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Capitalism Made This Mess, and This Mess Will Ruin Capitalism (wired.com)
24 points by zamfi 61 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 26 comments



Absurd argument against private sector. It claims that "Just 100 companies responsible for 71% of global emissions, study says" but when you read the study you realize that 99% of these companies are state owned and directed corporations, like Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) or Abu Dhabi National Oil Co, just to cite examples. Again, the anticapitalism bias is absurd, since capitalism is the most sustainable system in comparison with others. I want to remember to those who believe the goverment will provide the best option, that goverments created the worst environmental disasters: Chernobyl, Aral sea (now gone forever), Four Pests Campaign and the list keeps going.


When you read the study, you actually realize that the number isn't 99%, its 59%, which I'm sure you know.


Almost all the companies have entire goverment control or shared with majority, plus, they have to respect local goverment rules.


The thing is that by being owned by a government, it doesn't stop being "capitalism" in the eyes of the proponents of anti-capitalism. For them, the core feature of capitalism is freedom to buy and sell labour, employment of wage labour and accumulation of capital. They may even argue that companies such as PDVSA are private - because they are not under direct democratic control of the labourers who work with those means of production.

I see no reason to believe that capitalism is "the most sustainable" environmentally speaking. Just because it's hard to see big incidents such as Chernobyl or the drying of the Aral sea under capitalism, that doesn't mean that its effects are any less pernicious. In fact, it just means its actions are more transparent and insidious - in the words of a famous author, dystopia without a despot.

Nevertheless, it's worth reading up on socialist critiques of the environmental policy of previous socialist states. Eco-socialism[0] is actually one of the most researched areas of normative social philosophy this decade. They likely explain the points better than the article linked in OP.

[0] https://climateandcapitalism.com/2019/07/27/20-essential-boo...


Don't know why this is getting downvoted.

This is Marx's core definition of Capitalism; the ability to buy and sell labour, employment of wage labour and accumulation of capital. That means that those who own the means of production extract more value from those who labour than what they pay for that labour.

That's Capitalism.

'Rent taking' is missing, that's no reason for a downvote.


Adam Smith observed rent-seeking in his own time, and had some harsh words to say about it (first volume of Wealth of Nations)

"The ability to buy and sell labor" is not really part of Marx's definition of capitalism - while LTV is important to Marxism, Marx's critique was that LTV is no longer clear because of Capital. Anti-marxists like to try and disprove LTV because it's the first thing in Das Kapital but they miss the point completely (Marx got it from Smith anyway).


>"The ability to buy and sell labor" is not really part of Marx's definition of capitalism

It absolutely is, and that's part of what distinguishes the capitalist mode of production from any other. Marx speaks of the "double freedom" workers under capitalism must have. Liberal property relations are what allows capitalism to survive, and free trade in labour is its precondition.


The selling of labor applies more to the greater bourgeois revolution (or humanity in general aspiring to it) than capitalism specifically (which is what the bourgeois revolution evolved to). This is why "people selling their labor" appears true for Adam Smith prior the state (and capitalism in general, in spite of what so many people think about Smith's time) being really formed; for Marx and Engels, capitalism truly was there into existence with the rise of the state - (Lenin identifies it thus as "special bodies of armed men"), and this is why the repurposement and eventual "withering away" of the state becomes so important to Marxist theory. LTV leads to capital, but then it became distorted by capital. Capitalism became "locked in" once you had a new public entity to arise and preside over the growing clash between the classes (which were newly formed).

Lenin gives a detailed analysis of Marx & Engels on this point in the first chapter of State & Revolution.


Not sure I completely agree, but good points nonetheless. Many thanks!


How would you propose organizing society such that it is environmentally sustainable?


Is not capitalism what you mention. It's called Corporatism, the theory and practice of organizing society into "corporations" subordinate to the state. It is also known as prebender companies. Companies that operate thanks to the arrangements they have with the State, without the pressure of the institutions of capitalism: competition, rules, etc. And yes, the people who think "it's capitalism anyways" don't realize this fact.


"Corporatism," "corporatocracy," "crony capitalism," etc. are right-wing buzzwords intended to piggyback on the contemporary resurgence in capital-critical thought, esp. after Occupy and more recently with Trump. The issue is that "corporatism" is less of a theory and more just an echo of the same things libertarians have been saying for many years: to libertarians, the state and its relationship to capital looks "accidental" and seeks to return to an Adam Smith-era of development that you can't actually turn back to. To Marxists the construction of the state (the 1848 moment) was unconscious but happened for a reason - new contradictions in society emerged, creating a bourgeois necessity for a state to "keep order" as it were, to "destroy capitalism" in the name of preserving capitalism. As capitalism's contradiction translates from one position to the other, the apparent relationship of the state to capital seems to ebb and flow in ways without getting to the actual root of the manner - both market liberalization and Keynesian state intervention can appear valid in capitalism.

What you call "corporatism" - the apparent abject deterioration of capitalism - Lenin called "imperialism" or "the monopoly stage of capitalism" a century prior, and he correctly pointed out that it was an an actual inevitability of capitalism due to the heightened concentration of capital.


I call corporativisim or prebendary, to those non-capitalists forms of enterprises, where some intermediaries ally with goverments. People always cite these examples when they want to point out about capitalism, but they're totally wrong about it. That's not capitalism, that's just another form of socialism where the State is not yet deep root in it and they're buying time while others profit, until everything is owned by the state "in favor of the people".


Socialism is not "the state doing things" or "state intervention" or "state ownership." Of course these can be aspects of an implementation of socialism, but they are not socialism in itself - the "how" and "why" actually matters. This is a conflation that historically came to prominence during the Cold War to make the difference between capitalism and socialism "digestible." Even young modern socialists believe this now, no longer understanding socialism as a historical tendency towards emancipation, which attests to the current pitiful state of the Left.

You want actual evidence of what actual major socialist thinkers thought of the state during the time when socialism was most relevant, read Marx's 18th Brumaire or read Lenin's State and Revolution and come to your own conclusions.


I've read Marx, Engels and other marxists. Socialism is the phase 1 that any goverment must implement in order to achieve the proletary ditactorship and after that, achieve communism utopia. Once people is molded into one single line of thoughs, objectives and all property will be abolished through destruction or State ownership, after all that, as Marx said, the human would become interestless to the point it will never think for itself. Absurd. They've concluded that Phase 1 is needed, without questioning, and using force by all means, even killing people, lying or forcing into slavery. Lenin also said this in several publications:

> “We should have taken to arms more resolutely, energetically and aggressively; we should have explained to the masses that it was impossible to confine things to a peaceful strike and that a fearless and relentless armed fight was necessary. And now we must at last openly and publicly admit that political strikes are inadequate; we must carry on the widest agitation among the masses in favour of an armed uprising and make no attempt to obscure this question by talk about "preliminary stages", or to befog it in any way. We would be deceiving both ourselves and the people if we concealed from the masses the necessity of a desperate, bloody war of extermination, as the immediate task of the coming revolutionary action.

The problem with socialists states is, they cannot plan everything, so they rely on the worst corporativism or prebendary, and that is not capitalism, not the classic view, not the modern one. Young people of today is so fooled that they wear a rainbow shirt with the face of Che Guevara.

Capitalism is not perfect, but it is the best system we know and the only system who took the entire population of earth out of poverty.


>As Marx said, the human would become interestless to the point it will never think for itself.

Could you cite this quote?

> They've concluded that Phase 1 is needed, without questioning, and using force by all means, even killing people, lying or forcing into slavery.

Capitalism also historically used force to support itself. Lenin supported armed revolutions, yes, but this became a necessary evil to him and he did not advocate for wanton violence. The thing is, suppose if the Bolsheviks were right about communism and everything - that means responsibility lies on the Bolsheviks to totally transform society, thus, they needed to secure these means: they needed to A) acquire state power make and B) prevent themselves from being undermined by a capitalist order. I point to Rosa Luxemburg's critique of Eduard Bernstein as evidence why moving beyond capitalism requires force.

You will find that, historically, Thomas Jefferson said similar things about the French Revolution:

"In France the 1st effort was defeated by Robespierre, the 2nd by Bonaparte, the 3rd by Louis XVIII and his holy allies; another is yet to come, and all Europe, Russia excepted, has caught the spirit; and all will attain representative government, more or less perfect. This is now well understood to be a necessary check on kings, whom they will probably think it more prudent to chain and tame, than to exterminate. To attain all this however rivers of blood must yet flow, & years of desolation pass over, yet the object is worth rivers of blood, and years of desolation. For what inheritance, so valuable, can man leave to his posterity?"

Lenin was in favor of armed revolution - but not wanton violence. This is why no one died during the October revolution, but millions did during the counterrevolution when the Bolsheviks had to assert themselves lest they would fall (i.e. the Russian Civil War).

>Once people is molded into one single line of thoughts, objectives and all property will be abolished

Marxism is not about turning people into the Borg and abolishing all property! Marx's critique of Capitalism actually went to say that Capitalism tended towards the degradation of property:

"We Communists have been reproached with the desire of abolishing the right of personally acquiring property as the fruit of a man’s own labour, which property is alleged to be the groundwork of all personal freedom, activity and independence. From the Manifesto:

Hard-won, self-acquired, self-earned property! Do you mean the property of petty artisan and of the small peasant, a form of property that preceded the bourgeois form? There is no need to abolish that; the development of industry has to a great extent already destroyed it, and is still destroying it daily."


Just another point on the argument. If you belive capitalism is the worst for the climate, then check what the most capitalists countries are in terms of ecology in comparison with other non-capitalists. You can use as reference the Economic Liberty Index.


What's worse is the fact that this rhetoric never gives an alternative other than a renaming of a communist command/control economy. Also known as "that thing tried multiple times in the 20th century that led to the direct slaughter or death by starvation of tens of millions". Sometimes shortened to "that thing that never worked".

Then the argument that the banks and high industry are going to be democratic... yea, on paper. Not in practice. It would still be run by a small group of assholes, no different than right now. The difference is, they'll no longer have to be clever on taking tax dollars.

I could potentially agree with anti capitalist rhetoric if they had a shred of understanding human nature. In capitalism, its base nature is everyone is an asshole thus you must out asshole them. The big thing is, you dont need nobility, allowance from the church or any real allowance from a governing body (other than health/safety depending on your NAICS, which I think is important). I wish I could remember the book. But it showed a chart of countries and their average business filing timelines from start to end. Theres a real damn good correlation between the lower day timelines (USA is avg 6 days depending on industry) and the higer GDP per cap. Countries with high timelines, like Russia with their 400+ days to start a business, which really hasn't changed since the CCCP days, have a shit GDP per cap. The same goes with the more socialist countries of europe compared to the more capitalist countries. But in general, starting a business in Europe is a fucking nightmare compared to this side of the pond.

Anyways, the four pests campaign is one of the funniest and saddest events in the 20th century. I love how that shit got swept under the rug.


There's an inmense example of the difference of total private banking system vs shared (today's system). I will never use banks as the example, since we're moving towards digital and decentralized currencies.

> I could potentially agree with anti capitalist rhetoric if they had a shred of understanding human nature. In capitalism, its base nature is everyone is an asshole thus you must out asshole them.

No, capitalism is a sum of institutions, so, it's not being an asshole, because if you're asshole, you will have it hard to triumph. In capitalism, the only way to success is by being good. If you take the opposite approach, you will last until your entire capital is lost. There's huge amounts of book that describe the theory well. The only bad here in the equation are the goverments, because they use the force, and if you believe all humans are "wolves", what you will not do (to solve the problems) is giving a wolf all the powers.


> we're moving towards digital and decentralized currencies.

We'll see about that. So far, bitcoin and the likes have only managed to become another trendy get-rich-quick scheme that goes nowhere in terms of becoming an actual, real currency.


Goverment prints currencies and get debt without gold parity, so there is a ponzi scheme-like too. And the worst of it is low income people is the most hurt in this process.


And how can the low-income populace effectively utilize Bitcoin when they have limited access to technology?

Look, I agree there are... issues with current currencies. Most of which are problems that are nothing new. At all. They've plagued the concept of currency since the first coin was ever minted in antiquity. But ANOTHER currency, based on random equations that are "difficult" for a computer to process to act like it has "value", especially due to difficultly and scarcity, is no better. At all. Especially with the fact that Bitcoin is another Austria when it comes to the amount of CO2 it produces in the excess frivolous need of energy due to it.

But the argument that it's going to help the poor or the bottom 2 billion people of the planet, with "no access to government currency" is the dumbest fucking idea on the planet other than flat earth or anti-vax. When someone doesn't have access to clean water or regular amounts of food daily, let alone internet access, wtf makes you think bitcoin when change anything? Other than charity, which is already done with them evil fiat currencies. Especially since the distribution of bitcoin is just as bad as the current currency systems. "Wealth" if you can call it that in bitcoin, is held with the major server farms instead of the banks/gov. It's just renaming the wealth holder. That's all it is. Your wealth redistribution is just redistributing it so someone else can have ultimate control. It's not "for the masses". It's just a different group of "elites".

And we're not on the gold system anymore for fuck's sake! Stop using that as an argument! Current currency value is more dependent on import/export ratios than any other one thing. To clarify, major currencies are now on hybrid systems based on many, many factors that a stupid 10 minute youtube cartoon cannot cover. It's been that way since shortly after WW2 due to all the economic troubles that caused. The system has been refined constantly ever since. Go to a library and pick up an actual book. Want to know how said book is accurate? Because once you have a base knowledge of how the system ACTUALLY works, you can track and predict the currency markets (trade in general) with about an 80% accuracy on a 10 day spread with general geopolitics daily tracking. Something I do (though, for a handful of countries). And I'm an idiot. Those are crayon playing, helmet wearing numbers compared to actual pros in global markets.

Stop watching youtube for financial advice. Read a book or two.

If we had to base a currency on anything. Nitrogen injected containers full of beans. That, right there. I'd vote for that. Fuck gold. Fuck digital equations. Beans. Your currency is based on how many 55 gallon nitrogen injected drums of beans you have. Better use it in 50 years though. But it at least has intrinsic value and "infinite" growth potential to adapt to growing population bases... That's still a silly idea by the way.


Hey, don't insult me please. I never mentioned bitcoin in the first place. Second, it is a fallacy that only books give good advice. Books are just a medium, not a natural fountain of truth. Please, just watch universities debates regarding currencies, private banking, or read books if you are so biased against other formats.

Regarding your initial point, well, low income people is getting on internet like never we've seen before.

And, no. Money is not based on your imports/exports only.


Hm. Bitcoin seems to be dependent upon Exchanges for practical use. Which are just unregulated third parties, subject to (demonstrated) scams and ponzi schemes.


>I could potentially agree with anti capitalist rhetoric if they had a shred of understanding human nature.

Are you familiar with the philosophical dilemmas in determining what "human nature" consists of, and the fact that socialists may simply take a different position in this debate? The Marxist theory of human nature is taken as seriously by sociologists and anthropologists as any other.


>I could potentially agree with anti capitalist rhetoric if they had a shred of understanding human nature. In capitalism, its base nature is everyone is an asshole thus you must out asshole them.

So I can just steal your things then, right? This description of capitalism is completely wrong. In a capitalist system, we place constraints on human behavior because being an asshole often does not increase society's overall utility.




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