Erenlai - Nicolas Pagnier (班尼可)
Nicolas Pagnier (班尼可)

Nicolas Pagnier (班尼可)

Founding Member of Utopia, a Left Political movement which crosses parties and civil society.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011 17:44

Fukushima …and then?

Nicolas Pagnier is a member of the Utopia office ( Following the Fukushima disaster in March and eRenlai's June Focus which looked in detail at the growing anti-nuclear movement in Taiwan, Nicolas feels concerned that governments and corporations in nuclear power will continue to operate business as usual. This article takes on the arguments of the pro-nuclear side one by one, before introducing the negaWatt scenario as a sustainable alternative, which would allow for an end to nuclear power in France (the most nuclear consuming country in the world) within 30 years. Article translated from French by Nick Coulson.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009 00:00

Beyond our Needs and our Desires: Consumption

Beyond economic reality, society suffers today from a deep disenchantment of the world that one could even call an identity crisis. Today, we put forward the individual and not the collective as if the material successes of each one could create happiness for all. Then consumption loses its first finality which is to meet our needs. We finally all consume because others consume. Paradoxically, the models of success conveyed by the media and publicity always put the exception and the performance ahead. It seems necessary to consume to be distinguished, to see its success and difference. A famous French adman has said recently that “if, at fifty, you do not own a Rolex, it means that you have failed your life”. Beyond the cynical message conveyed by this image of success, this logic of claiming one’s identity from consumption is also doomed because our consumption goods are by essence meant to be consumed, to be replaced: the brand new Rolex supposed to represent our success will probably be out-of-date and replaced by a newer model a couple of months later.


We simply forget why we consume and also, what we really want. Is our vocation to consume more and more? As I grew up in a developed country, I have always been supported and surrounded by a society of consumption. I have been incessantly encouraged to consume until consumption in itself became a wish and then a need. The logic of needs, natural at first, has spread to all human desires. Society grasps all of our desires, transform them into needs and then organise the collective production to comply with them.


Isn’t it time to reconsider the economic development model which had lead to the current crisis? Capitalism, since this is what it is all about, if proved to be reliable in creation of wealth, has also showed its incapacity to take into account the environmental, social or ethical dimensions. There is an urgency to define an ’alterdevelopment’ which would be a development radically different from that of today, a plural development of our societies which could propose the exemption from payment, unconditional access to rights, a new relation to time, an alter-globalisation and ecologist step. And alterdevelopment involves a reflexion on a division of relational goods, services with the people, service to the repair of goods (rather than to produce goods of which the lifespan is becoming increasingly short), of cultural and associative activities. Consumption must indeed be related to the aspiration for a better quality of life, and not with an unlimited accumulation of goods, illusory promises of happiness. The objective is to think of consumption in a new way, to put it back in a model of development which should be more accurately, respectful of the environment and, most of all, in phase with our true needs.


Photo by C. Phiv

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