Capitalism, Charles Bukowski, Climate Change, Collapse of Industrial Civilization, Corporate State, Corporatocracy, E-Waste, Eco-Apocalypse, Ecological Overshoot, Eric Schechter, Globalization and Technocapitalism: The Political Economy of Corporate Power, Greed is Good, Gross Inequality, Inverted Totalitarianism, Optimal Foraging Theory, Overpopulation, Peak Oil, Regulatory Capture, Technocapitalism, Technopathocracy
I’m middle-aged and my nine-to-five work routine keeps the financial wolves at bay; as with most Americans, I’m dependent on every paycheck. Being fully aware of mankind’s global ecological overshoot definitely puts an extra twist into my daily outlook when I head off for work. How long will my job be around as the pressures of peak oil and climate change mount? Of course we’re all riding the crest of the largest bubble in history, i.e. human overpopulation, where enough people are added each day to fill a large city with every single inhabitant becoming a new source of pollution and CO2 emissions. This past year seems to be a real seminal point in the breakdown of modern agriculture with several major breadbasket regions getting hit hard by record drought such as California and Brazil. There is no adapting to this kind of extreme weather in which snowpack, seasonal rain showers, and aquifers dry up and then when moisture does come, it’s delivered in torrential floods. And yet a sea of hungry mouths continue to arrive each day. Very few of these new parents are aware of the inevitable mass starvation on the horizon. How could they know when unending economic growth is demanded by their governments, environmentalists and investigative journalists are treated as terrorists, and truth-tellers are silenced? So our predicament will be handled in the most ad hoc and chaotic manner, think Katrina or Fukushima. We were all born into this dysfunctional, irredeemable system, and there’s no escaping the long arm of industrial civilization…
“The problem was you had to keep choosing between one evil or another, and no matter what you chose, they sliced a little bit more off you, until there was nothing left. At the age of 25 most people were finished. A whole god-damned nation of assholes driving automobiles, eating, having babies, doing everything in the worst way possible, like voting for the presidential candidates who reminded them most of themselves.”
~ Charles Bukowski, Ham on Rye
The gears of the corporate state continue to grind onward while the plastic people go about their artificial lives oblivious to the strange rattling in the engine compartment. There really is no “carefree living” these days while you wish you could ‘unknow’ the dark thoughts of the wicked that is coming. No one or no thing is coming to save us.
Per the optimal foraging theory, humans are only following basic biological urges by burning the most optimal and high EROEI energy sources available to them – fossil fuels. The situation is complicated further by all the numerous mental traps humans subconsciously employ to avoid uncomfortable truths. Infighting between vested interests jockying to protect their slice of the pie is yet another gremlin in the engine. I really find little comfort in the thought that no matter how much damage we humans exact on the environment, life will eventually return to the planet. This seems to absolve us from acting as the so-called sentient and wise beings we claim to be. We might as well drop the pretenses and acknowledge the self-inflicted damage wrought by our technocapitalism. Its insidious mechanisms are busy digging a mass grave for everyone:
Philosopher Peter Lamborn Wilson called it the Technopathocracy of modern society. This dehumanizing system we live under offers the illusion of choice while also inculcating into the populace its antisocial nature, for instance cutthroat competition as “normal” and “healthy”. What the psychopathic elite deem as positive values becomes normalized:
While we’re on the subject of technology, a few interesting factoids on E-waste:
- It represents 2 percent of America’s trash in landfills, but equals 70 percent of overall toxic waste.
- 20 to 50 million metric tons of e-waste are disposed worldwide every year.
- Only 12.5 percent of e-waste is currently recycled
- 80 to 85 percent of electronic products were discarded in landfills or incinerators, which can release certain toxics into the air.
- It takes 539 pounds of fossil fuel, 48 pounds of chemicals, and 1.5 tons of water to manufacture one computer and monitor
It has been recently reported in the news that e-waste is a “global time bomb“, a “threat to mankind“, and a “growing toxic nightmare” with hundreds of millions of people threatened worldwide by its noxious pollution:
“[It] is the world’s fastest growing waste stream, rising by 3 to 5 per cent every year, due to the decreased lifespan of the average computer from six years to two,” says Wong.
“In countries such as Australia the disposal of e-waste in landfills generates a potent leachate, which has high concentrations of flame retardant chemicals and heavy metals. These can migrate through soils and groundwater and eventually reach people.”
Wong says developed countries often send e-waste to developing countries in Asia and Africa for recycling, taking advantage of these countries’ lower cost of labour and lower environmental regulation.
But, he says, in these countries e-waste is processed to remove precious materials such as gold, silver and platinum, under “extremely primitive conditions”, leading to extensive pollution of air, water, food and people.
“The toxic chemicals generated through open burning of e-waste include PCDD, PBDEs, PAHs, PCBs and heavy metals,” says Wong. “[These] have given rise to serious environmental contamination.”
“Some of these toxic chemicals are known to build up in fish especially, which may then be traded locally and around the world.”
Wong says that science has now clearly demonstrated the risk of these toxic chemicals being passed on to the next generation, while babies are still in the womb, or in their mother’s milk.
“At the same time these e-waste contaminated sites are extremely hard to clean up due to the complex chemical mixtures they contain,” he says.
E-waste is simply one more positive feedback loop in our technocapitalist system that is overwhelming the planet like plastic waste in the oceans and GHG’s in the atmosphere. Mathematician Eric Schechter succinctly explains a few major flaws in capitalism which guarantee our own death by ecocide if the system is allowed to continue on its course:
“We must overthrow the system before ecocide kills us all. And if we throw out the plutocracy without changing our culture, the culture will just generate a new plutocracy. All parts of the system are interconnected, so we must change every aspect of our lives — in effect, we are part of what we must overthrow; we must change ourselves.”
Some Major Flaws of Capitalism:
- If we were all valued members of the economy, rising productivity would theoretically make us all affluent, but under capitalism, just the opposite happens. The benefits of increased productivity are pocketed by the handful of people who control the workplace — the owners, the management executives, etc. Workers are seen as expendable tools.
- Market fundamentalists claim that everyone profits from a “voluntary trade,” because they exchange something they value less for something they value more. But it doesn’t really work out that way. The wealthy keep the much larger portion of the profit S-P, and the poor’s portion will be just barely enough for survival. The wealthy get wealthier, because they have the bargaining power and only engage in deals that make them wealthier; they decline any other deals.
- Greed is built into the system. A corporation is compelled, both by competition and by its legal charter, to maximize profits by any means available, disregarding or even concealing harm to workers, consumers, and the rest of the world. Fines for breaking rules generally are smaller than the profits obtained from such misbehavior, and so such fines are simply viewed as a part of the normal cost of doing business. Any CEO who finds scruples is quickly fired and replaced. Externalized costs are omitted from our measurements and calculations. We are taught to see our interests as separate, and the well-being of the community is not the responsibility of anyone in particular. The commons gets privatized and plundered, and as a result the ecosystem is dying.
- The accumulation of capital corrupts all levers of government. Once upon a time, some of us believed that the market could be regulated and kept moral by government. But we were mistaken — it’s inevitable that the wealthy will capture the government. After all, wealth can be used for influence.
So as long as the system stays intact, we’re all along for the suicide ride over the cliff. Certainly anyone who is half awake can see that despite all the Rio Earth Summits and talk of “going green” over the last several decades, our path to the graveyard is all but written in stone. The human species will snuff itself out with the help of a socio-economic ideology that all the brainwashed people worship.
Sit back and enjoy the ride…
“Capitalism has survived communism. Now, it eats away at itself.”
~ Charles Bukowski, The Captain is Out to Lunch and the Sailors
Have Taken Over the Ship