Ernst[Section VI of Henri Lefebvre’s De l’État, vol. 1, 1976]

“The least that can be said today is that in the ‘system of states’, the presumed rationality of each member is reversed into its opposite. Some would refer to this ‘international system’ as a contradictory structure. Perhaps this formulation simply signifies a moving and relatively unstructured hierarchy of contradictions. In fact, once it has any force, contradiction opposes itself to structure and makes it explode. Whatever its theoretical definition may be, this system threatens the planet with death. Deicide, parricide, matricide, regicide, genocide and ethnocide are followed, in this escalation of crimes, by a crime of unprecedented amplitude. To proclaimed ends and innumerable murders we can now add terricide (thus named by J.-C. Lambert in the journal Opus International, issue 50).

Like a gigantic Easter Island, planetary space is limned with colossal forms, monstrous and fascinating statues, which contrast with the smallness of those who erected them. What spectacle for those galactic travellers whose landing has aroused so many imaginings!

Should we be shocked, morally indignant? A liberal and moral contestation, that of the ‘citizen against power’ (the title of a book by the philosopher Alain), may regard itself as profound, but it represents only the protestantism of the State. No. The first task is knowledge: to take as our object, not only the State, but also and especially the world system of States – to the extent that there is a system.

The planet only comes into existence when it is put into question: the terrestrial only becomes world when it is menaced, through uncertainty and the absence of a prefabricated fate. The philosopher will say that the planet, to deserve its name – which means wandering [errance] – must run the risk of destruction, and that man, to affirm himself, traverses his self-negation, his auto-destruction. So that the possible is only attained through this ordeal, and the world revolution and planetary death rub shoulders in the game of the world (K. Axelos). Death spreads its kingdom to the stars and the galaxies: and the will to live can only unfold on this background, by refusing the will to death.”


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2 Responses to Terricide

  1. stuartelden says:

    I used the very same passage as the basis for a paper given at the RGS-IBG last year – audio recording here http://progressivegeographies.com/2013/09/02/terricide-rgs-ibg-audio-available/ The paper was developed into a short chapter for a collection forthcoming with Punctum.

  2. savonarola77 says:

    Look forward to reading / listening to it. Thanks, Stuart.

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