Arquitectura Viva
Thursday, July 18, 2019

An Agenda for Sustainability

Eduardo Prieto

The term ‘Anthropocene’ alerts us to something we know but tend to forget about: humanity’s greatest enemy is itself. Hegel said that thought, a serpent wound around itself, ought to center on what mankind had done and were capacitated to do, and that because of this (a Marxist conclusion), the discourse had to be validated in reality.

This is at heart the premise of Fernando Diez, a professor in Buenos Aires and editor of the magazine Summa+, when he addresses sustainability problems from an angle less centered on technical management than on analysis of the social behaviors and biases that prevent us from quitting our parasitic habits. For Diez, the problem is not in the diagnosis, nor in the availability of tools of control and action, but in knowing if we are truly ready to go about things differently, and if we will eventually be capable of escaping the Hegelian iron cage we live in, however golden its bars seem.

Unsettling Agenda (originally published in Spanish in 2013) addresses the problems of sustainability with a broad approach, but without hiding the contradictions of Argentina, which much apply to Latin America as a whole. This is done through 29 short essays that first appeared in the newspaper La Nación with journalistic clarity and freshness. They have echoes of authors like Lewis Mumford (cultural interpretation of technique) or Paul Virilio (theory of the accident), but in the end there is a feeling that Diez keeps echoing Adorno and Horkheimer in his denouncement of ‘sustainability’ as a cultural industry.

Fernando Diez
Unsettling Agenda: Environment and Society
Centerline, Austin, 2016
146 pages

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