Dec. 10, 2017

Profits over People

I recently read a few articles on environmental and equity issues within a capitalistic system. I know, for some reason, socialism has become associated with communism and the failure of the USSR. Communism implies a classless society where all is communally owned, but the USSR never achieved such a state. But socialism is not communism. As a matter of fact, there is a continuum of ideas or definitions regarding socialism from Marxism, to democratic socialism to anarchy. Many nations practice a form of democratic socialism and most of these countries have more economic equity, better educated citizens, better health care systems. 

I believe that capitalism has been overrated as an economic system. Here is a passage from Hickel and Kirk found at: https://www.fastcompany.com/40439316/are-you-ready-to-consider-that-capitalism-is-the-real-problem

There’s something fundamentally flawed about a system that has a prime directive to churn nature and humans into capital, and do it more and more each year, regardless of the costs to human well-being and to the environment we depend on.

Because let’s be clear: That’s what capitalism is, at its root. That is the sum total of the plan. We can see this embodied in the imperative to grow GDP, everywhere, year on year, at a compound rate, even though we know that GDP growth, on its own, does nothing to reduce poverty or to make people happier or healthier. Global GDP has grown 630% since 1980, and in that same time, by some measures, inequality, poverty, and hunger have all risen. Capitalism is just not working for the majority of people on the planet and is pushing us into ecological disaster. Capitalism is a system programmed to subordinate life to the imperative of profit.

There are climate heroes across the planet working to save some aspect of the environment. But this is only treating the symptom, the root of the problem is capitalism. Corporations are siphoning up the worlds resources from water, to land, to food, to oil and gas. But the profits are going to only a few people, while the majority deal with degraded environmental resources and struggle day by day for their very survival. There are ethical solutions available such as renewable energy vs fossil fuels or regenerative agriculture vs agribusiness. Localization benefits communities and helps us preserve our local commons.

None of this is actually radical. Our leaders will tell us that these ideas are not feasible, but what is not feasible is the assumption that we can carry on with the status quo. If we keep pounding on the wedge of inequality and chewing through our living planet, the whole thing is going to implode. The choice is stark, and it seems people are waking up to it in large numbers: Either we evolve into a future beyond capitalism, or we won’t have a future at all.

Link to a short video by a group called The Rules: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACke28f3swE