226 Bruno Latour / Matters of Fact, Matters of Concern
On what happenedto the avant-gardeandcritiquegenerally,see
Iconoclash:Beyond the Image Wars in Science,Religion,and Art,
ed. BrunoLatourandPeterWeibel (Cambridge,Mass.,2002).Thisarticleis verymuchan explorationof what couldhappenbeyondthe imagewars.
New York Times,
15Mar.2003,p. A16.Luntzseemsto havebeen very successful;I readlaterin an editorialin the
There is a betterway[than passinga law that restrictsbusiness],whichis to keepﬁghtingonthe merits.Thereis no scientiﬁcconsensusthat greenhousegasescause the world’smodestglobalwarmingtrend,muchlesswhetherthat warmingwill do more harmthan good,orwhetherwe can even do anythingaboutit.Once Republicansconcedethat greenhousegasesmustbe controlled,it will onlybe amatterof time before theyend up endorsingmore economicallydamagingregulation.They couldalwaysstandon principleandattemptto educatethe public instead.[“A RepublicanKyoto,”
8 Apr.2003,p. A14.]And the samepublicationcomplainsaboutthe “pathologicalrelation”of the “Arab street”withtruth!
PaulR. and Anne H. Ehrlich,
Betrayalof Scienceand Reason:How Anti-Environmental RhetoricThreatensOur Future
after all, if intellectuals were also one war late, one critiquelate—especially French intellectuals, especially now? It has been a long time, after all, sinceintellectuals were in the vanguard. Indeed, it has been a long time sincethevery notion of the avant-garde—the proletariat, the artistic—passedaway,pushed aside by other forces, moved to the rear guard, or maybe lumpedwith the baggage train.
We are still able to go through the motions of acritical avant-garde, but is not the spirit gone?In these most depressing of times, these are some of the issues I want topress, not to depress the reader but to press ahead, to redirect our meagercapacities as fast as possible. To prove my point, I have, not exactly facts,but rather tiny cues, nagging doubts, disturbingtelltalesigns.Whathasbe-come of critique, I wonder, when an editorial in the
New York Times
con-tains the following quote?Most scientistsbelievethat[global]warmingis causedlargelyby man-made pollutantsthatrequire strictregulation.Mr. Luntz[a Republicanstrategist]seems to acknowledgeas much when he saysthat“thescien-tiﬁcdebateis closingagainstus.” His advice,however,is to emphasizethatthe evidenceis not complete.“Shouldthe publiccome to believethatthe scientiﬁcissuesare set-tled,”he writes,“theirviewsaboutglobalwarmingwillchangeaccord-ingly.Therefore,you need to continueto make the
lack of scientiﬁc certainty
Fancy that? An artiﬁcially maintained scientiﬁc controversy to favor a“brownlash,” as Paul and Anne Ehrlich would say.
teaches sociology at the E´cole des Mines in Paris.