In L’Engrenage de la technique, L’Enfermement planétaire and Les Horizons terrestres, André Lebeau sounded the alarm: the human species has reached the limits, both physical and economic, of its ecological niche. For the first time in its history it faces a challenge in which its survival is at stake. There are too many human beings and, as it wastes resources and thoughtlessly pollutes the planet, humanity is hurtling irreversibly towards a final catastrophe. It has no means of escaping from the planet on which it developed, while its resources in terms of energy, raw materials, food production, drinking water and living space are subject to tensions that cannot increase indefinitely without collective behaviour suffering radical breakdowns or profound transformations.
Neither technology nor an economics founded on the myth of eternal growth can provide solutions, since they are precisely the source of the problem. If a neo-liberalism which sees the market as the supreme saviour is making that problem worse, sustainable development is no better placed to halt the fateful mechanism, since it is blind to the creation of disequilibria now implied in any form of development. The Earth may perhaps feed more people, but it cannot ensure everyone of a share of resources comparable to that of a European today, nor (even less) of an American. In other words, some people’s standard of living is now inseparable from the poverty of others.
Is it still possible to modify collective behaviour? This is the question André Lebeau confronted in the unfinished work whose foreword we present below. Without ever formulating a prognosis regarding the outcome, he doubted that it was, since evolution had programmed man to divide into groups, conquer territories and dominate his neighbours, not to control the relationship with a finite environment, to cooperate and to share. Whereas answers can only be collective, all our political and economic structures run counter to this –including in the democracies, where the short-term is the ultimate matrix of decision-making. The two main dangers threatening society with break-up and civilizational decay are blindness and inertia. Even supposing that we were aware of the problem, our social organization does not really allow us to confront it. Thus, for example, in order to preserve social peace, politicians are proposing to give fresh stimulus to the economic growth, even though they are perfectly aware that such a model is no longer viable.
In this March-April 2013 issue, which Futuribles is devoting very largely to the social and political impact of religions, Franck Frégosi studies the place of Islam in European societies. After a short account of the history of the presence of the Muslim religion in Europe (from Arabic settlement in Spain in the Middle Ages to the Ottoman Empire and the migrations which followed the end of colonialism), Frégosi presents the various faces of Islam in Europe, which involves ethnic divides ensuing from the different regions of origin of European Muslims, a generation gap between the Islam practised by the younger generations and that of their elders, and ideological rifts.
He then explores the three avenues of Islam’s current expression in Europe and the prospects for these: a minority Islam which favours a certain orthodoxy; a relatively radical, standardized Islam laying claim to universal applicability; and a trend towards secularization. Frégosi also stresses the limited character of the economic integration of Muslims in Europe and the difficulties they encounter in the area of employment –in France, for example, given the recurrent concern that manifestations of religion should be excluded from the public sphere and calls for the same to apply in the arena of private business. In his view, these various elements suggest that European Islam is in a mature phase, a phase of adaptation to the prevailing tradition of secularism in Western Europe.
In this March-April 2013 issue, which Futuribles is devoting very largely to the social and political impact of religions, François Mabille provides a conspectus of the recent development of religions worldwide and presents a number of possible future scenarios for several of them. He begins by reminding us which are the numerically dominant religions (Christianity, Islam, Hinduism etc.), how they are distributed geographically and how that distribution has changed over a period of almost a century. He stresses, in passing, the difficulties inherent in statistical assessments of this kind, in which the data may be incomplete or biased, or mask more subtle developments.
Mabille goes on to analyse four major trends that have manifested themselves in the worldwide spread of religious influence: the return of religion to the political agenda, the broadening of the spectrum of religious movements, the increasing political role of religious diasporas, and the vitality of both Islam and Christianity. These are four developments which complicate the potential process of secularization. Lastly, Mabille turns a spotlight on the futures of Catholicism (“from crisis to decline?”), of Islam (“secularism, fundamentalism or liberalism?”) and of Buddhism with a Western slant.
Ce numéro de mars-avril de Futuribles est beaucoup plus volumineux que d’ordinaire. Espérons que son épaisseur ne nuira pas à l’attention qu’il mérite de la part de nos lecteurs. Ce choix est dicté par l’importance particulière des deux sujets qui y sont traités : celui de la solidarité entre les générations, et celui de l’impact social et politique des religions. Le premier thème s’impose en raison de la crise majeure du système français de protection ...
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In this March-April 2013 issue, which Futuribles is devoting very largely to the social and political impact of religions, Jean-Paul Burdy and Jean Marcou analyse the role played by Islam and Islamists in the “Arab Springs” of the last two years and the role they are playing today in the ongoing political transitions. They first remind us that the Arab revolutions were unleashed by protest movements that were primarily social and political, and that Islamists (generally well established within the lower strata of the countries concerned) joined in with these after the event. Burdy and Marcou then show how the Islamists, following the example of the Muslim Brotherhood, took advantage of these uprisings to gain power (in Tunisia and Egypt in particular). However, they also show the extent to which the Islamists’ ideological line merely played into a social and political body that had actually long been dominated by Shari’a law. They outline, too, the various divergences in this regard between the various Arab countries concerned in the “Arab Springs” and the reference models on which they drew etc. In particular, they study the denominational issues (Shiite/Sunni rivalries) that have emerged in states like Bahrain or Syria and the way these have been made use of by certain players, while nonetheless disputing the “simplistic interpretation” that sees a “Shiite arc” emerging over against a “Sunni bloc” within the Arab world, when the positions and actions of states are in many cases motivated very classically by Realpolitik.
Lastly, Burdy and Marcou warn against what are sometimes rather over-hasty readings of current developments, recalling how important the part played by political, economic and social processes has been and pointing out how difficult it will be, in this context, for the Islamist parties which have gained power (democratically) to reconcile their ideological imperatives with the aspirations of their fellow citizens.
Regular readers of Futuribles are very familiar with Pierre Papon, a member of the editorial board and a regular contributor to the journal on scientific questions in the broad sense of the term. 2012 has been a productive year for Papon so far as publications are concerned. In addition to some short books on energy aimed at a young audience, he has just published a work of great quality on future prospects in the sciences and technologies, entitled Bref récit du futur. Prospective 2050, science et société [Brief Narrative of the Future. Foresight 2050, Science and Society] (Paris: Albin Michel, 2012).
Michel André has read the book for Futuribles and presents it for us here in broad outline. He particularly stresses Papon’s redoubtable ability to sum up the current state of knowledge and technology in a language that is accessible; to show what “breakthrough fronts” are identifiable today in many fields (physics, medicine, imagining etc.) and what we are able to deduce from them about possible scientific and technological developments over the next few decades; and, lastly, to bring out the way society carries forward –or retards– scientific research and its translation into innovation. A brilliant piece of work and a magisterial lesson in foresight studies.
When one practices, or is interested in, foresight studies, it is helpful to have a good understanding of the past and, more generally, a clear vision of the way societies have developed over a long period. It is not, however, easy to decipher the historical process and it may appear difficult to add anything whatever to what has already been written by Hegel, Marx and many others on universal history. That is, however, what a Russian orientalist, Igor Diakonoff, has attempted in a book which appeared in Russia in 1994 and was translated into English five years later as The Paths of History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999).
Bernard Cazes has read this highly original work with great interest. Alongside an account of the atypical career of its Russian author, he presents Diakonoff’s re-reading of history here, driven as it is by the desire to establish whether certain non-material (in Marx’s sense) aspects, present in certain civilizations, were not found elsewhere. Diakonoff proposes a break-down of universal history into eight phases, the originality of this lying largely in the transition mechanism from one phase to another. This is based mainly on psycho-sociological (changes of values, for example) and technological factors (particularly in the field of armaments). Lastly, Cazes highlights the author’s comments on the finitude of our planet and his warning against the risks of extinction facing the human species in the relatively short term if nothing is done to check the course of history seen in its current, eighth, “post-capitalist” phase.
Tendance 1. Émergence et affirmation d’une classe moyenne mondiale Tendance 2. Réduction de la pauvreté dans le monde Tendance 3. Stabilité et transformation de la pauvreté en France Tendance 4. L’effritement de la syndicalisation en France Tendance 5. L’émiettement des classes moyennes en France Tendance 6. La peur du déclassement en France Tendance 7. La France, société de défiance Tendance 8. Métamorphoses de la famille en France Tendance 9. Hausse de la qualité et des coûts du ...
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Maria Nowak, who has for more than 20 years been engaged in citizen action on behalf of the excluded in France, was, like many others, spurred to action by the economic crisis that has plagued us since 2008. Drawing on her experience at the head of the ADIE, she here outlines her proposals for improving the situation of the excluded and of the persons most affected by this crisis, while at the same time re-thinking the workings of the existing economic system.
After a detailed review of the activity of ADIE, mainly through banking microcredit, and the institutional and financial framework in which it operates, Maria Nowak develops three lines of thinking: the city in crisis; ferments of renewal; and the future city, calling for the development of a genuine “social market economy” and a “perestroika of capitalism”. This is an unavoidable development in her view and one in which microfinance activities and actions relating to the social responsibility of companies have a crucial role to play.
Jean-Claude Guillebaud, ancien grand reporter au Monde, est éditeur (Éd. des Arènes), écrivain et éditorialiste au Nouvel Observateur. Après avoir consacré, entre 1995 et 2009, sept ouvrages à décrire le "désarroi contemporain" suscité par le changement historique et anthropologique que, selon lui, nous vivons, il s'attache désormais à rendre plus intelligible ce qu'il désigne comme "une refondation du monde". Jean-Claude Guillebaud est venu présenter son dernier ouvrage, le huitième de la série, "La Vie vivante. Contre les nouveaux ...
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René Passet is a politically committed economist who was among the pioneers of the transdisciplinary approach in economics and one of the first to advocate sustainable development. He is the author of many works and articles (some of them published in these pages) and has received, among other honours, the Prix du livre d’économie [Economics Book Prize] for his work Les Grandes Représentations du monde et de l’économie à travers l’histoire [The Major Representations of the World and the Economy throughout History], a tome of almost 950 pages arguing, against a panoramic background of the history of ideas and societies, for an economics that is open to other disciplines.
Franck-Dominique Vivien has read the book for Futuribles and presents us with some of its lessons. He begins, for example, by reminding us how, for René Passet, economic development constitutes a political project set within the context of biological evolution. He then shows how the work rounds off and extends René Passet’s œuvre, developing a very particular conception of the discipline of economics, whose systems of thought reflect the human thinking of their times. Lastly, Vivien speaks of the committed economist dedicating his thinking to the service of the emancipation of men and women, in the hope that they will reacquire the conviction that, “with their wills, dreams and utopias”, they are the makers of history.
In a book published in 2010, L’Esprit de Philadelphie. La justice sociale face au marché total [The Spirit of Philadelphia. Social Justice versus the Total Market] (Paris: Seuil, 2010), Alain Supiot, Ph.D. in law and, among other things, Director of the Institute of Advanced Study at Nantes, takes issue with the growing tendency to regard “total marketization” and economic globalization as realities that cannot be checked or curbed, even though it is clear that they increasingly run counter to what social justice ought to demand. This faith in the infallibility of the market has, he argues, led to the subordination of human beings to the market, whereas originally the market predominantly served human needs. The result of this has been, in his view, a growing number of victims or losers in the present economic order. Rejecting this line of development, Alain Supiot calls in L’Esprit de Philadelphie for a return to the principles laid down in 1944 in the ILO Declaration of Philadelphia, which sought to put the notion of social justice – and thereby of humanity – back at the heart of our economic system. Hedva Sarfati, who has read the book for Futuribles, outlines its main points for us here.
À l’occasion des 20 ans de la fondation Nicolas Hulot, le journal Metro a publié un cahier spécial daté du 5 janvier 2030. Alors que la température à Paris atteint 10 °C, la capitale se remplit de potagers urbains : les prix élevés des fruits et légumes, ainsi que le souci de bien manger incitent les habitants à s’improviser jardiniers. Le même jour, Ségonzac, l’une des premières « villes lentes » françaises, est prise d’assaut par le Front de ...
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Futuribles journal has always shown a close interest in the – at times, surprising – relations between science and society and, indeed, between scientists and society. It has alerted its readers to the resurgence of creationism (no. 364), anticipated potential future scientific breakthroughs (no. 366), exposed scientific denial performed in the service of industrial interests (no. 369) and, more generally, discussed these relations through the articles of Jean-Jacques Salomon, an ardent advocate of a science carried out in the service of society and with an admixture of ethical reflection.
This month, it is Michèle Robitaille, a specialist in representations of the human body and the impact of technology on those representations, who alerts us to the dangers of transhumanism and, more precisely, to the way its advocates present perspectives for science in such a style as to lend substance to their project. She shows how, for example, through a “prophetic” discourse of the self-fulfilling kind, under cover of neutrality – and even scientific rationality – transhumanists are attempting to foist on society the idea that the convergence of NBIC technologies (nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technologies and cognitive sciences) is inevitable and, with it, the ultimate consequence of that convergence: posthumanism. Yet the social acceptability of such developments is far from self-evident and there is still time, as Robitaille points out here, to counteract the discursive biases of the transhumanists by reintroducing a political dimension (in the proper sense) into the debate on the future progress of science and technology.
Depuis une quinzaine d'années, le secteur du tourisme a progressivement été transformé par Internet, au point de donner naissance au concept de e-tourisme. A l'avenir, selon la Direction générale de la compétitivité, de l'industrie et des services, à l'origine de ce rapport, le secteur pourrait également être bouleversé par le m-tourisme, le tourisme utilisant des technologies mobiles. Depuis deux ans, les opérateurs du tourisme mais aussi des acteurs d'Internet développent des services mobiles pour toutes ...
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« Déchiffrer la société française » est l’ouvrage d’un journaliste qui se veut attentif aux faits et entend, par leur examen minutieux et la reconstitution de séries longues de données, présenter un panorama en dynamique de la société française et faire la chasse aux stéréotypes. Louis Maurin, avant d’exposer les principales tendances positives ou négatives que son travail a permis de dégager, a beaucoup insisté sur les raisons qui l’ont poussé à entreprendre ce travail de fond et ...
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“It is time our statistical system put more emphasis on measuring the well-being of the population than on measuring economic production” noted the Stiglitz Commission in September 2009 in its Report on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress. “For there is a growing disparity between the information conveyed by aggregated GDP data and the data that are really of importance for the well-being of individuals.” Used wrongly, adds the Commission, GDP can even lead to a “skewed view” of economic realities.
Should we put an end, then, to measuring economic production as a way of assessing the wealth of a nation, and attend to the “pursuit of happiness” instead? Matters are not so simple, replies Pierre Le Roy in this article, reminding us that the members of the Stiglitz Commission are not the first to contest the relevance of GDP, a measure which, despite many critiques, is still the key indicator today for economists, “who are lazily content with it”.
Why is this? “GDP has no credible rival… It is very difficult to achieve agreement on fashioning a different instrument that comes closer to the measurement of well-being”, observes Pierre Le Roy. In order to clarify the debate, Le Roy, recalling the failings of GDP and the conclusions of the Stiglitz Report, gives an account of the main research on this theme and the various methods devised for measuring individual and collective happiness.
Dans un contexte de vieillissement progressif de la population, beaucoup d’espoirs ont été placés dans le secteur des services à la personne (SAP) en France. La demande pour ce type de services serait aussi amenée à évoluer dans une société qui accorde de plus en plus d’importance à la qualité de vie et au bien-être. En 2005, le « plan Borloo » visait d’ailleurs à professionnaliser et à structurer l’offre de ces activités. Les dépenses publiques consacrées à ...
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L’objet de cette partie est de proposer des scénarios sur les évolutions possibles des rapports sociaux à l’horizon 2030 en France. Ces rapports sociaux relèvent de dynamiques liées aux aspirations et aux comportements individuels, mais aussi aux évolutions des structures de sociabilité existantes (la famille, le quartier, le travail…). Ces évolutions se font dans un cadre économique et réglementaire plus ou moins contraignant (qui dépend en partie d’éléments analysés dans d’autres chapitres du rapport) qu’elles ...
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Tendance 1 : Transformation du rapport à la mort Tendance 2 : Baisse du nombre de personnes par ménage Tendance 3 : L’augmentation des naissances hors mariage Tendance 4 : La peur du « déclassement » Tendance 5 : La France, société de défiance Tendance 6 : Forte croissance des distances parcourues quotidiennement Incertitude 1 : La fin du mariage ? Incertitude 2 : Poursuite de la hausse du travail féminin ? Incertitude 3 : La syndicalisation s’effritera-t-elle encore en France ? Incertitude 4 : La pauvreté continuera-t-elle à baisser en France ? Incertitude ...
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