activism, sustainability
Comments 21

Why are you so hung up on capitalism?

I’ve been reading articles on alternative economic models for a few years now and inevitably, in the comment section, several people will argue feverishly that what sustainable-minded people are calling capitalism is crony-capitalism and that real capitalism is the best thing ever that could happen to human beings. It’s a state where true freedom resides. It is the alpha and omega of our existence, and we should be so lucky to experience it some day.

I don’t get it. You realize that you sound like religious zealots, right?

At least for now, I feel this is where the conversation stagnates. We are all so caught up in labels that we can’t see the forest for the trees, which is ironic, since all our trees are being cut down in the name of capitalism, capital, and short-term thinking.

Sustainability doesn’t care about your labels. It doesn’t care about capitalism or socialism, which has been so wildly distorted in the American mind that it is unrecognizable to someone from Europe. Whatever system that existed in old Soviet, it certainly wasn’t a system for the social good of a country. The social democracy we see in Scandinavia today is the closest thing we have to a utopia, voted so by decades of global happiness indexes, but take my word for it, we still spend a great deal of our time complaining and bickering politically.

Sustainability ranks above all of this. It only has one unifying goal: for nature and humans to co-exist. We need nature to exist. For some strange reason, political ideologies and capitalism fail to take this into account. And then logic dictates, in our time of crisis, all of the above has been made irrelevant.

Trade is certainly not a political ideology. Trade and interaction is found in nature, too, to better ensure the survival of species. So capitalism doesn’t get to patent the concept of trade. Trees, plants, birds, mammals and even the soil all work together to create a state of balance. Humans, with bizarre hubris, seem to consider ourselves above that balance. We will have trade in a post-capitalistic society. Maybe not the selfish, greedy kind, but the natural kind, found in nature.

Sustainability is not political ideology, even though it is labelled as such right now. It is a scientific fact required for survival. Right now scientists are trying to calculate how much it would cost, in dollars, if the bees were to go extinct and we all had to pollinate our own plants for food. It was something like $30 billion a year. Hello?? Does anyone realize how ridiculous this all sounds? Not the scientists, of course, they are doing a fine job highlighting how out of touch our society has become.

Crony-capitalism. Corporatocracy. Plutocracy. Oligarchy. Democracy. Dictatorship. Does it even matter at this point? Does arguing over definitions on the internet make you feel part of the solution at all?

A friend told me that they wish the Earth would be attacked by aliens soon, so that human kind could come together and face an external threat, and maybe that would become the start of global cooperation. A time when we truly realized that we are one people living on one planet. But I don’t know. At this point I would wager a bet that we would spend most of the time arguing what to call the aliens, and then, obliteration.

So talk to me about universal basic income. Talk to me about resource based economy. Or the gift economy, or how we can manage a 20 hour work week for all without entering a financial black death where 1/3 of the population succumbs. Give me fresh, new viewpoints that no one has thought of before. But please don’t try to tell me that an 18th century ideology can somehow be fitted to the 21st century and 7.3 billion people on the planet. Unleash your imagination. It’s a lot more fun to live in the future.

This article is brought to you by the comments on today’s awesome article in The Guardian: The end of capitalism has begun

21 Comments

  1. Equality 333 says

    Great post and I agree wit your friend Aliens would be good, but I fear we don’t need them. I am reading about a economic crash that will destroy the world as we know. Now to me thats a good thing a reset if you like, I would love to live of the land sustainably and will do at the nearest opportunity. There will be hardship but I hope this will bring people together against the collapse, maybe?

    But Capitalism in my knowledge should not allow monopoly but clearly that is not true of todays capitalism. As with may other examples tried the past the rich have taken over and cause inequality. I like permaculture and am reading up on this I believe this is the way forward! Also positive money have some good ideas, but I don’t think they’ll prosper due to the people in charge.

    In other words I agree with you!

  2. ariadnacaixach>>it's hip to be green says

    Excellent post, I enjoyed reading it and it made me think a lot. Nice quotes as well such as “Sustainability doesn’t care about your labels” and so on. I also write about sustainability both environmental and social as well as economic. Well, I think you have interesting thoughts, and I liked reading it in a more political and economic point of view. You have a new follower, now ;) Feel free to visit mine sometimes, too. Have a nice day!

  3. Here in the States I despair over the political labels as well. Also, I don’t think anything constructive will ever happen on the national scene. At least not within an acceptable timeframe. Our last, best hope seems to be coming from the various local movements. People on the ground in their own community, committed to sustainability (such an all-encompassing word!), which really seems to boil down to loving ones neighbor. If we love our neighbors we won’t destroy the land we all depend upon. But we need to stop giving so much power to suits living far, far away. Thus, a commitment to being a part of a thriving local economy is where it’s at methinks. The locavore movement has been a kind of gateway drug for many into this. Sourcing our food from nearby, friendly farmers, who actually care about our health, feels fantastic (regardless of one’s political orientation). This can extend to other areas as well, and we just need to wean ourselves away from mountains of cheap corporate crap that we donotneed. There is an underlying current going on beneath the surface: less stuff but of much higher quality, a quest for meaningful relationships and leisure time, service to others, yada yada. People over things….

  4. You’re saying what I’ve been thinking for ages. I just don’t know how to relay it to my peers without becoming the office ‘liberal zealot’ that they’ve already complained about.

  5. Excellent post! Especially liked your comments:
    “Sustainability ranks above all of this. It only has one unifying goal: for nature and humans to co-exist. We need nature to exist. For some strange reason, political ideologies and capitalism fail to take this into account. And then logic dictates, in our time of crisis, all of the above has been made irrelevant.”
    Without the natural world, we cease to exist. We have become so enamored own our own creative genius that we’ve become blind to reality.

    • Thank you! It’s strange, really, how warped our minds can become based on the societies we are born into. It seems nothing about nature is very natural anymore!

  6. Wonderful post! You are quite on point here! Capitalism is a religious ideology and will die hard, but is totally dying!

    • I’m tempted to say it will get worse before it gets better, but really, look at the world today already – I’m not sure it can get much worse for the refugees from Syria or the more than 2-3 billion people going to bed hungry. It will get worse for us lucky few Westerners for sure, but with so much oppression and poverty around us, is anyone really free? Maybe the 85 families who own more than 40% of US wealth, but they don’t seem all that happy either.

  7. Good post – just read the guardian as well a few minutes before reading this. I think the sharing economy has been happening for centuries – can you look after my child for a few hours etc etc – i think now, it’s becoming a necessity to survive and have a reasonable standard of living. It will only grow. Why pay for services when you can exchange services, for free.

    • Absolutely! I guess that is the original ‘capitalism’. I still think it will be centuries before our concept of currency will disappear, because it is more convenient to just pay an anonymous person for what you need rather than having to form relationships but something has got to give if we want to continue to have a livable planet. We actually live in really existing times :)

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