The message of this strategy was clear: “You and I don’t live on the same planet.” What becomes of politics when opposing parties are taken as aliens occupying separate earths altogether? It is as if the question no longer concerns different visions of the same planet, but the composition and shape of several planets in conflict with one another.
Pluralism has taken a much more explicit ontological shape, as if we are literally living on different earths—and earths that are at war with each other, as the essay in this issue “Coping with Planetary Wars” explores.
Successive “world orders” have treated planet earth as a fairly homogeneous place where different kinds of resources, different kinds of interests, and different kinds of sovereignties are all unified by one homogenous and overarching concept of Nature.
This issue explores the consequences of what Eduardo Viveiro de Castro calls a shift from multiculturalism to “multinaturalism.”
As we approach a series of tipping points, we simultaneously witness a division between those who seem to have abandoned planet earth, those who try to make it more habitable, and those whose cosmology never fit within the ideals of the globalizing project in the first place.
This state of division flies in the face of many twentieth-century strategies of political ecology—especially the principle that the high stakes of political ecology justify bypassing the tedious process of negotiation and deliberation typical for political action. Unanimity was supposed to rally the masses in a strong revolutionary push to “save the planet.” However, for the last forty years, we have seen that ecology does not unify. Instead, ecology divides.
It divides the generations who will deal with its failures from those who will escape its consequences; it divides the regions already affected by climate disasters from those that are protected; within each region, it divides the classes that suffer disproportionately from decisions made by other classes; furthermore, it divides each one of us at the personal level: for each decision we face, we know there are cascades of unintended consequences that make it hard to distinguish the right actions from the wrong ones.
To characterize this new spatial configuration, Dipesh Chakrabarty offers a brief history of ways of conceiving of the planets, while Eduardo Viveiros de Castro and Déborah Danowski explore the consequences of the turn from a philosophy of history to a philosophy of space, epitomized by the dismantling of the Axial Age thesis.
In which direction should we go once these divisions are established and assumed? The objective here is to try to imagine procedures that would allow these incommensurable worlds not so much to “dialogue”—which is not sufficient for the enormous differences in ways of inhabiting the world—but to enter into diplomatic negotiations.
In this state of division, the “common” that remains is our shared responsibility to face the future. In this sense, accepting that different people live on different planets may provide a useful clarification: to understand whom to ally with, and whom to fight against. The possibility of such “diplomatic encounters” remains a project to build, but aiming for such a project is already a radical departure from the path of war and conflict. »
– Editorial: You and I Don’t Live on the Same Planet, by Martin Guinard, Bruno Latour, Ping Lin, and e-flux journal editors
Martin Guinard is an independent curator based in Marseille. He has worked on several interdisciplinary projects dealing with the topic of ecological mutation. He is the current curator of the Taipei Biennial. He has collaborated with Bruno Latour on several international projects over the last few years, including “Reset Modernity!” at ZKM (2016) as well as a reiteration of the project through two workshop platforms in different geographical contexts: the first in China, “Reset Modernity! Shanghai Perspective,” as part of the 2017 Shanghai Project; the second in Iran, “Reset Modernity! Tehran Perspective,” curated with Reza Haeri at the Pejman Foundation and the Institute of History of Science of Tehran University. He is co-curator at ZKM for the ongoing exhibition “Critical Zones: Observatory for Earthly Politics.”
Born in 1947 in Beaune, France, Bruno Latour is now professor emeritus associated with the médialab and the program in political arts (SPEAP) of Sciences Po in Paris. Since January 2018 he has been a fellow at the Zentrum für Kunst und Media (ZKM) and professor at the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design (HfG), both in Karlsruhe, Germany. A member of several academies and recipient of six honorary doctorates, he received the Holberg Prize in 2013. He has written and edited more than twenty books and published more than 150 articles. The major international exhibitions he has curated are: “Iconoclash: Beyond the Image Wars in Science, Religion and Art” with Peter Weibel (2002), “Making Things Public: Atmospheres of Democracy” (2005), and “Reset Modernity!” (2016). The catalogs of all three exhibitions are published by MIT Press. He is now a member of the curatorial committee at ZKM for the ongoing exhibition “Critical Zones: Observatory for Earthly Politics.” He is the current curator of the Taipei Biennial.
Ping Lin is the director of the Taipei Fine Arts Museum (TFAM). She is also a former column contributor at ARTITUDE magazine; former committee member of the collection committee at TFAM, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts; former committee member of the public art committee at the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Transportation; former head of the Department of Fine Arts and director of art gallery at Tunghai University; former art director of Stock 20 Taichung, CCA Railway Arts Network; former member of nomination committee at “Taishin Arts Award” and other major international awards committee. She is currently also a professor at the Department of Fine Arts at Tunghai University, Board member of the Xi De-Jin Art Foundation, and a member of the CiMAM, International Committee for Museums and Collections of Modern Art.