Ecology and Capitalism, the Marriage of the Century?


This article is published in Futuribles journal no.445, nov.-déc. 2021

In our May-June 2021 issue (no. 442), we delved into the future of political ecology which, though it currently has a mix of factors in its favour (beginning with the growing awareness of the reality of climate change), is struggling to generate a clear overall argument and remains torn between a number of competing tendencies. Jean Haëntjens extends this thinking here, opening up the possibility that ecology might develop towards an alliance with capitalism to attain its goals. For some years now, a trend has been emerging and intensifying: the greening of capitalist enterprises and, more broadly, of the economy and its ideological underpinnings — that is to say, of capitalism. Admittedly, that development began in response to regulatory constraints, but with the shift now underway and environmental risks growing more urgent, the movement of economic actors towards greener principles could give rise to an alliance between ecology and capitalism that might bring effective change within societies. This, broadly speaking, is what Jean Haëntjens outlines here. Confronted with the “limits to the greening” of the economy, he explains in detail the multiple contributions of environmentalism to ways of thinking about capitalism and the way these “eco-economic principles” have become part of academic and institutional structures, particularly in France. Jean Haëntjens also shows how, alongside this, capitalism is tending to fragment and is currently in search of new impulsion. As he sees it, this could ultimately come from environmentalism, which, either by a defensive route (protective regulation, taxation) or by a more constructive one (public governance in cooperation with the economic actors), is capable of supplying the various criteria that might provide a basis for a renewal of capitalism.
#Capitalisme #Écologie #Entreprises #Idéologie politique #Transition écologique