The system is broken. Everyone knows that. But do you know that no one knows what the hell the system is? We may be missing the obvious, like the proverbial elephant in the room, that we’re blanking out to, as if it weren’t there or was invisible to us. Or perhaps each of us is touching on only a small part of the whole system from our limited vantage points and think we’re on to something but are only feeling a swishing tail or the tip of a tusk or the fanning of a floppy ear, like the proverbial blind men trying to describe an elephant by touching the part of it within each’s reach, each describing each different part accurately but having no clue about what the whole thing is or how to keep it from going on a rampage or, better yet, how to put it out to pasture. The quotes below are from some notable folks who are putting their fingers on the system problem.
– Martin Boksenbaum, originally in the 1/5/15 Sustainability Doings
Capitalism, Climate, Elephants, Corporations,
“What do corporations do? (The question should be, ‘What do people do behind the fiction of corporations?’ . . . ) . . . The short version is that they write a script for us [a big part of which is Regulatory Law], and we follow it. Then they write a script for themselves, [Defining Law.]” (10)
“Corporations are artificial creations that are set up by state corporation codes. These state laws, plus a bunch of court cases, form the basis for the notion that corporations have powers and ‘rights.’ This law is Defining Law. But this Defining Law is invisible to us because we have been colonized and have accepted it as a given. We leave defining law — in corporation codes, bankruptcy law, insurance law, etc. — to corporation lawyers [to] rewrite it every few years without so much as a whimper from citizen activists . . .
“This law bestows upon corporations powers and rights that exceed those of human persons and sometimes of governments as well. It seems pretty obvious, then, that we need to rewrite the Defining Law.”
– Jane Anne Morris, in ” ‘Help! I’ve Been Colonized and I Can’t Get Up . . .’: Take a Lawyer and an Expert to a Hearing and Call Me in a Decade”, 1998, published in Defying Corporations, Defining Democracy, 2001, edited by Dean Ritz: p. 11.
“. . . our Movement’s standard gloom and doom message . . . overlooks the fact that there are practical, time-tested methods (enhanced photosynthesis via regenerative organic farming, ranching, reforestation and land restoration) for safely moving 100 ppm or more excess CO2 from the atmosphere and storing it where it belongs-in the living soil.
“This regeneration and revolution in agriculture and land use, in combination with radical reductions in GHG emissions, if carried out globally on billions of acres of eroded, decarbonated, deforested, bare, and exhausted soils will not only reverse global warming, but also qualitatively increase water retention, crop yields and food nutrient density or quality — enabling us to basically eliminate global poverty, hunger, water shortages and deteriorating public health.”
– Ronnie Cummins, in ” Letter from Lima: What’s Wrong with the Climate Movement?“, on the Organic Consumers Association website, dated 12/16/14.
“We believe that nurturing an economy from the middle out and the bottom up is how this country can achieve and sustain real-earned, and unborrowed-prosperity of the kind that trickle-down has never once delivered.
“To be sure: government needs to be smarter and more efficient in its role as circulator and investor. And there is no question that the animal spirits of capitalism and markets remain an unsurpassed force for innovation and solutions. We are pro-capitalism. In fact, we are fiercely so. What that requires is remembering what capitalism is supposed to be about — generating the most widespread competition possible so that society gets the most fruitful results possible.”
– Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer, in The Gardens of Democracy: A New American Story of Citizenship, the Economy, and the Role of Government, 2011: pp. 115-116.
“Why are we marching to disaster, ‘sleepwalking to extinction’ as The Guardian‘s George Monbiot once put it? Why can’t we slam on the brakes before we ride off the cliff to collapse? I’m going to argue here that the problem is rooted in the requirements of capitalist reproduction, that large corporations are destroying life on Earth, that they can’t help themselves, they can’t change or change very much, that so long as we live under this system we have little choice but to go along in this destruction, to keep pouring on the gas instead of slamming on the brakes.
“The only alternative — impossible as this may seem right now — is to overthrow this global economic system and all of the governments of the 1% that prop it up and replace them with a global economic democracy, a radical bottom-up political democracy, an ecosocialist civilization. I argue that, although we are fast approaching the precipice of ecological collapse, the means to derail this train wreck are in the making as, around the world, we are witnessing a near-simultaneous global mass democratic ‘awakening,’ as the Brazilians call it, almost a global uprising from Tahir Square to Zuccotti Park, from Athens to Istanbul to Beijing and beyond such as the world has never seen.”
– Richard Smith, in “Capitalism and the Destruction of Life on Earth: Six Theses on Saving the Humans“, originally published in real-world economics review, issue no. 64, 2013
“[To understand economic scandals we need to investigate] the story not of a few bad-apple CEOs but of an economic system designed to do precisely what it did — to enrich a few at the expense of many. At the most visible level, this means CEOs. But if they are the whipping boys singled out for punishment, they have not acted independently. They are subordinates to the real masters of the system, the invisible aristocracy of major shareholders.”
“After a decade and a half of advocating corporate social responsibility and seeing its promise thwarted, I’ve asked myself, What is blocking change? . . . The answer is the mandate to maximize returns for shareholders. It is a systemwide mandate that cannot be overcome by individual companies. It is a legal mandate with which voluntary change can’t compete.”
– Marjorie Kelly, in The Divine Right of Capital: Dethroning the Corporate Aristocracy, 2001, 2003: pp. xiii, xv.
“By posing climate change as battle between capitalism and the planet, I am not saying anything that we don’t already know. The battle is under way, but right now capitalism is winning hands down. . .”
“The challenge . . . is not simply that we need to spend a lot of money and change a lot of policies; it’s that we need to think differently, radically differently, for those changes to be remotely possible. Right now, the triumph of market logic, with its ethos of domination and fierce competition, is paralyzing almost all serious efforts to respond to climate change.”
“[What we need to focus on is the social and political context, that is, the needed] radical changes on the social . . ., political, economic, and cultural sides. What concerns me is less the mechanics of the transition . . . than the power and ideological roadblocks that have so far prevented any of these long understood [low-carbon technological] solutions from taking hold on anything close to the scale required.”
– Naomi Klein, quotes here are from This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate, 2014: pp. 22, 23, 24-25