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(Crossposted at Firedoglake and at Voices on the Square)

OK, so you would think there would be some sort of publicly-voiced concern about this little matter of the Earth turning into Venus during the hottest year on record in the US.  You know, global warming.  I did at some point show the David Roberts speech on global warming:

Let's repeat the message on the slide depicted at 15:01 of this video for those who are reading this diary on their lunch breaks.  It says: "our present course leads to certain catastrophe."

Sooo, while Mitt Romney flirts with the deniers while being typically evasive, and Obama's Secretary of the Interior just approved more oil drilling in the Arctic, I suppose it behooves us to wonder if anyone in politics really cares.  Certain catastrophe, ho hum.  Global mass suicide, after all, will solve all of our problems.  Of course, while you're waiting to die you don't get to live in any hope, but whaddaya gonna do?  Sacrifices will be necessary (or at least that's what the folks imposing austerity upon the world economy keep telling us.)

Part of the hope problem is that hope has already been falsified.  Politicians promise you stuff, then go back on it.  And maybe hope is overrated: kids believe in it or something like that.  But part of the hope problem has to do with the fact that the people who are squawking about this thing don't really seem to know what to do about it.  

The good folks at want to impose a carbon tax.  This is what Bill McKibben and James Hansen have been asking for.  It's easy to see how the oil companies are going to fight that one -- send the oil to where the carbon tax doesn't apply, refuse to pay the tax, set up a black market.  The ultimate end of this tax is to create a situation where the commodity value (what Karl Marx calls the "exchange-value") of the oil and coal and natural gas fields is zero.  So no wonder the oil companies will want to fight that one to the death, either theirs or ours.  The problem with this proposed situation is that everything else will continue to have a commodity value, and the system will still be based on capital accumulation.  Below the fold I will describe what I will ultimately propose -- a transition out of the capitalist system to some sort of suitable way of life that isn't based on the existence of an investor class or of capital accumulation.  This, I assert, is the only way through -- so it's time we started demanding it.

The capitalist system is based on capital accumulation.  "The rich get richer" is the idea behind it.  Or rather, it's the idea that it takes money to make money.  "Working for a living" is what the working class does under capitalism -- this activity is by no means predicated upon the existence of a snooty investor class.  "Trade" is not the essence of capitalism -- trade has existed for thousands of years before capitalism, and will probably be around after it is gone.

The capitalist system is not "human nature."  Human nature has existed for 200,000 years, of which only 300 of those have seen an organized capitalist system.  The idea that "greed is human nature" is a ridiculous justification for a system where only a privileged few ever get to see something for their "greed," while the rest of us are simply looking for a decent break.

No, this is all about investors, and the idea that they can buy the system and make sure that all that oil and coal continues to have a commodity value -- so that it's pumped out of the ground and burned into the atmosphere so that Earth eventually becomes like Venus.  They must be stopped.  Not consuming means not producing.  The time of shell games is over -- it's just too hot outside.

And for Pete's sake let's stop blaming the consumers.  "We need to reduce our ecological footprint" -- feh.  You want to know what the ultimate end of the "ecological footprint" strategy is?

Yeah, that one's a little gross.  Foster, Clark and York's The Ecological Rift shows the way forward.  Here is their argument in sum:

...the calculations for the ecological toll taken by "consumption" do not take into account the consumption decisions made by investors, which take an ecological toll which far outweighs the toll calculated for mere "consumption."
So once again it's the problem of production.  The producers screw things up far worse than do the consumers.  So once production is under democratic control, and not as a private, for-profit matter, then that mass death thing will be under control too.

To a certain extent capitalism is about human relationships, about the relationship between you and me.  Here's a better start: let's declare our mutual independence from the investor class, and go about trying to achieve that independence.  A good place for us to start is if we produced our own food, for each other.  We can start to achieve the twin goals of independence and sustainability through sustainable farms and urban gardens.

We should tell the politicians that this is about a phase-out of coal, oil, and natural gas. They're all beholden to more capitalism, so that's the most they can hear right now.  And they won't even be able to do that.  Eventually, when we gain control over them, we can get a phase-out of the capitalist system as a whole, and its replacement with something more humane in which the integrity of the natural world comes first.  

Right now, (the movement) is trying to cut around the edges of the system.  They want toend oil subsidies -- fine, I'm all for it.  But it's time to start advocating for what we really need, and not merely for what sounds like a piece of feasible legislation in Congress, or what would be a feasible piece of legislation were Congress not completely sold out.

Phasing out capitalism is the only way through.  Let's stop pretending it isn't.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (12+ / 0-)

    "Once the Lords of Capital are no longer the lords of anything, humanity gets another shot at rational development of the species and the planet." - Glen Ford

    by Cassiodorus on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 06:00:03 AM PDT

  •  Brilliant as always Cassi. (3+ / 0-)

    I'm trying to understand this (without actually reading the book).

    ...the calculations for the ecological toll take by "consumption" do not take into account the consumption decisions made by investors, which take an ecological toll which far outweighs the toll calculated for mere "consumption."
    Can you break it down for my simple (and lazy) mind?
  •  I keep thinking about that old paragon of (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lawrence, VClib

    environmental responsibility, the Soviet Union.

    Where are we, now that we need us most?

    by Frank Knarf on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 06:41:29 AM PDT

    •  This snark will likely fly right over the heads of (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:


      You're right, though... the "socialist" states in the Soviet Bloc weren't exactly known for paying attention to having a clean environment.

      The worst-smelling place in the world that I ever visited was Bitterfeld, an industrial zone in East Germany.

      There could be a new form of socialism developing, though... a form of socialism rooted in tribal traditions.  Bolivia is taking an interesting approach:

      Bolivia enshrines natural world's rights with equal status for Mother Earth
      Law of Mother Earth expected to prompt radical new conservation and social measures in South American nation

      "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

      by Lawrence on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 08:05:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Just cause (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cassiodorus, Bob Guyer

        the commies were/are worse is irrelevant at this point.  The socialist totalitarian states in the soviet bloc and china for that matter seem about as removed from being  socialist states as we are from being a democratic state or a 'Christain nation' for that matter..  The geopolitics of blaming implemented variations on theoretical economic systems, run by throughly corrupt oligarchies and propped up by false ideology is at this point absurd.

        Perhaps letting go of the old divides that only served the thugs who run the world be they socialist or capitalist is in order. We seem frozen in time unable to see beyond the 'race to the top' be it the Cold War mentality or any other evil empire we point to. At this point in time it's like were talking mine shaft gaps instead of addressing the real problem at hand. Global warming, endless war on terra, and misery and poverty for most people who live on this planet. Were all just grist for their endless power lust and greed. It's madness and stupid to boot.

        There is no such thing as 'sustainable growth' and to make it worse those who proclaim that this virtulant  strain of capitalism is inevitable and a free market or as Axelrod said the world as we find it  are dangerous, delusional, psycho's who run the world all for the failed ideology of disaster capitalism and empty profit. This isn't the 'world as we find it' it's the world that were creating all for useless greed elevated to the point where it is proclaimed  inevitable, freedom and our manifest destiny. The old paradigms never were reality and now they are suicidal.      


    •  Incentives are the problem, not capitalism per se. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Frank Knarf, Lawrence

      Marxists confronted with that example called it "state capitalism", but there was no investor class and no capital accumulation, and public control of production, consciously planned.

      There's a good book about it, "Ecocide in the USSR". There are other vignettes out there, like the pediatrician in an industrial town, asked about healthy children, saying "We have no healthy children here".

      Whoever's producing, they'll respond to incentives (as well as humans ever do). Put the right incentives in place and they'll act accordingly.We have a tax code.

  •  Workplace democracy, because workers care about (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    more than short-term profit; they have their own and their childrens' future to think of.

  •  A non-marxist critique of "free market" capitalism (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassiodorus, mookins

    is Karl Polanyi's 1944 classic: "The Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time."

  •  Thanks Cas, will comment later too tired (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Love = Awareness of mutually beneficial exchange across semi-permeable boundaries. Political and economic systems either amplify or inhibit Love.

    by Bob Guyer on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 12:35:11 AM PDT

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