The Power of Restraint
The current crisis clearly demonstrates that our model of society has reached its limits and cannot continue to exert its absolute power over the entire world without serious—and in some cases irreversible—damage. The time has come to recognize that our affluent societies have more than enough to meet their essential material needs—provided it is done fairly. The time has also come to question whether we are all, globally, going to live with less, rather than more money. We have the necessary means to do so, provided we accept this as an irrevocable principle of our lives. Rather than causing us to lose heart, this crisis can instead awaken within us unprecedented creative forces so that together, we can construct a satisfying world for heart, mind, and spirit. During his pre-presidential run for the 2002 French elections, Pierre Rabhi adopted Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen’s principle of “sustainable degrowth” as the central tenet of his campaign and called for “an uprising of consciousness.” Although he has now abandoned the wording of this influential economist, which is often misunderstood despite its relevance, he has retained its rigor and now supports the “power of restraint.”
In the face of a joyless society of overabundance, yet one still afflicted with the material poverty in which so-called developed countries are now mired, “power of restraint” represents a realistic alternative. As a liberating moral and physical force, it is a political act of legitimate resistance to this juggernaut that is destroying the planet and isolating the individual. The time has come to break free of these bulimic habits and the constant quest for more and more, a race destined to end in an immense field of ruins. Pierre Rabhi adopted this way of life many years ago; he can share practical steps toward restraint, a measure of well being and equilibrium. He offers us a form of simplicity and gratitude which, as it spreads to our innermost self, gives meaning to our existence, along with a unique sense of lightness: the rewards of restraint.