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What Whales Have to Teach Humans About Capitalism


What Whales Have to Teach Humans About Capitalism

Laura Bridgeman

Any accounting of the commons without acknowledging the presence and interests of others will lead to their continued destruction, to our human detriment as well.


“Should Trees Have Standing ?” (1972); Christopher Stone. Highly recommend this legal argument.

Also, from Carlo Rovelli’s “Reality is not what it Seems”

“To a wise man the whole earth is open, because the true country of a virtuous soul is the entire universe.”

  • Democritus, ca 450 BCE

Great article - I will check out this SONAR website of Laura Bridgeman


Especially ironic that these are creatures just as intelligent as we are, but in a different way.
The human enterprise still has some growing up to do.


Bravo~ I think I remember being taught in school that all nature//species/human life is interconnected and we do depend on this connectiveness to survive. We may have superior brains which seems debate able in this age of greed and profit at all costs.


From the perspective of the individual whale, it’s never in its interests to be eaten. Perhaps in a hundred years, we will no longer be eating animals.


“…we will no longer be eating animals.” The deer, the cow, the hen, the whale, the pig, the tuna–it’s never in their interests to be eaten.


Excellent article. Ethics – and accounting – must encompass all reality, not be narrowed down to a “utilitarian” humanism, or reduce everything to its financial value.


Cetaceans can also teach us that it is possible to live in harmony with Earth. And to use our intelligence to leave Earth healthy and pollinated.

Capitalism requires infinite growth forever on a finite planet. Sure, mega capitalists dream of science fiction galactic empires; That don’t mean they have the right to take out the biosphere in a mad quest to be top dog.

Humanity will show a real sign of possible survival when cetaceans are given the vote.


The gist of the article is exactly what most ancient cultures were maintaining when they were not trying to get rich in their primitive ways until the muskets and colonization came along.

Well, there might not be enough time left for respecting what the world had to offer before we sprayed our seeds over every inch of the planet.


Whales, pigs, dolphins, cows, birds, etc., by virtue of their complex emotional and cognitive lives, should all be assigned both legal and moral standing (in this case, the former is in fact based on the latter).


The oddity of this article is the complete misunderstanding of free markets and capitalism. “The commons” is not a capitalist/free market concept. The Commons is a failure the results from the lack of markets, leading to the exact problems this author notes, in which scarce resources are arbitrarily divvied up instead of conserved or consumed based on market prices, i.e. supply and demand. When supply is low, prices rise and resources are conserved. When supply is high, prices drop and resources are consumed more. But when we have “The Tragedy of the Commons” there is no rational way to decide how to use resources, leading to inefficiency, and usually, an over-consumption of resources. That’s the irony here. When we have a real market with the price mechanism, you never have over-consumption because it is non-economical.


Really? So there is no over-consumption of fossil fuels, because there is a “real” energy market? Therefore the Earth’s atmosphere must be in balance, not seriously out of whack?

No over-consumption of forests, because there is a “real” market? Therefore the planet’s forests must be healthy, not dis-integrating? The Amazon forest must be healthy, not shrinking and drying out?

No over-consumption of fish, because there is a “real” market? Fisheries all over the world must be thriving, not collapsing under “market” assault?

Ecological activists are not being murdered all over the world, because only pure and natural “market forces” are in play, not greed and theft and brutality?

You live in an ideological fantasy. Your “real” market is a phantasm, that only exists as a propaganda tool of the looters.

In the REAL world, the ecology of the Earth is DIS-INTEGRATING. We do not need your imaginary “real” markets. We need to STOP destructive actions that are literally DIS-INTEGRATING the whole ecological system of the Earth – of which Humans are a dependent part, not a superior separateness.


Let’s go through each of your counter-examples:

The energy market is very far from a free market, as you would agree in other discussions. Case in point: subsidies to oil and gas companies, subsidies to green investments, hyper-regulated by the federal government, etc. And that is just in the United States, which proclaims to be a generally capitalist country. If you take the centralized, top-down nations and add that to the equation, you can see why we have very far from a free market for energy consumption globally.

Forests are another example of the Tragedy of the Commons. Clearly the Amazon rain forest would be a great example. So you are now 2 for 2 on great examples, but you’ve mis-diagnosed them.

And fishing is the best example of the Tragedy of the Commons that you will find in any economics textbook. No one owns the water, so over-consumption is expected. You’re 3 for 3 on examples.

Ecological activists being murdered has nothing to do with any kind of economic system whatsoever. It’s very sad and deplorable but I don’t know what context that has in this conversation.

The last irony of it all is that the most destructive economic system to the ecology known to man has been communism. Take a look at the history of the Soviet Union and China on their environment. It’s not pretty. For all of the talk about the US destroying the ecology, we’ve been busy over the last 200 years using technological growth to create more efficient and better machinery and techniques that have been far better for the environment than the old alternatives of the 1800’s and early 1900’s that poorer countries still have to use.


You live in a fantasy. Your “real” market DOES NOT EXIST. Please join the real world.


Could be. But that’s not a great response to prove your point.


“If you don’t have a seat at the table, you’re on the menu.”
–source unknown


There are just too many of us, and space is reduced to just 15% of former use by species other than humans.


Yes, and not used by humans.


Here’s some background:


This poor kid was excoriated by bone heads who have no idea what it takes to survive out there:

Milk is something around $12 for a half gallon, forget prices for fresh vegetables, for the most part they don’t exist out there. After being flown from Seattle to Anchorage, they have to be flown to Nome, then put on a small plane to Gambell. If the weather is good, they may make it before they rot. These people have nothing else to eat except what they can hunt, which includes whale.

I don’t eat whale because I have committed to not eating anything smarter than me, but I would never criticize someone for eating in their traditional manner.