News & opinion on Greater China and the even Greater Beyond: by Biff Cappuccino.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Good morning XXX: I spent this morning reading several articles written by Walden Bello, Robert Fisk, and Gwynne Dyer. I wasn't disappointed by what I found: historical inacurracies, the cultivated superficiality of buzzwords, glib rhetoric, and raging superiority complexes. Below is an absurdity care of Prof Bello's sweating worker's hands:
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"Capitalism constantly erodes man and woman's being-in-nature (creature) and being-in-society (citizen) and, even as it drains them of life energy as workers, it moulds their consciousness around one role: that of consumer. Capitalism has many "laws of motion," but one of the most destructive as far as the environment goes is Say's law, which is that supply creates its own demand. Capitalism is a demand-creating machine that transforms living nature into dead commodities, natural wealth into dead capital." - Walden Bello, McPlanet Conference, Berlin, 27-29 June 2003
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Capitalism drains life energy from workers? The reason I don't have to work long hours is because capitalism has created the efficiencies that enable me to earn NT$1000/hr. Look at Harry, he's making far more than me. How is our life energy being drained? Does Harry talk about shopping all the time? Neither do I. And I just attended the wedding of a friend (also an acquaintance of Harry's). His pants had holes and his sneakers were spray-painted black because he couldn't be bothered to go out and buy dress shoes. Doesn't sound like his consciousness has been molded around being a consumer either. My father prided himself upon winning athletic competitions while using the cheapest equipment he could find. The son of a coal miner, he's ... as far removed from the consumer mentality as myself or Harry. And what are the "dead commodities" that Professor Bello refers to? Is he referring to my dead computer? My dead motorcycle? My dead stereo? The dead restaurants that I enjoy? This is just more malarkey. More buzzwords. More meaningless poetry designed to impress people who prefer pretty sounds to plain sense.
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Prof Bello writes: "Capitalism has many "laws of motion," but one of the most destructive as far as the environment goes is Say's law..."
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Destruction of the environment is something that human beings have been engaging in for the last 50,000 years. The extinction of megafauna was virtually complete by 5000 years ago across all of the world, with the exception of sub-Saharan Africa where human populations were kept low by the world's most lethal collection of indigenous parasites and disease. North America used to have elephants, horses, camels, giant sloths, sabertooth lions, giant cave bears (eight foot tall at the shoulder when walking on all fours) and other huge wildlife. All of it was killed off by the American Indians. So much for the baloney about indigenous civilizations living in harmony with nature. A large part of the Yucat√°n Peninsula has been turned into grassland because the indigenous Indian population constantly set the forest on fire to drive out game. The same is true of Australia where much of the grassland is man-made; produced deliberately by the Australian aborigines over thousands of years. Pre-capitalist humanity didn't need "dead commodities" or "consumer consciousness" to drive large parts of the global ecology into extinction.
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And animals and plants have been engaging in environmental destruction on their own long before humanity arrived on the scene. Plants poison each other by exuding toxins through their root systems, dispersing aerosol poisons through leaves, and so forth. They also compete for sunlight and water and regularly kill off competitors. Fig trees use their root systems and trunks to literally squeeze to death victim trees, just like pythons asphyxiating wild pigs. When you look at a mature forest what you're looking at is the last stage of serial plant species extermination with the victors/oppressors being the largest trees in the forest. Plants and animals have been driving each other into extinction naturally for the past 600 million years. 99.9 percent of our planet's species have gone extinct naturally. The average species lasts about 10 million years. There's nothing peculiarly human about species extinction or environmental destruction.
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Secondly, the degree of impact that the human population has had over the global ecology in recent millennia is primarily a product of population density growth. And only in the capitalist countries has population begun to decline. Poor people have as many children as they can because they hope that one of their kids will get rich and support them in their old age. People living in capitalist countries tend to amass sufficient wealth so they don't feel the need to raise huge families. This is probably the main factor in why birth rates are declining in the developed countries.
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I.e. capitalism has proven to be the only civilized cure (the uncivilized cures are war and poor public sanitation) for human overpopulation. But of course when human populations begin to decline, as they've done in some European countries and Japan (with the effect that wildlife populations are returning and such animals as wolves are reappearing in eastern Europe on their own), professional complainers start bellyaching that these countries are in danger because there aren't enough young people to support their social welfare systems.
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These people are in the business of whining. This is their profession. It's a huge industry and it pays the more literate and persuasive charlatan quite well. These people have little desire to cure the problems they moan about. If they cured them, they would be out of work. And, when push comes to shove, my feeling is that most of them are dollar-chasers and far hungrier for the dollar than most so-called capitalists.

Anyway, I'll make this my last letter for a while. I need to get back to my regular readings...

Have a good one,

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