“the global capitalist system is approaching an apocalyptic zero-point. Its ‘four riders of the apocalypse’ are comprised by the ecological crisis, the consequences of the biogenetic revolution, imbalances within the system itself (problems with intellectual property; forthcoming struggles over raw materials, food and water), and the explosive growth of social divisions and exclusions.”
Wrapping your head around the seemingly unstoppable upward march of CO2 emissions is like trying to comprehend all those zeros in the expanding global debt bubble; both are so far beyond human scale that people cannot put them into a frame of reference or perspective. They have taken on a life of their own, a force of nature that defies all attempts to control and subdue them. Brian Merchant takes a stab at trying to frame the CO2 numbers behind industrial civilization’s conundrum of catastrophic climate change: [...]
And 2012 is on track for another 2.6 percent increase. Why can’t we stop it? Perhaps the problem is structural and embedded in our economic system.
In a recent interview, dissident Julian Assange commented on the degree of intertwinement between government and corporations, i.e. fascism or more aptly called inverted totalitarianism in our times. Regulatory capture, the revolving corporate/government door, and K Street lobbying(legalized bribery) are examples of the monied interest$ of capitali$m having taken over government.
There’s not a barrier anymore between corporate surveillance, on the one hand, and government surveillance, on the other. You know, Facebook is based—has its servers based in the United States.
Gmail, as General Petraeus found out, has its servers based in the United States. And the interplay between U.S. intelligence agencies and other Western intelligence agencies and any intelligence agencies that can hack this is fluid. So, we’re in a—if we look back to what’s a earlier example of the worst penetration by an intelligence apparatus of a society, which is perhaps East Germany, where up to 10 percent of people over their lifetime had been an informer at one stage or another, in Iceland we have 88 percent penetration of Iceland by Facebook. Eighty-eight percent of people are there on Facebook informing on their friends and their movements and the nature of their relationships—and for free. They’re not even being paid money. They’re not even being directly coerced to do it. They’re doing it for social credits to avoid the feeling of exclusion. But people should understand what is really going on. I don’t believe people are doing this or would do it if they truly understood what was going on, that they are doing hundreds of billions of hours of free work for the Central Intelligence Agency, for the FBI, and for all allied agencies and all countries that can ask for favors to get hold of that information.
William Binney, the former chief of research, the National Security Agency’s signals intelligence division, describesthis situation that we are in now as “turnkey totalitarianism,” that the whole system of totalitarianism has been built—the car, the engine has been built—and it’s just a matter of turning the key. And actually, when we look to see some of the crackdowns on WikiLeaks and the grand jury process and targeted assassinations and so on, actually it’s arguable that key has already been partly turned. The assassinations that occur extrajudicially, the renditions that occur, they don’t occur in isolation. They occur as a result of the information that has been sucked in through this giant signals interception machinery.
Corporations are the ultimate expression of capitalism. Libertarians decry that what we have is not capitalism, but a corrupted form of it, aka crony capitalism. The opposite is true – unfettered, unregulated capitalism is the purest form of this profit-driven system where economic activity is structured around the accumulation of capital. This is what we get when economic power(money) inevitably usurps all branches of government. Corporate greenwashing, carbon credit schemes, privatization of the commons, and externalizing environmental costs are examples of capitalism’s incompatibility with sustainability and its inability to deal with the degradation of the planet. Corporate power rules the world and it’s what is destroying the planet:
Ecocide is permitted (as genocide was in Nazi Germany) by the government and, by dint of the global reach of modern-day transnational business, every government in the world. Corporate ecocide has now reached a point where we stand on the brink of collapse of our ecosystems, triggering the death of many millions in the face of human aggravated cataclysmic tragedies.
Over the passage of time, tyranny revisits. Tyranny is the cruel, unacceptable, or arbitrary use of power that is oblivious to consequence. Whilst the use of coal stations may not be deemed an intentional cruelty, it is certainly an unacceptable use of corporate power. Our governments collude by encouraging excess emissions, contrary to their UNFCCC commitment to stabilize “greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” 60 years ago the tyranny was Nazism. Today it is pursuit of profit without moral compass or responsibility.
All the hand-wringing and cynical views of our evident inability to deal with the problem fail to take into account the inherent properties of capitalism which prevent realistic solutions:
…There are several points to make in response to the belief that capitalism is compatible with a flourishing environment. Firstly, environmental activism can’t alter capitalism’s integral growth dynamic, it’s “grow or die” impulse, as the social ecologist Murray Bookchin put it. As a result the best environmentalism can do is ameliorate the worst effects. “Things getting worse at a slower rate”, is how the late environmental activist, Donella Meadows, described the situation.
Secondly, in the low or no growth world we are entering, environmental priorities are being sacrificed to meet the short-term need to revive growth. “We can’t be ambivalent about growth,” is how the UK government’s “planning” minister, Greg Clark, justified reducing regulations to make it much easier to approve building development in the countryside.
Thirdly, many polluting practices in western countries that have become culturally unacceptable have been exported to poorer countries, where people have less power to make their objections count.
Lastly, the experience of the 21st century has shown that when environmental activism directly confronts huge capitalist industries like oil, automobiles and mining, it does not win. The 1987 Montreal Protocol was the last successful international agreement to change capitalist behaviour. The protocol called for strict restrictions on chemicals that deplete the ozone layer (chlorofluorcarbons) and the results have been impressive. But, says Schweickart, the industries affected had substitutes to hand, and the protocol “should not lull us into thinking capitalism can accommodate all sensible environmental solutions.”…
…The consequence of the conflict between environmental sanity and profit has been that many capitalist countries – most notably the US – have been unable to change course to ameliorate climate change. Not only this, a political culture has developed that denies the existence of climate change even when its effects become harder and harder to ignore.
Of course the prospects of thinking outside-of-the-box on economic and foreign policy issues has always been heresy. As long as we think we can fix the ecological problem with the same tools that caused the problem, we can expect the Eco-Apocalypse, a tragedy of the commons on a global scale,