Thursday, February 29 2024

By permission of his author, Fabrice Hadjadj, we reproduce
the English translation of the article originally published by


Avvenire.

Romanticism developed simultaneously with the industrial revolution. At
first glance, it seemed in reaction to it: against the logical rigor of the
Enlightenment, romanticism proclaims the mystery of the starry night sky;
against the rationalization of social relations, it exalts passion, love at
first sight, the unpredictable encounter that challenges institutions.

So man and woman do not so much find their fulfillment in the family, which
is too institutional, as does the couple that elopes to a desert island to
subsist on love and fresh water.

Wagner composed Tristan und Isolde in 1865, the year when the
Chicago and North Western Transportation Company, and the Roman Railway
Company, were founded. Nothing seemed in greater contrast to clatter of
locomotives than the infinite melody of the lonely and cursed lovers.

And yet motorization and romance found a certain affinity in the heart of
Adolf Hitler, who in his youth was prepared to go for days without eating,
just to view Tristan one more time…

It is therefore just of a case of reaction? Or is there perhaps a more
fundamental link, certain complicity, between the romantic vision of love
and the industrialization of production?

Romance presents the love affair between man and woman as out of this
world. It is “you and I”, “me and you”, and no matter if it is in the city
or in the countryside, in a building or on a raft.

The ark that Noah embarks on with his family and all the land bearing
animals loses its emblematic value. Even on the Titanic – above all on the
Titanic – the lovers continue to love. As the vessel descends into the
depths, their love expands ever greater – becoming as wide and deep as the
ocean – just before drowning …

It is not my intention to question this wonder, and not just because I fear
the wrath of romantic young girls.

Love, in its grace, is an event that somehow creates its own conditions of
possibility. How many stories testify to love at first sight, upsetting
every plan and every destiny?

In the novel 1984, when Winston and Julia fall in love for the first time
in the middle of a clearing, outside the reaches of Big Brother: “Their embrace had been a battle – writes Orwell –

orgasm, a victory. It was a blow to the Party. It was a political act”.

The union of man and woman is so natural that it shakes the heavy
artificial construction. It has its origin – the freshness of a spring in
the midst of the desert. After all, if God created the world out of love,
you have to think that every true love is in some way the front to the
world and the power to renew it.

Our love depends on its creation, on its environment. To believe in human
love above all material conditions would fall into serious spiritualist
heresy.

Even a life of love and fresh water needs at least fresh water, drinking
water – an ever rarer commodity to be purified and sold by private
companies.

When the air is poisonous, it is impossible to say: “I love you.” And
without a house in which to live together it is impossible for the act of
love to overcome the illusion and disillusion of orgasm.

Julia and Winston know that that moment isolated away from the totalitarian
world, to carry out their relationship in real life, they need a favorable
retreat, and this is why it is eventually shattered, to the point where
they don’t recognize it any more.

In his great novel The Elementary Particles, Michel Houellebecq
casts this terrible sentence on the love of the characters of Michel and
Annabelle: ”

In the midst of Western suicide, it was clear that the two had no hope.
They continued to see each other once or twice a week. Annabelle went
to a gynecologist and began to take the pill

.”( Houellebecq, 237)This last observation refers to an earlier passage in
the book that evokes the legalization of contraception in France and its
relationship with a company subject to the techno-economic paradigm: “On 14
December 1967, the National Assembly adopted in first reading the Neuwirth
law on the legalization of contraception; although not yet reimbursed by
the Health System, the pill was now freely sold in pharmacies. From that
time, large sections of the population, and not just the social and
economic elite and artists, had access to sexual liberation. It is
interesting to note that the “sexual revolution” was sometimes portrayed as
a communal utopia, whereas in fact it was simply another stage in the
historical rise of individualism. As the lovely word “household” suggests,
the couple and the family would be the last bastion of primitive communism
in liberal society. The sexual revolution was to destroy these intermediary
communities, the last to separate the individual from the market. The
destruction continues to this day” ( Houellebecq, 116)

If for Houellebecq “ménage” (family/household) is a “fitting word”, it is
precisely because the family ménage (prepare, order – in French) a place
that is resistant to the generalized commodification of reality

It generates children, transmits uses and savoir-faire, it produces goods
that do not belong directly to the monetary exchange or technological
innovation.

More or less this is what it did. In the French national accounts there is
the category of “ménages” of which it is stated that, from now on, “the
main function is consumption.”

The father must forgo his position to the expert, the mother to the market.
Education is delegated to specialists of new pedagogies. The same
generation requires the services of biotechnological industries. Parents
are just employees who pay baby-sitters and professional educators, but the
children already appear as free individuals and future self-made men.

On another page of The Elementary Particles, Bruno explains to his
brother why he is unable to have a relationship with his son, who spends
all his time on video games: “Having

children, once again, involved the transmission of a state, of rules,
assets. And this mainly within the upper class, but not only among
traders, farmers, artisans, all social classes into practice. Today
this does not exist anymore: I am employed and I rent, what can I pass
on to my son? I have no job to teach him, even don’t even know what he
could be when he grows up; and, anyway, for him the rules that I knew I
will no longer be valid, will live in another universe. Accept the
ideology of constant change means accepting that the life of a man is
strictly reduced to its individual existence, and that the past and
future generations have no more importance in his eyes. That’s how we
live. To have a child no longer has any meaning for a man

.” ( Houellebecq, 168)

In a later chapter, the same character tells his friend Christiane: ”

The things that surround me, that I use and that feed me, I am unable
to produce myself, nor even able to understand their production
process. If the industry should crash, if the engineers and the
technicians were to suddenly disappear, I would not be able to
participate even minimally to a fresh start. Cut off from the
economic-industrial complex, I would not even able to ensure my
survival, I would not know how to feed myself, how to dress, how to
protect myself from the weather; my personal technical expertise is
abundantly less than that of Neanderthal

” ( Houellebecq, 201-202)

Forgive me for quoting so extensively from a novelist I consider one of the
finest analysts of our time. His contemplations are a perfect introduction
to what I would like us to try and develop together.

Houellebecq retains a very romantic vision of the man – woman relationship,
but he realizes that such a vision is not just a reaction: it is also
connected to the techno-economic world.

To believe that lovers can fulfil their love under any material
circumstances, and then, in spite of themselves accomplices of the material
conditions imposed on them and eventually consuming them.

Above all, it is to represent their love outside domestic fecundity, or
represent the family exclusively as a collection of people who love each
other beyond any economic, and political aspect, and not as a given at the
same time natural and cultural that makes up the economic domain and forms
the basis of society.

From the moment the community of man and woman is no longer regarded as an oikos, and then, as the building block of first the economy and
stability, from the moment it is seen as a separate love from social
structures, that same state, and its essential purpose, unravels.

It is reduced to a society of passionate and fleeting encounters between
two wage earners (the romance, I repeat, is based on the advent of
employment). And this company is based, for better or worse, for moral
voluntarism, as in apnoea, a fidelity that is primarily an effort to honor
a contract, but that no longer corresponds to the reality of a common
tackling of shared daily tasks.

Rather than being dramatic openness to life, it becomes an element of the
total entertainment, an escape from the anxiety of emptiness and death.

What I am trying to say is intended to challenge two common errors: one
regarding the defence of the family, the other that of the natural
environment, since these two defences are divided between them or even give
themselves over each other.

The first mistake is to defend the family in “zero gravity”, regardless of
its relationship with the land, a house, a job, an economy. This error is
common among Christians, more romantic than roman.

They denounce, for example, such ideology as gender studies as if it were
merely an ideological struggle, and that gender studies was a cause of harm
and not just a symptom.

In return, they forget to criticize the techno-economic system, and even
come to terms with it while it is the techno-economic system, more than
just gays and lesbians, can be found the origin of the denial of gender and
the sexes.

Ivan Illich stresses in his 1983 book, The Gender Vernacular: “An
industrial society can exist only by imposing a unisex postulate: the sexes
are made for the same work, perceive the same reality and have the same
needs – the dress is only a negligible difference.”

It states in a footnote: “Historians, including those who study economic
ideas, have not noticed that the disappearance of this kind creates the
subject of economic science. […] The new definition of man as a subject
and a customer of a ‘disembedded’ economy(detached from social relations –
see Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation) has a history. […]
the institutional identity of the homo economicus excludes the
kind. It is a Neutrum oeconomicum. The disappearance of the genre
is as a matter of basic history of scarcity or rarity, and institutions
that structure it. ”

Illich speaks of an institutionalization of scarcity in the techno-economic
world, because this world starts from the principle that goods are scarce
and competition is needed, the competitiveness of which involves
competition of the subjects and objects of innovation.

The family in its essential reality, is the enemy of this device:
innovation opposes transmission; competition, complementarity; and
ultimately scarcity, which coincides in fact with the frustration before
the monstrance of the publicity, the family opposes the amazement in front
of the simple life, around a table, to share the fruit of the work of our
hands, to tell the stories of yesterday and today, to fight for a common
future rather than for sales.

It is therefore necessary, if we do not stop at an ambiguous romance or a
moralism, thinking the man-woman relationship as a relationship or founding
exchange for the economy.

Such environmentalism already operates under the domain of the
techno-economic paradigm, and only strengthens the technologism it would
like to fight.

It begins with a desire to protect the trees, but you end up with your eyes
glued on some measuring tool. Moreover, this is technologism that by
departing from the true nature, makes us dream of a perfect nature of
landscape-background and a fraternity between prey and predator worthy of
Walt Disney: even here, the romantic dream of the return to the virgin
forest is the product of Industrial Revolution.

The fleeing of Tristan and Isolde into the forest of Morrois is so admired
because everyday couples don’t know how to do much more push a trolley
through jungle of products, fetching a banana from a supermarket shelf
mimicking the Paleolithic act of hunting and gathering – provided of course
that you have the cash and have agro-food industry.

The great drama of such environmentalism, however, is that it forgets the
nature from which it derives. Not nature in the sense of a panda or seal,
but in our rational animal body, particularly through sexuality. The
pregnant woman is both more human and more mammal than ever: it is here
that the bond with all living things is most manifested. Of course, a
pregnancy can never bear an iPhone 8 but has borne one Steve Jobs, which is
much more impressive.

The family shows nature in its ability to generate engineers, and this
should humble them a little. The nature of the rest draws its name from
birth (nature derives from nascor, “born”): more than the bloom of
a flower, the flowering of a face that shows us a stronger spring, in its
renewal, than of all the technological innovations.

Finally, take care of the mother and little, feed them, protect them, takes
us away from the robot, but at the same time brings us closer to grey
pelican, and to St. Joseph, as if animality and spirituality could not grow
in us that keeps.

So concrete ecology has a duty to be human ecology is not first of all
because the man has a dignity that distinguishes him from the animals, but
because man is the first animal, the first nature with which we are in
relationship, and it is low by the arrival of this first nature that our
care may extend, so to speak, of course to the other natures.

The two previous errors, that of a family protected outside of any economy,
and that of ecology defended outside of any family, brings us back to the
common roots of the words “economy” and “ecology”: oikos – oikia that which
in Greek means “hearth and home”, “house”, “home”, “family”.

Today, when we talk about ecology, it operates a formidable manipulation,
as if someone has claimed to be winemaker and, instead of discussing the
flavour of a wine, proposes a business plan to increase the earnings of a
winery. This perspective is useful; but loses sight of the essential thing,
that of the wine itself, with its colour and its bouquet of aromas, the
wine that maketh glad the heart of man (Ps 103,15). If the
definition respected etymology, if the winemaker was interested in wine,
ecology would not be the science of the natural balance of the ecosystem,
but a speech about the adventure of human sexuality.

Scientific ecology, and the political ecology from which it is derived, try
limit industrial development, but these limits are thought to derive from
liberal principles of scarcity and competition that are the same as for
industrial development: better managing the pool of “resources” allocated
by the “planet”, and ensuring that the individual freedoms of some don’t
impact on those of others – present or future.

To think of limits in this way is to perceive them in a constructivist
manner, beginning with the consistency of a theoretical system and a plan.
But the object of a genuine, complete, ecology is to think of limits from a
natural substrate perspective. This substrate is human sexuality. It is
that of the animal and the vegetable that which is even closer, that of our
own flesh. Those who busy themselves protecting the guinea pig and the
rose, – but in don’t first protect the capricious guinea pig or the thorny
rose in their own back yard,

forget the place where ecology is given as a personal vocation and not as
an ideology.

Xenophon wrote a dialogue entitled The Economist: A treatise on
the science of the household in the form of a dialogue (What it is, for him
and for the Ancients? The “right to administer their own household
assets.)” The phrase sounds redundant in Greek since it says εὖ οἰκεῖν τὸν
ἑαυτοῦ οἶκον (well oikare their oikos) or to put it in French “bien ménager
son ménage.”

We note in passing that the French word “ménage” had the same economic
bent: in the sixteenth century, ‘management’ was the French translation of
the Greek term for “economy.” The origin of management concerned “the form
and way of governing honestly and profitably something domestic”; something
that everyone knows instinctively when for example, their in-laws come to
stay: enormous managerial skills are essential.

In the first book of his Economics, Aristotle writes: “The
economy, by its origin, precedes politics; his work is the family and the
family is an essential part of the state.” This sentence of the first book
is proof that the second book is apocryphal: the second book in fact
invented the term “political economy”, destined to great fortune after Adam
Smith.

Now political economy is clearly, according to the previous quote, a
contradiction, and above all usurpation. Through it the state will retain
the power that properly belongs to the family, the state confiscates its
ability to operate, reduces it exactly to a proletariat. The term
“proletarian” is in fact from ‘proles’, offspring, and refers to those who
have no other wealth than their sons and their daughters, in expectation
that the industry will be able to deprive them of even this ultimate power
and manufacture their own children.

Aristotle continued his defining work, stating, “the parts of the family (oikia) are man (anthropos) and possession ( ktèsis). The term “man” is generic: meaning the man, the woman,
the children, grandparents and servants. As for the word κτῆσίς, here
translated as “possession”, it designates at the same time the ownership
and wealth, but both of them as fruits of a work that can be acquired or
conserved. Then Aristotle cites a verse of the great founding poet: “You
could say with Hesiod, you first need a house, then a woman and an ox for
ploughing, because the house (oikos) is a primordial condition for
the existence and the rest is what the stature of the free men” (Aristotle, Economici, I, 2, 1343a)

The free man here is not the bachelor, but the husband of a woman, freed
from its individualism and its sterility. And the woman is placed between
the house and the oxen for ploughing. Feminists and romantics might be
indignant. Yet Hesiod expresses perfectly what is involved in the man –
woman relationship as primeval ecology. A man does not welcome only a woman
in his arms; he should welcome her into a home. And she must be able to
ensure the livelihood for themselves, for their children and for elderly
parents thanks to the working ox, namely through agriculture, livestock and
small craft, because love immediately demand food, clothing, housing. To go
to bed with someone requires doing so somewhere, and loving someone
undoubtedly provokes intense and passionate emotions, but also at a very
base level to clothe and dress it. Even divine love implies these basic
facts: the sign that Christ loves us is that it gives us also as Bread.

It’s unpleasant to see young people who love each other and abruptly,
because the romance has not adequately prepared them, discover that their
love involves a whole economy. Certainly they perceive this as a failure.
But the original failure is the contrary to become a couple with no
economy: decline, for Adam and Eve, was the loss of that Eden which they
had been raised to cultivate and maintain. (Gen 2,5:15). Their union
implied a garden. Domestic life was not limited to the lounge and dining
room. It demanded a field.

But from when the economy is in the dispersion of the family and in its
submission to office work, you can understand why the need for young lovers
to settle down may appear a failure.

The question of economics is reduced merely to finances. The oikos
is diminished to an apartment and then further reduced to the consumption
of mass produced goods – the ironing of ready-to-wear clothes while
watching American TV – and it is truly impossible to truly manage a family
or be the patriarch of a family. It is normal to think that a woman is
emancipated while working for a boss, and that a man, in his own machismo,
is happy to leave the place, having had the time to convince himself about
the liberating character of office work.

Virgil guided Dante through hell and led him to purgatory. If he returned
today, it would probably be to navigate through shopping centres and lead
him to a field. I say this not only because I imagine that hell procures
for its inhabitants excellent navigation systems that save them from every
having to ask directions. I say this also because the celebrated bliss of
Virgil: Felix here potuit cognoscere causas, “Happy is he who is
able to know the causes of things” is not found in a treatise on philosophy
and even in the Aeneid, when the hero falls down to Tartarus, but
in the Georgics celebrating agriculture (the poetic verse draws
from the rest of its name from the Latin versus which first designates the
action of turning the plow at the end of the furrow).

Why do farmers know the causes before metaphysicists? It is the author of Metaphysics, Aristotle, who confirms Virgil. The Aristotelian
definition the economy is focused on the family and possessions, and the
first possession is provided by agriculture; therefore, according to
Aristotle marriage and working in the fields cannot be dissociated: “The
economy must regulate human relations with his woman and that is to
determine the nature of those relationships. In care of the possessions you
have to follow the order of nature. Now, according to that order, the art
of agriculture is first of all the others; then, are the activities that
extract the riches from the soil, such as mining, metallurgy, etc. But
agriculture is greater in the order of justice; because it is not exercised
by men as an arbitrary profession, like that of the hosts and mercenaries,
either as a forced profession, like that of warriors. Add to this that
agriculture is greater in the order of nature; because the mother provides
all natural food; and the common mother to all men, is the land. ” (Idem, op. cit., 1343 a et b).

Where the rest of us postmodernists put business over any other activity,
the Ancients placed agriculture, probably because they knew better than
anyone the legend of King Midas and the inability to eat gold or money. For
them, agriculture was the noblest of professions. In De Officiis,
Cicero wrote: ” or of all gainful professions, nothing is better, nothing
more pleasing, nothing more delightful, nothing better becomes a well-bred
man than agriculture.

“Unbecoming to a gentleman, too, and vulgar are the means of livelihood of
all hired workmen whom we pay for mere manual labour, not for artistic
skill; for in their case the very wage they receive is a pledge of their
slavery.” (De officiis, XLII, 150-151).

We have lost the habit of seeing in a farmer as a free and noble man,
because we made the farmer an industry and a commercial merchant, a beggar
of grants, chemical fertilizers, transgenic seeds, which fears not so much
the uncertainty of the weather as that the global stock market of raw
materials. In France, nothing seems more difficult than the profession of
farming, and the suicide rate is very high. However, as noted by
Chesterton: “The failure of a turnip farmer in Sussex is often reduced to
whether or not they can be sold, not about eating them.” ( Outline of sanity, III, 3).Now, it is above all of this that it is
here, not an agricultural exploitation incardinated in international trade,
but of an agrarian culture that ensures the subsistence of the families or
of the association of families that is the village.

In the eyes of Aristotle and Cicero, the farmer is not a link in the
agro-industrial food chain. It is the first right and the first knowledge
of nature, and therefore a cause, in an experimental and non-conceptual
way. Agriculture appears as the first justice because it produces food
without which a man’s offspring could not live, and you know that Aristotle
is not afraid to begin his Metaphysics with that common sense peasant who
makes him say: Primum live deinde philosophari, first live, then
philosophise (the philosophy that ensures its contemplative character that
goes beyond profit) (Aristotele, Metafisica, I, 2, 982 b).

Agriculture is not only the first right activity but it is also the
first-adjusted activity for nature, one that is “more natural order”
because it pushes us to operate from a generosity that precedes our
ingenuity. This is why we see intuitively the physical cause and the
metaphysical cause, and because generosity is not ours (the growth of the
pumpkin is still not completely work of engineers) and because it is
precarious (the time and yield can be poor). The culture of pumpkins,
according to Virgil, leads to the worship of the gods: “You gods protectors
of the peasants […] hand your gifts […] and if not you cry the rain
with prayers, alas! In vain will you look high yield of another and will
console hunger in the woods shake the oak!” (Virgilio, op. cit.,
I, 10-12 et 157-158).

The first exchange will not happen among men, through trade, but between
man and nature, that is, between the man and the woman and between man and
the earth (after all, as we saw with Aristotle, earth and mother tend to
exchange attributes, because the one and the other are the bearers of a
fertility and a food that we are not the authors). If the economy relates
to the exchange of wealth, it must consider first of all the first exchange
said earlier.

Lose sight of is losing the elementary knowledge of things and rely
entirely on a system where wealth is reduced to a salary and life is
brought to you by technology.

Chesterton noted on words of Virgil: “What is wrong with the modern man
living in modern cities, is that it ignores the causes; and that’s why, as
very rightly said the poet, can be subjugated by tyrants and demagogues. He
does not know where things come; it is similar to that employee who says he
loves the milk coming out of a clean shop and not a dirty cow. More
sophisticated is the organization of the city in which he lives, the more
sophisticated is the instruction he has received, and less resembles the
man happy to Virgil that he knew the cause of things. Urban civilization
can be summed up in the number of shops and intermediaries through which
passes the milk from the cow’s udder to the consumer; i.e. the same number
of opportunities to waste milk, cutting it, to alter it, to poison him and
end up cheating the consumer”( G.K. Chesterton, op. cit.).

Objections may be made that among all these intermediaries there are also
doctors and dieticians who strive to enforce strict health standards. It
will also be added that mass distribution allows one to have immediately at
hand a carton of milk, and that is not very convenient to go every morning
to milk a cow before going to the office. But this is the biggest scam, not
the fact that the milk is adulterated or that it is sold below the right
price, but we do not know the time and the patience and the work and
rewards that are needed to achieve these things, the fact that we eat
slices of ham without ever having had the goodness to nourish and to care
for a pig nor the courage to bring it down with sadness and gratitude.

The techno-economic world ushered in an apparent immediacy of which the
only visible mediation is money. We press buttons, pull out the credit
card, and hop! We get the baby food warmed and ready to eat. The point is
that this world mainly promotes the instinctual relationships. And thus it
becomes normal, in this context, that the male-female relationship, ripped
his oikos and subjected to the supermarket, would be rendered in
itself prey to impulses, impatience and the next new thing.

The oikos is both the place of the family and work in the fields because it is the place of the relationship with the origin, with natural causes. This is the sense in which one can speak of the family as the basic cell of society. Not only because it produces the children, i.e. prospective employees of multinational corporations, in which case it would only be a proletariat in the strict sense; but why is it that you play the articulation of nature and culture, and therefore a technical and economic model that does not crush, but welcomes and celebrates the natural datum. The midwife is honoured more than specialist orthogenetics. The farmer will figure as the most important banker.

It is at this point that it becomes clear the relationship between the
so-called gay marriage and industrial hegemony. I do not deny that a man
can be in love with another man. But the big difference with the love
between a man and a woman is that this homophile love is antifisico (against phisics?), (to quote an adjective of the
Prince de Ligne, a friend of Casanova) or spiritualistic, or sophisticated.

It is love that is perfectly appropriate for the living conditions imposed
by the innovation and the baby factory in test tubes. I would say that it
is the apotheosis of romanticism. Conversely, when a man loves a woman,
there are in play only his individual desire or his private fantasies with
his human desire he animalises all his sexual impulses: the lust of the
wolf and grouse, the wedding dance of the fiddler crab, the parade of the
porcupine, the puffer fish who makes rosettes of sand to seduce his mate
… This union with the other sex conceals a commonality with plants and
animals it is a grace that specifically confers on man his cosmic
dimension.

Marriage is a cultural thing par excellence, because it takes care of
nature in an accurate word, because it builds on a natural dynamism, and
not, like technocrats, based on the application of a theory. In this sense,
marriage is integral to a healthy economy and the ecology principle,
provided that it is self-conscious in retaining their autonomy, remaining
the first place of production and not just a place for commercial
consumption, renewing the alliance with the garden, the farm and the
vegetable garden.

Some people will not hesitate to judge me as overly nostalgic or utopian.
Have I not taken the old model? Envisioned a possibility going in the
opposite direction to our society? Probably yes. But nostalgia is not
always bad, if you miss something that was genuinely good. And the utopia
can be good if it prevents us from resigning ourselves to something
harmful.

First of all, I do not want to return to ancient Greek or Roman times. For
one thing, their vision of the world rested in large part on slavery as
well as a beginning of the exaltation of the specialist role. In his
statement, Xenophon is not afraid to make Socrates say that an expert in
economics might be better than a family to rule the house in exchange for a
salary (Xenophon, op. cit., I, 3.).

From the Greeks and Romans, I have only kept what seems human, ageless.

But what is true is that ebbing away of what is human tempts our age. In
this climate, the charge of utopia is turned on its head – no longer
condemning those who envision a future ideal and futuristic, but that which
resembles a completely real and ancient world.

The post-human being of our time will tell us that it is absolutely
impossible to be a carpenter, or winemaker, or farmer. Such things are
truly unthinkable, meanwhile it is possible to come across a cyborg on any
street corner or use a computer touch screen. This kind of utopianism I’m
willing to embark upon – because it is simple humanity in the times of
ultra-sophistication. And even more so is that of the Holy Family – the Agia oikogeneia. The family of Nazareth embodies completely the
whole oikos of which I speak, and my own originality is to show
that it is not only an icon of holiness, but also an example of a healthy
economy.

In conclusion, I would just briefly summarize our journey. Ivan Illich
states that the “unisex postulate” is “the decisive anthropological feature
that distinguishes our time from all the others” and connects this
postulate of the axiology of the techno-economic paradigm.

We have concluded that the man-woman relationship cannot take place without
challenging this paradigm and around it reorganize the oikos
capable of sustaining it against every “romantic individualism” – in the
words of Pope Francis.

The family then appears as the hard centre of the integral ecology, because
in the first place where nature opens the wonder and careful practice,
through the conjugal relationship and procreation; but we have also
insisted that the strength of this base depends on a re-appropriation by
the economic ability of the family to enjoy what they produce while the
commercial economy is expected to have only a complementary role and not
exclusive.

I’m not apologising for the Amish. I’ll gather in particular the theses of
English distributism, supported in the early twentieth century by
Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc. Distributism, equal distance from communism
and capitalism, wanted to prolong the encyclical Rerum Novarum
defending the small family-owned, by pooling assets among households, the
reintroduction of small agricultural parcels and craftsmen guilds. The aim
was that there was less capitalism and capitalists. Because the problem is
not primarily that of the distribution of assets or equity of salaries, but
the distribution of the same capital and subsidiarity of the means of
production.

We are no longer in the days of Rerum Novarum, but to those of Laudato si’ (‘praise be yours’). The question has taken on another
dimension, and it is a fight not merely against not becoming inhuman, but
also to remain human, on a still habitable earth, and one which is worthy
of being celebrated as in the Georgics.

Pope Francis notes that “environmental degradation and human and ethical
degradation are intimately connected” and that “anything that is fragile,
like the environment, remains defenceless against the interests of the
market deified, transformed into absolute rule” ( Evangelii Gaudium, n. 56).

Now the reception of what is fragile and natural which is realized
principally in the family through a newborn who reawakens the drama both
joyful and painful, of humanity.

This newborn, in his own vulnerability, orders us to care for creation,
there in the cradle between the ox and the donkey. The little one in the
manger first adored by the shepherds. What is needed is the ark, and not
the Titanic. A reinvention of the oikos and that, which invites an
ecological harvest, is not an ideology but our daily bread.

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