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Issue #1608      August 28, 2013

Capitalism and the environment

Everywhere around the world there are people fighting capitalism’s environmental attack on the planet. Unfortunately they look to fight their own individual fight such as fracking rather than take a scientific approach to understanding the common thread which runs through every environmental disaster that is now in the process of threatening the planet, so not really addressing the root cause of the problem. As a member of the CPA back in the 1960s, Australia’s greatest social realist painter Noel Counihan tried to highlight the real problem by a series of paintings labelled the “Good Life”

He articulated this as “The Consumer Society” which was a “euphemism for monopoly capitalism, with its emphasis on vulgar materialism, its obsession with comfort, gluttony and the acquisition of property”. The capitalist’s consumer society demands sell: sell the planet for short term profit as if there is “no tomorrow”. Unfortunately this famous capitalist saying is so true because there will be “no tomorrow” for a lot of the world’s species, including ourselves if we allow their dictatorship to continue.

Counihan could see that capitalism was winning people to its ideology based on the false premise that everyone on the planet could enjoy its consumption society of digging up the world’s resources from one hole and then digging another hole to bury the same resources as an “out-dated” manufactured product. The reality some 45 years later means that the planet is one degree hotter and rising. This means that millions of people are already dying due to some parts of the world’s population no longer being able to grow food because the weather has changed negatively while a minority are enjoying its throwaway consumption society.

The answer to this consumption society is not an abstract theoretical solution but is based on the greatest ever living example that was practised for 70 years in the Soviet Block, the command economy. A system of planning every adequate need of its population but also future populations.

The command economy is the same logic as road laws; we all have to drive at 60 kilometres per hour, the rich cannot drive at whatever speed they wish because it will lead to mayhem and anarchy on the roads, exactly what the capitalists are doing to our economy. Until the individual environmentalist understands the need to replace capitalism with a command economy, the capitalist will continue to have free reign over destroying the planet.

Next article – Commit to safe practices

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