International Relations at The Time of Gaia-Politics?

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    • 00:00


    • 00:16

      BRUNO LATOUR: While popping up in international relationsis certainly unexpected, and it would surprise enormouslymy friends at my own school in Pariswho are also calling international relationssomething entirely unrelated to what you do here.The title of the conference has been discussed

    • 00:36

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: by many other people who gave talks since this morning,but for me it works perfectly.Because if there is one topic whichis failure and denial in politics,is the world itself and how difficult itis to have been absorbed into politics that had been denied.And I think it's fair to say that until now it's

    • 00:59

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: a complete failure to absorb it into politics.I will make four different points,since we are a very diverse audienceand I don't know what would interest you.So I chose four topics which are related.Each of them is a different style of argument.One of them is a sort of philosophical, political

    • 01:21

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: philosophic question about the State of NatureAnd I will use State of Nature with a capital S and capital N,except if I say that it reminds you of a Hobbessense of state of nature.Then I will give an example, because we are a few months--actually two months-- before the Climate Conference in Paris.And I think it's interesting to take it

    • 01:42

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: as an example of the difficulty of the denialand failure of world politics.Especially around the question of a climate.But then I also want in the third pointto try to interest you-- and to get your feedbackin the discussion-- around the question of visualizationof overlapping territories.Sovereignty has been-- of course, by definition-- means

    • 02:05

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: not much in world politics.If you take seriously the world, climate and waterand everything else, and yet we have an enormous difficultyin visualizing it.And I'd like to know where you are in your field,you are doing-- standing on that.And then I want the sort of final point, whichis to try to decode or debrief an experiment we

    • 02:26

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: did in Paris in May.And some of the students from LSEwere there, including one of the men,a millennium gentleman called Scott, who is here--was in the simulation.And I wanted to see if it exploredsome of the possible alternativesto the denial and failure of my own talk.So the first part is an argument around,

    • 02:49

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: why is it so difficult to talk about nature, let's say,inside politics.A topic which has interested me for the last 25 years,since I began to take ecology seriously as politics.And it's quite complicated, but ithas been made enormously more complicated and simultaneously

    • 03:11

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: easier by the introduction of the word Anthropocene.Among scientists and geologists especially.Anthropocene, as I'm sure many of youknow, but I need to restate those principals-- is that itis one of a very small moment here, a tiny little figurehere, time, which is an episode in geology,

    • 03:37

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: unexpected, where the framework of history and of worldpolitics, which has been taken forgranted until now-- that is, states and people and nationsand tribes and all sorts of people on earth--which was basically stable, at least in the Holocene,the last little thing there, the last 11,000 years, suddenly,

    • 04:02

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: something changed.And this change was recorded by geologist, sedimentologists,with the word Anthropocene to describea situation where there is no longerhuman on a stable stage-- so to speak--but human on a stage with itself is agitated, active,

    • 04:23

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: working back, reacting back in ways unexpected.Climate being one of them.But of course the acidity of the ocean is another one,and the degradation of the soil isanother one etc and so forth.And they call it-- and it's important to know that it comesfrom geology and not from the philosophy or sociologyor theologian-- called Anthropocene

    • 04:44

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: the word "cene" meaning the new epoch or a new period that'sundecided.And "anthro" being the name of a main geology core force.Now of course for our world politicsit's a complete change because suddenlythe figure of a human, which is illustrated here in a-- it's

    • 05:04

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: not great art but it's quite interesting.But when nature published this article in March 2015they sort of framed under the word human age,a can with-- actually made of sediment, of rocks, of fossils.To describe the arrival into politics

    • 05:28

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: and into anthropology of a being whichis being made of stone, which is a verystrange hybrid between geology and the tradition.And as you can imagine it's difficult to bringthis human made of fossils and sedimentand having an influence as big and bad as volcanoes

    • 05:48

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: and tornadoes and plate tectonics even,inside the usual figure of a citizen.It's a citizen made of stone.Which is very interesting.But what is even more interestingis that on the cover of the same issue of Naturethis person is made-- is given a shape.

    • 06:11

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: Now, again, it's not great art.But it's immensely interesting to see this sort of characterwho, as you see, has no head actually-- not only is blind,but the top of his skull has disappeared.And he is sort of moving without any direction, madeof all these mixtures of things and you

    • 06:32

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: can recognize the atomic bomb here,and nuclear plant and cities.Here you have whole cavities of mining.And here you have, also other things and the caravelof Colom-- somewhere of Christopher Columbusin the middle.So complete sort of invention, that somethingis changing, which [INAUDIBLE] has captured by the word

    • 06:54

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: geohistory.Of which-- I did, I invented the word but in fact neitherof him-- me--So, geohistory means that suddenly the two rhythms,the two active and complicated movementof the history of the earth and the history of humansare no longer placed as a state and someone on the foreground

    • 07:18

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: but as mixed together.Just as a mixed as these characters.And of course it's impossible for peoplein political philosophy not to make the connectionwith this other body politic.Which is of course Hobbes' device and frontispiece, where,as you can see, it has some similarities

    • 07:38

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: to collective bodies made of cactus, territory, technology,war, peace, machine.Except the one on her right is a complete mess.It is a complete uncertainty about what it isand where it leads us.It doesn't have the sort of powerful shape

    • 07:59

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: that Hobbes asked the drawer, the draftsman with-- probably[INAUDIBLE], but we don't know his-- to build this image here.So this one, as you all know, in international relationis the invention of a state.And with the two powers of a-- the force of the Army,

    • 08:22

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: of the police, and one of a bishop.But this one there is where we are.So we are in a situation where all those things are togetherexcept no one has any idea of howthe paths and the different types of sovereigntywill be actually mixed.And it's pretty disturbing to see that it has no head either.

    • 08:46

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: And actually not even a direction,it seems to be a bit like zombie like moving aimlesslyon the stage, which is not very reassuring.But what is sure is that it re-politiciseda mass of events.And of course lots of political scientists are studying that.

    • 09:07

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: I'm sure there are some here, and there are [INAUDIBLE]meeting here who deal with that.This is a picture taken from when I was in New Yorklast year, in 2014, with the first and biggest, apparently,demonstration.And with this very interesting segment in the demonstration,

    • 09:29

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: the demonstration was cut into pieces.Every piece had a struggle.And this one is, of course, an important onebecause it said we know who is responsible.Which is a great argument of the activists tryingto replace the vague idea that it's the entrepreneurs whois responsible for the change of state

    • 09:52

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: of the Earth as a few specific people.As Eduardo Viveiros Castro said, we know the telephone numberand we can call them.They are about 150 big companies who are responsible.But what is interesting is the politicization.So we see that we have simultaneously the world

    • 10:14

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: coming into politics except we don't know where to put it.And it was very striking at the demonstrationto see this line of people tryingto make sense of the politics of climatein the middle of the skyscrapers of New York.It was simultaneously moving and immensely discouragingin terms of the size.

    • 10:38

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: So this is the [INAUDIBLE] of the world politics.Now, it's quite interesting to seea kind of another side, Pope Francis here, latest encyclic,to see that suddenly not only activitiesbut also theologians, and even the Vatican,are moving into this question of the Earth.

    • 10:59

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: With this amazing statement, whichis the beginning of a encyclic Laudato Si!which is taken from Saint Francis' well-known cantique."Praise be to you my lord, in the wordof his beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisireminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we

    • 11:20

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: share our life and a beautiful mother whoopens her arms to embrace us."This is for the talk even this morning about Patriarch--Patriarchy-- it's interesting I've pronounced the wordpatriarchy for the first time in my life I think.But I was pushed by Cynthia to.

    • 11:41

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: But now look at what-- "praise be to you, my lord,through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustainsand govern us."The govern of course is quite funny,"and who produces various fruit with coloured flowersand herbs."Now, at a time when activist and Popes speakof the same question of bringing the earth into politics,

    • 12:01

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: we have to listen seriously.Because it means that something is happening, bringing togethercompletely unrelated bedfellows into something,which is how do we deal with the question of government?What does it mean to have your earth governing?What does it mean to have the earth giving orders,and not being the one taken but the one giving some orders?

    • 12:23

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: Or at least, as the Pope, says crying, [INAUDIBLE]in Latin [INAUDIBLE]Now of course, and here I can go fastbecause this is your topic, there is no world government.The world is not an object of government.

    • 12:44

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: And here I use Gaia to replace geopolitical to remind youthat there is a sort of feminizationof a geo-- in geography, geopolitics etc.But if you replace it by Gaia-- immediately thingsget interesting and troubling because of this questionof who is governing who.

    • 13:05

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: There is no world government, I don't need to insist on that.Nature is not enough to unify either major device, soin spite of the fact that everybody says well ecology isabout nature, once you have said that every single issue isabout dividing and multiplying division.

    • 13:26

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: Climate, cold, oil, water, everything, all the resourcesare actually a topic for division.Science, strangely enough-- and I'msorry to say that here, where I hada great dispute on the same stagehere with Monsieur [INAUDIBLE] many years ago--science doesn't have the capacity to unifying either.

    • 13:47

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: And we realized that when the climate skeptics maintainedtheir argument-- at least to the public, not to us,we scientists-- and tried to sort of shed [INAUDIBLE]and doubt on many of the arguments madeby climatologists, especially the IPCC.But what it should is that it doesn't unify.

    • 14:08

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: It's not because you have a science of climatebut of course the politics and the policy that ensues.Economics might be a candidate, and here weare in the university of Professor Stern,but even we know how economies are divided.So even if everyone appeal to the same power of economy

    • 14:30

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: or the same authority of economy,no two economists agree.And you know the joke about Trumanasking for two armed economists-- or one armeconomists-- because the people advising himor whatever were saying "on the one hand and on the other hand"and he said well give me a one handed economist.

    • 14:52

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: So the question is in fact, before the ecological crisisthe denial of world politics was this tragedy that we wereunder a State of Nature, capital S,capital N. By which I mean a sort of visual arbiter,

    • 15:13

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: written, or rationality, or nature,or the laws of nature-- it didn't matter--invented somewhere in the 17th century.Which was somehow the dome of the sort of superheroauthority, superhero even to politics, but where possible,to attribute or distribute position.So in fact politics was always under an arbiter.

    • 15:38

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: Inside another bigger globe, so you have a parliamentand you have all the domes insidewith-- except here in Britain-- assembliesand parliament assembled.But out of it there was virtually something elsewhich was supposed to arbiter conflict.And of course the question, which is the traditional Carl

    • 15:58

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: Schmitt question is to know if this works with nature as well.Now, the crisis, which is underlinedby the notion of Anthropocene is very simplythat the neutral party has disappeared.So in spite of the fact that most political sciencestill maintains that there is a science of politics

    • 16:18

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: beyond both politics.The truth is that this beyond has disappeared.So that quote, of course, you know this sentence very well.But now think of it, read of it, applying to politicsjust the last two sentences."These can neither"-- I'm sorry I have to read--"by the political enemy is nonetheless the other

    • 16:40

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: the stranger, and it is sufficient for his nature thatis in a specifically intense way,existentially something different and alien,so that in the extreme case conflict within are possible."Now forget the [INAUDIBLE] and thinkthat we are talking here about conflicts about nature,or former natural resources.

    • 17:02

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: And this is a most important point,"these can either be decided by previously determinedgeneral norm nor by the judgment of a disinterestedand therefore neutral third party."So the question is, is nature-- was nature--a disinterested third party able to empty of politics

    • 17:22

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: the rest of our conflict?Whatever you think about ecology code mutation,nature is back but not as a third neutral party.It's not an appeal to nature thatwill sort of stabilize and pacifythe conflict we have about it.Every time natural phenomena are brought in, they divide.It can be the elephant, or the whale, as well as the climate,

    • 17:43

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: it's not there as disinterested.It's inside the fight, not outside the fight,and that raises a big point.And denying this political element is of coursethe reason why, in my view, it's failed.And this is a very famous sentence by Schmitt.Which now you have to read, applying to the idea of ecology

    • 18:03

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: called politics-- so to speak."A world in which the possibility of waris utterly eliminated, a completely pacified globewould be a world without the distinction of friend and enemyand hence a world without politics."And if you want one reason why political ecology neverwent anywhere, why the Green never managed to do anything,

    • 18:24

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: this is why.Because they think that basicallywe can eliminate the possibility of warby appealing to the [INAUDIBLE] or the arbiter of nature.Understood as the laws of nature or whatever,they are many different versions of it,but always this idea that when weturn to nature, a natural topic, politics

    • 18:47

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: disappear because it's about thingsthat are supposed to unite us.Let's be natural, let's all be natural scientist,let's all be rational and we will agree,there would be no longer friend and enemy.And of you see the complete denialof the ecology [INAUDIBLE] which are entirelyabout friends and enemies, except they are

    • 19:09

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: hidden and literally denied.The very notion that in ecology, thereis a politics of friend and enemyis denied by ecologists themselves.You are supposed to agree because whenyou apply to the laws of nature everyone agrees.We have the same DNA, we still have the laws of physics,we have the same chemistry, we have the same climatology,then we agree-- well, no we don't.

    • 19:32

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: So we are back Hobbes' time, and it's not by mistakethat we are.It's a very interesting coincidenceto be back to the early 17th century with the questionthat Hobbes says-- and that's a big difference-- Hobbes saidimagine that we had moved from the state of nature,"small S, and small n, to Leviathan-- and inventing

    • 19:54

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: the state that all of you study in international relations.A state on a territory, a territoryby the way which what could be anywhere.What counted is the Leviathan, not the place, you could move.There is nothing in Hobbes which doesn't allow you to movethe Leviathan somewhere else.Just there.Because what counts is the legal aspect.The territorial aspect is just the bounding of it.

    • 20:16

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: But the rest of it doesn't say anything about where it is.But now, of course, we are in a situation--and you know that very well, and much better than me--where the climate wars, the war which is coming.To war which will not be more nice than the one wehad in 20th century, bringing the state in

    • 20:39

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: denied jeopardy to call the state of war.It's still denied because the precise word is notput into politics-- but it's already clearthat the nation-states are completely unable to absorbthis new situation.So we have former Westphalian state,

    • 20:59

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: and there are many of them.And then they are overlapping interests, climate,pollution, ocean, everything is sort of overlapping them,but there is no political representation of them.Which was exactly the situation whereHobbes started in a terrible time of religious warsand the English wars as well.

    • 21:21

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: So the situation might be less tense to you.Except if you think of the religious war happeningin many places in the world.But in terms of climate wars the situationis just as complicated.And certainly in terms of political philosophy,inventing the political philosophy

    • 21:42

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: able to represent overlapping statesis certainly a big problem.So the question of political theology is back.The one that Hobbes saw.What is the-- and here of course I replaced the [INAUDIBLE]of a bishop by the frontispiece of shippingand [INAUDIBLE] You have to define what is the god

    • 22:06

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: and what is the principle of authority, so to speak.Not necessarily god, nature is not supposed to be a godbut it's a principle authority.The cosmos, which cosmos we are in.Which people we form, which demos.Which type of knowledge, and of course which nomos.So all of the traditional questionsof political anthropology are back with a vengeance,

    • 22:27

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: so to speak.If you want to absorb, again, the situation of worldpolitics.OK, this is a bit abstract.Unfortunately, it's true, which is worrisome.Because when it's abstract you can often say it's not true,this point is abstract and true.We have denied and we have to failed

    • 22:50

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: to bring the world into politics because wethought the world was nature.Now this is a much easier example,but it's very striking.One, which is of course another climate conference in Paris.And here I would use this very remarkable bookby two French historians of science,actually, [INAUDIBLE] people, Stefan Aykut and Amy Dahan,

    • 23:13

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: some of you may know them, about the implausibilityof "governing the climate."With a quotation mark, and of courseit's a quotation mark question, which is important here.Now the reason why it doesn't workis because it implies a global state of some sort.I mean, it's a sort of minimal global state

    • 23:34

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: which is the United Nations procedure.But what has broken down since certainly the endof the 20th century, at a time when, for example, in the US,Republican and Democrat could agreeon many environmental laws, which is completely gone now,is that the sciences don't have the power to unify either.

    • 23:56

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: So you cannot do the usual thing,which is to say politics dispute but if you turn to a scientistwe will give you a view which will be broad and consensusenough to obtain agreement.That bad luck is that it is a case where thereis a consensus among sciences.And it is this consensus which is attacked

    • 24:18

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: by other scientists who are not partof the science of the climate on environment,will attack the first.So it's a very strange situation.But the net result of his strange situation is that youcannot turn any more to science to say,well we disagree politically but actually scientists agree.Scientists agree.But it doesn't make any difference.

    • 24:40

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: Which is the strange thing.And of course it works, as you allknow, on the very implausible principle of contention,that is, 189 countries, whatever they are.But the most interesting aspect is the one--which is very well shown by this book-- is that, how can youmake a meeting to discuss climate which

    • 25:02

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: is the final consequence of CO2 emissionswithout talking about the causes of all these decisions?The causes are in the way we build our cities,the way we invest in energy, the way we travel,the way we cloth, etc.

    • 25:23

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: Which are entirely in different international venues,like the discussion around commercial for instance,and the military alliances.So the climate has been sort of taken outas an independent and special arenabut the problem is that it is the final cause

    • 25:44

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: with the climate transformation.It's the amount of CO2 in the atmosphereis what far, far away cause-- or consequences,sorry, of a series of decisions which are not--at least until this year in Paris-- which were notdiscussed in any of the 20 conferences of the Conferenceof Parties before.

    • 26:05

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: As you know there is one every year.So what they show-- and I think it'svery interesting for a type of understandingof the science and politics-- is that the negotiation was builtaround the pollution paradigm.Which was the famous example of a CFC.Which was a very simple case compared to the one on climate.

    • 26:26

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: And the climate transformation wastaken as a case of pollution, so to speak.So it was thought that it could be sort of fairlyeasy like the ozone reduction contract.Now what is really interesting isthat-- and this is a case where political science is a way, waybehind the science-- climate, the CO2

    • 26:50

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: and all of the other climate gas has this peculiarityof spreading everywhere.So that when you calculate the CO2 basicallyin one place with some sort of arrangementyou can basically know where it is on the whole earthbecause it has this capacity.And this is what the politicians followed.They thought climate was also everywhere

    • 27:13

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: and it was global in the sense of the ozone of the CO2distribution in the air was global.So it's a very interesting case wherea political figure of diffusion wasused to describe a political situation of intense locality.Because on the contrary the causes of the CO2 emission

    • 27:38

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: are entirely and extremely local.It depends on local cases on decisionsmade in the United States, in Paris,in different cities, etc, etc.But politics of the climate followed the diffusionin space of the gas, which is very interesting for those

    • 28:02

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: like me interested in reading between science and politics.Climate was globalized much too fast,it followed the GATT, so to speak.And the reaction said, no, no, weshould not follow the GATT I meanclimate is a question which is madein every single local decision very, verylocally and completely ad hoc.

    • 28:23

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: But of course this is more difficult to usethe word global for that.And this is no-- as you know-- globalization is alwaysa bad idea, anyway.So what is true in this book with--and this is related to the first part of my talk in a minute--is that, if there is no world state-- which everyone

    • 28:46

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: agrees there's no world state.If nature does not unify politics because nature forma natural element divides and notunify, we should be able to build a processto escape the thought of narrowing,funneling which has been going onin the negotiation to a sample 189 states

    • 29:11

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: to discuss the far consequences, the cause of whichis out of the discussion.And it's very difficult to say-- it's this very beautiful casewhere an international relation--an international organization concentrateson the wrong sort of-- on the impossibly wrong target.To diminish a consequence without acting on the causes.

    • 29:33

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: It's a bit like if you were in the United Statesdiscussing the question of limitingthe number of people killed by guns but everybody has a gun.So it's a bit late, I mean, probably itshould work a bit early on the--And what is very interesting in terms of an experimentis that the French delegation, especially

    • 29:56

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: Laurence Tubiana, who is in my schooland who is an ambassador for France in this negotiation,asked the 189 nations not to say, this is amount of CO2that we will release in the next 20 years,but to describe qualitatively what is the world in which you

    • 30:17

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: want to be in.That is to try to do an experiment which is notunrelated to the question of anthropology I mentionedin the first part.Which is describes the world in which you live in in 20 years.Quantitatively, don't try to do quantitative stuff,because there is no metrics for that but just describe.And then from the description diplomatic overture

    • 30:40

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: will be maybe physical, which is absolutely impossibleif you just question about location CO2 emissions.Because then there is no way the nations could agree in Paris.I don't know how it worked.But it was certainly a very interesting innovation.Now of course, the other one, innovation, would be to say,well and here I'm slightly anxious to repeat

    • 31:03

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: something you know very well.That international relation meansthat nation-states are cross-cut by so many things which are notnation based that it should be possible to represent themin some way.So in a way we live in the phantom of a nation-state.The nation-state, everybody knows-- in your field--

    • 31:24

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: knows that, even though out of your field it's not that clear.The problem is that we don't knowto represent them at the same level as the nation-state.And that's the thing we tried to do in the simulationI imagine in [INAUDIBLE].Transnational organization, diaspora, NGO, lobbies,science, professional organization,

    • 31:45

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: media, I mean you work on that, so you know that very well.So a are many ways.So we have-- it's very funny-- you have nation-states, whichare still the base map of our reflection of our worldpolitics.They are crosscut by endless numbers of things which are notnation-states, but we don't know howto bring them up to par of sovereignty with nation-state.

    • 32:07

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: To which we allocate still this very bizarre ideathat if you are a state you are sovereign.Which of course is a complete misrepresentation from[INAUDIBLE].And of course, the most important onethe natural entity, soil, earth, climate, I mean atmosphere,

    • 32:31

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: fish, fowl, are not represented.They are denied there representation.This is supposed to be unrepresentableexcept in the science, and the scienceitself has no authority.So how do you want to do world politicsby denying the representation of the most important issue

    • 32:52

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: in which all of the others are embed just because Hobbessaw the bloody British revolution with the West Aryanstate.I mean, this is ridiculous, it's a British invention.To get out of a silly question of Catholicism,of Protestantism, of a king, which has nowinherited the whole world in which you try to shoehorn

    • 33:16

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: the rest of the world, whales, soil,and climate, into the western hemisphere.I mean, it's a completely ridiculous undertaking.And the other thing which makes the thing impossible,is that when it's not the nation-stateit's an even more absurd entity, whichis supposed to be the globe.

    • 33:37

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: But the problem is the globe is much too global.The globe is a fiction of a mixturesof a non theological idea of the globe, a bit of Roman Empire,plus the NASA, I mean, basically.I mean, this idea of a globe , nothing made more troublefor politics than this image of a blue planet.

    • 34:00

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: Because the blue planet is precisely what says,look we are all of the blue planet so we are all united.And then the whole violence and [INAUDIBLE] is denied.So the blue planet is actually the superimpositionof a very old Roman Empire, the Christ

    • 34:22

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: with a globe, the god with a globe, whichI'm sure you have seen in many pictures plus the NASA.And all of that, of course, is a very interesting attempt--there is a beautiful exhibition in Berlin that I took it from.So the globe is not the solution to that.The plan then, is to direct two where's.

    • 34:45

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: One is up, let's think as if we couldabandon our self-interest, view the nation as somebodyin perish and get into some sort of world order or common view.Or going down, we damage our lives.And I think that's exactly the moment when it's interesting

    • 35:06

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: for you in international relations,is the reterritorialization.Not necessarily back to the borders of course.But some other definition of a territory becuase-- and thisis a very interesting question around the notionof self-interest-- there is this strange idea that when you talk

    • 35:26

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: about ecology we should, we the nation, or we the independent,or we the individual, should abandon our self interestand act in the interest of some sort of whole.I mean, in Britain, it never worked because you inventedliberalism, so-- but in the worldthere are people who believe it's feasiblethat you abandon your self-interest and-- not

    • 35:48

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: at the LSE, of course.But there is another definition of modified self-interest,which is to go down.That is to say what is the territory on which you reside.And you understand very well because you are in this field,but it's a completely different definitionof a state if those soil on which the state is reintegrated

    • 36:11

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: into the definition of interest.What is your interest?Defending the border, or defending the territoryon which you reside.According to what is your territory?Well, it has in it ocean, soil, water, pollution, plastics,lots of things which are not in the border

    • 36:31

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: of a territory of course.So the idea is that the margin of maneuversfor diplomatic encounters in state relationscould be completely different if instead of going upto say let's abandon our self-interest in favorof a group planet, we went down and saycan you describe in clear words on which territory you resign

    • 36:56

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: and-- as I said before-- on which territoryyou will reside in 20 years.Well it's interesting to go back here.I mean most of this place here willbe under water in 20 years.So it's not the same territory to defend.Vietnam will have a third of it's territory gone.So it's a very old question, a very old Westphalian question

    • 37:17

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: change completely when you take territory, and earth, and soil,as meaning really what so many scientists, and geologists,and geomorphologists, and penologists, called soil.It's not just the bounded very abstract land of a Westphaliannation-state, it's a very practical

    • 37:39

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: and much more open and difficult to compose, a piece of land.So that's a very interesting question for the COP in Paris.Which is do people-- will people have more margin of maneuverby describing their cosmology-- was basically

    • 38:02

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: what we asked them to do, or what the French delegationasked them to do.Or will we go back to the very classical notionof interests, but as we know whenwe are charge nothing moves.But it's very difficult to know and to describe your interestswhen you change territory.

    • 38:23

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: And basically what happened to every single conceptof political science is that it changed their definitionif you add the territory.Which is strange because you say,well territory has always been linked to this.Yes, but it was an abstract territory.It was a territory of a base map which borders.And we know cartography is made for war.

    • 38:44

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: Endless numbers of historians have studied that.But it's not the same territory I'm talking about,now it's the land, it's the soil.It's something different.It's something which is sedimented and hasmany other dimension, none of them, none of them,fit with the boundary of a nation-state.So that's what is in question.

    • 39:05

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: Can we move up or down.Now, the problem we encounter whenyou begin to think like that is a probably of representation.And I always take representation as political representation,of course, but also always as scientific and visual

    • 39:27

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: or inscription based representation.Suppose now you define a territorynot as a bounded border of a nation-state,but on what on which we depend to exist.Already the shape of our territoryis fairly different because it extends much furtherthan the bounded border, of course.

    • 39:51

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: What is limited by other territories?Of course the notion of territoryrequires that there are borders, but if youtake an island in the pacific which is going underwater,we the English and the French and the Americans and Chinaweighs on this island.We are at the border of this island.

    • 40:11

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: We push it under water.So if we have to represent this island,realistically we need to put the border, which is pushing itunder water, on the map.Literally, on the map.If not we could deny it and say, well, it's very far away.I mean, this island, just bother.

    • 40:32

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: I mean they can disappear, who cares about the Maldives.But the Maldives, we are in it we are near, we are border.And of course in case of a tragic eventthe migration recently you understand what I mean.Now it also has a third character,it has to be represented in some way.And here again we present it in the imaginary community

    • 40:56

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: but we presented it on some sort of mapping whatever.And of course in law.It's also what we attached, and as youknow it's very difficult to know what we attached.There is a very funny exhibition of a British Museumon the self.And I don't know if you have seen it,the self is a complete invention says the exhibition.

    • 41:21

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: 19th century, like everything else,like the Scottish kilt and everything else,but it started with an image of the DNA of a cell in Britain,now.Which is strange I. So you have similar a deconstructionof the notion of certitude and a complete naturalization of whatis being said nowadays.It is a very funny and very contradictory exhibit.

    • 41:44

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: But apparently a lot of people are attached to it,and this horrible musical instrument--I don't know the name in English-- whichis made from a pipe which is probablythe worst musical instrument ever invented.And of course what we are ready to defend.Or to pertain to a territory, we may obstruct as long

    • 42:05

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: as you are not ready to defend.Now, if this is our territory how do we present it.Of course we know and here I'm reallyinterested in having the discussion, some of your workon this question.We sort of know that we have a traditional cartographicimagination, which is on the left.I mean, of course, fighting nation-state really

    • 42:27

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: invented the mass of images to define territory wargames of any sort.And we also know that we rather have somethingwhich was more network based.So that we can actually get the connection independentlyof the spacial-- one definition of the spacial environment.

    • 42:51

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: That was the difficulty with the network--and I'm paid for that, to know that,because I have a major [INAUDIBLE] devoted on that--are very difficult to read.So this is unrealistic, but easy to read.And this one is more realistic but very difficultto read and to give any sort of sense.Here's a nice set of overlapping territories,

    • 43:13

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: famous case of an old German empire,which is a bit like a European-- it's the ideal of a Europewhich has really, really overlappingterritories, lots of different things,the sort of thing that the Brits don't like.And that's why they want to get out of Europe,this is much more civilized.

    • 43:35

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: You know, lots of different thing,lots of overlapping princes, bishops, dukes, lots of German,Mrs. Merkel dominating the [INAUDIBLE].Now it's amazing the numbers of things peopleare trying to do now to understandthe territory like the one of Daesh,using the old idiom of a territorial map.

    • 43:56

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: I mean, I don't know if you are struck by these maps.They're amazing, because they haveto define very, very small lines of powerinside, on top of a territory.And you still have the old limit of Syria and Iraq.But physically, the new successoris a sort of a tentacle for which we

    • 44:17

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: have no very good representation except networks, again.There is a trial-- I'm showing you some example to interestyou in your question time to the point-- thisis a very interesting account at replacing the cloud.You know that we are all supposedto be downloading everything and soon ourselves in the cloud.

    • 44:42

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: Well, b this guy's militant of did a very good thingto do politically, they drew the places on Earthwhere the cloud is actually producedat a high price in computer power and electricity.So they relocalized-- this is beautiful,if we could do that for international power

    • 45:05

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: it would be amazing-- to replace the idea of powerby the localization of the place wherepower, in terms of electricity activity and collectionis visible.I recommend you go to the new cloud atlas website.And it's an amazing experiment.And it's participative, so if youare near one of these machines youhave to describe it to the new class.

    • 45:27

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: This is another group of militants in France,and the book is in English.If you can't read it, it is the same in the book,it's very difficult read.This is a whole book about the net worth of capitalism.Again, trying to re-localize in a non sort of base mapand this [INAUDIBLE].It's a book in English actually.Amazing, and an immense amount of work, but no clarity

    • 45:51

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: gets out of it except that we are-- Now,I'm very interested by the work Iam doing with my friend in geoscience by the factthat they seem to have maps.Especially geological map, which are very advancedin terms of overlapping forces.Because they can represent very highly complex sortof mixtures, which are simultaneously moments in time.

    • 46:15

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: Because every one of these [INAUDIBLE]is actually a moment in time.And you see that the discontinuity, what wecall nonconformity, they are very good at that.Non-conformity is a magnificent term of geology which we shouldbe able to use for--It's very cool.Is it becoming very cold.Keep everybody-- [INAUDIBLE]

    • 46:41

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: OK, my enemy is arrows.I want to get rid of arrows.Because arrows is the proof that we have drawn thingsas if they were distance, in fact they are not.So the more arrows in a drawing--and I'm sorry to say international relationand geopolitical is absolutely full of arrows--

    • 47:03

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: because since you are stuck with your Westphalian state inventedby Brit Hobbes, then every time thereis something which doesn't fit inside the border youhave to add an arrow.But the problem is that the arrow justmeans that things which are actually very distantshould be in fact close.So the overlapping-- you're are trying

    • 47:24

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: to characterize overlapping entitiesby projecting on a base map whichactually makes them distant and then you add the arrows.But the problem is can we make a geopolitical mapwithout arrows where we respect the overlapping.Territories overlap, it doesn't mean sovereignty is out,

    • 47:47

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: it means that the idea of sovereignty on a boundarymeans nothing now.This is why the whole German empire metaphor is notthat far fetched.But then it means you have to be able to paintto make the overlap visible.So here is-- we did this experiment

    • 48:07

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: in my [INAUDIBLE] lab.This is the same data this one projected on the mapwith lots of arrows, this is for refugeesin 2013-- the main refuge movement.And this is, funny because you see nothing.This is our point.Well, I have a better sort of-- so this

    • 48:30

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: is where-- they are not related by and projected onto the basemap.They are related by proximity of the refugees going from onecountry to another one.So if you recognize in the USA of course is very central here,you recognize some element of the base map

    • 48:52

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: but you are freed from out doesn't mean it's morereadable, that's my problem.But other people in design and cartographycan think of better solutions.So I leave you with the point.But it's not a great advance.

    • 49:14

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: It's a way to introduce you to the topic.OK, last part representation does not justmean cartography representation means in politics,by necessity, humans speaking to other humansabout things which we are not but that we represent.

    • 49:34

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: Hobbes has made exactly with a good definition,it's called a person.A person speaks in the name of things which don't speak.Now, there are lots of entities that don't speak.But those entities that don't speakand which are denied in world politicsare largely called natural entities.

    • 49:56

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: So you can provide philosophicallyand I've done that for 20 years, but itmakes absolutely no difference.People say you cannot represent nature.Because nature is mute.As you politicians and everyone of uswe are not constantly speaking about mute entities.

    • 50:17

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: So we decided because of the conferenceto make a simulation which was doneby the student of [INAUDIBLE] the LSE and many other thingscalled Make It Work, which is sot of a slogan for the moral,so to speak.And everything to the Paris conference, Paris Climate

    • 50:38

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: 2015-- Make It Work.But we did it in the theater.Now I'm very interested in always bringing artinto the definition of political philosophy.Because we can move much faster by doing a simulation ofand if I have to wait for political scientiststo understand that we represent non-humans,

    • 50:60

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: I'll wait until we are underwater-- all of us.So the only way to accelerate thingsis to say, OK, let's do a simulationand let's do it in a theater, where in a theaterwe are all used to having people speaking in the name of thingsthat don't speak.The whole apparatus the whole play, things of Shakespeare,

    • 51:21

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: many others, it's always talking about divinities,it is about people, it's about monsters, it's about wonders,it's about storms and so on.There is no difficulty in the theater.So this is why we organized it in the theatre.Now, this is a small, very short, presentationof the film.[VIDEO PLAYBACK][MUSIC PLAYING]

    • 51:53


    • 52:24

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]-I'm pretty sure you agreed to that earlier this morningbecause that line hadn't changed.-Did it?-Yeah.-[INAUDIBLE]-Well, you weren't.

    • 52:45

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: But India was going to agree to the agreement.I don't understand.-But we are not-- we are doing nothing, OK?We are the generation of climate change.We will suffer it.We have the responsibility to act,not just as delegates, not just as functions,

    • 53:07

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: but also as individuals.I don't know what-- what can we do [INAUDIBLE] this?[STOMPING AND CLAPPING]

    • 53:38

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: [END PLAYBACK]OK, Scott was there.He was actually part of the delegation on the Arctic.So he can talk to you about-- Mr. Arctic,can you speak one minute?What we were trying to do is that if you-- of course it'sa simulation, but thinking is a simulation as well-- can youactually render realistically the idea that representation

    • 54:01

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: of non-human is actually common sense.It is not because we imagine a fanciful way of representingthe ocean, of the soil, of the Arctic, of the Amazon,but precisely because of a Hobbesian argumentthat it has to be represented by one person.So it grows exactly like the others-- No difference.

    • 54:21

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: It's not because you represent the ocean,but you have to come with, I don't know, algae and all sortsof things.No, no, you come with a tie or whatever a dressif you are a woman, and you representand you address the audience with the same principleof sovereignty as the others.So sovereignty was tested here, not in the Westphalian sense

    • 54:43

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: of the word, but in the sense that it's partof the territory of the other.So let the definition of what territory and thuswhat self-interest interest is be reopened.It's not the same thing for the United Statesto be objected by the ocean.Because suddenly the ocean and cultures

    • 55:04

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: of the definition of a territory in territorial interestsof the United States.And it's not the same thing for the oceanto be interrupted by the delegating of the atmosphere.Because the atmosphere and the oceandon't have the same interest, so to speak,the same representation.So it's to reappoint precisely the definition

    • 55:26

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: of this strange idea that politicsare about humans on an Earth that are [INAUDIBLE], whichis seen through the Anthropocene, of course,something completely impossible.So what we did in the theater-- and there is a whole filmon that, it was an amazing event,and some of my students in the art and politics program,one of them is here participated, in that--

    • 55:48

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: is that in a theater you can make voices express in a wayyou cannot do anymore.It's completely common sense in a theaterto let non-humans speak.And of course the great interest of the theateris that you can either add a public, whichdoesn't have to be the same sort of public

    • 56:09

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: that political science imagine the worldinterest or the humans.It's a very specific public, the public comingfor this performance.And what was tested for the whole week, twodays of preparation and three days of simulation,is the redefinition of self-interest.

    • 56:29

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: Because after all it is very difficultto define your self-interest, whichis why diplomacy is so important.You don't know what you [INAUDIBLE] up.Especially if you modify the definition of the groundon which you reside.If your territory is modified, the land on which you--literally, the land on which you are modified-- thenyou might turn you self-interest.

    • 56:50

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: And this definition-- reworking of the self-interest,which was a great beauty and of course a great dramaand even trauma of the three days and the complete night.Because suddenly none of the definitions of interestwhich were used in the sort of so-called Westphalian

    • 57:13

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: definition worked.And this is some of the design by Anne-Sophie Milon, whois here actually.You see, you have atmosphere speaking before all the others.This is amazing.You had the Philippine, and then the climate refugee, and then

    • 57:33

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: the soil, and then the ocean, and each thenpresented one after the other.So in just that scene where the state were followedby non-state agent, entity, with the same presentation--the same principle it representation--and the same definitive sovereignty,was in political philosophy an amazing adventure.

    • 57:56

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: And I think an amazing event but that'smy usual way of exaggerating everything my students do.OK, so this is what we tried to do.Now, of course what is interestingis the savior of that process.And here we are to talk about denial and failure, deny, no.

    • 58:18

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: We were not denying the right to berepresented to any entities that were supposed to be outside.Nature, but of course not only nature, very importantly,political interests and economical interests.The famous lobbies, which are always out,they were in with their own definition

    • 58:38

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: of a territory and sovereignty.And I think even thought this was only sketch,this is very important.So it was not only the case, but itwas amazing to see the United States of Americawith the same sort of authority as soil.With all the primal what it is to represent soil.What was we really extraordinary isto have also the so-called economic interests which

    • 59:02

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: are always outside acting in the shadowsthrough lobbying having to say and to describewhat is their territory.What is the land they want to defend?What is the attachment after all oil industry has a territory,the occupied territory has a strange shape.

    • 59:22

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: It doesn't resemble a nation-state.But God, they have a territory and they hold to itto the death.So the question was, the questionof political philosophy was, how far can you goin this realistic simulation.I claimed that my simulation was more realisticthan the COP itself.Because here we were defining the all

    • 59:47

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: of the interests and whatever.So this is some of the scene.Actually, the table themselves had been designed for that.We invented-- [INAUDIBLE] invented the table.We designed especially for that.And of course the big question, whenyou ask these delegates to represent their territoryis that they had doodles.

    • 01:00:09

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: You didn't do your job, you peoplein political international relations, I'm sorry to say.I don't want to be impolite.But you did not provide both skills with the overlapping--the maps of overlapping territorieswhich would have allowed them to discuss

    • 01:00:29

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: the renewal of their interest, self-interest,because of a renewal of their territories.They were devoid of-- and this was a complete failure.Look, I mean it's ridiculous.Small doodle, even though it was interestingin the conversation, obviously thereis no road map for that sort of thing.

    • 01:00:50

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: Anne-Sophie, who we know is here,designed, one of the [INAUDIBLE].Which is of course if you abandonthe traditional definition of a state, it's a bit of chaos.And chaos was at night.And it was quite extraordinary.So this is-- there was one innovationthat we failed to do.And Sophia sort of projected it which

    • 01:01:14

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: was to see when you add non-human entities to bethe assembly, what happens to the former state?Do they still have a role or are they consideredas completely obsolete?They do have a role.A very important one, which is basicallya legal role of making feasible, making sort of acceptable,

    • 01:01:39

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: the legal assembly of all these decisionsmade by the other entities.Unfortunately, we failed for some reason.It was too complicated to do that.So it was-- we never had this amazing scenewhich Anne-Sophie imagined, which would have been amazingwhere you would have seen the state, the former state,

    • 01:01:59

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: all in the middle having to do only a task whichfind the legal solution to the decision made by the parties.That would have been amazing.But we cannot-- OK.So I finished my talk.I'm sorry I'm a bit-- no, no, I wasn't-- I'm in time right?

    • 01:02:19

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: No.Can I conclude?So non-state voice of course have to be personified.And again it's no big deal.Personification is the same for human and non-humanit's as difficult in both cases.We prove that this is not the problem.The problem is that the other overlapping territories is not

    • 01:02:44

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: representable.So far I mean, we are terrible at representing--we need a immense investment of parts and cartographyand many other sources which I don't know coming from.Now it's clear that going down to redefine the territoryis more efficient than going up tryingto abandon self-interest.

    • 01:03:05

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: Because that would never work.So the diplomatic resources are down, not up.Which means it makes a lot of sensebecause we need to go down, down to earth, so to speak.To touch base, so to speak.OK, and the last point of course is fiction is necessary.But we all know that from imaginary community,

    • 01:03:25

      BRUNO LATOUR [continued]: to the fact that philosophy itself, in a way,political philosophy, the Hobbesian [INAUDIBLE]is a fiction, complete fiction.The big figure which I showed in the cover of Natureis fiction too.But fiction is also the harbinger of things to come.Thank you very much.

International Relations at The Time of Gaia-Politics?

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Professor Bruno Latour discusses the difficulty of including nature in political talks and decisions, because it is not adequately represented. He then dismantles the Westphalian idea of nation-state identity in favor of an identity based on territory and attachment, giving voice to nature, economic interests, and more.

SAGE Video Forum
International Relations at The Time of Gaia-Politics?

Professor Bruno Latour discusses the difficulty of including nature in political talks and decisions, because it is not adequately represented. He then dismantles the Westphalian idea of nation-state identity in favor of an identity based on territory and attachment, giving voice to nature, economic interests, and more.

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