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/* George Monbiot: The Problem is Capitalism */
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=== <center>[[George Monbiot]]: [https://www.monbiot.com/2019/01/06/the-mind-hackers!/// The Problem is Capitalism]</center> ===<center><span style="color:grey">It is a weapon pointed at the living world. We urgently need A report I helped publish has led to develop a new systemattacks and flat-out falsehoods in the rightwing media.It’s clear whose interests they serve</span></center>
30th April 30rd July 2019
ll billionaires want the same thing – a world that works for them. For most of my adult lifemany, I’ve railed against “corporate capitalism”, “consumer capitalism” and “crony capitalism”. It took me this means a long time to see that the problem world in which they are scarcely taxed and scarcely regulated; where labour is not cheap and the adjectiveplanet can be used as a dustbin; where they can flit between tax havens and secrecy regimes, but using the nounEarth’s surface as a speculative gaming board, extracting profits and dumping costs. The world that works for them works against us.
While some people have rejected capitalism gladly So how, in nominal democracies, do they get what they want? They fund political parties and swiftlylobby groups, I’ve done so slowly set up fake grassroots (Astroturf) campaigns and reluctantlyfinance social media ads. Part of the reason was that I could see no clear alternative: unlike some anti-capitalistsBut above all, I have never been an enthusiast for state communismthey buy newspapers and television stations. I The widespread hope and expectation a few years ago was also inhibited by its religious status. To say “capitalism is failing” that, in the 21st century is like saying “God is dead” in internet age, news controlled by billionaires would be replaced by news controlled by the 19thpeople: social media would break their grip. It But social media is secular blasphemyinstead dominated by stories the billionaire press generates. It requires a degree of self-confidence I did not possessAs their crucial role in promoting Nigel Farage, Brexit and Boris Johnson suggests, the newspapers are as powerful as ever.
But as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to recognise two things. First, that it is the system, rather than any variant of the system, which drives us inexorably towards disaster. Second, that you do not have to produce a definitive alternative to say that capitalism is failing. The statement stands in its own right. But it also demands another, and different, effort to develop a new system.
Capitalism’s failures arise from two of its defining elementsSign up to the Media Briefing: news for the news-makers Read moreThey use this power not only to promote the billionaires’ favoured people and ideas, but also to shut down change before it happens. They deploy their attack dogs to take down anyone who challenges the programme. The first It is perpetual growthone thing to know this. Economic growth It is the aggregate effect of the quest another to accumulate capital experience it. A month ago I and extract profitsix others published a report commissioned by the Labour party called Land for the Many. Capitalism collapses without growth, yet perpetual growth on It proposed a finite planet leads inexorably set of policies that would be of immense benefit to environmental calamitythe great majority of Britain’s people: ensuring that everyone has a good, affordable home; improving public amenities; shifting tax from ordinary people towards the immensely rich; protecting the living world; and enhancing public control over the decisions that affect our lives. We showed how the billionaires and other oligarchs could be put back in their boxes.
Those who defend capitalism argue thatThe result has been four extraordinary weeks of attacks in the Mail, as consumption switches from goods to servicesExpress, economic growth can be decoupled from the use of material resources. Last weekSun, [https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13563467.2019.1598964?tokenDomain=eprints&tokenAccess=34DIKBKNXiFceff2QzRt&forwardService=showFullText&target=10.1080%2F13563467.2019.1598964&doi=10.1080%2F13563467.2019.1598964&doi=10.1080%2F13563467.2019.1598964&doi=10.1080%2F13563467.2019.1598964&journalCode=cnpe20& a paper in the journal New Political Economy] by Jason Hickel Times and Giorgos Kallis examined this premiseTelegraph. They found Our contention that while some relative decoupling took place oligarchic power is rooted in the 20th century (material resource consumption grew, but not as quickly as economic growth), in the 21st there ownership and control of land has been a re-coupling: rising resource consumption has so far matched or exceeded amply vindicated by the rate response of economic growth. The absolute decoupling needed to avert environmental catastrophe (a reduction in material resource use) has never been achieved, and appears impossible while economic growth continues. Green growth is an illusionoligarchic power.
Some of these reports peddle flat-out falsehoods. A system based week ago the Mail on perpetual growth cannot function without peripheries and externalitiesSunday claimed that our report recommends a capital gains tax on people’s main homes. There must always This “spiteful raid that will horrify millions” ensures “we will soon be an extraction zonejoining the likes of China, from which materials are taken without full paymentCuba, Laos and a disposal zone, where costs are dumped Vietnam in the form becoming one of waste and pollution. As the scale of economic activity increasesworld’s few Marxist-Leninist states”. This claim was picked up, until capitalism affects everything from the atmosphere to the deep ocean floorand often embellished, the entire planet becomes a sacrifice zone: we by all inhabit the periphery of other rightwing papers. The policy proved, the profitTelegraph said, that “keeping a hard-making machineleft Labour party out of office is not an academic ideological ambition but a deadly serious matter for millions of voters”. Boris Johnson, Philip Hammond and several other senior Tories weighed in, attacking our “mad” proposal.
This drives us towards cataclysm on such a scale that most people have no means of imagining it. The threatened collapse of our life support systems is bigger by far than war, famine, pestilence or economic crisis, though it is likely Want to incorporate all four. Societies can recover from these apocalyptic events, but not from [https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/mar/25/treating-soil-like-dirt-fatal-mistake-human-life the loss of soil], an abundant biosphere and a habitable climate.tackle inequality? Then first change our land ownership lawsGeorge MonbiotGeorge Monbiot Read moreAdvertisement
The second defining element is the bizarre assumption that a person is entitled to as great a share of the world’s natural wealth as their money can buyBut we made no such recommendation. This seizure of common goods causes three further dislocations. First, We considered the scramble for exclusive control of non-reproducible assetsidea, which implies either violence or legislative truncations of other people’s rightslisted its possible advantages and drawbacks, then specifically rejected it. SecondAs they say in these papers, the immiseration of other people by an economy based on looting across both space and timeyou couldn’t make it up. Third, the translation of economic power into political power, as control over essential resources leads to control over the social relations that surround themBut they have.
In the New York Times There were dozens of other falsehoods: apparently we have proposed a “garden tax”; we intend to add “an extra £374 a year on Sunday, top of what the Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz [https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/19/opinion/sunday/progressive-capitalism.html sought to distinguish] between good capitalism, that he called “wealth creation”, and bad capitalism, that he called “wealth grabbing” typical household pays in council tax” (extracting rentno such figure is mentioned in our report). I understand his distinction, but from the environmental point of view, wealth creation is wealth grabbing. Economic growth, intrinsically linked ; and inspectors will be sent to the increasing use of material resources, means seizing natural wealth from both living systems and future generationspeople’s homes to investigate their bedrooms.
To point to such problems Dozens of reports claim that our proposals are “plans” hatched by Jeremy Corbyn: “Jeremy Corbyn’s garden tax bombshell”; “Jeremy Corbyn is to invite planning a barrage huge tax raid”; “Corbyn’s war on homeowners”. Though Corbyn is aware of accusationsour report, many he has played no role in it. What it contains are not his plans but our independent policy suggestions, none of which are based on this premise: capitalism has rescued hundreds of millions of people from poverty – [https://wwwyet been adopted by Labour.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/george-monbiot-and-the-climate-change-heart-The press response gives me an inkling of-darkness now you want what it must be like to impoverish them again]. It is true that capitalismwalk in his shoes, as I see my name (and the economic growth it drives, has radically improved the prosperity his) attached to lurid schemes I’ve never heard of vast numbers of people, while simultaneously destroying the prosperity of many others: those whose landand associated with Robert Mugabe, labour Nicolás Maduro and resources were seized to fuel growth elsewherethe Soviet Union. Much Not one of the wealth many journalists who wrote these articles has contacted any of the rich nations was – and is – [https://wwwauthors of the report.pbs.org/newshour/nation/west-got-rich-modern-capitalism-born built on slavery and colonial expropriation]Yet they harvested lengthy quotes denouncing us from senior Conservatives.
Like coal, capitalism has brought many benefitsThe common factor in all these articles is their conflation of the interests of the ultra-rich with the interests of the middle classes. ButWhile our proposals take aim at the oligarchs, like coal, it now causes more harm than good. Just as we have found means and would improve the prospects of generating useful energy that the great majority, they are better and less damaging than coalpresented as an attack on ordinary people. Progressive taxation, so we need to find means the protection of generating human wellbeing that are better public space and less damaging than capitalismgood homes for all should strike terror into your heart.
There is no going back: the alternative We’ve lodged a complaint to capitalism is neither feudalism nor state communism. Soviet communism had more in common with capitalism than the advocates press regulator, Ipso, about one of either system would care to admitthe worst examples, and we might make others. Both systems are (or were) [https://www.faber.co.uk/9780571225248-red-plenty.html obsessed with generating economic growth]. Both are willing But to inflict astonishing levels of harm in pursuit of this and other ends. Both promised pursue them all would be a future in which full-time job (we would need to work for only a few hours a weekwrote the report unpaid, but instead demand endless, brutal labourin our own time). Both The simple truth is that we are dehumanisingbeing outgunned by the brute power of billionaires. Both are absolutist, insisting that theirs and theirs alone is And the one true Godsame can be said for democracy.
So what does a better system look like? I don’t It is easy to see why political parties have a complete answerbecome so cautious and why, and I don’t believe any one person does. But I think I see as a rough framework emerging. Part of it is provided by the ecological civilisation [https://www.monbiot.com/2018/01/31/stepping-back-from-the-brink/ proposed by Jeremy Lent]result, one of the greatest thinkers of our age. Other elements come from [https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/12/doughnut-growth-economics-book-economic-model Kate Raworth’s doughnut economics] UK is stuck with outmoded institutions and the environmental thinking of [https://thischangeseverything.org/book/ Naomi Klein]policies, [https://www.amitavghosh.com Amitav Ghosh], [https://icewisdom.com Angaangaq Angakkorsuaq], [https://jacobinmag.com/2019/04/green-new-deal-agriculture-farm-workers Raj Patel] and [http://billmckibben.com/falter.html Bill McKibben]. Part succumbs to ever more extreme and regressive forms of the answer lies in the notion of “[https://wwwtaxation and control.theguardianLabour has so far held its nerve – and this makes its current leadership remarkable.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/11/labour-global-economy-planet private sufficiency, public luxury]”. Another part arises from the creation of a new conception of justice, based on [https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/mar/15/capitalism-destroying-earth-human-right-climate-strike-children this simple principle]: every generation, everywhere shall have an equal right It has not allowed itself to be bullied by the enjoyment of natural wealthbillionaire press.
I believe our task The old threat has not abated – it has intensified. If a newspaper is to identify the best proposals from many different thinkers and shape them into owned by a coherent alternative. Because no economic system is only an economic systembillionaire, but intrudes into be suspicious of every aspect of our livesword you read in it. Check its sources, we need many minds question its claims. And withhold your support from various disciplines any party that allows itself to be bullied or economic, environmental, political, cultural, social and logistical worse working collaboratively to create a better way of organising ourselves, that meets our needs without destroying our homeguided by their agendaOur choice comes down to thisStand in solidarity with those who resist it. Do we stop life to allow capitalism to continue, or stop capitalism to allow life to continue?
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