Friday, August 23, 2013

Sustainability is destroying the Earth

From Deep Green Resistance New York, courtesy of a facebook friend:

If the lifestyle actions advocated really do have the effect of keeping our culture around for longer than it would otherwise, then it will cause more harm to the natural world than if no such action had been taken.  For the longer a destructive culture is sustained, the more destruction it causes.  The title of this article isn’t just attention-grabbing and controversial, it is quite literally what’s going on.

When we frame the sustainability debate around the premise that individual lifestyle choices are the solution, then the enemy becomes other individuals who make different lifestyle choices, and those who don’t have the privilege of choice.  Meanwhile the true enemy — the oppressive structures of civilization — are free to continue their destructive and murderous practices without question.  This is hardly an effective way to create a meaningful social movement.  Divide and be conquered.

Sustainability is popular with corporations, media and government because it fits perfectly with their aims.  Maintain power.  Grow.  Make yourself out to be the good guy.  Make people believe that they have power when they don’t.  Tell everyone to keep calm and carry on shopping.  Control the language that is used to debate the issues.  By creating and reinforcing the belief that voting for minor changes and buying more stuff will solve all problems, those in power have a highly effective strategy for maintaining economic growth and corporate-controlled democracy.

More here.

The essay writer ends up concluding that it's either the internet and wrecking the planet, or going agrarian and saving the planet, although she doesn't come right out and phrase it that way.  Personally, I don't think the choice is quite so extreme.  I have a really difficult time simply accepting that there are no technological solutions out there that would allow us to keep the internet, and maybe some other cool things like air conditioning while still having a relatively healthy ecology.  But that's pretty much the only problem I have with this essay.  Otherwise I am in complete agreement that we cannot use capitalism to fix capitalism.

I mean, in the end, capitalism IS the problem.  It sees the entire universe as exploitable.  Indeed, it is a capitalist mandate that the universe ought to be exploited.  When everything is up for grabs, then everything will be grabbed, and where there's money to be made, take it and run.  That is, capitalism always goes to the money.   Always.  You cannot use it to do anything in the end but go to the money.  Going green, needless to say, is NOT going to the money, and must necessarily become subordinate to capitalism's prime directive.  In short, a green economy is to capitalism as Howard Stern is to rebellion.

So all the hybrid drivers, all the people with their own shopping bags, all the religious recyclers, all the home solar aficionados, and on and on, are essentially doing this stuff simply to make themselves feel less guilty about participating in an economic system that is destroying the planet.  But, make no mistake, even when they give into green marketing campaigns and buy all those eco-friendly products, they continue to participate in that system.  Living a green lifestyle does not change capitalism.  It is simply a niche market for capitalism.

So how DOES one change capitalism?  Well, that part's easy, at least in concept: government FORCES change on capitalism.  Of course, the devil is in the details.  After all, the most important product sold by capitalism is, in fact, government.  If you've got a lot of money, then you've got a lot of government.  And, generally, those with a lot of money like things just the way they are.