"The main cause of the destruction of the planet Earth is capitalism.”
— Evo Morales
“Not only is another world possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”
— Arundhati Roy
The president of Bolivia and the writer from India speak for the majority population of earth which has born the brunt of the worst aspects of western culture. They are sending a wake up call to humanity to solve our existential problems as a race, the only one existing despite the propaganda, ignorance and hatred dividing us into competing national and ethnic entities that confuse learned culture with biological difference and jeopardize our future in the process.
Capitalism is not responsible for every problem we face but it is responsible for most of them. When a financial crisis in Europe has nations near bankruptcy begging for help to save themselves from system collapse, finance capitalism is at the root of their problem. When mining disasters kill workers it is not the act of mining but industrial capitalism’s pursuit of profit at the cost of worker safety that is the problem. And when off shore oil facilities sacrifice workers and cause a spill which threatens massive ecological destruction it is not simply extracting petroleum but the pursuit of private profit that puts life second to financial gain that is the problem. When Morales speaks of the threat to planet Earth he means all of these things and more, and by confronting the menace he aims to help create another world materially that Roy speaks of poetically. That world is not only possible but necessary if humanity is to have a future, but that future will not be possible until we deal with the system of our past which weighs heavily on our present and threatens to deny our future as a human race.
As subjects of western culture we need to understand that the age of selfish consumptive competition has passed. Theories that rationalize injustice in an objective reality of squalid poverty of billions for the subjective benefit of minority millions will no longer appease global majorities who suffer the wretched excess of the capitalist organization of life. When present systemic stress has a relatively affluent minority here in the USA acting like subjugated peasants under the rule of cruel royalty, what might the mood be among those who have paid the price of that minority’s affluence?
American activists work to reform health care, military policy, immigration and environmental laws and the civil rights of identity focused groups. These and numerous other single issues are all vital to reforming the system to meet human needs and the ideals of democracy. But none of them do more than help selected minorities or confront problems in isolation , often causing further social divisions in the process. This system cannot be reformed by changing only one aspect of its increasing signs of decline for the same reason that a failing machine cannot be repaired by replacing one component part while neglecting its engine. The engine of our system is capitalism; the pursuit of private profit through the market under corporate control, free of any public intrusion save for minor reforms that try to keep its most destructive tendencies from all working simultaneously and destroying society in the process. But destruction is what we face if we try to make society healthier by segregating one group or aspect of its illness from the social body without confronting the terminal social disease that escapes notice, is hidden from notice, or is forbidden from being noticed.
Our public bailout of private capital is much greater than the 20th century one that saved the system the last time it was threatened by its internal dysfunctions. We are endlessly borrowing fabricated wealth from ourselves to protect a materially crumbling imperial structure that threatens to collapse on our heads. But more immediately, when legalized gambling entities called private banks are given trillions of our dollars to loan them back to us at exorbitant interest rates, Americans are being robbed more blatantly than ever before in the most colossal act of national plunder in our history.
That massive robbery has created a state of near social psychosis, but the public’s irrational reactions have been provoked by the irrational actions of their system’s rulers. When finance capital conducts terror attacks on American workers, homeowners and pensioners, it is only doing what industrial capital did in the past. Creating great profits for some by causing great losses for others is what the system is supposed to do and will continue doing until it is transformed or destroys itself and everyone else in the bargain.
When NAFTA introduces cheaper corn into Mexico, throws farmers off their land and then advertises for them to come to America as cheap labor on its farms and in its mills, it is simply acting for private profit. And when Americans surrender jobs and foot the social bills for the sudden entry of tens of thousands of foreigners, both sides are being used to absorb loss. But all too often the manipulated targets of wrath are either the profit creating illegal immigrants or their loss sustaining critics, not the capitalist system that created the problem.
It’s time for humanity to act on teachings of social justice that are only paid lip service now, if considered at all. The earth belongs to all of us but if we keep treating it as though only some of us own it and are privileged or chosen by some deity to exploit it for our benefit alone, it will collapse under the weight of a burden it has never known before. The sooner we acknowledge and deal with the fact spoken of by global leaders like Evo Morales, the sooner we embark on the path to the future potential for humanity spoken of by Arundhati Roy. Capitalism is the problem we have. Democracy is the solution we need.