Marta Karpińska

w autoportrecie:

autoportret. pismo o dobrej przestrzeni
issn 1730-3613, kwartalnik, nakład: 1000 egz.

...
Table of Contents

Centre, Decentralisation, Recentralisation  Marc Augé 	

4

nature and sustainability in the ecological...
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Marc Augé
Illustrations: Anna Zabdyrska

Centre,
Decentralisation,
Recentralisation

W

e are currently going through
a tr...
rivers and coasts. In Europe suburbs are getting closer, are merging and mixing; it may
seem that with the spread of ‘urba...
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Marius de geus
illustrations: anna zabdyrska

natURe	
and sUstainability
in tHe eCoLoGiCaL	
						UtoPian	
													tR...
I

n our era of large scale environmental
degradation and increasing climate problems, there is a need for counter images
...
In his News from Nowhere (1891) Morris first
provides a critical analysis of 19th century
English capitalist society and t...
relationship with nature and an emphasis
on various forms of cooperation and balanced relations between life forms on eart...
and people will need to treat the natural
environment with dignity and respect.
Despite the specific differences between t...
pragMatiC versus utopian ConCepts of eCologiCal sustainability
In the decades following the publication of
the UN report O...
Their ‘ideal utopian society’ incorporates
both an economic and an ecological state of
equilibrium. The just mentioned uto...
relying on the first and second interpretation of ecological sustainability, is that still
no empirical, physical side-con...
Philippe Rahm

								Towards
	 Thermodynamic
Urban Planning

T

he history of urban design and
spatial planning over the...
‘One of the main requirements of good health conditions in a big city such as Paris is to foster free circulation of the a...
scribes the opposite tendency. He shows that
natural disasters are behind the wars fought
in the 20th and 21st centuries: ...
radiation in the treatment of tuberculosis12,
entails impressive urban development of the
Alps: Leysin, Davos and Gstaad a...
leaving the North to develop product concepts, design and marketing. This situation
is risky because the technological adv...
therModynaMiC parK
We have applied global thermodynamic
principles on a microscale in a city park in
Taiwan: we created cl...
pollution_map.pdf

1

13-09-23

16:45
plan-general.pdf

sections.pdf

1

13-09-23

sections.pdf

1

1

13-09-23

16:45

16...
Humid air

Electric fan
Refrigerated coil

H20 condensation

Dry air

Concrete slab with
radiant tubing

Humid air
Condens...
Lucy Sargisson
Illustrations: Anna Zabdyrska

Democracy,
			 Nature,
and Utopia

T

here is a trend in contemporary enviro...
such representation might downgrade nature
to [just] another set of interests, disaggregating and isolating these interest...
it, sucking it out of the earth and dirtying
and poisoning it as flowed,” .. .Let us not be
cavalier about water. What doe...
On Ecology and a Dubious Ethos
of Technological Determinism

‘Well, well, well, at least there’s a precise
definition here...
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  1. 1. Marta Karpińska w autoportrecie: autoportret. pismo o dobrej przestrzeni issn 1730-3613, kwartalnik, nakład: 1000 egz. muzea 1 (2002) ‘To talk to me about sustainability is like talking to me about giving birth. Am I against giving birth? No. But would I like to spend my time doing it? Not really. I‘d rather go to a baseball game’. These words by Peter Eisenman quoted by Dalibor Hlaváček in this issue of ‘Autoportret’ are to illustrate how architects typically approach ecology. Many representatives of the world of architecture will no doubt be welcomed in hell but this is no consolation. Cynical carelessness is not only a problem of the architects’ community but also a characteristic feature of the present-day model of culture. In their book The End of the World as we once Knew it: The Climate, the Future, and the Prospects for Democracy, Claus Leggewie and Harald Welzer analyse this psychosocial attitude. The global village can no longer use the natural resources of the external world to supply fuel to our economic system. The only thing left to us is the future of the next generations, of which we are currently robbing them. ‘In this way,’ the authors write, ‘one of the myths of western culture is being undermined: a hybrid image that in a world of virtually uninterrupted growth we have overcome the inconvenient dimension of finiteness. The dramatically propagating crisis of the global system shows that our luxury existence is still related to this dimension. And because this conclusion is equally alien and fear-inspiring to our system as the realisation of one’s own mortality is to an individual, it evokes a strong motivation to ignore crises or postpone dealing with them till indefinite «later»’1. biblioteki 2 (1/2003) Ruthlessly exploited, the concept of ‘sustainable development’ is an empty platitude in view of growing global instability. It is manifested not only in unfair distribution of goods and resources or the fact that the developing South is bearing the cost of the functioning of the developed North but also in our dependence on (technological or market) systems whose mechanisms we do not fully comprehend. Will the recession, lasting from 2008, being the most vivid symptom of the multi-dimensional global crisis, cause reevaluation of attitudes? Can all pro-ecological ideas and attempts to implement them, which we present in this issue of ‘Autoportret’ focused on sustainability, be significantly effective against rigid dogmas of the model of development based on the calls for progress and growth? Leggewie and Welzer compare it interestingly to replacing a faulty tap in a first-class cabin aboard the Titanic after its encounter with an iceberg. ‘There is this one inviolable principle on board: we are unsinkable’. przestrzenie kolonialne 29 (4/2009) wydawca: dworce 3 (2/2003) rewitalizacja 4 (3/2003) przestrzenie dźwięku 5 (4/2003) ulice i place 6 (1/2004) ogrody 7 (2/2004) społeczności lokalne 8 (3/2004) przestrzenie dziecięce 9 (4/2004) przestrzenie komunikatu 10 (1/2005) wokół funkcjonalizmu 11 (2/2005) przestrzenie sakralne 12 (3/2005) blokowiska 13 (4/2005) przestrzenie starości 14 (1/2006) przestrzenie handlu 15 (2/2006) architektura organiczna 16 (3/2006) przestrzenie książki 17 (4/2006) przestrzenie pustki 18 (1/2007) przestrzenie sceny 19 (2/2007) przestrzenie zdrowia 20 (3/2007) przestrzenie prywatne 21 (4/2007) przestrzenie władzy 22 (1/2008) przestrzenie niczyje 23 (2/2008) śmierć w Europie Środkowej 24 (3/2008) przestrzenie światła – światło w przestrzeni 25–26 (4/2008–1/2009) przestrzenie wirtualne 27 (2/2009) bezkres 28 (3/2009) nowoczesności 30 (1/2010) dom w Polsce 31 (2/2010) wyobrażanie narodów 32 (3/2010) język i przestrzeń 33 (1/2011) utopie 34 (2/2011) zmysły/percepcja 35 (3/2011) tożsamość po '89 36 (1/2012) partycypacja i partycypacja 37 (2/2012) postciało 38 (3/2012) rada programowa: Adam Budak, Andrzej Bulanda, Wojciech Burszta, David Crowley, Ewa Kuryłowicz, Maciej Miłobędzki, Agostino de Rosa, Ewa Rewers, Tadeusz Sławek, Łukasz Stanek, Magdalena Staniszkis, Dariusz Śmiechowski, Štefan Šlachta redaktorka naczelna: Dorota Leśniak-Rychlak projekt: Anna Zabdyrska zastępca redaktorki naczelnej: Emiliano Ranocchi sekretarz redakcji: Marta Karpińska redakcja: Magdalena Petryna, Aleksandra Wojda korekta: Ewa Ślusarczyk, Agnieszka Stęplewska prenumerata: Kamila Kosmalska stale współpracują: Michał Choptiany, Paweł Jaworski, Dorota Jędruch, Piotr Winskowski, Michał Wiśniewski OKŁADKA: s. 1: proj. Anna Zabdyrska s. 88: Josif Brodski, Mowa na stadionie, [w:] Pochwała nudy, przeł. A. Kołyszko, M. Kłobukowski, Kraków: Znak, 1996, s. 123–124 przygotowanie do druku: Andrzej Karlik druk: Drukarnia Pasaż Redakcja zastrzega sobie prawo do nadawania tytułów i redagowania nadesłanych tekstów. Kwartalnik dostępny w sprzedaży internetowej (www.mik.krakow.pl), salonach empiku oraz w prenumeracie. Najprościej zamówić prenumeratę w e-sklepie Małopolskiego Instytutu Kultury: http://e-sklep.mik.krakow.pl/autoportret-prenumerata/ Cena prenumeraty czterech kolejnych numerów „Autoportretu” wynosi 50 zł (koszty wysyłki pokrywa wydawca). Wpłaty prosimy kierować na konto Małopolskiego Instytutu Kultury: Bank BPH 31 1060 0076 0000 3310 0016 4770. W tytule wpłaty prosimy wpisać „Autoportret – prenumerata” oraz podać adres do wysyłki i dane kontaktowe (telefon lub e-mail). Dofinansowano ze środków Ministra Kultury i Dziedzictwa Narodowego wieś 39 (4/2012) przemysłowe poprzemysłowe 40 (1/2013) przestrzeń jako taka 41 (2/2013) zrównoważony rozwój? 42 (3/2013) ograniczenie 43 (4/2013) przestrzenie wiedzy 44 (1/2014) ... Wsparcie finansowe numeru „Zrównoważony rozwój?”: International Visegrad Fund www.visegradfund.org Translated by Anna Mirosławska-Olszewska Całość numeru zostanie przetłumaczona na język angielski i od października 2013 roku będzie dostępna na www.autoportret.pl. C. Leggewie, H. Welzer, Koniec świata, jaki znaliśmy. Klimat, przyszłość i szanse demokracji, przeł. P. Buras, Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Krytyki Politycznej, 2012, p.20 (back translation into English by Anna Mirosławska-Olszewska). 1 www.autoportret.pl
  2. 2. Table of Contents Centre, Decentralisation, Recentralisation  Marc Augé 4 nature and sustainability in the ecological utopian tradition3  Marius de Geus 8 Towards Thermodynamic Urban Planning  Philippe Rahm 16 Democracy, Nature, and Utopia  Lucy Sargisson 24 SOCRATES AND ENTHUSIASM FOR STRAW  Marcin Mateusz Kołakowski 27 Neutralne węglowo miasta?  Ida Kiss 33 ˇ NATURAL MATERIALS: HISTORY OR HOPE?  Dalibor Hlavácek 36 Right-about Modernism?  Dawid Krysiński 44 The Recycled City  Levente Polyák 50 Green Architecture  Jana Tichá 56 House under the Apple Tree in Marianka  Ivan Jarina 62 Unsustainable Undevelopment   Damas Gruska 64 Agricultural Methods and Farmers’ Little Manias  Devis Bonanni 70 The Future of the Message  Mateusz Curyło 76 End.less  Rossano Baronciani 83 autoportret 3 [42] 2013 | 3 ROWNOWAGA_1_UK_cs4-3.indd 3 13-10-30 14:38
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  4. 4. Marc Augé Illustrations: Anna Zabdyrska Centre, Decentralisation, Recentralisation W e are currently going through a transformation whose consequences we have not yet learnt to control. Space is increasingly becoming a sensual expression of our contradictions and paradoxes. Everyday language keeps on surprising us. We often use the prefix ‘without’ (sans). We speak of those ‘without homes’, of people sans papier1, and since we know for certain that their situation is problematic, we are led on to believe, as if it were obvious, that having a permanent place of residence and valid documents is a sufficient condition for happiness. Other examples might easily prove the opposite. The richest people in the world acquire more and more residences. They own temporary homes on different continents, they sail their own yachts and enjoy themLiterally, ‘without papers’; in French, a popular way to refer to people of non-French origin who reside in France without the necessary legal documents to validate their stay (footnote by A.W.). 1 selves in luxury hotels all over the world. They have documents, to be sure, and yet they are so self-confident and so confident in their identity that they hardly realise they are actually showing those documents when a need arises. They might be said to accumulate benefits: places of permanent residence, identity cards and credit cards. Having said that, I would claim that the fact that the most affluent collect residences and exude self-confidence proves that the ideal of individual life is not necessarily that of getting stuck in one place like a mollusc to a rock, or having the means to prove your identity when asked to show your papers; quite the opposite: it is a genuine freedom of movement while remaining relatively anonymous. The magnetic force of the 19th century cities on runaway villagers, and of great cities in the North on migrants from the South, was born out of the very same need. Undoubtedly, it is essentially illusory, and yet it must be considered by all who ask themselves the question about the ideal city life of our time. The city is expanding ceaselessly. The majority of the world’s population lives in the city and the trend is irreversible. Global urban drift is transforming the city. What kind of city do migrants flock to these days? The phenomenon of global urban drift corresponds more or less to what we call globalisation, to denote free market, economic and financial interrelations, development of means of transport and advances in e-communication. From this point of view, the world may be called one giant city. The ‘world-city’, as I proposed to refer to it2, is characterised by mobility and uniformity. On the other hand, big metropolises are sprawling and abound in all types of diversity (ethnic, religious, social or economic), including divisions inherently present in them. We can therefore contrast the ‘city-world’, with its divisions, nodes and disparities with the ‘world-city’, which provides the former with a global context and places its aesthetic and functional identification marks emphatically in several key points in the urban landscape, such as towers, airports, shopping centres or amusement parks. The more a big city sprawls, the more ‘decentralised’ it becomes. Visited by tourists coming from other places, historical centres become museums and areas of all kinds of consumption. Prices are high here, and city centres are inhabited, more often than not, by the wealthy, who frequently happen to be foreigners. Production and sometimes also cultural activities move extra muros. Means of transport are the focal problem of an urban agglomeration. Distances between places of residence and places of work are often considerable. Urban tissue stretches along roads, Cf. the book Pour une anthropologie de la mobilité, Paris: Payot & Rivages, 2009, p. 34 (footnote by A.W.). 2 autoportret 3 [42] 2013 | 5 ROWNOWAGA_1_UK_cs4-3.indd 5 13-10-30 14:38
  5. 5. rivers and coasts. In Europe suburbs are getting closer, are merging and mixing; it may seem that with the spread of ‘urbanity’ we are losing the ‘city’ itself. Decentralisation of cities whose elan vitale is moving beyond administrative borders; habitats whose private interiors are linked with the outside world through television and the internet; finally, individuals themselves who are constantly teleported outside themselves by electronics - all these factors favour conquest of space, which, paradoxically, is often related to dispossession. How to recover the lost city? In the global world an answer may be expressed in spatial terms: we must re-think localness. Contrary to illusions disseminated via communications technologies, from television to the internet, we live where we live. Ubiquity and immediacy still remain metaphors. It is important to perceive means of communication as they really are: means to facilitate life, not to substitute for it. From this perspective, the task we should accomplish is enormous. It is to avoid situations when information and image overload will cause new forms of isolation. Solutions to halt this trend, which is already perceivable, will have to be spatial, local and, openly speaking, political, in the broad sense of the word. How to reconcile the sense of place and the freedom of non-place in urban space? Is it possible to rethink the concept of the city in its entirety, and of housing in particular? The city is not an archipelago. Le Corbusier’s illusion of the city, whose centre was supposed to be a habitat and a unit of cohabitation, brought in the barriers of new suburbs from which trade and services, originally intended to turn them into ideal spaces for living, soon emigrated. What was neglected was the need for social relations and contact with the outside world; this is what ‘young suburbans’ express in their own way, for example in Paris where they move regularly from their bleak housing estates towards the districts of Champs Elysées or Châtelet-Les Halles, which lie in the heart of the historic city and are also symbols of consumer society. Perhaps one day our planet will look like one complete urban complex. We are starting to look at it that way, since we celebrate works by several eminent architects, whic are wellknown all over the world, or follow advances in e-communication technologies of Paul Virilio’s ‘virtual meta-city’. It is to be hoped that by that time we will have found a way to supply this giant world-city with energy that is necessary for it to function harmoniously. It should also be said that the measure of the success or failure of the project, whether it be a utopia realised or a programmed end of the world, will be human relations management; in other words, our ability to reverse the current process of the growing gap between the rich and the poor, between the educated and the uneducated. The energy necessary to carry out this major project – the only true effort worth making if each individual is necessarily assigned the idea of cognition characteristic of the human species – is essentially mental energy and refers to the human being’s fundamental qualities: intelligence, will and imagination. cultural’ world whose emergence they are witnessing daily. The hypothesis we would like to propose here is that an anthropologist can usefully contribute to the reflection on the necessity to recentre human activity – not in order to negate new opportunities ahead of the humanity but so as to confront them without nostalgy, since they have always been among questions raised more or less directly by various cultures and by several philosophical precursors. It is high time to embrace what is happening on ‘our’ planet and to refocus on what is vital – on cognition – when faced with hitherto unknown threats of the present time. Current efforts to protect the world by designating ‘human heritage’ sites and establishing ‘natural parks’ are, in a sense, all aimed at that. However, if they are not accompanied by a major educational effort, they may be lost in our world of images, as one out of many existing forms of consumption. Hence, the change of scale, which is reflected in newly emerging landscapes (including the landscape of the planet as such) – landscapes that in a sense recapitulate the history of humanity – may be perceived as a source of mixed up questions, anxieties and dreams. Polish translation by Aleksandra Wojda English translation by Anna Mirosławska-Olszewska To many people, culture remains a close, intimate bond which has been in existence and is still perceivable in microscale in a given community, its works and its landscape. The existence of such communities is becoming increasingly difficult and they can hardly envisage their place in that planetary ‘post- autoportret 3 [42] 2013 | 6 ROWNOWAGA_1_UK_cs4-3.indd 6 13-10-30 14:38
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  7. 7. Marius de geus illustrations: anna zabdyrska natURe and sUstainability in tHe eCoLoGiCaL UtoPian tRadition ROWNOWAGA_1_UK_cs4-3.indd 8 13-10-30 14:38
  8. 8. I n our era of large scale environmental degradation and increasing climate problems, there is a need for counter images of an alternative ecologically sustainable society, one that protects and respects nature. Often it is forgotten that in the ecological utopian tradition one may find instructive visions, as well as highly evocative images of a sustainable society. It appears that society is letting an opportunity pass by, by not fully recognizing the true value that lies in the ‘ecotopian’ tradition. I shall investigate whether ecological utopias are capable of providing a meaningful contribution to the quest for an environmentally sustainable society. More particularly: what is the significance of various ‘ecological utopias’ for interpretations of mankind’s attitudes towards nature, and the modern social debate about the meaning of ecological sustainability? huMans as partiCipants in nature In the work of American political philosopher Murray Bookchin (1921-2006) one can observe the view of humans as ‘participants’ in their relation towards the natural environment. In The Ecology of Freedom (1991) Bookchin argues that the fundamental roots of the present ecological crisis must be found ‘in the underlying institutional, moral and spiritual changes in human society that produced hierarchy and domination – not only in bourgeois, feudal and ancient society, but at the very dawn of civilization’1. His central thesis is that the idea that humanity must dominate and explore nature, historically stems from the domination and exploitation of humans by humans. M. Bookchin, The Ecology of Freedom. The Emergence and Dissolution of Hierarchy, Montreal: Black rose Books, 1991, p. 44 Historically, this conception can be traced back to a period when men began to dominate women: ‘From that point onward, human beings were regarded as mere resources, as objects instead of subjects. The hierarchies, classes, propertied forms, and statist institutions that emerged with social domination were carried over conceptually into humanity’s relationship with nature. Nature too became increasingly regarded as a mere resource, an object, a raw material to be exploited as a mere resource as slaves on a latifundium.’2 In reaction to this development, Bookchin argues for a more ‘holistic’ analysis of relationships in nature and society. In his view, natural evolution does not develop in the direction of a simplification of forms of life, but in the direction of growing complexity and variety. Hence, respect for nature is paramount: ecosystems are much too variegated to be left to humans and their claim to sovereignty and complete domination over nature. In essence, natural ecosystems resemble food webs rather than stratified pyramids. Ecosystems are organized non-hierarchically and rely heavily on forms of participation. What makes Bookchin’s ‘social ecology’of the utmost importance is ‘that it offers no case whatsoever for hierarchy in nature and society; it decisively challenges the function of hierarchy as a stabilizing or ordering principle in both realms. The association of order as such with hierarchy is ruptured’3 Bookchin argues in favor of making these principles the basic premises of a new bal- 1 ance between humanity and nature: mankind must strive for the maintenance of ecological spontaneity and non-hierarchical organization of the political, social and ecological systems. It also means that in the future agricultural and industrial practices, urbanization and the use of technology will have to be carefully tailored to the natural requirements of local and regional ecosystems.4 In his analysis, up to now human kind as well as nature have been the victims of a hierarchically structured society. The individuals are unfree because of the institutions and values of hierarchical society: citizens lack both power and opportunity to control their destinies and lives. These hierarchical social relations have a direct impact on humanity’s attitudes and behavior towards nature. An ecologically responsible society can only be accomplished when all the spheres of life that are contaminated by domination are ‘decontaminated’, for instance the relations between men and women, politicians and citizens, as well as the relationship between humanity and nature itself. In Bookchin’s view the introduction of an ‘anarchist society’ is vital in ending the dominant attitude of humans towards nature and in realizing an equilibrium between humanity and its environment.5 huMans as partners with nature English designer, writer, architect and craftsman William Morris (1834-1896) was one of the first utopians who gave an aesthetic portrayal of an ecologically balanced society. Ibidem, s.41 M. Bookchin, Post-Scarcity Anarchism, Montreal: Black rose Books, 1990, p.19-32 4 2 3 Ibidem Ibidem, p.37 5 autoportret 3 [42] 2013 | 9 ROWNOWAGA_1_UK_cs4-3.indd 9 13-10-30 14:38
  9. 9. In his News from Nowhere (1891) Morris first provides a critical analysis of 19th century English capitalist society and the natural environment in his days which, as he put it, have grown ‘ugly’. He then sketches an extremely detailed alternative, where society and the natural environment are relieved of their ugliness and the world is once again ‘beautiful and harmonious’. In his work, Morris provides an even more nature friendly and far going view on the relationships between human kind and nature than Bookchin. William Morris had an extremely sharp eye for ‘modern’ problems such as large scale industrialization, environmental degradation, waste of natural resources, ongoing urbanization, and the destruction of valuable, traditional landscapes. According to him, the capitalist industrial system had deeply affected people’s attitudes towards nature. He describes how in general people led lives in which humans and nature were separated from each other, and nature was even treated as a slave: ‘…a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate – “nature”, as people used to call it – as one thing, and mankind as another. It was natural to people thinking this way, that they should try to make “nature” their slave, since they thought “nature” was something outside them.’6 In his interpretation, the industrialized 19th century society lacked a sense of nature and the Earth as a comprehensive whole. The natural surroundings were viewed by the inhabitants ‘ as an ugly characterless waste, 6 W. Morris, News from Nowhere, London: Kegan Paul, 1983, p. 154 with no delicate beauty to be guarded’. 7In reaction to this, Morris describes the need for a social, political and ecological revolution. The country would be divided in small scale decentralized unit (a commune, a ward, a parish), which would be self-governing. Private property of the means of production would no longer exist: large-scale factories, heavily polluting the natural surroundings and wasting energy and materials, would be replaced by environmentally friendly cottage industries and small scale workshops where products are made under safe working conditions.8 Morris accentuates that parallel to these drastic political and economic changes, an ecological revolution has to take place to ensure the people’s complete happiness. The perfect starting point of this ecological revolution was a completely different attitude of humans towards nature. Morris indicates in News from Nowhere that the inhabitants of this new society felt a deep ‘affection’ for their natural surroundings, for the landscape where they lived, and for everything that grows and blooms. In his utopian society many people would move from the cities to the countryside. There would be a dispersion of people and gradually city and country would flow seamlessly into one another. The result would be an exemplary and crucial ‘partnership’ between human kind and nature. In this ecotopian society people lived in a carefully managed garden landscape, where nothing was neglected or wasted, as the following passage indicates: and wastes, with a few towns interspersed, which were fortresses for the feudal army, markets for the folk, gathering places for craftsmen. It then became a country of huge and foul workshops and fouler gambling dens, surrounded by an ill kept, poverty stricken farm, pillaged by the masters of the workshops. It is now a garden, where nothing is wasted and nothing is spoilt, with the necessary dwellings, sheds and workshops scattered up and down the country, all trim and neat and pretty.’ For indeed, we should be too much ashamed of ourselves if we allowed the making of goods, even on a large scale, to carry with it the appearance, even, of desolation and misery’. 9 Morris most vividly describes how the people would live in simple yet solid homes with well-kept gardens and allotments, in harmony with their natural surroundings. Moreover, there would be abundant space for untouched landscapes and exist large pieces of wild nature. In his vision, when people assume an attitude of ‘partnership’, friendship and closeness with regard to nature, they consider humans and nature as ‘partners’ in the sense that the needs, interests and preferences of both sides must be taken into account and be weighed harmoniously.10 In this vision nature is observed as an alliance of different life forms, in which human and other life forms are not adversaries but are working together in order to achieve common purposes.11This requires a respectful Ibidem, p. 61 Ibidem, p.63 11 See also: P. Kockelkoren, Ethical Aspects of Plant Biotechnology In Plants – Report to the Dutch Government Commission on Ethical Aspects Biotechnology in Plants, Appendix I, [in:] Agriculture and Spirituality – Essays from the Crossroads Conference at Wageningen Agricultural University, Utrecht: International Books, 1995, part.5 9 10 ‘This is how we stand. England was once a country of clearings amongst the forests 7 8 Ibidem, p.162 Ibidem, p. 83 autoportret 3 [42] 2013 | 10 ROWNOWAGA_1_UK_cs4-3.indd 10 13-10-30 14:38
  10. 10. relationship with nature and an emphasis on various forms of cooperation and balanced relations between life forms on earth. Overall, humankind is allowed to make use of natural resources, but without having the right to dominate or exploit nature. 12 As ‘partners’ humans will tend to draw more radical consequences than as participants. Being a partner implies an increased consciousness of being a part of nature and of feeling closely associated with the natural surroundings. In general, an intimate, close and friendly partner will set more stringent restrictions on man’s interventions in nature than a participant. Moreover, partners will systematically act in ways which stimulate nature to develop and realize itself, as in a flourishing and healthy human partnership. huMans eXperienCing a fundaMental ‘union’ with nature The most radical interpretation of the relationship between human kind and nature can be found in the ideas of American political philosopher Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862). Thoreau has become well-known as author of Walden, or a Life in the Woods (1854). In this most wonderful and still widely read book he meticulously recounts the greatest experiment of his life. As a matter of fact, he lived alone in the woods from July 1845 until September 1847, in a self- constructed cabin on the shore of Walden Pond, near Concord Massachusetts, his birthplace. In his writings Thoreau presents his general view of a radical simplification of life and develops an alternative vision on the relationship between human kind and nature. 12 Ibidem Strikingly, in Walden Thoreau continuously writes ‘Nature’ with a capital letter. He also consistently describes nature as a female figure, as can be seen, for example, in the following: ‘But there was dawning Nature, in whom all creatures live, looking in at my broad windows with serene and satisfied face, and no question on her lips’. 13 In his view, nature is the mother of humanity, a creator of life and beauty. Like the native Indians, who in his time had already largely been driven onto reservations, he saw the Earth as ‘a living being’, and approached nature as a ‘living entity’, of which humans only make up a small part.14 To a larger extent than Bookchin and also Morris, Thoreau emphasizes the greatness, grandeur and benevolence of nature. He consistently writes with deeply felt reference and great awe about the ‘dignity’ of nature and the vital importance of preserving nature’s equilibrium. In his view nature was not created to be a possession of man, but has ‘ intrinsic value’: it exists in and of itself, and deserves to be treated with love and affection. Actually, he considers it his moral responsibility to protect the wild and preserve the forests.15 Thoreau shows how profoundly he enjoys the landscape, and talks with the deepest affection about pine, birch and oak trees, with which he appears to carry on entire conversations. His Walden is like a hymn to the nature around his simple forest hut. When Thoreau meditates he repeatedly experiences himself as being part of nature, and H.D. Thoreau, Walden, czyli życie w lesie, przeł. H. Cieplińska, Poznań, Rebis, 1999, s. 293 14 Idem, The Annotated Walden, edition by P. van Doren Stern, New York: Bramhall House 1970, p. 186-207 15 Idem, Walden… 13 perceives the essential connection between it and humans. He experiences a salutary sense of ‘union’ and ‘kinship’ with nature, and is surprised that he never really feels alone in the vast forests where he roams.16 He expresses total admiration for nature’s sublime beauty, which he treats with utmost care and deep respect, rejecting each human encroachment on nature. Accordingly, his priority is not to bring land under cultivation in order to make it productive, but rather to ‘maintain’ the wilderness and to live as the original Indian tribes: in an unspoiled land, in complete harmony with nature, without significantly changing the earth.17 iMpliCations for theory and praCtiCe This short survey of three different views on the relationship between human kind and nature found in ecological utopianism, leads to a number of relevant insights and noteworthy consequences for both theory and practice. In the analysis of Bookchin, Morris and Thoreau, an ecologically sustainable society assumes a set of completely different attitudes towards nature. A shared insight of these ecological utopians is that until now humans have shown an excessive tendency wanting to rule over nature. For many centuries humans have attempted to dominate nature and approach it as a means, an instrument completely at their service. However, this authoritarian and hierarchical way of thinking is absent from the principles of the three ecological utopians which were explored. As they note, in an ecologically sound society nature will need to occupy a key position, 16 17 Idem, The Annotated…, p. 88-93 Ibidem, p. 209-210 autoportret 3 [42] 2013 | 11 ROWNOWAGA_1_UK_cs4-3.indd 11 13-10-30 14:38
  11. 11. and people will need to treat the natural environment with dignity and respect. Despite the specific differences between the views of ‘humans as participants in nature’, ‘humans as partners with nature’, and ‘humans experiencing a fundamental union with nature’, their arguments are pointing in the same direction. These ecotopian thinkers accentuate that, until humans have developed an attitude of respect, equality and deep concern for nature, an ecologically sustainable society will remain a very distant prospect. Admittedly, there are some quite serious problems with their visions. For instance, despite my ongoing sympathy for Thoreau’s reflections, his approach of achieving a union, unity and identification with nature is highly individualistic and remains too subjective. On the whole, it does not seem a ‘necessary condition’ that every individual citizen must be able to identify with for example trees, bushes, landscapes and so on, in the way Thoreau is proposing to effectively protect and maintain mother Earth. It seems not everyone will be capable of (or interested in) experiencing this highly personal and subjective kind of ‘spiritual and sublime’ unity with the natural elements. Additionally, such a revolutionary sociocultural change cannot be expected in the foreseeable future and in fact does not seem feasible. In my view, it is more important that citizens gain sufficient understanding of existing ecological relationships. For instance, people should become fully aware of the high complexity of our climatic and atmospheric systems, and understand the risks of possibly irreversible forms of damage to nature, as in the modern case of global warming and climate change. Besides, there is the logical problem which is inherent to the approaches of participation and partnership. In a literal way it is impossible to be a participant in relation to nature or a partner with nature, since nature is not able to speak or communicate in any reasonable and sensible way with us, nor can it act as a rationally thinking ‘moral agent’. Only figuratively speaking, humans may possibly attain to a role of being a participant, or for example a partner in relation towards nature. The critical remarks made above lead to the question how to choose for one of the three approaches mentioned. Why would one prefer either the attitude of participation in nature, opt for a partnership relation with regards to nature, or favor the idea of experiencing a fundamental union or unity with nature? Obviously, this is not the main theme of this paper, but let me provide a short commentary here. What could be the main criteria for making this kind of decision? For instance, one could look at the degree of realism and the level of practical feasibility. In that context, it seems the attitude of participation comes first, followed by the one of partnership, and lastly the attitude of realizing union or unity with nature. However, it can be defended that it is more rational and appropriate to evaluate the three ecotopian attitudes towards nature on basis of a different criterion: the degree to which they can inspire people to environmentally responsible behavior, individually and collectively, or to policies that effectively contribute to solving the current ecological crisis, global warming and climate change included. 18 W. Achterberg, Samenleving, natur en duurzaamheid, Assen: Van Gorcum, 1994, p. 161-164 18 Another controversial issue is whether a change of human attitudes towards nature will in any way be sufficient to achieve an ecologically responsible society. The obvious answer is negative. A change in attitudes and dispositions among citizens will not directly and automatically translate in different environmental government policies. Nor will changes in attitudes of citizens mean that they will actually change their daily environmental behavior in terms of transportation choices, food habits, housing habits and all other acquired pattern of behavior. As a matter of fact, these are exactly the deeply engrained routines and actions that tend to produce a larger individual Ecological Footprint. In earlier work, I have noted that changes in political, economic, financial and cultural institutions will be needed in order to achieve an ecologically sustainable society. 19 Changing human attitudes versus nature will indeed have to be constitutive element of a new green society, but will most definitely not be a sufficient condition. The role played by our contemporary attitudes towards nature is no doubt detrimental to our planet, but so are for example continuous economic growth, ongoing population increase, reliance on centralized and large scale energy production primarily based on fossil fuels, general food habits and consumption pattern in the rich countries, and so on. Another decisive issue concerns the ways people think about the broad and often elusive concept of ecological sustainability, to which I shall now turn. 19 M de Geus, The End of Over-consumption, Utrecht: International Books, 2003; M. de Geus, Utopian Sustainability: Ecological Utopianism, [w:] The Transition to Sustainable Living and Practice, ed. L. Leonard, J. Barry, Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing, 2009, p. 77-101 autoportret 3 [42] 2013 | 12 ROWNOWAGA_1_UK_cs4-3.indd 12 13-10-30 14:38
  12. 12. pragMatiC versus utopian ConCepts of eCologiCal sustainability In the decades following the publication of the UN report Our Common Future (Brundtland report 1987), the great majority of governments in the world have (at least in words and statements) accepted the concept of ‘sustainability’ as a general guideline for economic and environmental policy. In practice, however, the specific meaning given to the concept by the countries involved, varies considerably according to the importance which is attached to facts, uncertainties and risks in relation to environment and society. At least three interpretations of ecological sustainability have come to the forefront in western politics, which differ with regard to the robustness of the definition of sustainability (‘strong versus weak’), the general perception of existing and future environmental risks (high versus low), the expectations regarding the development of technological solutions for environmental problems (highly probable, versus not probable at all), and the answer to the question whether a ‘general consumer austerity’ is inevitable or preferable in order to achieve an ecologically healthy and responsible society. In the first line of thought, ecological sustainability is equated with the Brundtland approach of ‘sustainable development’ and ‘ecological modernization’. The general starting point of this essentially ‘liberal’ concept is that ecological sustainability can actually be ‘combined’ with economic growth, a strengthening of economic competitiveness, better management of urban planning, nature and biodiversity, and a decrease in absolute terms of environmentally hazardous emissions. In this line of reasoning again and again a general argument is made for so-called ‘creative and intelligent growth’ of the economy, provided that the overall pressure on the environment diminishes. Environmental policy is basically seen as a necessary, welcome impulse for change, for technical, economic or cultural renewal. The challenge of sustainable development and ecological modernization’ is considered as a decisive cause of innovation and improvement of the economic structure. 20 In this pragmatic ‘liberal’ political vision the environmental risks of continuous economic development are estimated to be relatively low. It is assumed that a prolonged exploitation of the earth will reveal new stocks of natural resources and that, if needed, the exploitation of alternative raw natural resources is possible. In addition, the expectations with regard to the contribution of new technologies to the improvement of energy efficiency and realization of environmental goals are very high. In this pragmatic view it is expected that the ‘integration’ of environment and economy will be accomplished by future technological revolutions and innovations. In line with this, an overall decrease of the level of production and consumption is not considered necessary. The main goal is to induce citizens to develop inherently friendly environmental behavior, without the need for austerity or of radical changes in lifestyles. Hence, the general aim is ‘greener’ or ‘sustainable’ consumption, not ‘reducing’ consumption. In the second view – which is often (but not always) associated with Christian religious ideas – ecological sustainability is looked at from the general perspective of ‘stewardship’. Here the basic point of departure is that human kind 20 A. Giddens, The Politics of Climate Change, Cambridge: Polity Press, 2009, p. 70 is morally obliged to cultivate and conserve the natural environment as a responsible and effective steward of the natural environment. Accepting responsibility in order to maintain the natural environment for future generations is a characteristic idea: humanity is held accountable for its share in the conservation of the ‘wholeness of the Creation’.21 In western democracies this Christiandemocratic idea of stewardship has remained influential in politics. Most Western-European Christian-democratic parties who are defending this position, do not perceive the environmental risks of economic growth as insurmountable and show an overall optimism about the future availability of natural resources. Their presumption is that, in the end, technological solutions for most current environmental problems will be found. In general, in this vision a need for more austere consumption patterns or lifestyles is rarely expressed. The emphasis is not on a radicalization of environmental goals and objectives, but on achieving the goals of already existing environmental policies. A third interpretation of ecological sustainability can be linked to radically green political parties in Western liberal democracies. The foundation of this idea can be traced back to utopian ecological thinkers such as William Morris, Bernard Skinner, Aldous Huxley, and Ernest Callenbach. In this ‘green-tainted’ interpretation, ecological sustainability is considered to be closely related to the idea of a ‘steady state economy’.22 P. Kockelkoren, op.cit, part 5 See, H.E.Daly, The Steady State Economy: toward a Political Economy of Biophysical Equilibrium and Moral Growth, [w:] Toward a Steady State Economy, San Francisco: W.H. Freeman and Company, 1973; T. Jackson, Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet, London: Earthscan, 2009 21 22 autoportret 3 [42] 2013 | 13 ROWNOWAGA_1_UK_cs4-3.indd 13 13-10-30 14:38
  13. 13. Their ‘ideal utopian society’ incorporates both an economic and an ecological state of equilibrium. The just mentioned utopians do not think in terms of growth, increase, and expansion, but in terms of equilibrium, stability, and balance. They argue that a large share of environmental pollution and damage to nature is caused by society’s unlimited tendencies towards growth in production and consumption. They emphasize that society should break away from these growth tendencies, and advocate a society that is not based on the ideal of continuous economic development. Their focus on a so-called ‘steady state’ reflects itself in their principles, in particular the proposition of a so-called ‘stationary state’, as well as in their views on policy, where the ‘stable state concept’ is the decisive criterion upon which social decision-making needs to be systematically based. It is fair to say that up to now in western liberal democracies this specific ecological vision of green political parties has not gained much attention and support. Only the green political parties in for example Belgium, Germany, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom have (at least to some extent) indeed been inspired by these radical utopian ideas. As a matter of fact, their preference for (some version of) a ‘steady state economy’ is demonstrative of the fact that they estimate the risks of ongoing economic development as very high. In the same vein, they tend to be pessimistic about the future availability of natural resources. Generally, the green parties are opting for risk evasive strategies and are reticent about the possibilities of the so-called ‘technological fix’: technological strategies to solve large scale environmental problems. In their perspective today’s high material standard of living will have to be replaced by a ‘high quality of life’, involving a decrease of general production and consumption levels. ConseQuenCes of the struCtural rejeCtion of the steady state notion In this final section the following question will be raised: What are the main consequences of the fact that in modern western liberal democracies governments are still relying on two - above mentioned - basically pragmatic interpretations of ecological sustainability, and are systematically rejecting the third and principled ‘steady state’ notion? By primarily relying on and referring to the two pragmatic visions of ecological sustainability, the key concept has been deprived of its foundational character. Ecological utopian thinkers as William Morris, Bernard Skinner, Aldous Huxley and Ernest Callenbach have underlined that ecological sustainability is intended as a foundational notion that aims at both an economically and ecologically stable situation. From their point of view, it is a ‘principled and normative’ concept in the sense that in this line of reasoning the aim of nature conservation, the preservation of scarce natural resources and intra- and intergenerational justice are quintessential, and must systematically be given priority over growth of production and consumption. In line with the arguments given above, the rejection of the value and relevance of the third perspective on ecological sustainability has led to a de facto acceptance and legitimization of the assumption that humans have the right to rule over nature. Ultimately, both within mainstream political liberalism with its preference for sustainable development and ecological modernization, and Christian religious political visions which are building on the idea of stewardship, human kind is still having the right to dominate over nature and approach it as a means. This is not surprising, as John Locke, the religiously inspired founding father of political liberalism, wrote the following words in his Second Treatise: ‘God, when he gave the World in common to all mankind, commanded Man also to labor, and the penury of his Condition required it of him. God and his Reason commanded him to subdue the earth, i.e. improve it for the benefit of Life, and therein lay out something upon it was his own, his labor. He that in Obedience to this Command of God, subdued, tilled and sowed any part of it, thereby annexed to it something that was his Property, which another had no Title by, nor could without injury take from him.’23 Arguably, the right to property is a pivotal element in Locke’s theory, and nature is explicitly to be ‘subdued’’ and made productive. 24 This creates a clear contrast to utopian ecological thinkers as William Morris, Bernard Skinner, Aldous Huxley and Ernest Callenbach, who argue that in an environmentally sustainable society, nature will occupy a central position, and people will need to treat their natural surroundings respectfully and responsibly. A last consequence of the fact that modern western liberal democracies are primarily J. Locke, Two Treatises of Government, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1965, p. 24 R. Eckersley, Environmentalism and Political Theory: Toward an Ecocentric Approach, New York: State University of New York Press, 1992, s.23 23 autoportret 3 [42] 2013 | 14 ROWNOWAGA_1_UK_cs4-3.indd 14 13-10-30 14:38
  14. 14. relying on the first and second interpretation of ecological sustainability, is that still no empirical, physical side-constraints or limits to the carrying capacity of the earth are accepted. Both from the perspective of liberal political and Christian political considerations, it is predominantly assumed that nature can be compared to a ‘spring’ that flows abundantly. Both in the Bible and in the work of John Locke it is noted that the Earth provides the rich material humankind may make use of. In his Two Treatises of Government Locke speaks of ‘the Plenty God had given to him’. 25 In his theory nature is a perpetually productive generator of foods, natural resources and so on. Locke views the commons as an unlimited and incessant source of riches, goods and services. The underlying assumption is that the earth will present us with new harvests and catches, new trees and plants in endless variations. There will always be enough food and natural resources to fulfill the incessantly growing human needs. This optimistic idea is systematically reflected in the two pragmatic visions on ecological sustainability analyzed, but is evidently at odds with the growing scientific insight that sustainability unavoidably implies the setting of specific physical limits to the growth of our economy and presupposes the acceptance of well-defined ecological boundaries. could be established. In various ways ecological utopias are capable of providing a valuable contribution to our ongoing quest for an environmentally sustainable and ecologically responsible society. As a consequence, a legitimization and acceptance of the assumption that humans have the full right to rule over nature has occurred. Apart from that, in the debates there has been no room to discuss the far broader and more integrated ecotopian visions on ecological sustainability. Moreover, the existence of physical boundaries or limits to the ecological carrying capacity of the earth has not yet been recognized in modern politics. All in all, there are still very good reasons to continue studying ecological utopianism and to critically reflect on the many worthwhile lessons which can be learned from this tradition about the vital role of attitudes towards nature and the deeper meaning of ecological sustainability. This paper has explored the value of ‘ecological utopianism’ for interpretations of mankind’s attitudes towards nature, and the modern social debate about the meaning of the much debated and influential concept of ecological sustainability. By developing this analysis, an increased understanding of the significance of ecological utopias for our modern environmental problems and debates 25 J. Locke, ibidem, p. autoportret 3 [42] 2013 | 15 ROWNOWAGA_1_UK_cs4-3.indd 15 13-10-30 14:38
  15. 15. Philippe Rahm Towards Thermodynamic Urban Planning T he history of urban design and spatial planning over the past forty years was largely reviewed from a macroscopic and aesthetic viewpoint rather than from a microscopic and physiological one. Re-analysing it from the microscopic perspective, we can discover the factors that did influence the formation of cities. A new evaluation proposed here will make it possible to create an alternative to the actual development of urban planning that is currently based on the principle of economic globalisation which is unsustainable and unfair to people. It is an ambition of our studio to contribute to the development of planetary urban planning to make it more acceptable, human, honest and fair to all. Popularisation of the macroscopic and aesthetic urban analysis must undoubtedly be attributed to Italian architect Aldo Rossi who, in his book L’architettura della città (‘Architecture of the City’) of 1966, deprecates ‘naïve functionalism’ that reduces the history of the city and its design to the physiological and organic. From the very first page of the introduction he recognises the physiological cause as the origin of architecture. The starting point is the biological need that drives man to ‘construct an artificial climate’, more favourable for his existence. Evading this point, Rossi immediately claims that, first and foremost, man built his environment following aesthetic and civilisational intents. He studies those macrostructural intents, deriding all infrastructural approaches, which he considers naïve. With all due appreciation for Aldo Rossi’s achievements in the field of theory, and in a non-polemic spirit, we choose to side with the naive and to partly contest that macroscopic take, opting to reverse the angle of the analysis so that it starts from the microscopic level. If Aldo Rossi seemed so radical in 1970, it stemmed from the fact that since the 1950s antibiotics came into wide use in the West, a autoportret 3 [42] 2013 | 16 ROWNOWAGA_1_UK_cs4-3.indd 16 13-10-30 14:38
  16. 16. ‘One of the main requirements of good health conditions in a big city such as Paris is to foster free circulation of the air we breathe, through gradual removal of all obstacles which might prevent it [...] and by distancing cities from all centres of impurity and corruption’. J. de Horne, Mémoire sur quelques objets qui intéressent plus particulièrement la salubrité de la ville de Paris, Paris, 1788, [quoted after:] R. Etlin, L’air dans l’urbanisme des Lumières, ‘Dix-huitième siècle’ 1977, No. 9, pp. 123–134 (unless otherwise indicated, all quotations transl. by A.M.O.). 2 A. Corbin writes, ‘Soufflot created a chamber with a vault whose chaotic form makes it possible to eliminate stagnant places and to create rising air currents’. A. Corbin, Le miasme et la jonquille, Paris: Flammarion, 1986. 1 ics, taken twice daily for one week? It should be pointed out, by the way, that modernist sunshine and fresh air were not particularly successful treatments. What Aldo Rossi considered to be the first cause in the history of urban planning may have been in fact merely a consequence of the use of antibiotics: functionalism preceded aesthetics, physiology allowed symbolism, microscopic factors implied the macroscopic aspects. The reversal of the cause-and-effect chain, which we will propose to explain the history of the city and urban planning as resulting from the macroscopic and physiological considerations, is crucial to design the future. Partial success of Rossi’s postmodernism of 1970–1980 stems from the fact that it led to a construction of forms without causes, leaving merely effects of urban facts. It may be exemplified by a multitude of new squares with rich symbolism but without the physiological sense of the previous ones, when it had been necessary to fetch drinking water before social bonds were formed. We propose to study this particular reversal of the cause-and-effect relationships in urban planning and spatial design, and as a starting point we choose the achievements of new schools of thinking of history, geography and economy. In his texts Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies of 1997 and Collapse of 2005, Jared Diamond described the above mentioned reversal of the cause-and-effect relationships, pointing out the importance of environmental factors: climate, geology or autoportret 3 [42] 2013 | 17 ROWNOWAGA_1_UK_cs4-3.indd 17 viruses in human history3. It was Spaniards who conquered South America, while Aztecs did not conquer Spain because the viruses carried by a bunch of conquistadors multiplied more easily and were more lethal than the viruses carried by millions of Aztecs4. The history of America presented by Diamond appears to be much more a consequence of viral toxicity than a political or religious programme written in its course. In a similar way, the American scholar explains the rise and fall of the Viking civilisation or of the civilisation on Easter Island, justifying their development by climatic changes and soil erosion. Following the logic of this new school of thinking, some scholars have recently pointed out that the times of social change in the history of China correspond to periods of drought in the climate5, while periods of great cold in the European Middle Ages are related to an increase in the importance of religion6. We might presume that, with advances of modernisation, the history of civilisation should become increasingly independent of the influence of the climate. However, in Climate Wars Harald Welzer de- ‘History has proceeded very differently for different peoples not because of biological differences but due to differences in environments’. J. Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, New York: W.W. Norton, 1997, p.9. 4 ‘Far more Native Americans and other non-Eurasian peoples were killed by Eurasian germs than by Eurasian guns or steel weapons. Conversely, few or no distinctive lethal germs awaited would-be European conquerors in the New World’. Ibid., p. 29. 5 ‘This is how the collapse of some Chinese dynasties is related to periods of abnormal droughts’. Hai Cheng, R. Lawrance Edwards, Les variations de la mousson et la société chinoise depuis 1800 ans [in:] Des climats et des hommes, ed. J.F. Berger, Paris: La Découverte, 2012. 6 ‘In 1315 (the year of famine during the little ice age from 1300 to 1350) there were few upheavals but many prayers. Later there will be less bigotry and more upheavals’. E. Le Roy Ladurie, D. Rousseau, Fluctuation du climat en France du Nord et du Centre au temps du Petit Âge glacière [in:] Des climats et des hommes, op. cit. 3 All illustrations: ©philippe rahm architectes change which brutally invalidated the whole hygiene programme of architectural modernism and its physiological language. Critical of narrow streets and opting for zoning, in the Athens Charter Le Corbusier deals with bacteria hot spots, thus following the first 18th and 19th century hygienic regulations introduced by Rambuteau and de Horne1, Maret and Soufflot2: he is against stale air in dark narrow streets and badly ventilated rooms. The formal language of the modernist architecture of the 1920s – wide windows and glazed bays, balconies and solariums for the purpose of air and solar treatments, as well as white disinfectant lime slurry – are vivid declinations of the design patterns of Alpine sanatoriums, invented in the 19th century to combat tuberculosis and other bacterial diseases. This medicinal language loses legitimacy with the discovery of penicillin. What is the point of demolishing small, narrow and dark lanes or moving flats to spacious parks if it is now possible to eradicate disease with antibiot- 13-10-30 14:38
  17. 17. scribes the opposite tendency. He shows that natural disasters are behind the wars fought in the 20th and 21st centuries: to him, climate change is an underestimated social threat and it seems we are failing to accept the idea that this phenomenon, even if described scientifically, may generate such calamities as the implosion of social systems, civil wars or genocide7. Economist Daniel Cohen believes the same, offering surprising reinterpretations of what seemed to be the cause while in fact was the effect8. He explains the disappearance of social diversification in the modernist city not by the Athens Charter, which proposed to separate the working zones and housing districts, but by the invention of the lift, and then RER, the regional express transit system connecting suburbs to Paris. It was only yesterday that in a typically formed city the rich lived on the second floor, and the poor on the last one. The rich and the poor met on the stairs and even if they did not speak to each other, their children sometimes attended the same schools. Since lifts came into widespread use, buildings started to be inhabited by the rich or the poor but never by both because they lived in different districts. The district is decreasingly a place of social diversity’. As to RER, Cohen explains that it is not so much a means of transport that brings people from different social strata closer as an element contributing to their separation. ‘What is worse, with RER in use, suburbs tend to be increasingly isolated from luxury districts. In the past working class suburbs were not situated so far from city centres because workers had to walk to work on foot. With the opening H. Welzer, Climate Wars, Cambridge: Polity Press, 2012. D. Cohen, Trois leçons sur la société post-industrielle, Paris: Seuil, 2006. 7 8 of RER, the distance could grow. However demography develops, Paris will never border with Sarcelles. Suburbians go to the city centre on Saturday nights to feast their eyes on pictures but then return home’. Endocrinological Land Development in the 19th Century Rethinking the history of urbanisation from the microscopic perspective – endocrinological in the 19th century, and bacteriological in the 20th century – leads to unexpected re-evaluation of the process of city and cityscape making. Medicinal properties of iodine were recognized in the first half of the 19th century, and were popularised by English doctors who started to send their patients to the seaside or to thermal spas where iodine was administered either in the liquid form: soda or sea breeze, or in the solid one: fish or algae9. It resulted in the construction of a railway network and urban development of the sea coast. New spa towns were founded, such as Biarritz, Brighton, Spa, Ostend, 9 ‘Making it possible to discover iodine in a great number of mineral waters where its presence had not even been suspected before, chemical analyses provided an explanation of their long-known qualities used in the treatment of cases where iodine is nowadays successfully prescribed. It was Dr Goindet of Geneva that had the privilege to introduce iodine, and then its compounds, into medicine. Searching for a method in Cadet de Gassicourt, he noticed that Russel counselled burnt rockweed for thyroid. Suspecting that the sponge which was then used in the treatment of thyroid and rockweed might owe their properties to iodine, whose presence in rockweed brine had been proven by Courtois, he tried it out in the treatment of thyroid hyperplasia and, luckily, succeeded. Not a year had elapsed since he started his experiments that he communicated his discovery to the Helvetian Society of Natural Sciences gathered in Geneva on 25 July 1820. Two other memoirs by Coindet, published soon afterwards, proved that iodine was indeed an efficient medicine for thyroid and was a remedy for scrofulous tumours and certain diseases of the lymphatic system’. A.A. Boinet, Iodothérapie, Paris: Victor Masson et Fils, 1865. Vichy, Arcachon or Évian-les-Bains. At the local level, urbanisation of Europe in the 19th century and the invention of tourism are the formal, planned consequences of the discovery of iodine and its medical applications. It was also instrumental in the formation of the image of European cities which since then turned towards beaches and waterfronts, sprawled and opened towards seas or lakes, those ‘veritable sanatoriums in the open air where the lucky sick come to enjoy the iodine-rich ocean air and pine fluids’10. For instance, in the 19th century the morphology of Swiss towns was totally reversed for that reason. Until the turn of the century buildings faced away from waterfronts and lake shores into which sewage was poured. Houses turned their backs at lakes and faced mountains. It was a total transformation. Ever since water becomes valuable because of iodine, new buildings – like those big residences in Montreux – turn towards lakes. The high street, which was once situated away from water, gets doubled with the construction of new boulevards designed for strolling along the waterfront. This is how European lake and sea shores, rehabilitated owing to iodine, become steadily urban. Some time later, around 1860, Louis Pasteur discovers that the air we breathe is not empty but contains bacteria, which are slightly less numerous in the mountains11. This medical knowledge, combined with what might be called the germicidal power of solar 10 Guide Touristique d’Arcachon 2012, http://www.arcachon. com/upload/GP_Touristique_Arcachon_BD_ K(3).pdf (access: 8 August 2013). ‘Above all, are there any germs in the air? Nobody claims otherwise because we realise that it cannot be otherwise’. L. Pasteur, Œuvres, vol. 2, Paris: Masson et cie, 1922. O 11 autoportret 3 [42] 2013 | 18 ROWNOWAGA_1_UK_cs4-3.indd 18 13-10-30 14:38
  18. 18. radiation in the treatment of tuberculosis12, entails impressive urban development of the Alps: Leysin, Davos and Gstaad are established. Written at the end of the 18th century, the diaries of Timoléon Guy François de Maugiron or Voyages dans les Alpes (‘Voyages in the Alps’) by Horace-Bénédict de Saussure imply that mountain areas were generally avoided as places of extreme poverty, inhabited by degenerate people13. The discovery of iodine, followed by the popularisation of solar treatments, sun bathing or heliotherapy14, recommended in Switzerland by Dr Bernhard or Dr Rollier, turn these places into favourite holiday destinations. Just like the theses proposed by Rossi in L’architettura della città stem from the discovery of penicillin, the theses put forward by Le Corbusier in Towards an Architecture or in the Athens Charter result from the discovery of iodine, the germicidal power of sunshine and the observation that the numbers of microbes decrease in less polluted air. Thermodynamic Urban Planning in the 21st Century Understanding the causal mechanisms is crucial, and a microscopic mechanism often enables to reverse their order: what seems to ‘We shall live in the dark, like before. The sun will not penetrate into residential buildings more than before to displace the exterminator microbe. To sum up, there is a lack of airing or light in residential buildings, and particularly – a lack of sunshine. In short, we can summarise the findings of this research with a statement that tuberculosis is first and foremost a disease of the dark’. Congrès international de la tuberculose: Rapports présentés au congrès, Paris: Masson et cie, 1905, vol. 25. 13 ‘We attribute the name of cretins to idiots and imbeciles living usually on mountain passes. Is it not endemic in more or less swampy mountain passes, exposed to damp air?’ J.-E. Esquirol, Des maladies mentales, vol. 2, Bruxelles: J. B. Tircher, 1838. 14 J. Malgat, Cure solaire de la tuberculose pulmonaire chronique [in:] Congrès international…, op. cit. 12 be the cause at the macroscopic level turns out to be a consequence in the microscopic perspective. If we want to define urban planning and territorial strategy towards the future, we need to analyse the real causes underlying land transformations. From the architectural and urban planning points of view, climatic and energetic parameters are closely related and seem to be the main factors that influence and will continue to influence urban renewal in a given area. The concept of ‘thermodynamic urban planning’, which I shall define presently, may encompass a whole set of criteria activated in the process of urban renewal on our planet. The microscopic reason which will certainly underlie all major architectural and urban planning decisions in the 21st century is carbon dioxide (CO2). It is expected to play the key role; for two decades we have been trying to embrace the negative consequences of the growth of CO2 concentration in the atmosphere caused by non-renewable energy consumption, such as oil or gas. Fuel combustion releases CO2 into the atmosphere, which forms a sort of cover that makes it impossible for surplus energy accumulated over the earth to escape into the outer space. It results in global warming, disturbing the climate balance, on which urbanisation of the planet has been based for centuries, and causing disasters and migrations. Energy consumed by buildings (heating, ventilation, air conditioning or hot water production) is responsible for emitting about 50% greenhouse gases. Hence, architecture and urban planning are directly involved in an ecological and civic mission for the reduction of energy consumption. The discovery of the role of CO2 in global warming and the dissemination of that knowledge by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) since 1988 certainly determines the end of postmodernism and invalidates reading and designing purely aesthetic and symbolic architecture. The necessity to deal with climate warming imposes new duties on architecture and urban planning, and confronting them is a matter of no less import that the confrontation with bacterial diseases was for modernism in the 19th century. Following the Fukushima disaster (2011), a nuclear disaster was added to the climate crisis, forcing a process of steady abandonment of this kind of energy. Deprived of unlimited access to fossil fuels or nuclear energy, and unable to immediately replace them with renewable energy sources, such as the sun or wind, at the beginning of the 21st century we are urged to immediately reduce energy consumption. In this context, with view to the necessity to save it and use natural local energy sources, it is time to define the concept of thermodynamic urban planning; just as we are beginning to practise architecture called green, solar, ecological or meteorological. Thermodynamic urban planning may prove to be a new way to come to terms with globalisation, through reorganization of industrial production at the planetary level based on energetic and climatic, rather than economic, criteria. We are currently at the peak of the postindustrial society crisis, which was based on global distribution of labour divided between the North, with highly qualified personnel developing ideas, programmes, design and marketing, and the South, with unskilled workforce manufacturing objects, computers or clothes. Until 1960 the South exported only raw materials for use in the North. Since the 1960s industrialisation of the South has entailed de-industrialisation of the North; since then the South has been exporting ready-made products, autoportret 3 [42] 2013 | 19 ROWNOWAGA_1_UK_cs4-3.indd 19 13-10-30 14:38
  19. 19. leaving the North to develop product concepts, design and marketing. This situation is risky because the technological advantage of the North over the South is decreasing on a yearly basis and it is predictable that production of ideas, design and concepts will soon reach the same level in the South as in the North, which will automatically reduce employment and increase unemployment, especially in Europe. How is Europe and France to be seen in this regard? What can France do, with its limited industry and extensive technological expertise (nuclear energy, TGV) which will soon become obsolete, in view of technologies developed in the United States, including Google and Facebook, if it neither develops nor manufactures its own products? There remains the production of luxury goods, cultural and culinary tourism so well described by Michel Houellebecq15 as the future of industrial France huddled around the ‘territorial magic’ of its countryside. Cheeses, cold meats, woodpigeons and snails, the Massif Central and a network of routes ‘Lodging and Castles’. Indeed, cynicism aside, some products belong to a given territory, which is inextricably related to a certain climate, quality of mineral soil that gives produce unique taste, just like lime soil and sunshine to the great wines of Bordeaux. It is not about skills or cultural traditions which globalisation will certainly copy, hybridise and delocalise but certain geographical, geological and climatic conditions that are unique and characteristic for a place: as Houellebecq has it, it is a regional category rather than a state one. Although it is impossible to transfer wine production from Bordeaux to China or Bangladesh, it will not hinder the establishment of new territories like Napa Valley in California or Ningxia in M. Houellebecq, The Map and the Territory, trans. Gavin Bowd. New York: Knopf, 2012. 15 China whose wines were classified as the best in the world in 2011. To explain the concept of thermodynamic urban planning, we can start from three examples illustrating a characteristic mode of exploitation of unique energy resources typical for a given geographic location. The first example is the transferring of Facebook servers from California to Lulea in Sweden. Computers storing a gigantic amount of information overheat, and cooling them requires a tremendous amount of energy. The average annual temperature in Lulea is 2 degrees Celsius, and it is easy to understand what savings (in tens of billions of dollars) the American company can make by moving the servers from the Mediterranean climate of California, where the average annual temperature is 19.5 degrees Celsius. These three examples point at new, unusual, almost uninhabited urbanisation areas such as the north, deserts and high mountains. They have nothing in common with the places that have undergone urbanisation since the beginnings of humankind. In the 21st century we will witness a radical modification of the criteria of geographic value; we will see a change of human geography which will entail the establishment of new cities and a collapse of old ones. Thus, climate will have a key role in future urbanisation of the planet, following the global thermodynamic values related to the location parameters, with regard to latitude and altitude. It may turn out to be a solution fostering globalisation based not on unjust salaries or a specific international distribution of labour but on ecological and climate criteria applied on the scale of global population. The second example is the Swiss village of Trient. The small village, with a population of 150 residents, hidden in the rugged mountains of the canton of Valais, without a ski lift, will receive several million Swiss francs in the next few years because it has a glacier that supplies water to a dam which provides electricity to the whole Swiss railway. The third example is the German project Desertec, under which it is proposed to cover the whole of Sahara with solar panels to supply electric energy to the whole of North Africa and Europe16. 16 ‘All kinds of renewables will be used in the DESERTEC Concept, (…) but the sun-rich deserts of the world play a central role: within six hours deserts receive more energy from the sun than humankind consumes within a year. In addition, 90 percent of the world’s population lives within 3,000 km of deserts’. http://www.desertec. org/fileadmin/downloads/desertec_foundation_flyer_ en.pdf (access: 8 August 2013) autoportret 3 [42] 2013 | 20 ROWNOWAGA_1_UK_cs4-3.indd 20 13-10-30 14:38
  20. 20. therModynaMiC parK We have applied global thermodynamic principles on a microscale in a city park in Taiwan: we created climatic differences as if we were to reorganise the planet’s geography reduced to the size of the park. The structuring principle is differentiation of climatic environments: from naturally existing warm, humid and polluted ones to newly created cooler, less humid and less polluted areas. Departing from what already exists, we defined three climatic maps, each of them typical for a given parameter of the atmosphere: the first one describing temperature, the second one referring to air humidity, and the last one describing the level of air pollution. Each of these maps contains modulations of respective parameters: from areas with extreme climatic conditions to those with deeper modifications and thus more suitable for human habitation. These three maps cross each other, freely overlap and thus create diverse microclimates, a multitude of various environments within the park’s space. One part will always be warmer but less humid, with less polluted air, while other parts will be cooler, drier but will have polluted air. The three climatic maps are based on the gradation principle: from 100% inconvenient, naturally intense conditions – typical for a local city (100% pollution, 100% humidity, 100% heat), to more pleasant zones with levels reduced even to 20%, where temperature, humidity and pollution were reduced to a minimum. To work out these three meteorological maps, we developed an extensive system of devices each of which reduces excess heat, humidity or pollution. What I call ‘meteorological devices’ are both plants, trees with specific qualities that absorb pollution or reduce insolation through dense foliage and waterspouts, humidifiers, fountains or technical solutions such as air dehumidifiers or mosquito repelling ultrasonic speakers. If we want to create a cool place, we increase the number of appropriate devices. Depending on their density in a given area, we create more or less pleasant and convenient spaces where climatic conditions sometimes overlap, combine, condense or, conversely, separate and dilute, generating diverse atmospheres which users can freely choose at will. Climatic devices are contemporary extensions of traditional park facilities: small constructions, such as benches, fountains, kiosks, garden pavilions or gazebos. Each of the devices reduces inconvenience caused by climatic factors at work and diffuses a more favourable climate, influencing one parameter only. The first are air dehumidifiers, followed by purifying devices, the third ones are air refreshing, light diffusing and shade creating devices. If we want to achieve a low level of humidity in a given spot in the park and create a drier place, we simply place more air dehumidifiers there. translation froM frenCh: aleKsandra wojda english translation: anna MirosławsKa-olszewsKa taiChung gateway parK authors: philippe rahm architectes, mosbach paysagistes, ricky liu & associates investor: taichung city government location: taichung, tajwan total area: 70 hectares design: january 2012 – december 2012 completion: january 2013 – july 2015 aleKsandra wojda Meteorological devices and the type of soil which determines them are the basic elements of our composition, scattered over the landscape in the form of various levels of concentration depending on the intended level of efficiency. They enable modulation of the landscape texture and are unique to our architecture. The distribution of programmes – public utility buildings, recreational areas, passages or playgrounds – takes place in a natural way, depending on the intensity of the new climatic zones. In the least convenient places there are closed air-conditioned buildings. Recreational areas are situated in the most favourable climatic zones, where the humidity levels and temperature are the lowest, and the pollution is minimal. autoportret 3 [42] 2013 | 21 ROWNOWAGA_1_UK_cs4-3.indd 21 13-10-30 14:38
  21. 21. pollution_map.pdf 1 13-09-23 16:45 plan-general.pdf sections.pdf 1 13-09-23 sections.pdf 1 1 13-09-23 16:45 16:44 13-09-23 11:57 philippe rahm architectes, mosbach paysagistes, ricky liu&associates, general plan of the thermodynamic park in taiwan, design: 2012, completion: 2013-2015 the architects developed three spatial narrations including layouts for devices connected, respectively, with: temperature (pink plan), humidity (blue plan) and environmental pollution (grey plan). the narrations overlap, forming the general plan of the construction (right). ROWNOWAGA_1_UK_cs4-3.indd 22 13-10-30 14:39
  22. 22. Humid air Electric fan Refrigerated coil H20 condensation Dry air Concrete slab with radiant tubing Humid air Condensation Dryer air Cooled fluid Water drain Underground heat sink (2m depth) 29˚C Atmosphere 25˚C Top soil 18˚C Eluviation layer 12˚C Subsoil hot air Cool air Electric fan 12˚C constant earth temperature Mosquitos Mosquito-free space Noise pollution Quiet space ROWNOWAGA_1_UK_cs4-3.indd 23 13-10-30 14:40
  23. 23. Lucy Sargisson Illustrations: Anna Zabdyrska Democracy, Nature, and Utopia T here is a trend in contemporary environmental political theory towards a call for a more democratic relationship between humanity and nature. Deep ecologists have been doing this for a long time but the trend I’ve observed comes from more mainstream sources. These include John Dryzek, who wants to develop a more ecologically responsive deliberative democracy and Andrew Dobson, who argues in his most recent work that we need to start a process of democratic listening to nature. It also includes thinker such as Bruno Latour and Jane Bennett who explore a new political ecology. All these thinkers raise questions about political agency and political participation: Who (or what) belongs to the demos? And they have all, in different ways (from diverse epistemological and ontological perspectives) arrived at the conclusion that ‘we’ (that is to say, humans) need to include ‘nature’ in the demos. Re-thinking environmental politics in these more inclusive ways involves re-thinking the relationships between humans and non-human beings, between beings, things and stuff. And I suggest that utopias are a good place in which to start this process. Calls for a ‘democracy of all nature’ In his most recent work, Andrew Dobson issues a simple but radical challenge to green political theory. Historically, he says, attempts to broaden democracy have focused on enabling excluded ‘Others’ to ‘speak’ (in order that they can participate in democratic politics). But he argues that if we really want to expand the demos to include non-humans, we need to re-focus our attention onto listening. According to Dobson, ‘the usefulness of the capacity to speak is compromised without the reciprocal capacity to listen – if we do not know how to listen, how will we know what to speak about? Given this, it seems odd that political theorists should have spent so much time worrying about how to get people to speak without thinking at all about how we get them to listen’1. Historically, the excluded ‘Others’ have needed to acquire political competencies. Dobson’s suggestion that those inside the demos or citizen body should learn to listen (above all, to those outside the citizen body) prefigures a very different kind of democracy. It places the onus on those who already hold power. It suggests that broadening the demos to include non-humans would involve learning to ‘listen to nature’. But it is unclear quite what this would look like. John Dryzek’s work on the environment and deliberative democracy might help. He argues that ‘democracy can exist not only among humans, but also in human dealings with the natural world’. and he suggests that nature exhibits ‘a variety of levels and kinds of communication to which we might try to adapt’. He says ‘The key is to downplay ‘centrism’ of any kind, and focus instead on the kinds of interactions that might occur across the boundaries between humanity and nature.’ He’s seeking an interchange with nature that involves progressively less of what he calls ‘human autism’.2 But Dryzek doesn’t just want to use liberal democracy as the vehicle for this communicative shift. He doesn’t think it’s sufficient to grant legal rights and guardians to animals. ‘Any A.Dobson, Democracy and Nature: Speaking and Listening, ‘Political Studies’ 2010, 58(4), p. 752-768 2 J.Dryzek, Political and Ecological Communication, 2007, reprinted from: Ecology and Democracy, ed. F. Matthews, London: Frank Cass, 1996, p. 3-29, next edition: J. Dryzek, Political and Ecological Communication [in:] J. Dryzek, D. Schlosberg, Debating the Earth: the environmental politics reader, Oxfrod: Oxfrod University Press, 2007, p. 637 1 autoportret 3 [42] 2013 | 24 ROWNOWAGA_1_UK_cs4-3.indd 24 13-10-30 14:40
  24. 24. such representation might downgrade nature to [just] another set of interests, disaggregating and isolating these interests by assigning them to identifiable natural objects, thus ignoring their intrinsically ecological (interconnected) character’. Instead, Dryzek turns to Habermas’s notion of communicative rationality, grounded in ideal speech situations: ‘The key, he says, would be to treat communication, and so communicative rationality, as extending to entities that can act as agents, even though they lack the self-awareness that connotes subjectivity. Agency is not the same as subjectivity, and only the former need be sought in nature’3. Dryzek declines to offer a model of how this might look, saying that it would be inappropriate to offer a ‘blueprint’ because this new kind of democracy should emerge discursively. That’s understandable. But it’s a bit frustrating. Dyrzek and Dobson both make important arguments but they both stop, just when things begin to get interesting. And I’m going to suggest that utopian fiction and experiments can help. I’m going to examine 2 examples, very briefly, and I’ll begin with a real-world experimental movement. These are ‘The Councils of All Beings’. You may feel that they shouldn’t be included because they are coming from a deep ecological perspective, which is incompatible with deliberative democracy - but I think they’re worth a look. The website of Joanna Macy (author of the book ‘Thinking Like a Mountain’ and a founding figure in the movement), describes the councils as a step towards ‘opening’ a new relationship with nature. These usually occur as guided workshops, which seek to ‘connect’ participants to the world around them, leading to a shift in consciousness and, ultimately, to permit the ‘voices’ of non-humans to be ‘heard’. The workshops involve a series of steps. These are ‘mourning’ (‘allow[ing] ourselves to feel the pain of the earth), ‘remembering’ (our evolutionary history and releasing the memories in our DNA) and finally ‘extending our identity’. They combine to enable participants to ‘give voice’ to nature: ‘after finding an ally in the natural world and making a mask to represent that ally, we discover that we can indeed give voice to the voiceless ones. In Council, we lend our voices to the animals and plants and features of the landscape and are shocked at the very different view of the world that emerges from their dialogue. Creative suggestions for human actions emerge and we invoke the powers and knowledge of these other life-forms to empower us in our lives4. This is a method that seeks a deeper intuitive or spiritual understanding of nature. It invites the human participants to ‘open’ themselves and to ‘hear’ the voices of nature, and then to represent them. I find this deeply problematic because it appears open to all the objections about abuses of representative politics and interpreting the needs of the Other which have been frequently voiced against more traditional forms of representative politics. However, it does offer us a space in which to imagine – and perhaps experience – how it might feel to develop a new sensibility and a more inclusive polity from a deep ecological perspective. I now propose a brief visit to Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time. Piercy depicts a participatory democracy embedded in a society in which a different ecological sensibility exists. For example, Connie is told, “We plan Ibidem, p.638-639 “Who is that with the green hair?” [asks Connie] “Earth-Advocate [says Luciente] - speaks for the rights of the total environment. Beside per is the Animal-Advocate. ... Every spring some people dream they are the new Animal Advocate or Earth Advocate. Those who feel this come together and the choice among them falls by lot”6. The council is discussing a proposal to clear some woodland in order to produce more edible crops for one village. The woodland is a rainwater catchment area and this proves contentious: “We have none too much water, people” a person with green hair said…“Without water we can grow nothing. Our ancestors destroyed water as if there were an infinite amount of M. Piercy, Woman on the Edge of Time, New York: Alfred Knopf, 1979, s. 125 6 Ibidem, p. 151 5 all quotations above from http://www.rainforestinfo. org.au/deep-eco/council.htm 4 3 cooperatively. We can afford to waste nothing. You might say our – you’d say religion? – ideas make us see ourselves as partners with water, air, birds, fish, trees” 5. In this utopia, humans have learned to notice (and respond to) nonverbal communication from sentient and nonsentient nature. With some mammals this is quite sophisticated, but it relies always on the human learning about the mammal’s norms of communication. At one point, Connie asks her host (Luciente) about ‘government’. Luciente is puzzled (because there is no state and very little governance in Mattapoisset) but she invites Connie to observe a meeting of the township’s planning council. This gathering consists of 25-30 people of mixed ages. There is plenty of argument, but no ‘speechifying’. And it contains two special advocates: autoportret 3 [42] 2013 | 25 ROWNOWAGA_1_UK_cs4-3.indd 25 13-10-30 14:40
  25. 25. it, sucking it out of the earth and dirtying and poisoning it as flowed,” .. .Let us not be cavalier about water. What does the soil bank say?7” The computerized soil bank indicates that the water table will indeed be affected and the proposal is rejected. Instead, the neighbouring community (that needs more crops) will be aided by plant geneticists and soil scientists to increase the output of the existing land. Here Piercy is deploying the twin function of utopian criticism and creativity – what I call the Janus face of a utopian approach. Janus was a Roman mythical figure – he’s the God of beginnings (the month of January is named after Janus) and endings, change and transitions. I use him to signify the ways that utopias simultaneously face the present and the future, and the ways that the utopian gaze offers simultaneous criticism and creativity. Piercy’s voices from an imaginary future tell us that their ancestors messed up, and left a depleted ecology. The creative responses offered by Piercy include a radically egalitarian and democratic system of autonomous governance. Woman on the Edge of Time imagines how (amongst other things) a small, face-to-face democracy could contain advocates for the shifting actors of a given context. It imagines what kind of society might emerge from a politics that includes natural agents. It offers a picture of a political community containing humans who listen to non-human life, even if it is unclear how nature can ‘speak for itself’. Reading it enables us to begin to contemplate how such a society might feel and also to identify problems with it. For example, Piercy still uses the language of rights and the politics of 7 Ibidem, p.151 advocacy and I wonder whether this raises the same representational problems as the Councils of all Beings. Utopias such as Woman on the Edge of Time permit the reader imaginary visits to societies in which communication with nature forms part of daily life and is structured into systems of (self) governance. This is really valuable. Utopias open up spaces of possibility. In these spaces we can explore positive alternatives and anticipate problems and I suggest that we need to do this if we are to think seriously about something as incredible as ‘listening to nature’. I’ve been making claims about the value of utopianism for an environmental democratic politics. But I don’t want to overstress its value. It has limits. In particular it doesn’t provide models to follow or blueprints to copy. It’s important to note about the Piercy example, for instance, that the democratic utopian systems and processes that I described are embedded in a whole-society vision. It is ontologically and culturally different from now. It contains people who are motivated by different values than we are. It is embedded in a different culture. We can’t just extract and apply the democratic processes from such texts. projects and they always lie over the horizon; unrealised and unrealisable. In this paper, we have visited two different utopian attempts to imagine a more democratic relationship with nature. We might feel that neither is entirely satisfactory. We might find them deeply flawed, unattractive or simply bizarre. But the exercise of examining them is still valuable. To explore an idea to breaking point and to observe what happens when we do so can help us to clarify our thoughts about its first principles. For me, it confirms my discomfort with Dryzek’s approach and raises concerns about the politics of representation. This paper was first presented at the Utopian Studies Society Annual Conference in New Lanark, UK, July 2013. An extended version of this paper is available as Lucy Sargisson ‘A Democracy of all Nature: taking a utopian approach’ in the journal Politics Electronic version: 13 DEC 2012 DOI: 10.1111/1467-9256.12005 or hard copy: Politics Volume 33, Issue 2, pages 124–134, June 2013. Their value, for social scientists, is partly heuristic. They permit imaginary trial-anderror thinking – they become fictive versions of philosophical thought experiments. This is significant and it builds on the mirror function of utopianism that’s been identified by scholars of canonical utopias8. They reflect our imperfections and flaws back to us. They encourage us onwards to something better. But they are not perfect Utopias are impossible M. de Geus, Utopian Sustainability: ecological utopianism, [In:] The Transition to Sustainable Living and Practice, eds. L. Leonard, J. Barry, Bradford: Emerald, 2009 8 autoportret 3 [42] 2013 | 26 ROWNOWAGA_1_UK_cs4-3.indd 26 13-10-30 14:40
  26. 26. On Ecology and a Dubious Ethos of Technological Determinism ‘Well, well, well, at least there’s a precise definition here,’ J. Reinforced-Concrete read under his breath. ‘»In the current state of civilisation, sustainable development is possible, it is the kind of development where the needs of the present generation can be satisfied without decreasing the chances of the future generations to satisfy theirs, too»’. Architects are so used to meeting ghosts that, hardly surprised, J. R.-I., M.Eng. made coffee and served it to his guests. This is how that literary evening began. And, as if to confirm his words, Straw Mulchman showed a few pictures. Act 1: On Eco-development and Surplus Words The reader may wonder who Straw Mulchman is. It is a personification of a straw mulch, which, in folklore, should not be offended for fear it may play tricks on the offender. It may also represent inability to act (trans. note). J. REINFORCED-CONCRETE: Whoa! If the term comprises ‘development’, it is, I suppose, about developing, and not going back to clay and straw. I like technology and I’d like to see 2 World Commission on Environment and Development, Our Common Future, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987. 1 autoportret 3 [42] 2013 | 27 ROWNOWAGA_1_UK_cs4-3.indd 27 ouse.at/ ‘To me, it’s clear,’ replied Straw Mulchman2, turning up on the window sill. ‘It’s about two kinds of fairness: one, between regions in the world, and the other, between generations. All later interpretations of the report are tons of cosmetics which dilute this one word: »fairness». Let me add, for the sake of clarity, that to me the conditions of sustainability are fulfilled only by low-tech buildings made of natural materials: straw, such as this,’ he said, taking out some straw from his shoes, ‘and clay, wood, possibly also recycled materials’. ://www.s-h John Reinforced-Concrete, M.Eng., M.Arch., lover of black turtlenecks and global architecture, was reading Our Common Future, the famous Brundtland report of 19871, which introduced the concept of sustainable development. He was looking for a quotation to describe his project when he found one… He did not know, however, that more and more ghosts were congregating in his study… ‘…But what does it actually mean?’ asked a toga-clad ghost of Socrates who was leaning against the drawing board. Photo: http Prologue Photo: m. siplane SOCRATES AND ENTHUSIASM FOR STRAW Photo: m. siplane Marcin Mateusz Kołakowski Above: Salto Architects, Straw Theatre – temporary headquarters of the NO99 theatre ensemble, Tallinn, Estonia, 2010-2011 Below: Robert Wimmer (Gruppe Angepasste Technologie, Technische Universität Wien), S-House – house of straw and wood, Böheimkirchen, Austria, 2005 13-10-30 14:40

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