“Not with a Bang” or “Peak Capitalism”

T.S. Eliot’s The Hollow Men alludes to the end of the world coming “not with a bang, but with a whimper..” However the end of capitalism  will not be the end of the world; far from it.  It will be a glorious new beginning for humans and the other species on this planet.

In  a  blink  of evolution’s eye, capitalism  has done more damage to  the planet we co-habitate, than any meteorite strike or cataclysmic galactic event. The destruction of species is occurring at  phenomenal  speed, the  changes to  our climate through  gaseous emissions, the poisoning  of much  of our planet for millenium… and for what?- a bank balance with lots of numbers?, some pretty things that  self-destruct in  your hands after a year or two?, the capacity to  tell  your friends about  all the places you have seen?; merely “Dust in the Wind”  as the band Kansas would say..

To change the direction of  this juggernaut of self-destruction requires more than political  will,  a mass movement or  a United Nations declaration; we are all of on board this juggernaut -whether we are up there in  the driving seat, or hanging on for dear  life on the roof desperately  trying  to  claw our way inside to the easy seats while it hurtles towards oblivion.  We all  have an investment in  ensuring  that this insane model  of “progress” continues;  we are “locked in”  for the ride. .. (the university degree that  you  spent all  those  years sweating over  so you could get the job of your dreams,  the expensive house you spent years slaving away  at a  horrible job to afford, or simply the years you spent at the factory so  your kids could get  an education…)

However some have a greater investment in it than others.

John Peterson from the Arlington Institute  argues it this way:

It’s almost as though there is a “coefficient of adaptation” associated with human societies that varies with the relative level of “development” (whatever that means) which describes the amount of change that a social system can effectively assimilate without becoming unstable. It’s not just quantitative, but also qualitative, having clear hot-button issues (often related to women and the role of government) that, if pushed too hard, accelerate the movement toward state change.

What also happens, of course, is that the powers that be, regardless of the particular discipline or sector, see the abrupt change as a threat and, like white corpuscles rushing to staunch a wound, leap forward in defense of the status quo – regardless of the relative merit of the new proposal. This is where I get hung up. It’s as though the “system” embraces the status quo, even though things are clearly not working very well and treats thoughtful new proposals as mortal threats, even as people die and suffer because of the present policies. And it’s not just that they defend the status quo, but that they leap to attack the new ideas in very non-rational and sometimes inhumane terms

Does all  this imply we should all be living as medieval peasants in  some country idyll?

Kelp
Kelp seaweed

 

No ,  but we can, if we have time,  start to turn the wheel, take the foot off the accelerator and truly experience the scenery-instead of watching it whipping past in  a blur. Imagine if the money  and hype that is now put into selling this or that useless product,  was instead put into showing you how to  work alongside your neighbour,  how to create living spaces around us instead of neat  and tidy  ones, how to co-exist with the other species we live alongside, how to avoid conflict  and promote peace, how to  stop and just  enjoy these brief moments we all have in  this life.

Yes, we surely need good sanitation,  clean water, cheap healthy  food and good shelter. There is plenty to  go  around  for all  the billions of humans on  this planet right now. Yes we  will need to  learn how to  consume less and enjoy more; there are plenty of tools out there to do that right now if one cares to look.

We cannot afford to have  people  control  this world and its resources whose only interest is the production of power and money  for themselves and to hell  with everything and everyone else. Those fools are dragging us  to oblivion , the point at  which literally this planet  becomes a hell-hole. Poisoning  the world and its living things, paving over the  living earth, killing our  fellow species, for a few cheap  baubles -that is truly insane. Sadly we are all  “locked-in”: -we cannot see the madness.

But, there is a saving grace to this. While Lovelock has reneged on   his  view of the Earth  as a living entity “Gaia”- this planet has not!  We are rapidly reaching the point as humans where we are opening our eyes to  the damage we have caused;  where the cost  of “improving’  or maintaining our standard of living becomes too great-we have reached “peak  capitalism”.

And just  as with “peak oil”,  the point of optimum utilization of a particular process  is invisible to the onlooker;  the  forces change and adapt. The price of oil rises inexorably year by year  but we only notice the ebbs and falls; the capacity to  pump  oil crude out of the ground wanes, but production stays with demand  as we develop  more costly and more environmentally damaging  processes  like shale oil… and  consequently economies begin  their progressive  wilt under  the ongoing pressure….

The fundamental flaws in  the capitalist  system become ever-widening abysses into the unknown; and we have the opportunity now to create something wonderful for ourselves as human beings and for  our fellow species on  this planet.

That opportunity is neither capitalism or communism  or any other “ism” created to  capture or -redistribute the “wealth” of this planet. It is an understanding that we are not the guardians of this planet, (we have made the most appalling job of trying to do that!);  we are simply co-habitators whose guidance will  come from listening and valuing everything around us.

 

 

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