You are on page 1of 5

Will Malson Capitalism Bad; Environment Ravaged Page 1 of 5

Capitalism Bad; Environment Ravaged

We’ve come here today to provide an answer to the great question: to compete, or to cooperate? As
such, my philosophy is that cooperation is superior to competition as a means of achieving excellence.

What is the heart of the clash between competition and cooperation? In its truest and purest form, it is
the conflict between capitalism and socialism, the ultimate competition, and the ultimate cooperation.
When it comes down to it, do we want to be competing, or do we want to be cooperating? I’ll give you
the answer in 4 steps. But first, let’s start with some definitions.

Socialism: “a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of
production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.”
(Oxford American Dictionaries, 2010)
True Socialism: Communalism.
Communalism: “the principle or practice of living together and sharing possessions and
responsibilities” (Oxford American Dictionaries, 2010)

Now let’s get into my contentions.

“I think that the only way to be honest and expose yourself to criticism is to state clearly and
dogmatically where you are. You must take the risk and have a position.” Zizek 04
Will Malson Capitalism Bad; Environment Ravaged Page 2 of 5


Ellen Meiksins Wood [for many years Professor of Political Science at York University, Toronto, is the
author of a number of books, including Democracy Against Capitalism and, with Verso, "The Retreat
from Class (which won the Deutscher Prize), The Origin of Capitalism, Peasant-Citizen and Slave and
The Pristine Culture of Capitalism], "The Politics of Capitalism", The Monthly Review, Volume 51,
Number 4, September 1999 (HEG)
This is why it's not enough to say, as some of Brenner's critics have done (including John Foster in the
June issue), that the primacy he gives to competition is contrary to Marx, who insists that competition
doesn't cause capitalism's laws of motion but is simply their external manifestation in the movements of
individual capitals. The point is that no other social form has laws of motion that work through the
mechanisms of competition. No other social form is subject to the imperatives of accumulation and
innovation, which are driven by competition. And competition is the mechanism of capitalism's basic
laws of motion because in capitalism, as in no other system, the irreducible condition of access to the
means of self-reproduction is market-dependence and subjection to market imperatives. We can't even
understand capital's perennial efforts to circumvent competition without taking account of that
irreducible condition of market-dependence and the competitive imperatives that go with it.

“I think that the only way to be honest and expose yourself to criticism is to state clearly and
dogmatically where you are. You must take the risk and have a position.” Zizek 04
Will Malson Capitalism Bad; Environment Ravaged Page 3 of 5


John Bellamy [Professor of Sociology at University of Oregon and Dennis, researcher with the Neoliberal Globalism and Its Challengers Project at the
University of Alberta, where he also teaches part-time in the sociology department, Ecology, capitalism, and the socialization of nature] “The Ecology of
Destruction”, © copyright 2007 Monthly Review, February 2007, Volume 58, Number 8, brackets not in original (HEG)
In the almost five years that have elapsed since the second earth summit it has become increasingly difficult to separate the class and imperial war inherent to
At a time when the United States is battling for imperial control of the richest
capitalism from war on the planet itself.
oil region on earth, the ecology of the planet is experiencing rapid deterioration, marked most dramatically by global
warming. Meanwhile, neoliberal economic restructuring emanating from the new regime of monopoly-finance
capital is not only undermining the economic welfare of much of humanity, but in some regions is
removing such basic ecological conditions of human existence as access to clean air, drinkable water,
and adequate food. Ecologists who once warned of the possibility of future apocalypse now insist that
global disaster is on our doorstep. Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature, declared in his article “The Debate is Over” in the November 17, 2005,
issue of Rolling Stone magazine that we are now entering the “Oh [censored]” era of global warming. At first, he wrote, there was the “I wonder what will happen?” era. Then
there was the “Can this really be true?” era. Now we are in the Oh [censored] era. We now know that it is too late to avert global disaster entirely. All we can do is limit its scope
and intensity. Much of the uncertainty has to do with the fact that “the world...has some trapdoors—mechanisms that don’t work in straightforward fashion, but instead trigger a
nasty chain reaction.”6 In his book, The Revenge of Gaia, influential scientist James Lovelock, best known as the originator of the Gaia hypothesis, has issued a grim assessment
of the earth’s prospects based on such sudden chain reactions.7 Voicing the concerns of numerous scientists, Lovelock highlights a number of positive feedback mechanisms that
could—and in his view almost certainly will—amplify the earth warming tendency. The destructive effect of increasing global temperatures on ocean algae and tropical forests (on
top of the direct removal of these forests) will, it is feared, reduce the capacity of the oceans and forests to absorb carbon dioxide, raising the global temperature still further. The
freeing up and release into the atmosphere of enormous quantities of methane (a greenhouse gas twenty-four times as potent as carbon dioxide) as the permafrost of the arctic
tundra thaws due to global warming, constitutes another such vicious spiral. Just as ominous, the reduction of the earth’s reflectivity as melting white ice at the poles is replaced
with blue seawater is threatening to ratchet-up global temperatures.8 In Lovelock’s cataclysmic view, the earth has probably already passed the point of no return and temperatures
are destined to rise eventually as much as 8° C (14° F) in temperate regions. The human species will survive in some form, he assures us. Nevertheless he points to “an imminent
shift in our climate towards one that could easily be described as Hell: so hot, so deadly that only a handful of the teeming billions now alive will survive.”9 He offers as the sole
means of partial salvation a massive technical fix: a global program to expand nuclear power facilities throughout the earth as a limited substitute to the carbon-dioxide emitting
fossil fuel economy. The thought that such a Faustian bargain would pave its own path to hell seems scarcely to have crossed his mind. Lovelock’s fears are not easily dismissed.
James Hansen, who did so much to bring the issue of global warming to world attention, has recently issued his own warning. In an article entitled “The Threat to the Planet” (New
York Review of Books, July 13, 2006), Hansen points out that animal and plant species are migrating throughout the earth in response to global warming—though not fast enough
in relation to changes in their environments—and that alpine species are being “pushed off the planet.” We are facing, he contends, the possibility of mass extinctions associated
with increasing global temperature comparable to earlier periods in the earth’s history in which 50 to 90 percent of living species were lost. The greatest immediate threat to
humanity from climate change, Hansen argues, is associated with the destabilization of the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. A little more than 1° C (1.8° F) separates the
climate of today from the warmest interglacial periods in the last half million years when the sea level was as much as sixteen feet higher. Further, increases in temperature this
century by around 2.8° C (5° F) under business as usual could lead to a long term rise in sea level by as much as eighty feet, judging by what happened the last time the earth’s
temperature rose this high—three million years ago. “We have,” Hansen says, “at most ten years—not ten years to decide upon action but ten years to alter fundamentally the
trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions”—if we are to prevent such disastrous outcomes from becoming inevitable. One crucial decade, in other words, separates us from
irreversible changes that could produce a very different world. The contradictions of the entire Holocene—the geological epoch in which human civilization has developed—are
suddenly being revealed in our time.10 In the Oh [censored] era, the debate, McKibben says, is over. There is no longer any doubt that global warming represents a crisis of earth-
The global ecological threat
shaking proportions. Yet, it is absolutely essential to understand that this is only one part of what we call the environmental crisis.
as a whole is made up of a large number of interrelated crises and problems that are confronting us
simultaneously. In my 1994 book, The Vulnerable Planet, I started out with a brief litany of some of these, to which others might now be added:
Overpopulation, destruction of the ozone layer, global warming, extinction of species, loss of genetic
diversity, acid rain, nuclear contamination, tropical deforestation, the elimination of climax forests,
wetland destruction, soil erosion, desertification, floods, famine, the despoliation of lakes, streams, and
rivers, the drawing down and contamination of ground water, the pollution of coastal waters and
estuaries, the destruction of coral reefs, oil spills, overfishing, expanding landfills, toxic wastes, the
poisonous effects of insecticides and herbicides, exposure to hazards on the job, urban congestion, and
the depletion of nonrenewable resources.11 The point is that not just global warming but many of these other problems as well can
each be seen as constituting a global ecological crisis. Today every major ecosystem on the earth is in decline. Issues of
environmental justice are becoming more prominent and pressing everywhere we turn. Underlying this
is the fact that the class/imperial war that defines capitalism as a world system, and that governs its
system of accumulation, is a juggernaut that knows no limits. In this deadly conflict the natural world is
seen as a mere instrument of world social domination. Hence, capital by its very logic imposes what is in effect a scorched earth
strategy. The planetary ecological crisis is increasingly all-encompassing, a product of the destructive
uncontrollability of a rapidly globalizing capitalist economy, which knows no law other than its own
drive to exponential expansion.

“I think that the only way to be honest and expose yourself to criticism is to state clearly and
dogmatically where you are. You must take the risk and have a position.” Zizek 04
Will Malson Capitalism Bad; Environment Ravaged Page 4 of 5


MECHANISMS. Nichols 99
Dick Nichols [national co-convener of the Socialist Alliance], Democratic Socialist Perspective,
“Appendix: Can green taxes save the environment?”, July 1999, (HEG)
That's because the socialist revolution equips society with the key weapons for the war against resource
depletion and pollution by removing the vested interests of the private capitalists. How does this work? Firstly, social
ownership of major industry and the finance sector enables the implementation of emergency plans of
large-scale environmental repair. By eliminating all the contradictory interests of competing capitalists — which make environmentally
effective green taxation such a rarity — it enables policy to be directed straight at the sources of resource depletion and pollution. Secondly,
resources presently squandered on the luxury consumption of the rich can be redirected, helping fund the
vast increase needed in spending on environmental repair and conversion. Thirdly, the elimination of
such a critical underpinning of capitalism as the business secret and patent rights allows the most
environmentally benign technology to be applied across the board, instead of being jealously guarded as
one or two companies' fount of super profits. Fourthly, it empowers the environmental movement,
presently dispersed and fragmented, to concentrate its energies in a permanent and organised crusade
against environmental degradation. Lastly, in the underdeveloped countries, it opens the way to large-
scale land reform, which is the precondition for relieving the environmental pressure superficially due to
"rural overpopulation".

“I think that the only way to be honest and expose yourself to criticism is to state clearly and
dogmatically where you are. You must take the risk and have a position.” Zizek 04
Will Malson Capitalism Bad; Environment Ravaged Page 5 of 5


Ambrose Bierce, "The collected works of Ambrose Bierce", Volume XI, Chapter 1: "The shadow on the
dial", Page 17, Copyright 1912 by The Neal Publishing Company (HEG)
Socialism and Anarchism are parts of the same thing, in the sense that the terminal points of a road are
parts of the same road. Between them, about midway, lies the sys- tem that we have the happiness to
endure. It is a " blend " of Socialism and Anarchism in about equal parts: all that is not one is the other.
Cooperation is Socialism; competi- tion is Anarchism. Competition carried to its logical conclusion
(which only coopera- tion prevents or can prevent) would leave no law in force, no property possible, no
life secure. Of course the wordls " cooperation " and " competition " are not here used in a merely
industrial and commercial sense; they are in- tended to cover the whole field of human act- ivity. Two
voices singing a duet — that is cooperation — Socialism. Two voices singing each a different tune and
trying to drown each other — that is competition — Anarchism;

In conclusion, the choice before you today is thus: to embrace capitalism with competition or socialism
with cooperation. With capitalism comes the retrenchment of a poverty state with no hope of recovery.
With socialism comes the very heart of recovery and opportunity to the poor that capitalism inherently
lacks. Thank you.

“I think that the only way to be honest and expose yourself to criticism is to state clearly and
dogmatically where you are. You must take the risk and have a position.” Zizek 04