I’ve just read two books that make the case for a view I’ve long held: that capitalism is to blame for just about everything that’s wrong with our world.
The first, Days of Destruction, Days of Rage by Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco describes four “sacrifice zones”: the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in southwestern South Dakota; Camden, NJ, a former port and manufacturing town turned third world city; southern West Virginia, devastated by mountaintop-removal coal mining; and Immolakee, Florida, where poor migrants from Mexico and Central America break their backs and are subjected to toxic chemicals picking tomatoes for a pittance. Hedges’ eloquent words and Sacco’s black and white ‘cartoon journalism’ images assault your mind, soul, and senses — you want to turn away, and you can (just like you can stick your head in the sand) — but the people who live in these places can’t. And, Hedges, warns, this is what the capitalist system has in store for the great majority of us, unless we say, “Hell, no!” How? Hedges thinks the Occupy movement provides a good model of living another way, in harmony with nature and each other — valuing each life and respecting life in general, as our current economic system, a cruel juggernaut that turns life into death or ugliness (waste) in the blink of an eye, does not.
The second book, Ecology and Socialism by Chris Williams, focuses on climate change, and demonstrates that nothing meaningful will be done about this problem — or the general problem of environmental destruction — under capitalism. Capitalism, which must continuously expand production to cope with the interest-bearing debt on which it’s based, cares only about short-term profit — it can’t support any other value. Williams believes that only renewable energy like solar, wind, and geothermal is sustainable, and suggests ways that it can be stored to be consistent. Continuing to burn fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas will make severe global warming inevitable, causing 50-75% of species to go extinct, and dooming the few remaining humans to a miserable existence.
Williams also shows how hunger and poverty are caused by capitalism, not overpopulation. His conclusion: Only by holding land and the instruments of production in common and producing to meet social need rather than profit will the simultaneous exploitation of nature and humanity end [italics mine].
You can read my synopses of these books on this website, if you wish. Just go to the Resources section at the top of the page, and click on the title under “Non-fiction books.”