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“Ecocide – The destruction of the natural environment, especially when deliberate.” Oxford Dictionary of English.
The Beginning of the End
Once upon a time in 18th Century Britain an extraordinary progression in intellectual activity developed, pushing forward the industrial revolution and a significant emphasis on the scientific method, liberty, limited government, reason and free enterprise, which in turn gave rise to the American Revolution, the Bill of Rights, the Monetary System, conformity, plastic, credit cards, stocks, shares and greenhouse gases. Furthermore with the decline of Mercantilism in Britain in the late 18th century and an acceptance of free trade, the desire and ever-growing greed to further build individual wealth grew.
At this time Scottish economist and moral philosopher Adam Smith had succeeded in spreading a largely liberal economic model around the globe; The Scottish Enlightenment, this laissez-faire economic system was characterised by open markets, barrier free domestic and international trade. A gateway to inequality. Considering his influence Adam Smith was still troubled by the lingering effect imposing government regulations had on an individual’s prosperity. Eventually he went on to theorise and subsequently pave the way for one of the most bizarre delusions in the history of human thought. The monopoly economy, or in other words; Capitalism.
The Morality of Money
In part we owe the free market, intrinsic obsolescence, ecocide & derivatives to Adam Smith. His magnus opus: An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, more often referred to as The Wealth of Nations, was first published in 1776. Smith covers the areas of economics & politics within the realms of moral philosophy. The book reflects upon economics at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, pushing broad topics such as the division of labour, human nature, free markets, productivity, moral values and moral justice. Labourer, slave, stock owner and master, Smith saw a way for individual wealth to grow faster. He anticipated and advocated the evolutionary development of economics in its most destructive form and thus helped it flourish.
‘It is not, however, difficult to foresee which of the two parties must, upon all ordinary occasions, have the advantage in the dispute, and force the other into a compliance with their terms. The masters, being fewer in number, can combine much more easily; and the law, besides, authorizes, or at least does not prohibit their combinations, while it prohibits those of the workmen … In the long run the workman may be as necessary to his master as his master is to him; but the necessity is not so immediate.’ (Smith, 1776:8).
Now it’s important to understand, that a cyclical consumption system like the one described above by Smith, albeit in 18th Century Britain, cannot stop, or the entire economic structure would fall apart. The money would not come to the employer, therefore the employer would not be able to afford to pay his employee, then both the employer and the employee would not be able to preserve or eternise the cycle of being a consumer, and therefore contribute to the fictional commodities that promise to produce well being and happiness for all humanity.
In this reality money is pursued for the sake of money, nothing else. In fact, pretty much everything else is entirely disregarded. All is well in the world, so long as the system is making money. In consequence, there is an unfathomable amount of waste produced by intrinsic obsolescence; we actually design products to need replacing. The thing is there currently is no profit in peace, in saving lives, in equality, in justice, environmental awareness and sustainable living. Problems create profit and so we are producing absolutely nothing at all and ‘profiting’ from it.
Let us pause for a moment
The definition of economy: To manage frugally in the expenditure or consumption of money, materials & minerals etc. Management with a view to productivity, the efficient, sparing, or concise use of something. (Mixture of Dictionary sources). The principles of economy outlined above are contradicted by our utter insanity and ludicrous lack of efficiency.
In a world where the entire concept of value in money = the value of products sold rather than the value of money actually owned, we are in serious trouble. In a world where the entire concept of money = a made up bedtime story gone awol, we are in serious serious trouble. We are our own demise; creative geniuses, deluded master minds, immaculate liars, impeccable storytellers and we have told the very thing that will ruin us and in telling, believed it. Beliefs are ingrained in us, even before the dawn of the cognitive revolution we have enjoyed believing in higher powers, physical powers and love. Money encombases all three. It is the perfect, perfect story.
Just think for a moment about the amount of garbage this encourages us to accumulate, throw in the trash and forget about. Eventually the money sequence stops producing anything of value at all and instead rather exploits anything necessary to fuel its production. News flash, this is currently happening and your junk does not rot in landfill, it is likely to be at least 60% non-biodegradable and discarded of irresponsibly. Our ineffective landfill sites make the Disney animation Wall-E (2008) seem pretty plausible, but I assume Wall-E would look more like an apple product.
“Yes, the planet got destroyed but for a beautiful moment in time we created a lot of value for shareholders” Tom Taro, The New Yorker.
We are in a situation now where tracking money sequences is more important than creating peace on earth, basic food resource and sanitary standards for every man, woman and child. We are governed by the stock market, which as I am sure you are aware does not produce anything real but rather just trades money itself. Buying and selling debt for profit, thus fueling the need for the wasteful consumption of products, property and minerals.
This is absolute f***ing lunacy. Many of the major market economists rationale today, rarely leaves the money sequence. The universal welfare of species, universal human resources, or any type of life prosperity and progress, that promotes a thriving future for all, does not exist anywhere in their whole senseless doctrine. Almost 65% of the world is bankrupt, whatever that actually means, bankrupt. The money never existed in the first place, it was printed by the bank and the bank is a fictitious super lord that governs all the money because humans love making up stories.
You remember when you believed in Father Christmas? You believed genuinely with every inch of your being, that one man and eight reindeer delivered gifts to every child on planet earth in one night?
I am currently reading Yuval Noah Harari’s book Sapiens. Towards the beginning of the 414 pager in a chapter titled The Tree of Knowledge Harari talks about the cognitive revolution and the impact Homo Sapiens cognitive ability has had on our future as a species on this planet. We owe our accelerated progress and decline to our cognitive developments.
‘This arena is extraordinarily large, allowing Sapiens to play an astounding variety of games. Thanks to their ability to invent fiction, Sapiens create more and more complex games, which each generation develops and elaborates further’ (Harari, 2011;39). So, the monetary system, the marketing system, bankruptcy, commodities, fashion, marriage, religion, war, wage slaves, financial trading, loans and gross domestic product are all powerful, powerful stories.
A particularly financially profitable tale, is one called debt. This is the idea that you can borrow a value of money that does not exist until you borrow it. So as soon as you have borrowed it, you pretty much have no way of paying it back ever, because you never had it in the first place. In addition to this you’ll get a growing flow of interest on top of that debt, so now you owe more money you don’t have. More importantly you owe money that doesn’t actually exist in the physical reality anyway.
Ok. But what is money?
A fantastical game we invented, a game that is causing the well-being of billions of people, other species and entire ecosystems to be compromised. In the 21st century money is essentially data, numbers on a screen. In its physical form money is a means of exchange or trade in the form of printable coins, banknotes and even bank cards. Money could purchase any physical product creation you could likely think of right now, if you have enough, but it will seldom get you fresh drinking water and health care in a debt plagued, politically corrupt country.
‘In the year 1500, there were about 500 million Homo Sapiens in the entire world. Today there are over 7 billion. The total value of goods and services produced by humankind in the year 1500 is estimated at $250 billion, in today’s dollars. Nowadays the value of a year of human production is close to $60 trillion. In 1500, humanity consumed about 13 trillion calories of energy per day. Today, we consume 1,500 trillion calories a day. (Take a second look at those figures – human population has increased fourteen-fold, production 240-fold, and energy consumption 115-fold.)’ (Harari, 2011:247).
Long story short, Harari could be seen to suggest that we are totally f**ked. The trouble is, the only way to really eliminate waste is to eliminate money and people, and let’s be honest that ain’t gonna happen any time soon. Most certainly not whilst we live in a world where men in suits make decisions aimed at promoting their own ideas of wealth & success, to better benefit themselves.
Benjamin Franklin once said; there are only two things certain in life: death and taxes. He was right. But hunger, poverty, ecocide and reproduction are also certain, so long as taxes are certain. John Locke and Gandhi both wrote that they would not abide by the law if it was against their conscience & the well-being of others. Albeit with very different agendas and overall political views both men used the power of free-will to their advantage. And so should you and I.
‘A man can no more justly make use of another’s necessity to force him to become his vassal by withholding that relief God required him to afford to the wants of his brother, than he that has more strength can seize upon a weaker, master him to his obedience, and, with a dagger at his throat, offer him death or slavery.’ John Locke, 1689.
‘I shall no longer accept the role of a slave. I shall not obey orders as such, but shall disobey them when they are in conflict with my conscience’ Mahatma Gandhi, 1921.
Where am I going with this?
The End of the Beginning
This is so much bigger than all of us, it’s monstrously bigger than the bigots controlling it and it won’t be long before it all comes crumbling down. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men, they won’t be able to put it back together again. There will be no such thing, as a wealthy man or king. Everyone will be equal with nothing but blood and fire. Yikes, sounds awful.
Capitalism, the genius idea formed by men with a philosophical view lacking in empathy and common sense is not sustainable and we all know it. We have the voice and the power to change it, but we need to progress past the benighted consciousness we call reality today. Don’t get scared now, I’m not suggesting you dress up in a cloak and dance around a fire chanting. For lack of better words myself I will leave you with a paradox of Jean-Paul Sartre’s.
‘Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does. It is up to you to give [life] a meaning’. Sartre, 1946.
All the great political, moral, economical, peaceful, disruptive, immoral, influential philosophers, thinkers and leaders, I have mentioned in this post, had a voice powerful enough to change the course of history, for better or worse. Their passionate expressions of civil disobedience, their antagonism of popular belief, social structures and politics are all too lacking in today’s world of a mass lemming society ignorance syndrome. The meaning of life? I don’t know. But there is no meaning or valuable outcome from violence or destruction, from the annihilation of our own species and in taking everything down with us. Are we too brainwashed, too indoctrinated, too conditioned & too ignorant to stop this madness? Or do we just not care?