André Gorz, a thinker from yesterday for tomorrow
Philosophy before all
An impossible childhood
Gerhart Hirsch alias André Gorz was born in Austria, 1923 where he lived a difficult youth. He tried in vain to find a solution between his jewish father & his mother, a Catholic & antisemitic, who wanted him to become a viril German. A short time after the arrival of Adolf Hitler to power, André Gorz changed his name & went to live in Switzerland where he studied Chemistry, studies of which he did nothing.
In the steps of Jean-Paul Sartre
He covered his unease with philosophy & literature. He was profoundly affected by the French language and his meeting with Jean-Paul Sartre. The philosophy of André Gorz is infused by Existentialism throughout his work : In which way does society alienate the individual & how can he be freed from Determinism ? He even manages to resolve the identity crisis that accompanied him from his childhood in a self-analysis in a surprising & difficult book : The traitor prefaced by Jean-Paul Sartre.
Journalist & cofounder of the « Nouvel Observateur »
A short time after he settled in France, André Gorz became a journalist under the name of Michel Bosquet. He accumulated much knowledge, firstly in Economy then in numerous other disciplines.
He wrote for a variety of magazines such as The Express, The Sauvage (Wildman), Que Choisir (consumer magazine) or even the revue The Modern Times (Les Temps Modernes) of which he was a member of the Board of Directors. He contributed in the foundation of the Nouvel Observateur in 1964 which he left twenty years later after having been progressively excluded.
His work as a journalist fed his philosophical & political ideas & helped him clarify his writings. Many of his books are volumes of articles he had written for magazines.
Political pioneer in Ecology
In the 1970’s, André Gorz became interested in Ecology. The Meadows Report which underlines the limits of economic growth, had just been published, it was the begining of the world ecological mouvement.
André Gorz doesn’t only try to save the planet. Through Ecology, he defends another idea or vision of Man, freed from capitalism & the industrial society. The defence of nature requires a better understanding of our lives, of our acts & the fundamentals of our society.
Thus, he invents the notion of « a lived in world’ » or even the « normality of sufficiency » & thus is close to the philosophy of Ivan Illich.
He also wishes to reduce the purchasing activity in our lives & develop the autonomous actions of all kinds (ie artistic, handy crafts, gardening, do it yourself etc.) but also the pooling of many activities & services.
Although he doesn’t have a university degree, Michel Bosquet alias André Gorz is rapidly assigned the writing of & eventually the management of the Economy column of the « ModernTimes » (Temps Modernes). He brings a new vision to this discipline by questioning the real meaning behind the economy. He has a sharp analysis of economic rationality.
“The impression that the economy benefits from an abundance of liquid assets […] is due in reality to a spiraling growth in debts of all sorts […]. The latest to date, the real estate bubble […] increased the « value » of real estate in the industrial world from 20 to 60 billions of dollars in three years.Ecologica, André Gorz
Each bubble finishes earlier or later by bursting & by transforming into debt, with no real base, the financial assets in the end of year accounts of banks.”
André Gorz is one of the rare personalities to have predicted the financial crisis of 2008. As early as the 1970’s he had already analysed the risks & future economic concerns :
“Concerning the world economic crisis, we are at the begining of a long mechanism which will last for decades. The worst is before us, that means the financial collapse of some of the large banks and probably also countries. The financial collapse or the means employed to avoid them, will only deepen the crisis within societies & the current dominating values.”Interview with “André Gorz, a philosopher for the 21st century” (La Découverte)
The author of a magnificent love letter
His most famous book is no less than a love letter, Letter to D. This letter is a testimony to the sensitivity & fragility of André Gorz.
At night I sometimes see the figure of a man, on an empty road in a deserted landscape, walking behind a hearse. I am that man. It’s you the hearse is taking away. I don’t want to be there for your cremation; I don’t want to be given an urn with your ashes in it. I hear the voice of Kathleen Ferrier singing, ‘Die Welt ist leer, Ich will nicht leben mehr’* and I wake up. I check your breathing, my hand brushed over you. Neither of us wants to outlive the other. We’ve often said to ourselves that if, by some miracle, we were to have a second life, we’d like to spend it together.Lettre à D. – a Love Story, André Gorz
Contrary to the usual love stories, this one is not the impossible love of two beautiful young lovers. The love that units André & Doreen has been cultivated over time, in the small daily motions or moments. Their devotion to each other has enabled André Gorz to open up to others.
Unable to imagine ending life without the other, they choose to die together. They died peacefully on 22nd September, 2007.
A real living thought
Since then, no less that ten works have been written about André Gorz. He is also mentioned on a regualr basis in certain media such as France Culture or in Le Monde Diplomatique, other magazines have dedicated a entire edition to him such as ‘Ecorev’ or Politis. and probably
It’s in this frame of mind that we have produced our film Letter to G.