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If Nature Is Sacred, Capitalism Is Wicked


#1

If Nature Is Sacred, Capitalism Is Wicked

Jake Johnson

In his remarkable study When Corporations Rule the World, David Korten recounts a meeting he attended ahead of the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The meeting was led, Korten notes, by indigenous leaders who were anxious about the direction in which global environmental policy was being steered. They were also, quite justifiably, worried about who was doing the steering.


#2

That about sums it up.

We just watched the brand new remake of the 1960 movie "The Magnificent Seven" on the big screen.

The villain this time was an impressively disturbed mining magnate - a real killer - devoid of humanity.

Quite aside from seeing the return of the western, we are seeing the oldest theme in the world cast in an up to date light, and the depiction of the characters on the good side are more than interesting, revealing in their way the breadth of the human experience on Earth - the irrationality of it all.

The right thing to to is surprisingly easy to know - but it seems only the hero archetype has the courage to act.

We are right now, in fact, already fighting a guerrilla war against the powers of darkness. This will continue until the breaking point is reached, I imagine.


#3

Absolutely right on. However, I think much of the resistance to acknowledging the destructive forces of capitalism is the use of the term itself - that is, "anti-capitalism ". This term has the same effect
as anti-christian, or anti-american, or anti-whatever. That is , people re-act viscerally. I wonder if identifying the problem as consumerism could reduce the resistance.
If Jake Johnson writes it, I read it.


#5

Consumers are responsible every time they cast their vote in the marketplace..ie spend a dollar. Dodd/Frank legislation alone would not have enabled the too-big-to-fail Wall Street banks to double their control of bank assets from 25 to 50% during the past 8 years if consumers had not patronized them. Wal-Mart would not have been the largest private employer in 26 states during the past two decades if consumers had not patronized them.


#6

Money combined with knowledge is power.
If that weren't true the oligarchy wouldn't be keeping half the population in America both stupid and poor.


#8

I take a middle road on the consumerism issue. Price is often very important to many, and I give those shopping at Wal Mart a pass, though I refuse to pass though their doors. But it isn't the 1% that keeps money flowing into the coffers of Apple and Nike, etc. The populace has, in addition to being dumbed down, been conditioned to needing the 'latest, newest, most improved' version of things for decades. We are also constantly bombarded by ads designed to make us think we 'need' new products. Then there's convenience of course. Harried parents are more likely to buy pudding in a pre-packaged cup rather than making it themselves at a far lower cost.

Living simply is fantastically rewarding, but it is also time consuming. Those who are condemned by the system to working 2 or more jobs really don't have that time, or energy.

Both arguments are valid, neither is sufficient. Education is paramount to reducing consumerism, and our educational system is designed to keep us consuming.

This post is meant as a reply to Tom Johnson & Ray delCamino. Guess I pushed the wrong spot!


#11

The fact of the matter is that Capitalism, in and of itself, is the worst possible economic system ever devised by modern man.
The system created Capitalists who rent out their money, and workers who work for wages.
The only vehicle which even attempted to equalize wealth among the classes was the "progressive income tax system."
And that system has been thoroughly corrupted by the politicians in favor of the wealthy oligarchs.
The Capitalist economic system must be replaced and replaced quickly.


#12

"Radical change cannot take place in the absence of mass anti-capitalist movements that recognize the interplay between economic interests and environmental degradation."

The Internet is by far the best organizing tool we have. But as victims of the ancient oligarchy's electoral system we find it almost impossible to change. That is unless we can break through the oligarchy's gauntlet of its corrupt politicians and judges.

The answer is direct democracy, the oligarchy's bugaboo. Look what happened to Libya, Africa's wealthiest (direct) democracy:


#13

Good points. Unfortunately, we live by the Golden Rule: "them with the gold makes the rules", invariably in their own favor. In order to change that, all the people have to make the rules.

If its not direct, its not democracy.


#14

"If "water is life," as the Sioux saying goes, an economic system that poisons water for profit is life's contradiction ‚ÄĒ it is a system of destruction, a "suicide economy," that must be dismantled."

I am repeatedly dumbfounded by the destructive behavior corporate greed encourages and the blindness that helps to perpetuate that behavior especially when it is truly a matter of life and death. It is seems oddly and extremely counterintuitive; these aren't stupid people but something is definitely wrong with their thought processes.

Much of our ground and surface water is already contaminated, much more than most people realize. It is deplorable that someone would take advantage of that situation for money-making purposes and jeopardize not only the lives of millions of people but all living things including the capitalists making the money. It makes no sense.


#15

Yes, but poor people like myself do not get to pick and choose such niceties--where we buy food. Wherever cheapest to feed the family. Do not expect those with hungry kids to put political strategies above their daily imperative needs.
Yes I hate walmart. Yes I also hate much about this country. No, do not plan on moving to another country, but if hard right nationalists want to start a fundme page for commie pinkos like myself, I'll abide. As we know, if you want to live the American Dream, move to Denmark.


#16

The industrial corporation is the natural enemy of nature.--- Edward Abbey


#18

Hi markus44. I agree that capitalists who produce goods and hire workers are not evil at all. Jobs are not evil and neither are products that are beneficial to society and the earth. However, producing beneficial products requires research and development -- it's much easier to make money by privatizing resources that were once available to all. For example, a lot of money can be made polluting the ground water of the Standing Rock nation and then selling them drinking water from somewhere else. Now that's a real monopoly! Part of the mission of our National Forests, which most people think is government land set aside as wilderness, is to provide trees for private lumber companies to cut down. Our economic system is headed for disaster because the capitalism we practice requires eternal growth, but we live on a finite planet. The short-term solution is to break up the big companies doing business in the USA and then heavily regulating them to insure they work for the common good.


#19

We can all be some sort of "hero" as this is a fight for our Sacred Planet; and for a compassionate humanity.
Everybody can do more, and all have different strengths. The more that join, the stronger the Movement!


#21

Love the title, says so much with just six words!


#22

Mr Johnson highlights important points, but I don't think it's helpful to frame the argument as such an extreme either/or -- as the title of this article suggests.

I grew up in a mining region in Minnesota, and ever since the beginning (1900s) economic development and environmental degradation have gone hand in hand. There have been drastic changes in the landscape due to open pit or strip mining. At the current time, a major highway Interstate #53 is being rerouted because the mining company owns the mineral rights beneath it. A long time ago, a contract was made that if the company decides to take the minerals, the change of the roadway must be done at taxpayers' expense. This project involves a bridge over an old mine pit, and it will be one of the most expensive bridge projects ever.

The citizens of the region mostly support mining because they believe it is essential to sustaining their economic base. It pays for food, shelter, medical care, and everything. It's darn hard to say no to mining because mining has lifted people economically. There is plenty of evidence that mining has had a negative impact on health. For instance, mesothelioma occurs at a rate greater than the average population, and this happens because of the mining. From the beginning, miners have suffered safety risks and health impacts, and so do the people that live near the taconite plants.

Environmental justice is a good term to consider. The mining, fracking, and pipelines are not happening in the expensive neighborhoods. We don't dump hazardous waste in certain places. How do we make this more equitable and ensure that everybody has a healthy environment?

Right now, mineral development continues to be a controversial issue in northern MInnesota. A copper sulfide project is proposed, and lots of people rightly are opposed to it. I'm opposed to it. This project would be adjacent to the pristine wilderness of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, a federal reserve. It could ruin the BWCA and drinking water in three major watersheds. Sulfide contamination and acid run off endangers waters across the continent because the project lays on a three way continental divide, with waters flowing to Hudson Bay, St. Lawrence Seaway, and the Mississippi River.

A super wealthy corporation is very hard to stop. The resources they can devote to getting policy changes far exceeds the ability or influence of any individual person. Corporations are highly organized. They own the means of production and make a big profit. They are formidable, and this power has been abused. They do exploit both the environment and the workers. A community should not rely on one corporation to provide jobs. We've seen how unstable this is, and we see that the corporation or company does not take care of people as well as they should.

It is absolutely necessary to organize individuals in such a way to meet the challenges, to create a situation of equal influence and power. I would like to see a focus on small capitalism: economic development of small business that would provide a diverse economic base. The way through this incredibly complex issue is not by either / or statements. We have to acknowledge that human habitation and concomitant economic development usually causes changes to the environment. The challenges are energy and mineral use. We must find a way to both sustain ourselves AND maintain healthy ecosystems that support life.


#23

Capitalism is the economic theory that when humans act out of rational self-interest, the invisible hand of the free market creates the best outcomes. Humans have always acted out of self-interest. Adam Smith simply proposed that unregulated free markets will produce the best outcomes. But Smith was a philosopher, not a scientist and never tested his hypothesis (that the invisible hand of the free market will produce the best outcomes). However, if your definition of justice is whatever the invisible hand of the market produces, then the 1% controlling 50% of the wealth is just by definition. Marx doesn't have this problem because his definition of justice is: "From each according to his ability; to each according to his need." Ironically, Marx, the atheist, got his definition of justice from the Bible: "All whose faith had drawn them together held everything in common: they would sell their property and possessions and make a general distribution as the need of each required." (Acts 2: 44-45)

Behavioral economists have actually tested Smith's hypothesis and found that when it comes to money, humans are as irrational as they are when it comes to sex. There is even a neurophysiological basis for this conclusion: the same pleasure centers in the brain that motivate humans to seek out sexual partners also motivate humans to seek out wealth. As Gordon Gekko said in the movie "Wall Street": "It's [making money] better than sex"

So, it is not surprising that Ayn Rand (the high priestess of laissez-faire capitalism--no government regulations of the market) would irrationally say: "selfishness is a virtue."

Irrational humans acting selfishly is certainly a recipe for disaster.

The problem I have with capitalists is that it is clear that the free market produces injustice because wealth concentration in the hands of a few is the inevitable result of capitaislism. The Constitution states clearly that government must establish justice. Laissez-faire capitalism results in injustice and the government has a constitutional duty to do something about the injustice that results from the selfishness of good capitalists.


#24

So, apparently Marx and Engels were right!


#25

Nature is Sacred and Capitalism is NOT Wicked, but Privatism is Very, Very Wicked.

It is really simple, but appears to be difficult for people to understand. Understanding will come if one will ignore the 1%'s long time instilled propaganda.

Capitalism is not the problem, the problem is "privatism." Privatism uses the tool of capitalism for the betterment of the 1%, a tool that could be used by socialism as a tool for the betterment of the 99%. NEVER should we try to get rid of the tool of capitalism, because it is actually an impossibility, since capitalism is a tool to be used by either privatists [1%] or socialists [99%]..

"Under capitalism [privatism], everything is a business opportunity ‚ÄĒ catastrophes, from tsunamis to wars, are no exception. In fact, as Klein documented in her earlier book The Shock Doctrine, disasters are not viewed by business leaders [privatists] as problems to be solved; rather, they are seen as circumstances of which they [the privatists] must take advantage." -- Common Dreams -- [bracketed notations by this writer to emphasize privatism]

Corporatists are the 1%, privatists.. The reason capitalism requires constant growth is because it is controlled by privatism, the 1%. Under socialist control, capitalism would benefit the 99%. Right now, socialism through the 99% pays for the constant growth of capitalism, every time the privatists get greedy. It is time for a change.


#26

Awesome idea! I just googled Henry George -- Why isn't this stuff taught in schools????? I'm adding Progress and Poverty to my reading list..