Capitalism Cannot Be Reformed
By Mickey Z.
23 August, 2013
World News Trust
“The essence of capitalism is to turn nature into commodities and commodities into capital.” - Michael Parenti
Photo credit: Mickey Z.
While anyone paying an iota of attention could recognize that “separation of church of state” is more honored in the breach here in the Home of the Brave™, I’d further submit that the good ol’ U S of A is a genuine theocracy -- with the myth of capitalism firmly entrenched on the throne.
Even most activists willingly and counterproductively genuflect at the altar of profit margins.
Just like mainstream folks they deride, so-called radicals parrot homilies passed down to them by their corporate commissars. Capitalism, we’re conditioned to believe, may need the occasional tweak and sometimes an overhaul but hey, it’s better than anything else out there!
All of the above came to my mind as I re-read a pamphlet called “The Inefficiency of Capitalism: An Anarchist View.” The author (Brian Oliver Sheppard) opted to eschew the “usual, moralistic leftist critique of capitalism.” Instead, he tackled it “head on, on its own turf -- economics.”
While I’d question how “anarchist” his pamphlet is, Sheppard does highlight ten of the “most outstanding inefficiencies of capitalism”: product duplication, systemic unemployment, cost-shifting, waste of unsold goods, the inefficiency of hierarchies, planned obsolescence, price gouging, creation of false desires, parasitic “jobs,” and inefficient distribution patterns.
I’m not here to debate the usefulness of this list, however. Instead, I’m asking all of you to see past the economic subterfuge because such myopic critiques inherently imply that capitalism can be reformed.
Prices may be controlled, wages raised, products made to last longer, etc. etc. etc. -- but what all this ignores is that capitalism = ecocide.
Understanding capitalism and explaining its destructiveness to others does not require an advanced degree or superior insight. This isn't about vague, inapplicable concepts like "good" or "evil” and it certainly has nothing to do with the fantasies bandied about by deluded economics professors.
It's all about design.
Until There’s Nothing Left
Capitalism is an economic system based on perpetual growth and the relentless exploitation of what we've come to call "natural resources." By definition, such an approach is unsustainable, cannot be reformed, and is thus, anti-life.
To gain access to and control of resources, capitalism requires brutal, sustained military interventions (or the threat thereof). The U.S. Department of Defense, for example, is the world’s largest military power and the planet's worst polluter and eats up 54 percent of U.S. taxpayer dollars.
Military interventions (or the threat thereof) lead to wars, war crimes, the propping up of authoritarian regimes, poverty and repression, environmental devastation, and eventually… corporate dominion over resources.
Capitalism -- in its predatory pursuit of profit -- requires humans to dominate humans and humans to dominate non-humans and humans to dominate the landscape… until there's nothing left.
Resources are finite. They cannot/will not be replicated in a laboratory. Exploiting, poisoning, and consuming the ecosystem alters the delicate and symbiotic balance of the natural world -- which only leads to further devastation of our shared landbase.
Capitalism requires constant consumption. Hence, humans are re-programmed into compliant, ill-informed consumers. Pervasive propaganda/public relations keep consumers consuming, workers working, and repressors repressing (explaining why middle class cops pepper spray activists instead of joining up with them).
Which Side Are You On?
While other economic systems may address some of the vast human inequalities inherent in a capitalist society, unless such a system is designed in synchronicity with our shared ecosystem, it will do nothing to prevent the looming economic/social/environmental collapse, thus…
To be anti-capitalist is to look beyond the next fiscal quarter, beyond national boundaries, and beyond the corporate propaganda.
To be capitalist is to ignore reality. To be capitalist is to pretend that technology is neutral, humans can "control" nature, and the playing field is even.
To be anti-capitalist is to see past skin color, gender, ethnicity, sexual preference, ability/disability, age, “class,” or species.
To be capitalist is to prize shareholders over sharing, commodities over communities.
To be an anti-capitalista is to comprehend that a system based on growth at all costs is anti-life. To be anti-capitalist is to be anti-ecocide.
To be capitalist is to voice support for a toxic, poisoned, clear-cut landbase ravaged by unremitting war, disease, inequality, repression, incarceration, and discrimination.
To be anti-capitalist is to bravely see past the façade, own up to the myriad global crises, and have a bold new vision for the future -- a future that extends well beyond today's closing bell on Wall Street.
To be anti-capitalist is to recognize the urgent need to begin the process of creating a new system -- a system not for sale to the highest bidder; not based on celebrity, material consumption, physical beauty, or military conquest; a system that promotes unity and collective action while maintaining individuality and independence; a system that challenges us to think for ourselves and about others; a system that understands the connection between human behavior and non-human life.
To be a capitalista is to act as if we are the last generation of humans.
To be an anti-capitalista is to re-imagine our relationship with the natural world.
Which side are you on, comrades? The future is waiting on your decision.
Mickey Z. is the author of 11 books, most recently the novel Darker Shade of Green. Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, he can be found on an obscure website called Facebook. Anyone wishing to support his activist efforts can do so by making a donation here.
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