Jerry Mander's new book, The Capitalism Papers, has a compelling subtitle: Fatal Flaws of an Obsolete System.
In liberal punditry, the acceptable spectrum of discourse does not permit use of the word capitalism. In the foundation-sponsored non-profit sector, for instance, such talk would be financial suicide. Nor are US trade unions (what's left of them) anti-capitalist. In fact their leaders explicitly claim that their aim is to get capitalism to work better. So, as Mander correctly points out, there seems to be an unspoken consensus: "Global corporate capitalism" -- a human creation -- "occupies a virtually permanent existence -- like a religion or the Pope, it is infallible."
According to Mander, who provides ample statistics to back up his claims, global corporate capitalism is leading inexorably to worldwide social and ecological collapse. Growing numbers of human beings are going hungry and getting sick . . as the world's vital resources are squandered, as pollution mounts, and as weather patterns become ever more destructive.
What lies at the heart of this insanity? It is this: Commanding an implacable and steady increase of top-tier individual and corporate wealth is the core principle of global corporate capitalism. Meanwhile, recognition of any social concern, or relationship-to-the-natural-world, that transcends the goal of increasing capital accumulation for the few, does not occur. Why not? It's because it is extrinsic to the system, and must therefore be ignored.
Four critical problems must then be recognized:
Dependence on growth: Global corporate capitalism relies on limitless growth -- but the natural resources essential to wealth production are finite, i.e. limited. Super-exploitation of resources is exhausting those resources and destroying the ecosystems with which they are associated, thereby jeopardizing human survival as well as that of other species.
Propensity to war: Since the only goal of the power elite is to accumulate (rather than more fairly distribute) wealth, the limited and shrinking resources that are essential to producing that wealth must and will be fought over, and will be owned and controlled by the winners. For this reason, high-tech, super-deadly warfare becomes inevitable.
Intrinsic & growing inequity, and the consequently inevitable disappearance of democracy: Without any constraining outside force or internalized principle of social equity, capital accumulation leads almost exclusively to ever more accumulation by the few, which is to say that ever larger amounts of capital are thereby concentrated in ever fewer hands. Problem is, democracies are corruptible: so this ever greater concentration of wealth allows the purchase of the legal and political representation it needs to get laws passed that facilitate the further accumulation and concentration of wealth in the hands of the moneyed and powerful few. This means that as the concentration of wealth increases, democracy is degraded and ultimately destroyed.
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