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