I find this article a nice example of the frustrating situation "true conclusions but falsely argued". A couple observations on what Monbiot gets wrong, in my opinion, in the relationship between capitalism and environment 1/n

RT @GeorgeMonbiot@twitter.com

Only when we look at the deep history of capitalism do we see it for what it really is: a fire front, raging across the planet, ignited by people who operate offshore.
My column.

🐦🔗: twitter.com/GeorgeMonbiot/stat

According to Monbiot, capitalism would be born in enterprises such as the environmental exploitation of Madeira in the XV century. That is a weird take, not so much about the history of modern capitalism (on which I know too little) but of natural exploitation 2/n

The kind of slash/burn/abandon pattern he describes is, in fact, common to many previous societies. In my book I explain how ancient Greek and Chinese writers (including Plato!) denounced the devastation of their natural environment to exploit resources 3/n

especially wood, exactly as Monbiot describes. Non-capitalist and even pre-agrarian societies could work this way; Paleolithic hunters erased the Pleistocene megafauna without needing any kind of free market! 4/n

Does it mean that capitalism is innocent then? Nope. Monbiot is right in saying that what he describes is not a deviation of capitalism, but capitalism itself. Why? 5/n

Because one can envision other types of economy that at least in principle could avoid this kind of sheer destruction. A communist state could exploit the environment for riches or not; it's a political choice. 6/n

Capitalism can't make this choice. Capitalism has competition at its core, and who exploits more and better, wins. Capitalism will necessarily choose destruction and short-term gains over preservation and long-term goals. It's its own specific nature. 7/n

Yes, you can "fix" capitalism by legislation, but that's going against the capitalist tendecy itself. You "fix" it by mutilating it. And it's a temporary solution: sooner or later, it will devour the political system to do its bid. 8/n


So, Monbiot is right, what is devouring the planet is now capitalism. You can't fix the environment without changing our economical model. But even with a different model, a political and ethical choice is necessary. Abandoning capitalism is necessary but not sufficient. 9/9

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