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A second elephant is entering the room, it’s called responsibility

Blog de Pierre Calame

Once upon a time, it was imagined that peak production in fossil-energy, coal, gas, and oil would soon be reached and the reduced supply would automatically raise prices, thus turning need into a virtue. Bad luck! We keep discovering new reserves and peak production will have to wait for the day when hell freezes over.

This leaves taxing greenhouse-gas emissions, conjured up ritually, with a “please note” in the next sentence explaining that this is regressive taxing affecting the poor more than the rich, so it will have to be completed with redistributive measures… that will for all practical purposes cancel the expected effect. There will be the rich, on the one hand, whose budget share for fossil-energy expenses is so small that such a price rise will be no problem at all, and on the other hand, the poor, for whom the effect of such an increase will have been neutralized. What’s wrong with this picture?

Are we stupid, hypocritical, or both? The obvious answer is of course: both. The negotiable-carbon-budget-allocated-to-everyone elephant remains in the room, comfortably seated on its rear end, and still no one is seeing it.
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"If we are all children of the Mediterranean, if we all feel like children of the Mediterranean, then we have the opportunity to fraternize.
For it is only fraternity and understanding that can pave the way for a solution of Mediterranean tragedies.
Let us remember that a citizen is someone who has both rights and duties and has an internal responsibility for what he owns, which is the Mediterranean Sea.
We must understand that there is a community of human destinies, with all the perils threatening the world, and that we Mediterranean people must be the first to to carry the flag of the problems of the human race.
Let us remember that the dialogue was born in the Mediterranean, the dialogues of Socrates and Plato. We are a civilization of the dialogue and that’s what we need to nurture."


The renowned French philosopher and sociologist Edgar Morin addresses the Mediterranean youth gathered in Barcelona, Spain, for the VIIIth Meeting of the Mediterranean Citizens Assembly, from 7-10 November 2019 [watch the video of his interview here - in French]

Edgar Morin internationally recognized for his work on complexity and "complex thought", is member of the Mediterranean Citizens Assembly Foundation Advisory Board.

Here follows the transcript of Edgar Morin’s message to the youth:

"The Mediterranean reality is something very complex. Today, where there are terrible threats to the whole of humanity, including the Mediterranean countries - let us not forget that there is the nuclear weapon that can also threaten, let us not forget that today’s ecological degradation threatens the Mediterranean as well, which, like other oceans risks becoming a desert of life because of pollution and overfishing.
So our Mediterranean is threatened.
Consider this sea common to people who speak different languages, who have different customs, who worship different religions -but which, we should recall, have all the same source- and when they are secular, they share a secularism coming from the same source that is Mediterranean.
Let us not forget that we have something in common and that we must consider the Mediterranean as something maternal.

Current conflicts in the Mediterranean

First there are the conflicts in the Middle East.
There is the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian problem, which is like a cancer that not only gnaws the Mediterranean but a large part of the planet.
There was the US intervention in Iraq that resulted in more disasters than solutions.
There was the Syrian war that was not only a civil war, but a war in which external powers, such as America and Russia, intervened, in that sense that is an international war.
So the Mediterranean is still under the threat of these conflicts. And there is the worsening of relations between the Islamic world and the European world, which is due to the fact that in the Islamic world, after the failure of democracy, after the failure of the Arab socialism, after the economic colonization that followed the political colonization (which was ultimately rejected),
as a result of all this, many peoples, a part of the peoples -since there is no hope any more in democracy, in socialism- found refuge in religion.
Moreover a minority of these Muslims is locked in a rigid, retrograde conception of religion, and a small part of this small part even turned into jihadists who are fighting, not only non-Muslims, but first of all the Muslims themselves.
In the Western vision we mix everything, we mix jihadism, fundamentalism and being purely a Muslim.
So, there are many misunderstandings and I would even say that we forget that 3 religions, the religion of Israel, Islam and Christianity, have the same core, the same source, which is the Bible, we all worship Abraham, Moses, Jesus-except the Jews obviously for Jesus.
So we must consider everything that unites us and go beyond anything that divide us.

Demystifying and re-shaping the Mediterranean

Remythifying the Mediterranean means that we consider this sea as a mother, as a ’matrie’.
The fatherland insists on the paternal term.
The ’matrie’ inists on the maternal term.
If we are all children of the Mediterranean, if we all feel like children of the Mediterranean, then we have the opportunity to fraternize.
For it is only fraternity and understanding that can pave the way for a solution of Mediterranean tragedies.

It is in this sense that the citizens of the Mediterranean must work, because matrie is like the equivalent of homeland, where we are all citizens.
Let us remember that a citizen is someone who has both rights and duties and has an internal responsibility for what he owns, which is the Mediterranean Sea.

Mediterranean citizenship

We must take responsibility for ourselves and develop what has always existed -but through conflicts- today, by eliminating the conflicts: the exchanges, the cross-fertilization, the encounters, the friendships, the understanding - that’s what is essential today.

Mediterranean youth according to "The way" (“La voie”)

There remains another way of conceiving the future.
For example, in my book "La voie", I say that the term ’development’ is a word too restricted to its purely techno-economic nature. This development has often destroyed old and traditional solidarities, which existed among peoples.
So development should be accompanied by what may be called its opposite, which is the ’envelopment’, that is to save communities and create new ones.
Growth today has become an imperative that needs to be revised, to see what needs to grow, that is, the healthy economy, the economy of vital things, of tasty things, the economy of products that they are not programmed to be reduced and rejected, not the economy of the superficial, the futile, the harmful.
We need growth and degrowth, recognize what needs to grow and what needs to decrease - I would even say that we need to ’globalize’ and to ’de-globalize’ when territories are threatened to become human and biological deserts - we need to save those territories as needed, by protection rules.
It is necessary to change our way of thinking - what I wrote in "The Way", remains in my opinion even more current.

Complex thinking for the youth of the Mediterranean

Complex thinking confronts problems of antagonisms that exist in the same reality.
Precisely, in the same reality, you have conflict, antagonism, between concord and discord, between understanding and fanaticism, you have all these elements in the Mediterranean, in the Mediterranean you find the ’worst’ and the ’best’.
The ’worst’ you can find it everywhere else, but this ’best’, you do not find anywhere else than in the Mediterranean, there is still this difference.

We must think that we are the repositories of a wonderful culture that has not only always cultivated our love of the Mediterranean, of his lands and this sea, but we are also the children of what is the best in human culture, the humanism, the openness, the understanding of others, and that we owe as Mediterranean, to carry the flag of all the problems of the human race.

We must understand that there is a community of human destinies, with all the perils threatening the world, and that we Mediterranean people must be the first to act, we southerners must be first.

Why is it so? Because in the north, people developed -above all- the culture of calculation, profit, of domination over things, of the anonymous world, a world only devoted to business and domination, while in the south, while this northern conception invades us, however we defend the greater values of liberty, autonomy of life, communication, extraversion, dialogue.
Remember that the dialogue was born in the Mediterranean, the dialogues of Socrates and Plato.
We are a civilization of the dialogue and that’s what we need to nurture.

I regret not being able to be present in your meeting in Barcelona.
I had commitments that I could not postpone.

I want to salute your courageous effort which, through adversity and difficulties, continues to work for a vital and essential task, to defend this great Mediterranean spirit which is threatened in the Mediterranean itself, and of which we must be the spokesmen, the continual defenders.

Thanks to the Mediterranean Citizens Foundation!"

[transcription and translation to English by Yolanda Ziaka]

by Yolanda Ziaka

Across the globe, from Lebanon, Iran and Iraq, to Chile, Bolivia, Haiti, Hong Kong, widespread protest movements, in at least a dozen countries, are shaking the planet today.

People take on the streets in peaceful demonstrations that often descend to chaos, protesters engaging in ’battles’ with police forces. Dozens of people might have been killed, hundreds are gravely injured, while there is the fear that violence in certain cases could spin out of control.

Is there any common dynamics in these quasi simultaneus social explosions?
It seems, at a first glance, that although the geo-political and social contexts are obviously completely different, there are some essential common claims form people that have invaded the public spaces.

Protests are lit up by seemingly trivial claims: to oppose the hike in metro fares in Chile, the charge for voice calls via messaging services such as WhatsApp in Lebanon, fuel price hikes in Iran, the ecological tax on fuels, a year ago in France.

However in most cases, protests unleashed a surge of discontent revealing a much deeper crisis and spiraled into broader movements against the high cost of living, high unemployment, poor public services, corruption, oppression by political authorities and abuse of power and privileges, police repression, inequality.

“The young Chileans, children of a prosperous nation presented as a model of democratization, have little in common with their Iraqi counterparts, who are demonstrating in a country devastated by two decades of war and instability. US teachers on strike for more resources do not share the same daily life as the protesters occupying the squares of Beirut. And yet, in all these demonstrations, a motto comes back: the demand for more social justice.” [1]

These social explosions have been added -or better, intrinsically linked- to the wave of demonstrations following more political causes, mainly around democratic demands. We could then discern two major cross-cutting claims, Democracy and Social Justice, in the heart of the challenges shaking our world.

We follow everyday’s news from the battles around the world anxiously, feeling deeply the interdependancies that link our lives tightly in a community of destiny.

In solidarity with people around the world fighting for their dignity!

Yolanda Ziaka

[1] Lucas Chancel,"At the heart of crises, the demand for more social justice and access to essential services", in “Le Monde”, November 8th, 2019

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