We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lapp√©, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Nature of Capitalism

Click here to access article by Troy Vettese from Jacobin

The title for this article is much too abstract for its contents. (The could be the fault of the editor of this website.) The author lauds a new book entitled Fossil Capital by Andreas Malm as possessing rather new radical ideas.  It seems to me that I have seen other writers using the very same reasons to explain why early capitalists turned to coal as an energy source. 

In my mind what is new is that Malm points to a historical parallel for the use of coal by early capitalists with their current preference to use fossil fuels as an energy source over renewable forms energy. Hence "green capitalism is an oxymoron". 
The rout extends to many renewable energy firms that have recently withered or gone bankrupt. “From a peak in 2011 to the year of 2013,” Malm observes, “global investments in renewable energy fell by 23 percent. In Europe the figure was a stunning 44 percent (Malm’s emphasis).”
That the use of renewable energies has declined is not convincingly presented in this article, and it needs to be considering that the use of renewable energies has reportedly been increasing. Somebody is lying by distorting data.

What is clear is that capitalists because of the system's growth imperative must use energy sources that are very flexible and the cheapest. These two reasons account for the fact that contemporary capitalists will never accept paying the full price--nor could they--of the horrific damage inflicted on our planet-home by their use of fossil fuels. 


  1. Hi, Ron,
    Since this has been our area of focus at Titanic Lifeboat Academy, I decided to briefly comment.

    First, the only renewable, sustainable energy is found in the bicep between the shoulder blade and elbow.

    All so-called "green" technologies require extraction of rare metals and/or other non-sustainable resources, and all are built using carbon energy. They are not a "solution". Whether they are in decline or ascent is, therefore, of no consequence.

    Capitalism is the legitimate racket of turning life into money, i.e., capitalism = death.

    I've not seen it expressed better than a comment in Willamette Week (Portland area):
    "The salmon's tail hit the deck one last time before it turned into money."



  2. These are words of wisdom from a person and her partner Christopher who have created largely with their muscle power a sustainable small farm and training center in northwestern Oregon.


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