A Little Rant About Capitalism and the Environment

To a friend on facebook messenger. You can infer the context, more or less:

I care about the environment a little bit. My problem is that an entire generation has decided that they can save their souls by preaching false things about nature and about the environment. So it’s kind of pointless to care about the environment when a whole generation of fanatics (who don’t even KNOW that they are fanatics) have adopted the environment as the vehicle thorough which they can get to heaven. They do nothing for the environment that way. In fact, it is more likely that they will actually get to heaven than that the environment will benefit from their concern for it.

About neo-liberalism. Yes, personal autonomy is over-emphasized. But people who complain about capitalism always seem to have NO IDEA what other systems look like. No doubt, there are real problems we have to solve. But left-wing thinkers always implicitly assume that there was some era before this when everything was peaches and cream, and there were no problems, and if only CAPITALISM never would have arrived, everything would be pure heaven. FALSE, FALSE, FALSE. This kind of thinking is terrible destruction in the guise of compassion.

Insofar as personal autonomy is overemphasized, it is a problem which must be solved today, with no harkening back to yesterday, no pining for the old days, no preaching of how “nature in her original form was pure.” Because nature in her original form was NOT pure. She has NO REGARD for life at all, as evidenced by the recurrence of mass-extinction events throughout the fossil record, and more broadly by the scarcity of life in the universe in general.

Also, about “collective power relations, and interdependence.” I agree with the idea of interdependence. People are in fact highly interdependent, and their relationships are crucial to their success. The best evidence for this is the clustering of the rise of many great geniuses in particular times and places. While Shakespeare deserves all the praise he gets for his independent genius, it would likely have been impossible for that genius to appear if he hadn’t lived in Elizabethan England at that precise time in history.

But when you talk of collective power relations, you should bear in mind that if you want to see what REAL power relations look like, you should try studying any system OTHER than capitalism first. People who don’t have power seem to think that it’s just a matter of snapping their fingers and having a bunch of slaves do their bidding. And if by power, you mean something other than slaves doing one’s bidding, what is it? You think money is the same thing as power? Not true. Money has many benefits, but if you call that “power”, then all the power in the world couldn’t get Hillary Clinton elected president. No, the “power relation” that got Trump elected was DEMOCRACY, pure and simple ā€“ with a little help from the Electoral College. But anyway, my main point is that if you talk about “collective power relations,” you need to be specific, because it’s not just about slaves doing your bidding. And modern liberal democracy has done far more than any other civilization to DISSOLVE collective power relations ā€“ hence the overemphasis on personal autonomy. If anything, I’d say we need to STRENGTHEN collective power relations, because it’s BAD to force people to rely so much upon themselves. But because we have no longer any sense of what “true authority” is, we can’t agree on how collective power should be formed. So the factions split and nothing changes, e.g., in the case of education, teachers unions fight for their needs, parents fight to switch their kids to different schools, politicians debate endlessly about how education should be reformed, but hardly anything ever actually CHANGES ā€“ that is a sign that there is in fact no “collective power relation” present. And what happens? All the burden is shifted to the individual to “figure it out eventually.” And in the US it’s even worse, because now, by the time a student is sent off into the world to “figure it out” using personal autonomy, they are often $100,000 or more in DEBT. Astonishing! This is not the result of collective power, but rather the lack thereof, because infighting among factions means, again, that nothing will ever change, even though almost everyone agrees that the system sucks.

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