Death To Capitalism!
You’ve probably played the board game Monopoly. When one player has everyone’s money, the game is over. That’s essentially what capitalism is. Many people think it goes with democracy — hey, it’s free enterprise, and that it can’t work in systems like communism. China is proving that assumption wrong. Actually, it’s democracy that is incompatible with capitalism, which always moves away from democracy and towards oligarchy and monopoly. Money is a zero sum proposition; there’s only so much of it (unless the Fed creates more out of thin air, which devalues the rest, but that’s a discussion for another time). So if someone is getting richer, a whole lot of other people are becoming poorer.
Capitalism exists for one reason only — growth or expansion. This is all it cares about or understands, and everything else is irrelevant. It doesn’t care how many people lose their jobs because they got outsourced to a cheaper labor market. It doesn’t matter how many people’s lives are ruined, or how much it damages the air, water, and food we all need to survive. All that matters is growth and progress, and growth for its own sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. Like cancer, capitalism will devour everything in its path until it destroys its host — all of us and the rest of the planet as well.
It acts in every way like cancer; it feeds off the extraction of human and natural resources, and gives nothing back but toxic waste. This industrial civilization built on capitalism is unsustainable. Resources are finite, the earth is finite. Eventually we have to run out of resources, and we’re getting closer to that point all the time. Take the fossil fuel industry. All the cheap and easy to get fossil fuels have been used up. Now we have to drill from floating platforms on the ocean, thousands of feet down to the sea floor. The BP Gulf disaster is the latest result of this type of extraction. With the coal industry, capitalism figured out that if you just blow the mountains to pieces, you don’t need near as many miners. Natural gas is using the practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to get deep down to blast the natural gas loose from shale formations. These pillagers won’t stop what they’re doing until they’ve squeezed every drop of oil out, until they’ve gotten that last lump of coal, or until all our groundwater is destroyed by fracking.
Of course I’m talking about what’s been called predatory capitalism, which is the same as cancer metastasized. What about tightly regulated capitalism? Yes, that would be better, but it’s still just a slower walk to the precipice. What is needed is a completely different system. Renewable resources may be the answer for the short-term fix, but even these systems require petroleum in large amounts. What could we do if the political will was there? We could end subsidies to gas, coal, and oil, and subsidize wind, solar, and geothermal energy. We could begin learning to live in a more sustainable manner, go back to a more localized mercantilism. Importing food from across the country or around the world is wasteful of energy, and we don’t need to do it. The reason humans lived for thousands of years in the same localities is that all we need is there, in that local landbase. If all nutritional requirements weren’t present in a certain area, humans moved on to settle somewhere else. The Earth has thought of all this millions of years ago, that’s why the ecosystem is interlinked in a shared dependency. We just stopped listening.
Do I think any of this will happen? Not even a remote chance. Oh sure, the local farmers’ markets are expanding everywhere. Agribusiness is working on putting them all out of business. They don’t like competition, and they have the power and influence to get laws passed to make it impossible for organic farmers to survive. I’d suggest people start plowing up their lawns and planting vegetables.
Ironically, the thing that may bail us out may be the collapse of the ecosystem, which is teetering now, and only needs a little shove. That shove may be happening right now. Methane is twenty times more destructive to the atmosphere than excess carbon dioxide. There are over 400 megatons of it locked in permafrost and arctic ices. Because we have been warming the atmosphere with our predatory capitalistic madness, that methane has been unlocked and is going into the air. On Dec. 13th, the London Daily Times reported on a Russian team of scientists, led by Igor Semelitov, who have been studying the East Siberian Arctic ice shelf. They observed over a hundred plumes, or fountains, of methane boiling up directly into the atmosphere. This was in an area of just 10,000 square miles.
Since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, we have been living a fool’s dream. We all thought we could have it all. Today there are over 7 billion of us, and nearly everyone feels entitled to an iPhone, an iPad, a laptop computer, and maybe a car too. It’s unsustainable. We’ve been living like there’s no tomorrow, and it’s getting close to midnight. How insane is it to destroy the only planet we have, just because there’s a profit in it?