Guest essay by Eric Worrall
h/t Dr. Willie Soon; Guardian contributor George Monbiot insists we must ditch Capitalism to save the world from climate change, but he doesn’t like any of the alternative economic systems.
Dare to declare capitalism dead – before it takes us all down with it
Thu 25 Apr 2019 15.00 AEST
The economic system is incompatible with the survival of life on Earth. It is time to design a new one
For most of my adult life I’ve railed against “corporate capitalism”, “consumer capitalism” and “crony capitalism”. It took me a long time to see that the problem is not the adjective but the noun. While some people have rejected capitalism gladly and swiftly, I’ve done so slowly and reluctantly. Part of the reason was that I could see no clear alternative: unlike some anti-capitalists, I have never been an enthusiast for state communism. I was also inhibited by its religious status. To say “capitalism is failing” in the 21st century is like saying “God is dead” in the 19th: it is secular blasphemy. It requires a degree of self-confidence I did not possess.
But as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to recognise two things. First, that it is the system, rather than any variant of the system, that drives us inexorably towards disaster. Second, that you do not have to produce a definitive alternative to say that capitalism is failing. The statement stands in its own right. But it also demands another, and different, effort to develop a new system.
Capitalism’s failures arise from two of its defining elements. The first is perpetual growth. Economic growth is the aggregate effect of the quest to accumulate capital and extract profit. Capitalism collapses without growth, yet perpetual growth on a finite planet leads inexorably to environmental calamity.
This drives us towards cataclysm on such a scale that most people have no means of imagining it. The threatened collapse of our life-support systems is bigger by far than war, famine, pestilence or economic crisis, though it is likely to incorporate all four. Societies can recover from these apocalyptic events, but not from the loss of soil, an abundant biosphere and a habitable climate.
So what does a better system look like? I don’t have a complete answer, and I don’t believe any one person does. But I think I see a rough framework emerging. Part of it is provided by the ecological civilisation proposed by Jeremy Lent, one of the greatest thinkers of our age. Other elements come from Kate Raworth’s doughnut economics and the environmental thinking of Naomi Klein, Amitav Ghosh, Angaangaq Angakkorsuaq, Raj Patel and Bill McKibben. Part of the answer lies in the notion of “private sufficiency, public luxury”. Another part arises from the creation of a new conception of justice based on this simple principle: every generation, everywhere, shall have an equal right to the enjoyment of natural wealth.
…Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/25/capitalism-economic-system-survival-earth
Monbiot’s reference to top soil for some reason reminded me of my favourite scene out of the movie “Under Siege“, in which the antagonist who has hijacked a nuclear warship is trying to convince the authorities that he is crazy, by making wild claims about topsoil and other fringe eco themes;
Update (EW): The Guardian has published responses from readers to Monbiot’s article.