Published on July 24th, 2015 | by Todd Smekens0
Capitalism Versus Planet Earth
Muncie, Indiana BLOG – I was reading an interesting article by Fawzi Ibrahim, who is the author of the book titled, Capitalism versus Planet Earth, and he touched on some very interesting concepts worth sharing about capitalism and how we have commoditized everything to make profit and how this economic system we’ve created is now causing serious issues for leaders across the globe.
The article was discovered when researching new hybrid organizations that are being created by social entrepreneurs to discuss the problems of our time. One of the terms associated with this new phenomenon is called corporate social responsibility. Proponents of CSR contend that modern corporations are responsible for more than merely maximizing financial returns for their investors and instead should take into the consideration the needs and desires of other “stakeholders” such as the corporation’s employees, the citizens of the communities in which the corporations operate, governments, and organizations advocating for various social and environmental interests.
We can tell you that corporate responsibility is not in the vocabulary of the Koch brothers or the corporations comprised of ALEC who are running state capitols like Indiana with Tea Party Republicans who push free markets with no government interference. They believe in fictitious theories like the “invisible hand”. They’ve used their money, power and influence to buy our government by bribing politicians who will push their policies like Governor Mike Pence, Congressman Luke Messer and Senator Dan Coats.
As Fawzi points out in his article, “It is not a coincidence that the environment is heading towards a tipping point at the same time as capitalism faces a crisis of equally serious dimensions…the two are inextricably connected.”
He talks about the scientists Paul Crutzen and Eugene Stoermer who challenged the world in 2000 to face up to the transformation of the planet by human activity, arguing that we now live in a new geological epoch. They traced the start of the new epoch to the Industrial Revolution and called it the Anthropocene, or new era of man, in which our activity has determined the geological future of our planet.
Fawzi’s point is ecological changes haven’t come about by “human activity”, but from our “human systems” and the one system having the most negative impact on our environment is our market economy.
There is a connection between economic growth and the decline in our environment, so maybe government should pursue minimal growth as a target – not that easy. Capitalism requires re-investment at a rate or return that also turns a profit so there is this continuing spiral of profit on top of profit that must be met under a capitalistic economy.
Many pundits argue we are experiencing a slump within a traditional business cycle, while others are stating rather firmly that we in the midst of something much worse. The latter theory seems to be picking up more followers. While our Congress remains gridlocked and refuses to work with the President, the Federal Reserve has been pumping trillions of dollars into the financial system (Quantatative Easing) and all it has done is prop up the housing market slightly, and caused record growth in the stock market.
In other words, we are not experiencing something like the 1930’s, it’s much worse.
This is where Fawzi makes the connection by designating natural resources as capital. They become commodities, and like other commodities, became open to trading for profit. Solar energy, forests, air, water, green spaces, living organisms, the ecological system itself turn into commodities.
Like any other commodity, they can be bought and sold, traded on the commodity market and speculated upon. It opens the way for corporations to own rivers, open spaces and even the air we breathe. They can kill off seeds, bees, fish, animals, and replace them with genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) for which they own patents for and can charge us to grow them. We’ve seen it with seed for crops, bees, fish…what’s next?
Think about it and look around…nature is being transformed into private property and sold for the sake of profit. Like Fawzi points out, we need to have some serious conversations about where this is heading, and ask ourselves, “Do we want to keep up an economic system that is destroying the planet and us with it?”
Thank goodness our higher educational institutions have committed to teach about sustainability practices across the globe. There will be much more discussion about the role our environment plays and the policies being made as Governor Mike Pence has made it clear that Hoosier businesses deserve to do with the environment what they please and Indiana will openly defy any EPA requirements on water, land or air. The question is, “How hard will the federal government push back.”