Capitalism is Cruel

capitalism-as-fishMy condemnation of private property startles people, because our lives have been based on property for 10,000 years. Few people today see drawbacks to that, or can imagine any alternative. Even many critics of capitalism accept “Mom and Pop stores.” But Mom and Pop don’t really like fighting off competition. They’d be glad to turn their store into a distribution center, addressing needs instead of money.

dead duckWe made a wrong turn 10,000 years ago, when we decided we didn’t need each other. That yielded bullying, poverty, plutocracy, and war.  More recently it’s causing ecocide, the destruction of the ecosystem on which we all depend. The ecosystem can’t survive in pieces, any more than you or I can. Yet it is being hacked apart and sold off in pieces – for its extraction cost, not its replacement cost. Externalities, unmeasured side effects of trade, never get cleaned up, and they’re bringing us toward extinction.

rat-raceThe problem won’t be solved by mere reforms, because it’s not just a few bad plutocrats. The problem is the “every man for himself” culture in all of us. Privately-owned workplaces are dictatorships, and we can’t care about others while competing against them. Bullying and shootings become common.

better bargaining positionTrade increases inequality, by favoring the trader in the stronger bargaining position. This creates small wealthy classa small wealthy class. Rather than serve as checks and balances on each other, the wealthy and the politically powerful merge. Thus we end up with plutocracy, rule by the rich.

Power corrupts, as we see in domestic violence, workplace bullying, police brutality, prison torture, army atrocities, and political lies. The powerful tell themselves that their underlings are undeserving. Our society could feed and house all, but that’s not happening because it wouldn’t make the rich richer.

Ending capitalism is

  • necessary, as explained above;
  • urgent, as our extinction is imminent; and
  • possible, as you’ll see if you look within yourself, for we’re all cousins.

We must replace the market with caring and sharing, and replace hierarchical government with horizontal networking. Our concept of “self” must become larger than a household, larger than a nation — it must become the entire planet, because that is the scale on which our life is now endangered. The first step is to talk about it.


cap cruel sq2019 Mar 20, version 3.02. The leaflet fits on two sides of 1/2 page. (Original version 2016 Oct 11.)