Capitalism: the root of our crises

Capitalism has many critics and is increasingly seen as at the root of the many threats to a sustainable civilisation for humans on Spaceship Earth. This book review Green Capitalism: The God that failed not only summarises the book’s central theme that the incessant drive for economic growth is the driver of dangerous human impact on the planet, it also offers a critique of many of the ‘progressive’ and radical leaders of the environmental and alternative economics movements.  Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein, Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman and the proponents of steady-state economies are targeted for failing to step fully outside the ‘green capitalist’ growth paradigm or to offer alternative visions. A socialist vision of an alternative society is proposed that removes the competitive consumerist elements of the capitalist system.

This is by no means the first ecological critique of capitalism (e.g. Jerry Mander’s ‘Capitalism papers’) or of green capitalism. The problem here is with the proposed alternative, a planned socialism, which requires the state and those hoped-for “international agreements”, The current troubles of international collaboration in the EU and Eurozone point out the difficulties of such agreements.

The Left and especially, the ecologically minded Left, has to acknowledge a very uncomfortable truth: that while capitalism is failing badly (it’s slowly destroying the conditions for its own existence), socialism has already failed. Searching for alternatives seems to be a forlorn quest.

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