29 Sep 2007

Green thinker dies in suicide pact

Talking of green thinkers like Erich Fromm who Neil Clark blogged on so eloquently, I was shocked to wake up today to the news that Andre Gorz and his wife have committed suicide. Both in their mid 80s his wife was dying apparently of a degenerative disease.

I remember looking forward in the early 1980's to the publication of his 'Ecology and Politics' book, he was one of those who made the link between the ecological crisis, growth and capitalism. He had some interesting economic ideas especially the concept of 'prosumers' people who merged consumption with production, for example, one could have a community centre full of computers and machines, so you could quickly design and machine knit a jumper....ought to go back and look at some of this stuff.

He argued that owning a car was a useful luxury but mass car ownership eroded the benefits by creating congestion.

He also proclaimed a kind of post-socialist politics, in his book title 'Farewell to the Working Class', which helped pave the way unfortunately for Blair...

Here is what Paul Frost of Green Left has to say about him:

Andre Gorz, a writer who (for good and ill) had some influence on the growth of the modern Green movement (but whose "post industrial" and "post working class" ideas also may have informed some Eurocommunist and Blairite/Giddensite "third way" politics) has committed suicide along with his British-born wife Dorine last weekend. Gorz, originally Gerhard Hirsch, (and sometimes writing under the pen name Michel Bosquet) was author of the 1980 book "Farewell To The Working Class". He played a role in popularising the work of Ivan Illich and the Club of Rome and based much of his important work around a humanist, eco-socialist perspective opposed to both productivist/authoritarian versions of Marxism and what he saw as anti-humanist Deep Ecology.He was an important New Left thinker, but gradually moved to some more controversial and right-wing positions on issues like US missile deployments.

I must admit I didn't know about Gorz's support for US missile deployment and it is a long time since I read him but his stuff in the 1980s on ecology is important and yes he stands with Fromm, Illich, Bahro, Porritt, etc....incidentally I am hoping to write something about the Porritt capitalism book which I have some big disagreements, but despite some weaknesses his Seeing Green remains a must read.

Gorz is described in an article in German in Die Welt, that looks interesting but my German is scant, in seems to compare his wife and him to the ancient lovers in 'Love in the Time of Cholera' Fermina Daza und Florentino Ariza in "Die Liebe in den Zeiten der Cholera"

This is from the wiki oracle, he worked with Marcuse, Satre, Illich and Italian Tony, I mean Tony Negri...

Gorz was becoming a leading figure of political ecology, his ideas being diffused in particular by the ecologist monthly Le Sauvage, founded by Alain Hervé, the creator of the French section of the Friends of the Earth. In 1975, he published Ecologie et politique (Galilée, 1975), which included the essay Ecologie et liberté, "one of the foundational texts of the ecologic problematic" (Françoise Gollain [6]). Gorz's ecology was further strengthened by his reading of the Club of Rome's 1972 report, Limits to Growth.

He was then influenced by Louis Dumont in considering Marxism and Liberalism as two versions of an economist thought. Gorz then opposed himself both to hedonist individualism and utilitarianism and to materialist and productivist collectivism, defending a humanist version of ecology opposed to deep ecology. Gorz's ecologism, however, remained linked to a critic of Capitalism, as he called for an "ecological, social and cultural revolution which would abolish the constraints of Capitalism" [7].

More here...what did we do before the wiki oracle....wiki is prosuming like Gorz advocated.


Tom said...

RIP Andre, his call to create "spaces in which life can unfold freely" (Capitalism, Socialism, Ecology) is one of my greatest inspirations!

Chris said...

My dear friend André Gorz would have been astonished by the idea that anyone conceive of his work as being in any sense sympathetic to Tony Blair. "Farewell to the Working Class" pointed in fact to the danger that organized labour and its parties could become forces for conservatism, merely shoring up a system of the unequal distribution of (waged) work, which, as ever with Gorz's predictions, has more or less come true.
Also, Gorz's position on the Euromissiles was entirely consistent with his Sartrean commitment to freedom. Why would it be Left-wing to be undefended against a Stalinist state?