Capitalism cannot be reformed

SUBHEAD: The essence of capitalism is to turn nature into commodities and commodities into capital.

By Mickey Z on 23 August 2013 for World News Trust -

Image above: From ( Click to enlarge.
“The essence of capitalism is to turn nature into commodities and commodities into capital.” - Michael Parenti
While anyone paying an iota of attention could recognize that “separation of church of state” is more honored in the breach here in the Home of the Brave™, I’d further submit that the good ol’ U S of A is a genuine theocracy -- with the myth of capitalism firmly entrenched on the throne.

Even most activists willingly and counterproductively genuflect at the altar of profit margins.

Just like the mainstream folks they deride, so-called radicals parrot homilies passed down to them by their corporate commissars. Capitalism, we’re conditioned to believe, may need the occasional tweak and sometimes an overhaul but hey, it’s better than anything else out there!

Define “Inefficiency”
All of the above came to my mind as I re-read a pamphlet called “The Inefficiency of Capitalism: An Anarchist View.” The author (Brian Oliver Sheppard) opted to eschew the “usual, moralistic leftist critique of capitalism.” Instead, he tackled it “head on, on its own turf -- economics.”

While I’d question how “anarchist” his pamphlet is, Sheppard does highlight ten of the “most outstanding inefficiencies of capitalism”: product duplication, systemic unemployment, cost-shifting, waste of unsold goods, the inefficiency of hierarchies, planned obsolescence, price gouging, creation of false desires, parasitic “jobs,” and inefficient distribution patterns.

I’m not here to debate the usefulness of this list, however. Instead, I’m asking all of you to see past the economic subterfuge because such myopic critiques inherently imply that capitalism can be reformed.

Prices may be controlled, wages raised, products made to last longer, etc. etc. etc. -- but what all this ignores is that capitalism = ecocide.

Understanding capitalism and explaining its destructiveness to others does not require an advanced degree or superior insight. This isn't about vague, inapplicable concepts like "good" or "evil” and it certainly has nothing to do with the fantasies bandied about by deluded economics professors.

It's all about design.

Until There’s Nothing Left
Capitalism is an economic system based on perpetual growth and the relentless exploitation of what we've come to call "natural resources." By definition, such an approach is unsustainable, cannot be reformed, and is thus, anti-life.

To gain access to and control of resources, capitalism requires brutal, sustained military interventions (or the threat thereof). The U.S. Department of Defense, for example, is the world’s largest military power and the planet's worst polluter and eats up 54 percent of U.S. taxpayer dollars.

Military interventions (or the threat thereof) lead to wars, war crimes, the propping up of authoritarian regimes, poverty and repression, environmental devastation, and eventually… corporate dominion over resources.

Capitalism -- in its predatory pursuit of profit -- requires humans to dominate humans and humans to dominate non-humans and humans to dominate the landscape… until there's nothing left.

Resources are finite. They cannot/will not be replicated in a laboratory. Exploiting, poisoning, and consuming the ecosystem alters the delicate and symbiotic balance of the natural world -- which only leads to further devastation of our shared landbase.

Capitalism requires constant consumption. Hence, humans are re-programmed into compliant, ill-informed consumers. Pervasive propaganda/public relations keep consumers consuming, workers working, and repressors repressing (explaining why middle class cops pepper spray activists instead of joining up with them).

Which Side Are You On?
While other economic systems may address some of the vast human inequalities inherent in a capitalist society, unless such a system is designed in synchronicity with our shared ecosystem, it will do nothing to prevent the looming economic/social/environmental collapse, thus…

To be anti-capitalist is to look beyond the next fiscal quarter, beyond national boundaries, and beyond the corporate propaganda.

To be capitalist is to ignore reality. To be capitalist is to pretend that technology is neutral, humans can "control" nature, and the playing field is even.

To be anti-capitalist is to see past skin color, gender, ethnicity, sexual preference, ability/disability, age, “class,” or species.

To be capitalist is to prize shareholders over sharing, commodities over communities.

To be an anti-capitalista is to comprehend that a system based on growth at all costs is anti-life. To be anti-capitalist is to be anti-ecocide.

To be capitalist is to voice support for a toxic, poisoned, clear-cut landbase ravaged by unremitting war, disease, inequality, repression, incarceration, and discrimination.

To be anti-capitalist is to bravely see past the façade, own up to the myriad global crises, and have a bold new vision for the future -- a future that extends well beyond today's closing bell on Wall Street.

To be anti-capitalist is to recognize the urgent need to begin the process of creating a new system -- a system not for sale to the highest bidder; not based on celebrity, material consumption, physical beauty, or military conquest; a system that promotes unity and collective action while maintaining individuality and independence; a system that challenges us to think for ourselves and about others; a system that understands the connection between human behavior and non-human life.

To be a capitalista is to act as if we are the last generation of humans.

To be an anti-capitalista is to re-imagine our relationship with the natural world.

Which side are you on, comrades? The future is waiting on your decision.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Which side are you on? 8/16/13



  1. I think which system we use matters less than how we use whatever system we are in. "Capitalism" is used as an excuse for unchecked greed and short term thinking. But i'm sure you could see the same problems in any other system (socialism or communism have certainly both shown those problems can exist within them.) There is certainly plenty wrong with capitalism and i'm not saying it's the right answer. But i am saying: let's fix the problems at the source: with greed and short term thinking and human egotism. Capitalism is just a symptom. Without fixing the root problems we won't arrive at a solution that works!

  2. I have lived in three different political and economical systems and I have been living in the third one of those, but this gives me a good basis for comparison. All three systems have good and bad points and all three of them offered benefits to the society. The major difference is how to measure human happiness. You cannot measure it from the outside or from a different system. You have to live the system to find happiness there. Despite of the shortcomings communism was the most human and future oriented system, but it failed due to the capitalistic thinking of several of the leaders who practiced hoarding and practiced capitalism in their private lives. But the community mindedness and the human to human relations in communism was the strongest when comparing all three systems. This index in socialism was still better than in the capitalism. The large number of people with low income but with good job security and general healthcare plus free education supported each other and there created a good cohesion.
    On the other hand capitalism promotes individualism and the community mindedness it brags about is a fake self-promotion. It is the most destructive and most hypocritical one from all systems. There is a possibility to create a new and healthier world order, but it would mean extracting the best parts of all three systems and carefully combining them.