Oikos or the man-woman relationship in the framework of an integral ecology

Oikos or the man-woman relationship in the framework of an integral ecology

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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