Excerpt from Harmony and Ecological Civilization: 10 Key Aspects of Capitalism


  • It has to grow (or else it is in crisis) and its very logic and motivating force impels growth.
  • It has no other driving force than the accumulation of ever greater amounts of capital.
  • Through the creation of so-called “externalities” (or side effects) it wreaks damage on humans as well as the ecosystem and the life support systems needed by humanity and other species. In Paul Sweezy’s words: “As far as the natural environment is concerned, capitalism perceives it not as something to be cherished and enjoyed but as a means to the paramount ends of profit-making and still more capital accumulation.”1
  • It promotes the use of nonrenewable resources without regard to the needs of future generations, as if there was no end to them, and abuses even renewable resources such as ocean fisheries and forests.
  • It creates vast inequality in income, wealth, and power both within and between countries. Not only class, but race, gender, and other inequalities are built into its laws of motion.
  • It requires and produces a reserve army of labor—people precariously connected to the economy, most kept in poverty or near poverty—so that labor is available during economic upswings and workers can easily be fired when not needed by businesses.
  • It promotes national economic and political competition and imperialism, leading to wars for domination and access to resources.
  • It fosters and rewards those particular human traits that are useful for thriving or even just existing in such a possessive-individualist society—selfishness, individualism, competition, greed, exploitation of others, consumerism—while not allowing the full expression of those human characteristics needed for a harmonious society (cooperation, sharing, empathy, and altruism).
  • It leads to the breakdown of human health since people operate in a hierarchical society, with many working under dangerous and physically debilitating conditions or in jobs that are repetitive and boring—while subject to job loss or fear of losing their job. (There are many adverse long-term health effects following the loss of one’s job.)2
  • It leads to the breakdown of healthy communities as people become more solitary in outlook and behavior and indigenous culture is replaced by the dominant national or international capitalist culture and outlook. People become dedicated to obtaining more for themselves and their families and depending less on reciprocal relationships with others.

4 thoughts on “Excerpt from Harmony and Ecological Civilization: 10 Key Aspects of Capitalism

  1. You don’t end capitalism you make it earth friendly. Without capitalism you don’t have a stock-market, interest payments, insurance payments, etc. Rating systems and the human eye to date have failed. The human eye can be too easily bought at the top with money and power. A new one is coming and it prevents this even at the top. The self Capitalist only that do it in a “Me Only” mode are fighting it but it is coming whether they like it or not.

  2. i’m pretty sure interest and insurance payments existed before capitalism, what is needed is a fundamental shift in how nature is viewed. Capitalists viewing nature as something to use up and profit off of aren’t doing it because of problems with their personality, they’re doing it because of the demands of a profit-driven system. Moralism has never been the solution to the failures of capitalism, and trying to work within the capitalist system is ignoring the fundamental fact that the demands of capitalism run antithetical to the needs of humanity, especially when it comes to the environment.

    Two good books you would be interested in are What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know About Capitalism and The Ecological Rift by John Bellamy Foster

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