photo & text by nacrowe
the informative graphic novel HYPER-CAPITALISM (THE NEW PRESS, 2018) by cartoonist LARRY GONICK and PSYCHOLOGY professor TIM KASSER is essentially an exhaustive breakdown of the extent to which INTRINSIC VALUES (such as appeals to SOCIAL JUSTICE, CREATIVITY, connection to NATURE / COMMUNITY) are INCOMPATIBLE with the prevailing ethos of the modern corporate system we all inhabit. this graphic novel very much gets at the heart of what makes MODERN CAPITALISM such a PERNICIOUS threat to GLOBAL SUSTAINABILITY efforts as well as the stability of communities and the general well-being of its inhabitants. corporations in particular are terrible neighbors who, by design, have an insatiable need to seek and ultimately leverage various COMPARATIVE ADVANTAGES (regarding RESOURCES, LABOR, TECHNOLOGY, etc.) in order to appease shareholders and exploit stakeholders in the process. the drawings are targeted and delineate numerous complicated strategies, postures and procedures (with regards to the culpability of the CONSUMER, GOVERNMENT, LEGAL SYSTEM and BUSINESS OWNERS) in a succinct and efficient manner. the effectiveness of these panels is pretty staggering and is really a testament to how talented and knowledgable both GONICK and KASSER are as a team.
but its all so DEPRESSING and just OVERWHELMING.
such is why the pair decided to have write a second section of the book that outlined how various practices (at both the consumer and business level) can ward off the DESTRUCTIVE elements of CAPITALISM and reinvigorate communities and social congruity. making purchases (and long-term investments) based on HUMANISTIC VALUES and participating in local communal efforts (FARMER'S MARKETS, TIME BANKS, LIBRARIES, etc.) keeps the immense influence and power of capital at the local level. and that is basically they key to transforming what the author refers to as "HYPER-CAPITALISM", you have to alter it from the inside out. by changing how you interact with the system you are in essence transforming it to something that is more HUMANISTIC and in line with INTRINSIC VALUES that better everyone.
or so that is the central thesis. i feel that MATERIALISM will not change and that people will forever be mindlessly subject to the GREEDY, PERNICIOUS whims of coordinated corporate ADVERTISING, LOBBYING and LEGAL efforts. i dont see a communal change in our CONSCIOUSNESS as AMERICANS, which is essentially built on RACIST, MATERIALISTIC and unapologetically NARCISSISTIC framework devoted to the idea of the INDIVIDUAL.
the antidote to this DEVASTATING situation is a seemingly QUIXOTIC dream that i share but dont see coming true. we are doomed. our individual and collective desires are doing us in.
photo & text by nacrowe
CLIMATE CRISIS AND THE GLOBAL GREEN NEW DEAL (VERSO, 2020) finds noted progressive economist ROBERT POLLIN of UMASS AMHERST and legendary linguist and originator of modern cognitive science NOAM CHOMSKY of MIT tackling the complex and heady question of pursuing how to go about pressing for an international agreement regarding the ongoing CLIMATE CRISIS.
the essential problem is that inherently capitalist objectives are not aligned with the survival of the environment and its life systems. capitalism is about generating profit and providing value to their shareholders. end stop.
in the UNITED STATES the entire political structure, including both parties, adhere to a religion of NEOLIBERALISM that advocates unadulterated faith in the markets and the flawed idea that markets should replace government as the rule setter of economic activity. this is beyond problematic as the markets are not unbiased agents. all problems, or externalities in business parlance, that result formtheir flawed profit-seeking logic will be dealt, as believed by NEOLIBERALS, with the gusto, ingenuity and innovation. the concern now is that a market correction is not on the radar for most companies, who have a profit incentive to downplay and promote a culture of CLIMATE DENIALISM. it gets worse.
this culture is most obviously seen in the REPUBLICAN PARTY post-NEWT GINGRICH who have advocated for obstructionist policies regarding policies that would limit the economies ability to continue exploiting nature unabated and diminishing life in the process. it may sound like an alarmist fever dream, but consensus regarding CLIMATE SCIENCE by the scientific community is nearly unanimous. even among right-wing political parties worldwide, the REPUBLICAN PARTY is an outlier, with their domestic policies largely being shaped by private energy interests like the KOCH BROTHERS since their infiltration in the 1980s. the power of this constituency is bearing fruit currently and is the reason for AMERICAN intransigence in global attempts at addressing this issue.
in the UNITED STATES there is this concept that until recently has not been challenged of the enduring moral superiority of CAPITALISM over other systems, forgetting entirely that our economy has been driven over the course of our history by SLAVERY, COAL and OIL. all three are ethically problematic and have set into motion what is likely to be a world environment degraded and desecrated for future inhabitants. and the base reason for such is the profit principle.
it all seems so sad and pathetic really.
this book is rather wonky and a bit dense. it very much feels like reading a lecture chaired by two knowledge academics who are not dumbing down the conversation. this is very much how the book is structured, with moderator C.J. POLYCHRONIOU asking questions and each taking turns expounding on such. for me this book helps solidify my knowledge of current efforts to combat the CLIMATE CRISIS through advocating new power structures through renewed commitments to organized labor and other grassroots advocacy organizations worldwide aimed at being a voice for sanity in this discussion, which is essentially being sidelined by AMERICAN objectives, both political and economic. for the sake of the world these groups need to flourish and gain influence for further negotiations. otherwise the prognosis is toxic.
much like THE SIXTH EXTINCTION (review linked HERE) by ELIZABETH KOLBERT, this conversation regarding the CLIMATE CRISIS and human attempts at addressing such are dizzyingly complex and soul crushingly depressing given its scale. but it is a necessary conversation worth having.
this calamity just feels inevitable. to me personally at least.
great book that presents a discussion that i by no means did justice to. this is a book most definitely worth reading.