The full title of this book is What Every Environmentalist Needs To Know about Capitalism: A Citizen's Guide to Capitalism and the Environment. It's Authors are Fred Magdoff and John Belamy Foster, both well known by the people who read other publications by Monthly Review Press.
Fred Magdoff is professor emeritus of plant and soil science at the University of Vermont. His most recent books include Agriculture and Food in Crisis (edited with Brian Tokar), The ABCs of the Economic Crisis (with Michael Yates), and The Great Financial Crisis (with John Bellamy Foster). John Bellamy Foster is editor of Monthly Review. He is professor of sociology at the University of Oregon and author of The Ecological Revolution, The Great Financial Crisis (with Fred Magdoff), Critique of Intelligent Design (with Brett Clark and Richard York), Ecology Against Capitalism, Marx’s Ecology, and The Vulnerable Planet.At the risk of being very redundant, I thought it would be a good day to mention some things we really need to worry about while we participate in the political theater scripted ten years ago. A comment to the blog I wrote last night reminded us that on 9/11 1973 the Allende regime was overthrown in Chile. Since I was at a conference with Fred in 2008 where an astute group of scientists, authors, agriculturists, and others were contemplating how to go about waking people up to these real dangers, I have admired his way of thinking so it was a pleasure to read his book. Read on and I'll share my thoughts with you.
The book has these contents:
1. The Planetary Ecological CrisisI start with these contents to anticipate some of the standard comments that come when ever Capitalism as a system is described or challenged. Chapter 5 in particular deals with most, if not all of the people who scoff at such criticism and shrug it all off saying something about their pet idea that all we need are better regulations and Capitalism will work fine. No it won't! This is a big chapter with lots of good references but this one paragraph is the crux:
2. Business as Usual: The Road to planetary Destruction
3. The growth Imperative of Capitalism
4. The Environment and Capitalism
5. Can capitalism Go Green?
6. An Ecological revolution Is Not Just Possible--It's Essential
Appendix: People's Agreement: World People's Conference on Climate Change
There is a big problem with such thinking. A system that has only one goal, the maximization of profits in an endless quest for this accumulation of capital on an ever-expanding scale, and which thus seeks to transform every single thing on earth into a commodity with a price, is a system that is soulless; it can never have a soul, never be green. It can never stand still, but is driven to manipulate and fabricate whims and wants in order to grow and sell more...forever. Nothing is allowed to ,stand in its path.If you want to disagree with this I can say with conviction that your belief system and mine differ substantially and we are not on the same side in the political struggle. The belief system that this country seems to have unconsciously incorporated into its system of self identifying and operating myths has capitalism deeply entrenched whether it names it or not.
The authors go on to say this:
The Neoliberal Concept of DemocracyThey will remain only as long as they do not interfere too much with the real needs of the system.
The common place notion of the opposition between state and market, beteen public and private, is important. The state represents the realm of political action, in which democracy -- the rule of the people, by the people, and for the people--is theoretically possible. In contrast, the market under capitalism represents the rule of capital, by capital, and for capital.
Today rather than a true democracy we have a plutocracy (rule by monied interests) in which some of the formal elements of democracy nonetheless remain.
I am not going to go over the presentation of evidence that we have an enourmous problem which the book develops very well. Rather I want to try to put this book and the world it describes into perspective on this day in this country for there are two very distinct worlds here.
I have reviewed a book by my colleague Dan Agin about the way the poisons we are generating at a greater and greater rate as we nurture this growing system are damaging yet unborn children because the poison in the mother's blood is there along with the nutrients she supplies to the newly fertilized embryo. Thsi information alone should be enough to put the breaks on what we are doing but it is not enough. Contrast this lack of needed effort with the resources and mental focus spent on warding off another 9/11! This is a form of mass hysteria and even insanity that defies comprehension.
Read this book. We are not destroying the planet. We are destroying ourselves. It goes on daily. Step by step. Some of these changes happen gradually others by giant shifts in an interconnected whole. We have no source of information that is untainted. We can write and debate the points endlessly while the system grinds on....the system grinds on...the system....