at the level of the individual, when he or she is driven by a genuine desire for change. The masses are driven by narratives, and it is these that make them act in order. International organizations are more often than not only there to play politics under a false flag.

Is Ecology A New Religion?

Ecological principles can be found in most religions, although some excel more in this area (Jainism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism etc.). Developed countries naturally tend to be less religious. However, the aspirations or ideas that emanated from religious currents have persisted even though these same currents have disappeared in practice or in people’s hearts. Human rights, for example, are a direct offshoot of Christianity. The egalitarian and universal principle of the Declaration of Human Rights is immediately linked to the New Testament.
Ecology proceeds in much the same way. People believe less in God, but they adhere to the idea of harmony materialized by the notion of the ecosystem. God is absent from ecologist discourse, yet the sacredness of the balance of animal and plant species and the awareness of a principle of restitution (we get back what we give, we sow what we reap) is reminiscent of the notion of karma or cosmic intelligence.
Ecology undoubtedly has a cultic dimension, which should be compared with pre-monotheistic animist religions. We preserve the sea and nature because we know they will return the favor, just as hunter-gatherers venerated rivers and trees for the fish and fruit they ate.
Any doctrine becomes religious when it replaces a religion. This is true of communism and liberalism, and even truer of ecology.

I Preserve Therefore I Am

If ecology is necessary today, its political loser is counterproductive for the cause it serves. When the religious becomes political, it instantly ceases to be spiritual. Ecology being a proto-religion, it’s only really effective when its ideas are disseminated throughout the population, without however taking power centrally, at least that’s my opinion.

What Would Confucius Do?

According to the Confucian vision, a power exists legitimately only when its representatives are exemplary. The people obey because the leader is obedient, as surprising as that may seem. The people are virtuous because the leader is virtuous. By invoking Confucius, I’m trying to nuance or even contradict some of my previous comments, in order to give you another angle of view. I wrote earlier that I didn’t believe in the ability of non-governmental institutions to create favorable ecological change because of their hidden interests. Now, if we start from the Confucian principle of exemplarity at the level of political elites, we could create a real evolution in ecological habits among the population. The fact is: the vast majority of the world’s political elites operate as a coterie, not practicing what they preach. The little people are asked to make sacrifices, go without, stop heating their homes, etc., while the political leaders gorge themselves and squander public money. The people who govern us are often not far removed from Roman orgies. So how can we impose frugal and responsible behavior on the population? It just isn’t possible. As a Confucian, I believe that a morally exemplary elite has a direct effect on the masses. A single act of sacrifice on the level of the king creates millions of acts of sacrifice in the collective unconscious of a population. Without this, the only way to impose oneself is by force.
It’s true that the knights of the Middle Ages imposed themselves on the population in their early days by terrorizing the countryside. However, their sacrifices on the battlefield were later sufficient to impose a moral authority on the villains, which for them translated into sacrifice in agricultural labor.

To Conclude:

Ecology has several dimensions: one is intimate and individual, the other is collective and political. In my opinion, the interests of one often run counter to those of the other. Ecology is a way for developed countries to maintain their world leadership, in many cases by imposing constraints on the development of developing countries. However, ecology is indeed necessary on an individual scale, and the evidence of climate change cannot be denied. There is an Anthropocene, and it’s up to man himself to repair what he has caused.

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