Responding to the “Problematique”

When I first encountered the term “Problematique” to describe the global crises resulting from industrial capitalism, I thought: “Well, that’s handy, one big term to handle the whole shebang. But it sounds a bit arrogant” as if one word could handle it, and one which has been “francophied” in a tasteless cuteness.

It was in some academic journal, actually may have been from a non-native french speaker writing in europe, seemingly stuck in the ivory tower. As if there was some interesting problem that could be addressed with equations on blackboards and stochiometry.

The crisis of industrial capitalism: the failure of a voracious growth-dependent system to adequately cost future prices when stocks and stock volumes are unknown, is in a critical phase. The results of unbridled use of natural resources to sustain the system without regard to current sink overcapacity and future source collapse are now seen in various social disasters throughout the world.

This week it is flooding in Pakistan and China, and drought in Niger and Russia. Desperate people are turning to violence in many places and some have more access to weapons than others.

The upending of our expectations of weather and season patterns is probably the result of our pollution of the atmosphere with greenhouse gasses. Although it may be some time before any mitigating action can take effect, it is imperative that we seek to do no further harm to the system. How will you be able to say you have done your best to respond to these crises, this “Problematique?”

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