The Unspoken Premise Of Modern Capitalism Is That The World Will Be Saved By Greedy Tech Oligarchs
By Caitlin Johnstone
December 29, 2020 "Information Clearing House" - Psychopathic neocon Nikki Haley is greasing the wheels for her 2024 presidential campaign by screaming that America has been taken over by socialism.
"2020 was the year socialism went mainstream," Haley tweeted today. "The dangerous ideology, which has failed everywhere it has been tried and ruined countless lives, is on its way to becoming the default economic policy of the Democratic Party. This terrifying trend threatens the future of every American."
Ah yes, America. The country where Republicans spend all day screaming that socialism is happening and Democrats spend all day making sure it never does.
Meanwhile, outside of Nikki Haley's magical fantasy world where Joe Biden is ushering in a Marxist world order and Bernie Sanders is personally guillotining billionaires in Central Park, Americans are being denied financial support and healthcare even as millions are thrown out of work during the pandemic.
In reality, the world is still very much locked into zealous worship of the great god known as capitalism. And it is choking the world to death.
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We live on a finite planet of finite resources with a finite ecosystem that has a finite capacity to absorb punishment without becoming uninhabitable. Science tells us we are fast approaching the breaking point at a debatable rate of acceleration. Depending on what scientists you believe we could get there in several decades, or it could be a whole lot sooner.
Capitalism, the predominant driving force of human behavior in our world right now, offers exactly two potential solutions to this dilemma. The first is to pretend the dilemma doesn't exist, which is why a Venn diagram of climate denialism and support for capitalism is always going to be a near-perfect circle. The second is the entirely faith-based hope that some kind of sustainable technological innovation is going to save the day before our behavior drives us off the cliff of extinction.
Which means the only answer capitalism has for the current plight of our species is the blind-faith belief that the world is about to be saved, any minute now, by a handful of union-busting tech billionaires who choose every single day not to use their vast fortunes to end world hunger. That is the unspoken premise in the argument for the continuation of capitalism.
Since ideological echo chambers tend to develop their own dialects and definitions which can make cross-ideological conversation damn near impossible, I should clarify that what I mean by capitalism is the current system dominating our world today wherein human behavior is driven as a whole by the pursuit of capital. The current system of profit-seeking and competition as the primary determining factor of what humans are doing on this planet.
Profit-chasing as the driving factor in human behavior is what got us here. As long as it remains profitable to destroy the environment and human behavior is driven by profit, then humans will continue destroying the environment. Inevitably. This will have to happen.
So for purposes of this conversation it's actually irrelevant whether capitalism enthusiasts believe the current system is "real capitalism" or not, whether you believe the markets are "free" or not, or whether or not you prefer Austrian over Keynesian models of economic theory. Since we're talking about any system where profit-chasing and competition drives human behavior at mass scale, we are necessarily talking about whatever pet definition of capitalism you happen to prefer.
So there's no need to play pedantic word games about this.
So, again, the only argument for our species continuing along its current trajectory is the entirely faith-based belief that some greedy anti-union plutocrat like Elon Musk is going to promote new technologies which make it unprofitable for any humans to destroy the environment, and do so quickly enough to evert ecological disaster. Which is slightly dumber than believing the world has been saved by the election of Joe Biden.
The plutocratic class are not good custodians of our world. They are not good people. They are not wise. They are not even particularly intelligent. They're just a very profitable sort of clever, and have a willingness to crush anyone who gets in their way.
The plutocratic class has been buying up control over our political systems to ensure maximum profit, buying up news media outlets to propagandize the masses into supporting the status quo they've built their kingdoms on, and forming alliances with sociopathic government agencies which murder people around the world to ensure continual US unipolar hegemony. These are the people we've placed in charge of the innovation and distribution of emerging technologies, and we're meant to believe that they will save the world?
They will not. They will keep chasing power and profit until we drive ourselves off the cliff of extinction. It's all they know how to do.
We're never going to compete and consume our way out of the existential crisis we've competed and consumed our way into. Capitalism will never make it more profitable to leave a tree standing than to cut it down, to leave fuel sources in the ground rather than dig them up. Money has no wisdom, no matter how inflation-proof and gold-backed you might want to make it. Markets cannot navigate us through this crisis, no matter how "free" you might try to make them. Capitalism is the problem. Not the wrong kind of capitalism. Just capitalism.
The only way humanity survives the looming existential threats of ecological collapse and nuclear war it now faces is if it radically transforms from a competition-based model to a collaboration-based model. One where we collaborate with each other and with our ecosystem to clear the massive hurdles that are rapidly approaching instead of stepping on each other's heads in a mad scramble to stay afloat and destroying our ecosystemic life support system for profit.
Even if you want to make the extremely debatable claim that socialism has failed everywhere it's been tried, an earnest reckoning with our situation will force you to admit that capitalism has failed too. Our system of insatiable profit-seeking to the detriment of our world has led us to the brink of extinction, which is as spectacular a failure as any system could possibly manage. How much of a failure is a system that gets everyone killed? All of it. All the fail.
So it's kind of a nonsensical position to argue that a movement away from competition and profit-seeking is untenable because it's never been done before, because our current disastrous situation is the direct result of everything we have already tried. Everything we've done led us to this point. If we are to survive as a species, we're necessarily going to have to do something that is entirely unprecedented. We're going to have to transcend our old patterning and do something completely new.
A world where human behavior is driven by collaboration in the interests of humanity and our ecosystem instead of competition and profit seeking would indeed be wildly unprecedented. Our current crisis is itself also wildly unprecedented. This is evolve-or-die time.
We are living in unprecedented times, and unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures. We need to stop clinging to our old failed ways of doing things and find the courage to step into an entirely new way of being.
Caitlin's articles are entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking her on Facebook, following her antics on Twitter, checking out her podcast, throwing some money into her hat on Patreon or Paypal, or buying her book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. https://caitlinjohnstone.com