Monday, August 08, 2005

Why the Rich Oppose Environmentalism

Why the Corporate Rich Oppose Environmentalism
By Michael Parenti

In 1876, Marx's collaborator, Frederich Engels, offered a prophetic caveat:
"Let us not . . . flatter ourselves overmuch on account of our human conquest over nature. For each such conquest takes its revenge on us. . . . At every step we are reminded that we by no means rule over nature like a conqueror over a foreign people, like someone standing outside of nature--but that we, with flesh, blood, and brain, belong to nature, and exist in its midst. . . ."
With its never-ending emphasis on production and profit, and its indifference to environment, transnational corporate capitalism appears determined to stand outside nature. The driving goal of the giant investment firms is to convert natural materials into commodities and commodities into profits, transforming living nature into vast accumulations of dead capital.

This capital accumulation process treats the planet's life-sustaining resources (arable land, groundwater, wetlands, forests, fisheries, ocean beds, rivers, air quality) as dispensable ingredients of limitless supply, to be consumed or toxified at will. Consequently, the support systems of the entire ecosphere--the Earth's thin skin of fresh air, water, and top soil--are at risk, threatened by global warming, massive erosion, and ozone depletion. An ever-expanding capitalism and a fragile finite ecology are on a calamitous collision course.

It is not true that the ruling politico-economic interests are in a state of denial about this. Far worse than denial, they have shown utter antagonism toward those who think the planet is more important than corporate profits. So they defame environmentalists as "eco-terrorists," "EPA gestapo," "Earth Day alarmists," "tree huggers," and purveyors of "Green hysteria" and "liberal claptrap." The plutocracy's position was summed up by that dangerous fool, erstwhile Senator Steve Symms (R-Idaho), who once said that if he had to choose between capitalism and ecology, he would choose capitalism. Symms seemed not to grasp that, absent a viable ecology, there will be no capitalism or any other ism.

In recent years, Bushite reactionaries within the White House and Congress, fueled by corporate lobbyists, have supported measures to

(1) allow unregulated toxic fill into lakes and harbors,

(2) eliminate most of the wetland acreage that was to be set aside for a reserve,

(3) completely deregulate the production of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) that deplete the ozone layer,

(4) eviscerate clean water and clean air standards,

(5) open the unspoiled Arctic wildlife refuge in Alaska to oil and gas drilling,

(6) defund efforts to keep raw sewage out of rivers and away from beaches,

(7) privatize and open national parks to commercial development,

(8) give the remaining ancient forests over to unrestrained logging,

(9) repeal the Endangered Species Act,

(10) and allow mountain-top removal in mining that has transformed thousands of miles of streams and vast amounts of natural acreage into toxic wastelands.

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{Parenti's essay on Znet continues at link above}


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