Oil Rig in the ocean

Can we save the earth without shutting down capitalism?

Certainly there’s got to be a lot of thinking going on. Human beings are the most versatile species to ever appear on planet Earth, and one of the foundations of our versatility as a species is our ability to perform acts of higher-order thinking. So there’s what, 7.2 billion of us right now? That’s a lot of thought.

One question that might inspire us to think further, however, is that of whether or not our thoughts are clear. Are our thoughts organized in pursuit of worthy goals? For a great period of time we thought they were. In support of our hubris we were inspired by short texts such as the Marquis de Condorcet’s “Sketch” — it told the story of how human reason, despite the many barriers facing it, triumphed in the end and led us out of the dark ages of superstition into the pure light of reason.

And that was the story for human civilization since the “Sketch” was published in 1794, because the concept of “progress” has since been hard-wired into the world-society we’ve built to promote it. The problem, of course, is not merely limited to the barriers faced by reason in its pursuit of progress. We’ve defeated monsters like Hitler, who are now in the dustbin of history. Rather, the actual content promoted under the heading of reason and progress is now severely suspect. I will pick one example to illustrate this point initially. The international war machine, as it continually funds the proxy force for the transnational capitalist class into ever-continuing wars under the heading of “we can do no wrong,” rests upon the rational pillar of an argument that world society is somehow threatened by a fictional “terrorism” that kills 1/390th of the people who die in traffic accidents each year. And do any of the activities of this vast machine which occupies a good chunk of Africa at this point do anything besides encourage blowback?

Every once in awhile, however, one sees and hears attempts to break through the great wall of magical thinking which counts as what the Italian thinker Antonio Gramsci called “hegemony” while parading itself as the essence of reason and acting as the public relations auxiliaries for what the elite powers-that-be regard as progress. One such attempt is now up at Counterpunch — it’s titled “Capitalism and Climate Change” and it’s written by Alyssa Rohricht. Rohricht lays it on the line:

In this series, I will examine how the capitalist system has brought us to climate disaster, and why it cannot get us out of it.

So what’s the fundamental problem with capitalism? The author continues:

Yet reducing our consumptive habits is antithetical to the capitalist enterprise, which functions only if the economy is growing. We have created a world system where economic health is directly opposed to environmental health. Capitalism necessitates ever increasing resource use, while the natural capacities of the environment require a severe cutback in consumption.

Oh, but I know! The problem is climate change deniers. Right? The problem can be solved by more “renewables and efficiency.” That way we’ll just automatically “reduce carbon emissions.” We don’t really need to change anything otherwise. Magical thinking is da bomb y’know.

Oxdown Diaries

Oxdown Diaries