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Neoliberalism Drives Climate Breakdown, Not Human Nature


It doesn’t matter who they’re manufacturing for. The fact remains that the ecological record of the former Eastern Bloc, the USSR and the PRC are far worse than the more-or-less capitalist West. All those countries were able (if they chose) to implement environmentally-friendly regulations. They didn’t.


Because capitalism is an externalization machine.


So what? That’s like saying that the misogyny of Harvey Weinstein is worse than that of Charlie Rose. Is this some kind of lesser-of-evils argument?


No Ed, I’d suggest that, especially here, people tend to think that socialism is the cure for all evils (or at least most of them). What I am pointing out is that in practice, self-described “socialism” is worse for the environment than capitalism has been.

Any system that exceeds carrying capacity is going to be bad for the environment. However, if you compare the track records of so-called capitalism and so-called socialism, capitalism has been less detrimental to the environment. You may call it a “lesser of evils” argument, I’d call it more effective damage control. If you’re in a situation where, due to having exceeded carrying capacity, damage will happen, would you rather cause more damage or less damage?


Of course, less damage is better. However, I agree with Tom Larsen’s response to your comment regarding use of the term socialism versus “state capitalism.” My preferred model for government is democratic socialism, which is not what existed in the states you mentioned earlier. Short of that, I’d be relieved to return to New Deal and Keynesian economics because this neoliberalism is destroying everything, including itself. Which brings me to the point that capitalism–particularly this virulent, neoliberal manifestation (or, rather, infestation)–is the overwhelming, current driver of our impending demise. What do you think capitalist “competition” will produce during a state of collapse? I expect dog-eat-dog carnage of the worst kind.


Dog eat dog carnage has nothing to do with an economic system. It has everything to do with scarcity of resources, relative to the number of people trying to get a piece of them.

During a state of collapse, any economic system, by definition, collapses. Given the track record of Leftist states in times of collapse (the Ukrainian famine of the late 20s, Pol Pot’s disaster) I’d say any system is pretty much screwed in times of collapse.

It eventually comes down to lifeboat economics.


Capitalism produces “lifeboat economics.” Capitalists must “profit or die.” How is that different from dog eat dog? Also capitalism manufactures “scarcity.” Just look at capitalist agriculture: tons of food are thrown away every year (corn for example) to artificially keep prices high. There are many studies out there that show that there’s plenty of food produced to feed everyone on the planet, yet people starve, not because there’s not enough food, but because they cannot afford to buy it. That’s manufactured scarcity as well. Food (and all commodities) are not produced by the capitalist to sustain people, for its use value. It is produced to make a profit, it is produced for its exchange value.


It’s important to note that the USSR’s rapid industrialization, which led to their environmental problems was a result of its desire to ward off invasion from the West. The arms race for them was defensive unlike the US which was and is offensive in nature. Without the capitalist nation aggression, genuine socialism might have succeeded. A little known history is that about 15 capitalist countries sent arms and troops to aid the counterrevolutionary White Army in 1918 to Russia - including about 10,000 US soldiers…


Randall sez: “We did not lose the earth in the 1980s. Rather, the tools governments needed to act had be taken from them.”

The ‘tools’ were not taken.

They were purchased at fair market value. Installment payments continue today in the halls of congress.


This is not an either-or. The capitalism with a vengeance we have now has certainly made the climate issue worse (and the environment in general) but we also have plenty of non-1%ers who won’t walk (or bike, or carpool, or use transit) more and drive (or fly) less, or buy smaller cars, or have fewer kids, or turn down the thermostat and wear a sweater, or eat less meat… I know its politically easiest here to blame it all on the corporate barons, but to some extent they produce what sells and what sells are SUVs and the equivalent.



[Sorry for the dross here; the software insists that I use five characters and complete a sentence.]


No, running out of resources produces “lifeboat economics”. I’ve never encountered the notion of “Profit or die” with any capitalist… Yes, there is a profit motive, but I’ve yet to meet a capitalist who would choose to die if they didn’t make a profit…

People produce because it provides value to them, either directly, through consumption, or through exchange - what they can trade their production for. There are very few people who produce to sustain some abstract notion of “people” - they produce to sustain themselves and those they care about. Exchange value is a benefit - it provides people a way to acquire things they cannot, or do not, produce themselves.

As for the Soviet Union, the famine in the Ukraine was not a “defensive” arms race - it was a deliberate decision on the part of Stalin to snuff out the NEP. As for the arms race being defensive, ask the Poles, Latvians, Estonians, Lithuanians, Rumalians and Finns about being such horrible aggressors against the peace-loving Soviet Union.


The US has military bases on Russia’s borders; they don’t have bases on ours. The US invaded the young USSR in 1918. They have never invaded the US. Historically the Soviet “empire” only ever extended to their near periphery (Afghanistan is a different story). In the election of 1960, Kennedy and Nixon’s policies were not very different except for one thing: Kennedy was heavily pushing the idea of a “missile gap” btwn the US and USSR. There was a missile gap, just not in the way Kennedy was hocking it: The US had vastly more than the USSR. Less than 10 years before the collapse of the Soviet system, Ronald Reagan was claiming that the USSR was the “Evil Empire” and an existential threat to world peace. This is a theme that goes back 100 years…


Tom… as I said, tell that to the Poles, Lithuanians, Estonians, etc…

Poland never invaded the USSR. The USSR invaded Poland twice.


You’re missing the point. Russia or the USSR were not and are not anything more than a regional power and possibly regional aggressor. Not so with the US. Our country threatens the entire globe. The US has roughly 800 bases in about 80 countries (besides the US!). Russia has a military budget less than the increase in the budget passed this year with generous support from both Parties.There’s a big difference. If we are going to talk rationally we need to see that. Otherwise we are just pawns to the propaganda system.


Actually, it does matter whom they manufacture for or, stated differently, who hires them to manufacture. This is for more or less the same reason that I am guilty of murder if I hire someone to kill my wife.

And it also matters that they are under economic and other compunction to not pass regulations.

Americans use vastly more energy than anyone else on the planet, per capita. Europeans, to generalize, come in second. Why should we not take this as a far better measure of the damage to the planet than the state of an individual’s back yard? The rich distribute most of their damage away from their homes, unsurprisingly. The poor have far less choice in its direction.


IIRC, food resources have already run into a wall.  Irrigation in the absence of adequate rainfall and/or flooding eventually results in the buildup of minerals in the soil sufficient to make it unsuitable for crops, and erosion & rising sea levels are rapidly decreasing the amount of soil available to grow food.  Our high-potency chemical fertilizers have increased food production enough to TEMPORARILY delay Malthus’ profisy, but it looks to me like Mother Nature is about to level the playing field in the competition between humans and all the rest of her children.  I too am glad that I am an Old Fart, and will not be here to witness the suffering of my grandson and his offspring (if any) . . .


Clearly, by “often”, you mean 99 and 44/100 percent of the time.  The Fat Cats and their Multi-NaZional Korp­orations have been calling the shots to a greater and greater extent ever since the beginnings of the Industrial Age, and achieved near total control of our lives with the formation of the WTO and the passage of NAFTA two decades ago.   The argument between the two branches of the Duopoly is mainly whether to pretend to have a secular “democracy” or an outright pseudo-christian theocracy in charge (or which pigs are more equal than the other pigs).


Tom, You are the one that is missing the point.

  1. We’re talking about ecological effects here, not who is the bigger warmonger.
  2. The point I made is that the Soviet Union, the Eastern Bloc and the PRC chose to ignore environmental effects in their industrialization.
  3. As a result, their impact on the environment was dramatically negative. If you look at Soviet industrial sites, you will see levels of pollution unequaled in the West. Or, for that matter, note that breathing in Beijing today is akin to breathing in London more than a century ago.


China, and others have freedom of choice. They are sovereign nations. They chose to accept those levels of pollution. And Actually, China leads in the pollution market, whether we’re looking at carbon emissions or CO2

Their government made that choice, not ours