Sunday, July 18, 2021

Politics of Nature by Bruno Latour - short summary

Politics of Nature by French sociologist Bruno Latour continues the reflection started in We Have Never Been Modern (1991), Latour proposes a new way of doing political ecology which would abandon the idea of ​​nature which, according to him, only cuts off debates. and overshadows the real issues that politically engaged actors need to discuss.

Chapter Summary

Chapter 1: Why political ecology cannot conserve nature? 
Latour begins Politics of Nature by defeating modern ecologism, which ultimately does not relate to nature! Political ecology (which he intends to define in this work) cannot therefore "conserve nature." Indeed, this separates the objective from the subjective, facts from values. Modern bicameralism, which opposes nature to society, the researcher to the politician, must be replaced.

Chapter 2: How to bring together the collective? 
How to bring together what the old constitution opposed (nature vs society)? Politics, seeking the composition of the "good common world", must convene a collective that Latour defines in terms of humans and non-humans. Of course, it will be necessary to carry out a “sharing of capacities”, concerning their ability to speak in particular.

Chapter 3: A new separation of powers 
The collective thus formed must have its own separation of powers, but not in terms of facts and values. Latour defines four requirements, grouped two by two into two powers:

The power to take into account: the need for perplexity and the need for consultation;
The power of ordering: requirement of hierarchy and requirement of institution.
These new powers will define the new dynamic of the collective.

By this first requirement, we are concerned not to limit the number of candidate propositions for existence in the collective. Latour does not aim for convenience, but rather for completeness.

Just as there is no limit to the number of candidates for existence, it must also be ensured that all votes can be cast, and that none are forced to remain silent or not listened to in the subsequent phases of the debate. of the collective.

The hierarchy requirement requires checking that each candidate for existence in the collective is compatible with the entities already existing within the collective. If and only if it is compatible, then it is given a legitimate place in the collective. Otherwise, this entity should be rejected.

Once the entity has acquired its legitimate place, the power of an institution closes the discussion. The aim is thus to ensure the coherence and sustainability of the collective over time.

Chapter 4: Skills Collective 
Latour draws attention to the fact that political economy should not be confused with political ecology. Political economy is only one of the collective's competences, as are morals, politics, and of course, science. We thus define a "common house [...] which makes the sciences compatible with democracy."

Chapter 5: Exploring common worlds 
Here, Latour criticizes the moderns who thought only in terms of progress. To the two powers defined in Chapter 3, a third power must be added: the power of follow-up. This new power "raises the question of the state." Finally, the author insists on the fact that ecologism cannot do without diplomacy.