Monday, April 30, 2012

Capitalism or Survival

Here is an oldie from six years gets a lot of traffic and given the current talk about vulture capitalism, its pretty timely.

It's nice, and unfortunately all too rare,

when I see an author or a story that seems to say it

like I see it.

It is clear to me that our present system will not fix our problem.

The control and love of money in our institutions makes them incapable

of seeing our situation clearly

and responding creatively

and courageously.

Here is a nice piece from the Guardian that gets it.

It's capitalism or a habitable planet
- you can't have both
Our economic system is unsustainable by its very nature. The only response to climate chaos and peak oil is major social change

Robert Newman
Thursday February 2, 2006
The Guardian

There is no meaningful response to climate change without massive social change. A cap on this and a quota on the other won't do it. Tinker at the edges as we may, we cannot sustain earth's life-support systems within the present economic system.

Capitalism is not sustainable by its very nature. It is predicated on infinitely expanding markets, faster consumption and bigger production in a finite planet. And yet this ideological model remains the central organising principle of our lives, and as long as it continues to be so it will automatically undo (with its invisible hand) every single green initiative anybody cares to come up with.

Much discussion of energy, with never a word about power, leads to the fallacy of a low-impact, green capitalism somehow put at the service of environmentalism.

In reality, power concentrates around wealth.

Private ownership of trade and industry means that the decisive political force in the world is private power. The corporation will outflank every puny law and regulation that seeks to constrain its profitability.

It therefore stands in the way of the functioning democracy needed to tackle climate change. Only by breaking up corporate power and bringing it under social control will we be able to overcome the global environmental crisis.


To get from here to there we must talk about climate chaos in terms of what needs to be done for the survival of the species rather than where the debate is at now or what people are likely to countenance tomorrow morning.

If we are all still in denial about the radical changes coming - and all of us still are - there are sound geological reasons for our denial. We have lived in an era of cheap, abundant energy. There never has and never will again be consumption like we have known.

The petroleum interval, this one-off historical blip, this freakish bonanza, has led us to believe that the impossible is possible, that people in northern industrial cities can have suntans in winter and eat apples in summer.

But much as the petroleum bubble has got us out of the habit of accepting the existence of zero-sum physical realities, it's wise to remember that they never went away.

You can either have capitalism or a habitable planet.

One or the other, not both."

So, in order to survive the change in real climate,

we will need to change our economic climate.

In my view,

We will move from the present dominance of Corporations

to the creation of a new era of Cooperations.

We will see that we are not consumers who exist to feed these leviathons,

but Family members of an Earth that can no longer be ruled by them.

Their domination on earth will, in time,

look like the era of the dinosaurs that they have emulated.

They will look as wierd to our descendents,

as the T Rex looks to us today,

big, powerful, and


And yes,

their demise,

may not be pretty.

But at least it will be they

who will have become extinct.

And the Earthfamily will have become alive.


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art courtesy of Stephanie Han Windham

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