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How do you ‘degrow’ an economy, without causing chaos?

Jonathan Rutherford writes: Reducing societal consumption –degrowing the economy– need not necessarily result in chaotic economic breakdown. This is indeed an inevitable outcome within our present economic system, but possibly not others. What then would be required to contract the economy, in an orderly and fair way? A possible answer, from the ‘Simpler Way’ perspective.

Study: What 10 years of smartphone use means for the planet

We’re all on track to use at least 29 phones in our lifetimes. This rapid turnover of devices leads to record profits for smartphone manufacturers year after year. It also leads to many damaging impacts on people and our planet. Greenpeace USA’s new report, ‘From Smart to Senseless’, explores the high cost of smartphone use.

Luddites have been getting a bad rap for 200 years. Turns out, they were right

From Quartz.com: The Luddites were the bands of English workers who destroyed machinery, especially in cotton mills, which they believed was threatening their jobs. As machine learning and robotics consume manufacturing and white-collar jobs alike, New York Times journalist Clive Thompson revisits the Luddite’s history to see what the 200-year-old workers’ rebellion can teach us.

The great climate silence: we are on the edge of the abyss but we ignore it

Clive Hamilton writes: Our best scientists tell us insistently that a calamity is unfolding, that the life-support systems of the Earth are being damaged in ways that threaten our survival. Yet, faced with these facts, we carry on as usual. Most citizens ignore or downplay the warnings; many of our intellectuals indulge in wishful thinking.

Avijit Pathak: I’m not a Marxist, but I’m grateful for Marx

Karl Marx was possibly the founder of the most appealing secular religion in modern times. On his birth anniversary I hear a call from within; I feel like paying homage to the prophet of modern times. Though I’m not a Marxist, the oceanic currents in his thinking continue to fascinate students and wanderers like me.

Sunita Narain: The future is in our hands

We must rethink the question of states, market and society. We have dismembered the state; grown the market and believed that we’ve empowered society. Slowly, the circle closed— state, market and aspiring, consuming society merged. They became one. Anyone outside this circle stopped getting counted. This cannot work. This is our future’s most important agenda.

Earth Day and the phantoms of a pathological culture

Kenn Orphan writes: Earth Day has morphed into an opportunity for corporations and politicians to tout empty gestures at “saving the planet” while they mercilessly plunder it.  It neutralises public outrage at the world’s dire state and spreads an all-pervasive “feel goodism” to a situation that’s truly existential, for countless other species, and our own.

Nicholas Stern: Why are we waiting?

In his new book, Why Are We Waiting? The Logic, Urgency and Promise of Tackling Climate Change, Nicholas Stern explains why, notwithstanding the great attractions of a new path, it’s been so difficult to tackle climate change. He makes a compelling case for climate action now and sets out the forms that action should take.

How to form a global counter-economy

From Open Democracy: Open cooperativism is an effort to infuse cooperatives with the basic principles of commons based peer production. Here are six interrelated strategies for post-corporate entrepreneurial coalitions. The aim is to go beyond the classical corporate paradigm, and its extractive profit-maximizing practices, toward the establishment of open cooperatives that cultivate a commons-oriented economy.

Why climate change is a ‘white swan’

Rupert Read writes: In financial parlance, a ‘black swan’ is a radically unexpected event. Ever-worsening man-made climate change (that is, barring a system change) is not a potential ‘black swan’ event. It’s a white swan, an expected event. It is, quite simply, completely what anyone with a basic understanding of the situation should now expect.

How vulture capitalism is swallowing the world

 “What you see in a lot of countries is a predatory capitalism, from Afghanistan to Pakistan to Australia, which show the corporations that are involved in the neo-liberal agenda, an agenda that has been implemented without really any public consent. This is happening, I would argue, almost by stealth,” says author and journalist Anthony Lowenstein.

Innovation is overrated; it’s maintenance that matters more

Andrew Russell writes: The most undervalued forms of technological labour are also the most ordinary: those who repair and maintain technologies that already exist. This shift in emphasis involves focusing on the constant processes of entropy and un-doing– and the work we do to slow or halt them, rather than on introduction of novel things.

Seeing Wetiko: On capitalism, mind viruses, and antidotes for a world in transition

From Kosmos Journal: What if we told you that humanity is being driven to the brink of extinction by an illness? That all the poverty, the climate devastation, the perpetual war, and consumption fetishism all around us have roots in a mass psychological infection? What if this infection is not just highly communicable but also self-replicating?

Rupert Read: Why I had to tell my students that I fear for them

Rupert Read, a philosophy professor at the University of East Anglia, UK, recently shocked his new 1st year students with a ‘welcoming address’ that dealt with the looming dangers of climate change. Watch the video or read the transcript of his speech below to know why Prof. Read chose to dwell on this unexpected subject.

Rutger Bregman: Wealth isn’t created at the top; it’s only devoured there

Now, we may disagree about the extent to which success deserves to be rewarded–but virtually all agree that wealth is created primarily at the top. In reality, it is precisely the other way around. This is one of the biggest taboos of our times– the truth that we are living in an inverse welfare state.

False solutions? 3 ways to evaluate grand climate proposals

Jeremy Lent writes: We’re going to be hearing a lot about grand solutions to our climate emergency in the coming years. There’s no shortage of proposals for how to do this. We need a way to distinguish authentic pathways to a sustainable civilization from false solutions. I suggest three ways to consider any such proposal.

Marxism, ecology and the Anthropocene: A debate

Editor’s Note: Last week, Ecologise carried the well-known Marxist scholar John Bellamy Foster’s foreword to a new book, Facing the Anthropocene. In response, noted eco-socialist writer Saral Sarkar posted a comment questioning the usefulness of Marxist analysis in understanding the global ecological crisis. This short piece, first published on Ecologise, is Foster’s reply to Sarkar.

Bookshelf: Facing the Anthropocene: Fossil Capitalism and the Crisis of the Earth System

John Bellamy Foster writes in the foreword: It’s capitalism and the alienated global environment it has produced that constitutes our “burning house” today. Mainstream environmentalists have generally chosen to do little more than contemplate it, while flames lick the roof and the entire structure threatens to collapse around them. The point, rather, is to change it.

Can India Inc. face the truth about the Manesar violence?

Yesterday, a local court convicted 31, and acquitted 117 of the 148 workers charged with the murder of an HR manager at Maruti-Suzuki’s Manesar plant five years ago. The verdict once again puts the spotlight on the extreme exploitation and structural violence that characterise Indian industry, described by G. Sampath in this unforgettable 2012 article.

Herman Daly: Thoughts on Pope Francis’ Laudato Si

The pioneering American economist who helped found the discipline of Ecological Economics, and presently a leading theorist of ‘steady-state economics’, muses on Pope Francis’ ground-breaking encyclical on environment and justice. “At a minimum, he’s given us a more truthful, informed, and courageous analysis of the environmental and moral crisis than have our secular political leaders.”

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