The COMB LAB Newsletter : Two revolutions and a stalemate 

The ethical principles of Nuremberg (1945), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) of 1948, the exercise of fundamental freedoms, the universalisation of social solidarity and the primacy of the rule of law provided a factual response to the “Never again” chanted at the end of the Second World War. Two major developments have interrupted this civilisational trajectory .

Firstly, at the turn of the 1980s, unbridled economic liberalism combined the illusion of eternal abundance with the commodification of every product, service and act of local solidarity. Fundamental freedoms and universal social solidarity can resist with difficulty such a cocktail. The goal has been achieved: impulse consumption and social egoism are deep infections inside the social body.

Secondly, twenty years later, at the beginning of this century, the advent of Tech1 irreversibly erased the relational principles that governed interpersonal relations and citizens’ relations with their institutions. On the strength of its economic power alone, technology is undermining political and judicial authority, arrogating to itself, without any formal legitimacy, the power to open or close accounts, to allow or not to allow hateful, violent, abusive and racist comments to circulate on the networks, while algorithms steal the details of everyone’s life with impunity.

It is obvious that economic and financial liberalism of the most unbridled kind is served by the libertarianism of the designers of digital networks and predatory algorithms, all without any regulation. The law of the strongest, established as a universal principle, is sweeping away without resistance the political processes that emerged in 1948. What political authority today assumes respect for the values set out in Article 12 of the UDHR?

“No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Objectively speaking, a technological innovation – Tech – has turned on its head the social consensus based on the desire to do away with the dark ages. For the time being, no new social order has emerged. Every Internet user takes part in this deviation when, in order to satisfy an irrepressible curiosity, they accept cookies. The click of acceptance is tantamount to renouncing democracy and crushing the advances in fundamental rights and individual freedoms established after millennia of slavery and genocidal wars. Who cares once the index finger clicks the mouse?

But alerting us to a harmful situation (the impulse click) or to the imminence of a dangerous deadline (climate change) rarely triggers a change in behaviour. The IPCC and the UN2 know all about this. Perhaps we need to enter the time-space defined by the stock market and opinion polls where short-term addicts live in order to convince them? Or do we need to find the levers for raising awareness within the space-time determined by the destruction of natural resources, repetitive pleasures and denial of the challenges of the century in which compulsive consumers who want to ignore the physics of the atmosphere and the mechanisms of the oceans take refuge? Each space-time encloses psyches in its own bubble, closed in on itself and impervious to other space-times.

A space-time exists, vastly populated and widely scattered across the planet, to which Comb Lab subscribes. With the advent of a digitised society and the end of the spirit of 1948, a considerable number of men and women are carrying out ethical projects in the Social Solidarity Economy (SSE). These communities are working to break the climate deadlock in which political and economic decision-makers addicted to short-termism are keeping the world.

The power of technology lies in the fact that it has transcended all time and space in a single stroke. Such a masterstroke cannot be copied, but it can inspire. In recent decades, significant progress has been made in the sciences of innovation and creation (TRIZ method – C-K theory). Work on systems of economic solidarity is proliferating. On our own scale, with our partners, we are constantly cross-fertilising work being carried out in a wide range of academic disciplines. In this way, we are enriching in real time the process of local resilience mentioned in our previous letter.

In so doing, we are pursuing our commitment to “making a difference”…

1 Philippe Delmas, former vice-president of Airbus, 06 02 2021 on France culture : The Tech sector is everything that electronics has made it possible to produce since the appearance of chips at the end of the 1960s: components, memories, microprocessors, machines that make calculations: computers, and their offshoots: fibre optics, the internet, mobile phones and all their applications.. »

2 UN alert :

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