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Qu’est ce que l’économie civilisée? Recherche sur le principe ontologique de l’effondrement économique et écologique


Titre en Français :

Qu’est-ce que l’économie civilisée? ou Recherches sur le principe ontologique de l’effondrement économique et écologique

Title in English :

What is Civilised Economy? An essay on the ontological principle of economic and ecological collapse



The ontological foundation of civilised economy is rooted in utilitarianism or the conception of the world and everything in it as existing in a hierarchy of food chain. This has not been the view in wild or nondomesticated societies, where living and nonliving beings exist for their own purpose, pleasure, and being. A complex epistemological exercise has emerged out of the Neolithic culture, one that attributes a utilitarian purpose to all living and nonliving elements on earth. Since this “knowledge” places the human animal at the head of this food chain, it institutionalises an anthropocentric culture of subsistence thereby creating a civilised system of socio-environmental and socio-economic relationships based on the right to exploit, own, and consume. Civilised culture thus institutionalises discrimination and slavery as it identifies and categorises groups of natural or labour resources. For instance, some human and nonhuman animals become resources for work (any business or academic institution can boast a department of “human resources”); others are depicted as existing for consumption by humans; plants as well as human and nonhuman women become the reproductive “class” responsible for the reproduction of “resources”, etc.

Hierarchical models for socio-economic relations based on this principle of consumption and exploitation are inherently unviable for several reasons. First, such strategies for subsistence disregard the need for diversity and are inherently monocultural. Second, domestication always requires borrowing energy from outside sources in order to force exploitation from “resources” and thus drives an economic culture of deficit. Third, because of this constantly growing deficit, domestication fuels civilisation and ultimately requires to constantly produce more domesticated “resources” than its biosphere can sustain and, at the same time, has to destroy diversity in order to colonise the domesticated resources. Ultimately, domestication yields settlements that grow into cities that constantly require new sources of energy: i.e. the mode of subsistence of cities (which are by their nature civilised) relies on a socio-economic model that needs a perpetual expansion of colonised territories in the form of tamed and consumed wilderness, working bodies, and will-less minds.

This paper proposes to examine the epistemological foundation of civilised economies from an anarcho-primitivist perspective as it critiques the ontological root of civilisation and explores how civilised ontology forges a structure for socio-economic and socio-environmental relationships that are based on violence, extermination, and rape, manifesting itself in the current anthropogenic deforestation, acidification of the oceans, mass extinction of biodiversity and species, among others. Finally, it offers insights into why Eurocentric science and philosophy are incapable of addressing these problems and invites to consider critiques from outside the academy and the civilised model.

Paper delivered at:

“Creuser jusqu’où? Les limites de la croissance”

1er colloque du CRITIC 13 mai 2013 – HEC Montréal Salle « Banque de Développement du Canada »


10h: Mot de bienvenue et introduction du colloque


10h15: Les habits neufs de l’extractivisme

•Ariane Gobeil : Vers un néo-extractivisme à la québécoise ?

•Chantal Gailloux : Les Organismes de Coopération Internationale au service de l’industrie minière

•Philippe Blackburn : Exploitation des ressources naturelles et urgences humanitaires en Afrique Centrale


11h45 : Pause déjeuner


12h45 : Remises en question de la marchandisation de la planète

•Charles Beaudoin : Industrie minière et contestation populaire. Le cas de Sept-Îles

•Martin Hébert : Les temps de crise ouvrent-ils les esprits ? Réflexions sur le secteur forestier québécois au terme d’une décennie de tourmente

•Paul Sabourin : Croissance économique ou décroissance économique : le degré zéro d’une appropriation sociale de l’économie


14h15 : Pause café14h30 : Quelles alternatives à l’exploitation industrielle de la nature ?

•Jonathan Durand-Folco : Les trois significations du Plan vert : modernisation ou dépassement du capitalisme ?

•Émilie Bernier : « Pour la ruine du monde ».  Les ambivalences de la métaphysique moderne de l’agir

•Layla AbdelRahim : Qu’est-ce que l’économie civilisée? Recherche sur le principe ontologique de l’effondrement économique et écologique


16h : Pause café


16h30 : Creuser jusqu’où ? Synthèse et poursuite des discussions

•Table ronde avec Serge Mongeau, Jacques Fortin et Alain Deneault

17h30 : Fin du colloque



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