infrastructure, the cement of capitalism | EUROtoday

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Ecological pondering is formulated in waves. After that of dwelling issues, manufacturing is as of late specializing in the materiality of the world. Criticism of the vitality transition, family tree of manufacturing, mining query… This already supplied program was lacking Accumulate concrete, lay out roads (La Fabrique, 304 pages, 18 euros), sensible essay by Nelo Magalhaes which traces the environmental historical past of the big transport infrastructures inbuilt France since 1945. The researcher on the Institute of Environmental Transition dissects the workings of this “monumental production of space” shaped by this set of highways, canals, quarries and waste, which has transfigured the face of the French territory in a couple of a long time.

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This story hides a number of: area isn’t solely bodily, it freezes social relationships. Inheriting the most effective of the essential custom, Nelo Magalhaes subsequently embarks on a historical past that’s without delay materials, technical and ideological. In this entanglement lies the capital gesture of this physician in arithmetic and economics, who repoliticizes a topic so lengthy left to specialists, whose false neutrality coats the modernizing dogma carried by industrial pursuits. Two dizzying figures sum up this gigantism: since 1945, 20 gigatons of gravel and 10 cubic gigameters of earth and sediment have been set in movement. “At the same time as it has modified the atmosphere, capitalism has transformed the earth's topography. »

“Ordinary extractivism”

The astonishing density of his essay, sourced from seven hundred notes, first traces the technical historical past of those achievements primarily based on “megamachines”. From highway geotechnics to the event of hydraulic lime, “cementing of France” to the overall thickening of the community, Nelo Magalhaes unfolds a meticulous materials historical past, on which he makes use of essential instruments. “To abstract the soil is to destroy it” : these dynamics are captured by repatriating notions used for unique territories. France is pockmarked with a “ordinary extractivism”which scars its soil and violates the social physique, like a logistics primarily based on a “unequal ecological exchange”which sucks up distant sources whereas externalizing the injury.

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This concrete world subsequently cements dominations. The rematerialization proposed by Nelo Magalhaes is clearly impressed by the well-known creator of The Production of Space (1974), the Marxist thinker Henri Lefebvre. But this story isn’t just within the rearview mirror: Accumulate concrete, lay out roads assumes its explosiveness. First, by posing in an mental battle: the essay ends with a frontal critique of Care of issues (La Découverte, 2022), by Jérôme Denis and David Pontille, and the idea of “ecological redirection” worn by Diego Landivar. Then, by claiming to hunt to strengthen the software program of present struggles. “The Uprisings of the Earth are Lefebvrian”, says the creator. Will they be quickly “magalhaesians” ?

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https://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2024/06/25/accumuler-du-beton-tracer-des-routes-les-infrastructures-ciment-du-capitalisme_6243470_3232.html