Monday, November 18, 2019

“Capitalocene” Not “Anthropocene”

An article with the title “Humans Aren’t Inherently Destroying the Planet — Capitalism Is” may be worthwhile reading can be found here and it is also of value to quote some extracts from the interview.

Co-author Raj Patel of History of the World in Seven Cheap Things: A Guide to Capitalism, Nature, and the Future of the Planet. (along with Jason W. Moore) explains Anthropocene,  is a term coined by geologists and climate scientists to describe what it is that humans have done to the planet but it’s more accurate to say that the scale of this geological era, characterized by the things that humans have laid into the fossil record — things like plastic - has not been caused by humans in the normal operation of going about our daily business. On the contrary, it’s a particular kind of human society that has caused all these things — and that’s capitalism.

“...So we call it the Capitalocene because it’s not some innate quality of humans that has destroyed the planet, it’s a product of how the system of capitalism operates. If we are to stop the destruction of the planet, then we need to name the systems that cause it and observe that there are some humans who had nothing to do with it — that some humans are very importantly not to blame for what gets called the Anthropocene. Labeling them with the same term as other humans not only blames the victim in some cases, but it also obscures potential solutions to the climate crisis…”

“...Capitalism is a system that doesn’t pay its bills — and one way of thinking about that is the idea of cheapness. That’s why we’ve titled our book, A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things — it’s a way of pointing to how capitalism dodges the payments of things that it requires in order to be profitable. It’s not necessarily a conscious design of the early capitalists that a system like this would be required, but it has emerged over time that capitalism has figured out ways to defray or move around the real consequences of its uses of things like nature, work, care, lives, energy, food and money. These are all things that capitalists are trying to make a profit from…”

Full interview here

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