In September 2018, we began a series on the role of enterprises in constructing the common good and we have already published various articles — of analysis, feedback and personal testimony — on this theme in Futuribles 426, 427 and 429. Employing an admittedly different approach, the thinking presented here by Hélène Le Teno addresses the issue of how businesses can avail themselves of the context of an increasing scarcity of resources we are seeing today to trigger a change in the economic model.
Hélène Le Teno reminds us first what this move into an era of scarcity consists in, and why the physical limits of our planet require us to look again at the way we produce. She stresses the limitations of an economic growth that would tend to ignore the constraints of the biosphere and the need to orient ourselves toward a genuinely sustainable development model. In her view, we now have to “do better with much less” and create a situation in which the economy’s main actors — enterprises — can reason along these lines and find ways to develop in a “transition economy”. A shift occurred in the United States and Europe with the emergence of the notion of “benefit corporations/companies”. It is essential now that new accounting and financing mechanisms — some examples of which Le Teno presents here — are developed, to enable economic actors to leave “extractive capitalism” behind and shift to a common-interest capitalism.
Entreprises vivantes est un ouvrage coordonné par Manfred Mack et Christine Koehler, publié sous l’égide du groupe de réflexion « Entreprise et avenir » qu’animent Manfred Mack et Armand Braun. Écrit par un collectif de praticiens et d’experts de l’entreprise et du travail dans un esprit prospectiviste fondé sur un ensemble de signaux faibles, il se compose de 12 chapitres illustrant chacun un aspect des changements en cours, en France et ailleurs. On n’en examinera ici que ...
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Économie du bien commun, de Jean Tirole — économiste, président de TSE (Toulouse School of Economics), enseignant au MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), directeur d’études à l’EHESS (École des hautes études en sciences sociales) et auréolé en 2014 du prix de la Banque de Suède en sciences économiques en mémoire d’Alfred Nobel —, est un ouvrage somme de plus de 600 pages. Destiné à un large public et divisé en 17 chapitres, Jean Tirole y aborde autant le quotidien ...
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Ce numéro spécial des Cahiers Innovation et prospective de la CNIL a été réalisé par le Comité de la prospective, un comité de 15 experts aux profils variés, chargés d’enrichir les réflexions prospectives et de contribuer aux débats sur l’éthique du numérique. Ce numéro est consacré à la notion de partage et aux nouveaux sens qu’il revêt dans sa dimension numérique. Le rapport revient sur les origines sociologiques de la notion de partage. Il en dresse un ...
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Ravivée par la crise de 2008, la critique du capitalisme n’a plus guère de difficultés à proposer de véritables alternatives. L’ouvrage de Paul Mason a le mérite d’en dessiner, dans un langage clair et précis, un aperçu systématique. L’idée que nous sommes au bout du capitalisme est répandue ; comme d’autres, Paul Mason pense que ce système survit en quelque sorte sous perfusion financière. Pour autant, le système financier lui-même est plus solide qu’on l ...
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Cet ouvrage place au centre des défis de l’humanité la réduction des inégalités économiques. S’il faut les réduire, c’est qu’une rupture sociale profonde se creuse entre des hommes et des femmes bien insérés dans le processus de mondialisation (qui y contribuent, en bénéficient, s’y épanouissent) et des personnes laissées pour compte, bloquées dans des situations précaires, qui nourrissent un ressentiment contre elles-mêmes et contre les autres. La résorption de cette fracture, entre « hommes utiles » et ...
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La Chine a connu pendant plus de 30 ans une croissance exceptionnelle par son ampleur et sa durée, fondée sur un modèle tourné vers l’investissement, le développement des exportations et une industrie manufacturière à forte intensité énergétique. Cette croissance a permis à des centaines de millions de personnes de sortir de la pauvreté, mais le modèle a creusé les inégalités — entre individus, entre régions, et entre villes et campagnes —, entraîné une forte pollution de l’environnement et une explosion ...
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L’« idéologie propriétaire », notion de « droits exclusifs » attachés au seul propriétaire, se développe dans des pans de plus en plus larges de la société (semences, logiciels, médicaments…). À l’opposé, dans une sorte de mouvement de balancier, les « communs », modes de gestion collective d’une ressource, connaissent un regain d’intérêt dans des champs tout aussi divers. L’ouvrage collectif Le Retour des communs. La crise de l’idéologie propriétaire analyse ces tensions entre modes de régulation passés ou actuels ...
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The last two decades have been marked by an acceleration in, and very rapid dissemination of, information and communication technologies (ICT) throughout the economy and society. For that reason, many writers, such as Jeremy Rifkin, take the view that we are on the eve of a new industrial revolution that might overthrow our economic model and bring the capitalist era to an end. Alain d’Iribarne doesn’t dispute the scale of these developments within the industrialized societies but, drawing on Fernand Braudel’s analysis of the dynamics of capitalism, he takes the view that they will not result in the death of that economic system. Given its time-honoured capacity for adaptation, capitalism will be able to bounce back by drawing on all the recent innovations to discover new sources of profit. In this article, he shows where the roots of this recovery lie (the relatively intangible strengths of capitalist organizations, the opportunities opened up by innovations in intermediation, the “sharing economy” and green growth, the organizational innovations made possible by the information society etc.). But he also stresses the major issues that face this new productive paradigm and the limits confronting it in terms of respect for human resources, security of personal data, risk management etc. A foresight exercise on the business of tomorrow which leads to an adaptation on the part of capitalism, not its death, but which also, reading between the lines, calls for us to revisit the place of the human element within the system.
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.
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.
Émile Quinet offers an analysis of the Report of the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress, chaired by Joseph Stiglitz. He reminds us, for example, of the pertinence of the “classical critiques of GDP (Gross Domestic Product)”, the tenor of which he presents here. But while welcoming, above and beyond the Summary Report, “the impressive amount of deep scientific work” done by the Commission, he expresses amazement that it was made up exclusively of economists and that the other social sciences were sidelined.
Is the classic model of the market, based on trade in exclusive ownership rights, still relevant? Sociologist François Cusin poses this question here, taking account of the striking development in recent years of the functionality economy, in which the sale of the use of a good has taken the place of the sale of that good alone — a trend which, in the author’s words, changes “the way of producing, marketing and consuming goods and services”.
Drawing on many examples, Cusin mentions, in particular, the process by which companies have divested themselves of material property — resorting increasingly to leasing arrangements (for buildings or vehicles and IT equipment) — and the rise of service contracts, which enable companies to maintain ‘a lasting bond with the client.’
Another crucial phenomenon, as François Cusin sees it, is the link between the functionality economy and access economy, in which “the most decisive issue [for consumers] is the availability of the basic services on which access to all other services is subsequently conditional”.
In this context, where membership of common interest networks seems primordial and where property rights are now less important than access rights, new service contracts are emerging, notes Cusin and, to back up his point, he outlines the American model of common interest developments — private residences or settlements, managed on a co-ownership basis. In this way he analyses the influence of the dual principle of functionality and access on housing arrangements.
The article by Jacques Bichot that we publish here is intended to be roundly provocative, offering a timely lesson on the strange operation of “modern” economies. It shows, in fact, that Bernard Madoff was an illusionist on a grand scale and a skilled builder of paper pyramids in a manner that was both brilliant and, at the same time, highly revealing of what is, in the end, quite a widespread practice.
Drawing on Jacques Rueff’s distinction between “real” and “false” entitlements, Bichot demonstrates how the latter developed by way of a “financial bubble” that was increasingly disconnected from the real economy. And he shows that, though Madoff was able to create an illusion of individual wealth this way, “so long as there were enough ‘suckers’ to believe in it”, the illusion collapsed when creditors began to doubt him and collectively tried to reclaim their assets.
Yet, he tells us, the property market, “funded” pension schemes and even states themselves operate no differently! They produce “false entitlements”, from which members of the oldest current generations benefit improperly, to the detriment of younger and future generations, who will eventually “pick up the tab”.
The ideas in this article will certainly provide food for thought, and may even spark some outraged reactions. Futuribles has opened its columns to their author despite their somewhat controversial nature.
In September 2009 the Stiglitz Commission published its report on the limits of economic accounting and the need to develop new indicators for the measurement of wealth and social progress. These recommendations are particularly welcome, but, as this “Future of Yesteryear” feature illustrates, they are far from new. The question remains, then, whether they will be implemented or will merely swell the pile of work produced in a similar vein, like the following text, which was first published by Bertrand de Jouvenel in 1957 and reprinted in his book, Arcadie. Essais sur le mieux-vivre [Arcadia: Essays on Better Ways of Living].
In this text, which appeared almost 50 years ago, the author, after discussing the limitations of economic accounting methods, argues how inadequate the methods are, inasmuch as they do not take account of unpaid services (work in the home, for example) or free goods (such as oxygen) or what he terms “negative goods”, today more commonly called externalities.
Reading this article by a pioneer of “political ecology” makes one wonder how much progress there has been in our thinking over the last 50 years. We should recall, moreover, that it was at roughly the same time (1971, to be precise) that Futuribles published Jacques Delors’ book Les Indicateurs sociaux [Social Indicators], which also stressed the need even then to design better tools (than economic indicators alone) for measuring the state of our societies. Let us hope that in future, further encouraged by concern for the environment, more sustained efforts will be made to improve national accounting systems.
Predating the current economic crisis, the ecological crisis besetting modern societies probably marks the death knell of the productivist capitalist system. This is the general idea developed by Bernard Perret in a recent work entitled Le Capitalisme est-il durable? [Is Capitalism Sustainable?] (Paris: Carnets Nord, 2008). Perret argues that what is termed “economic growth” is based on cheap energy, the accumulation of material goods and the destruction of natural ecosystems. If we do not put an end to this blind, headlong rush, society is heading for destruction. It has, therefore, become essential to put sustainable development at the heart of the economic system, writes Perret, in order to bring the notion of “economizing” back into economics. In his view, this involves a return to a planning orchestrated to this end by the public authorities: the aim must be to be more efficient by consuming less, to set a goal for economic actors and, above all, to give the survival of humanity precedence over the logic of the market.
Jean-Claude Val has read Bernard Perret’s book for Futuribles and reviews its main ideas here. The situation is serious, but not, perhaps, hopeless…
S’il est présomptueux d’envisager la sortie de crise et prématuré de faire un bilan définitif, il semble nécessaire de poursuivre un travail d’analyse, surtout dans une perspective de moyen terme. L’analyse de la crise actuelle peut partir d’un constat en trois volets : une implosion du système financier, une récession très sévère et des mesures de politique économique sans équivalent historique. Cette combinaison d’éléments conduit à une crise inédite et encore largement imprévisible. Vu la ...
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Le Club de Rome, qui est à l?origine de concepts clefs tels que ceux de « développement durable » ou d?« empreinte écologique », a publié son premier rapport, Limits to Growth? (Halte à la croissance ?), en 1972. Presque 40 plus tard, les scientifiques du Club s?interrogent sur la possibilité d?une croissance économique contrôlée, compatible avec les nouveaux défis environnementaux et les enjeux de développement humain. Pour cela, ils proposent d?étudier les conditions de réalisation d?un scénario « défi ...
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Invité au siège de Futuribles International à présenter la substance de son essai "Pour un catastrophisme éclairé.Quand l'impossible est certain.", Jean-Pierre Dupuy a tout d'abord tenu à indiquer que cet ouvrage comportait en fait deux facettes, celles-ci correspondant, mutatis mutandis, aux deux "époques" de sa vie de chercheur. (...) C'est sur la partie philosophique et métaphysique de l'ouvrage que J.-P. Dupuy a désiré insister au cours de son intervention, alléguant qu'il aurait mauvaise grâce ...
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With the Internet and the spread of the information and communication technologies (ITCs), one noticed the emergence (especially in the United States of America) of the concept of a "Net-economy", as well as the one, broader, of a "new economy". Their advocates argue that we would have entered a new era, characterized by a technological and economic paradigm that would be totally different from the former.
Frédéric Teulon first indicates what this concept of a "new economy" means, and explains how the idea could emerge that the growth of the ITCs -as well as those of the rail in the XIXth century and of the electricity and the car in the XXth - can signify a new era. The author wonders how it could denote that we would be now at the beginning of a new upswing in the Kondratieff cycle. In this regard, he points out the effective improvements accomplished, despite the delay justifying Solow's paradox -computers can be seen everywhere except in the productivity rate- and due to the deep restructuring of the American productive system.
But, even if technological innovation is patent and if information now represents the main factor of wealth, it does not necessarily mean that the past economic rules are outdated. Frédéric Teulon, through various examples, demonstrates that on the contrary these remain really relevant: the ITCs do not imply the end of the big firm, of the market economy (vs. economy of the free), of integration, of the risk of inflation...
It is important not to be deluded by the takeoff of the Nasdaq -Nasdaq which has lost half its value since March 2000... Many start-ups will be bankrupt... All this is normal: the "new economy" functions in the same way as the old; if technical improvement permitted growth, the fact remains that the problematic of development is much more complex than what is explained by those who want to present a univocal answer. Economic, fiscal and monetary policies, for instance, remain as far important.