The Climate of Capitalism

Published on Dissident Voice, by Robert Hunziker, May 4, 2013.

… The question is: Has the capitalistic system, which has supplanted communism wherever it exists, matured into something different than what Adam Smith envisioned as the solution for harmony and good will amongst the economic impulses of humankind?  

In that regard, capitalism is radically different from the days of Adam Smith, and not because the classical tenets of Smith have been altered but because capitalism has super-charged those foundational tenets with testosterones such that it has become rapacious, heartless, fearsome, quarrelsome, and boundless as the primary factor of planetary deterioration. As such, a dark cloud hovers over capitalism’s irrefutable efficacy to provide products to consumers at competitive prices.

As for capitalism’s current status, nobody has stated it any better than journalist Naomi Klein (author of The Shock Doctrine, Knopf Canada, 2007, which book explodes the myth that the global free market triumphed democratically): “We can’t leave everything to the free market. In fact, climate change is, I would argue, the greatest free-market failure. This is what happens when you don’t regulate corporations and you allow them to treat the atmosphere as an open sewer.”1

And, as a collateral point, it is fair to say: Greed is not good! Greed has undermined the heart and soul of the functionality of democratic capitalism, which is a viable middle class. As for this, in the pursuit of profits, capitalists explore the globe in search of dirt-low wages and as little regulation as possible, thus, leaving the hapless middle class with McJobs galore. In contrast, life was not like this for our grandparents. Furthermore, and more universally, capitalism has altered the world climate in ways our grandparents would not recognize today.

Capitalism and a healthy planet do not mix well, leading to the conclusion that the planet is not only the domain for all but unfortunately, the private factory of the few. The operatives of this private factory treat the climate in much the same manner as they do the middle class, with disregard. Consequently, the planet is at risk of climatic disruption of unimaginable scale. Meanwhile, capitalism continues its archaic ways by burning fossil fuels to power the factories and to turn the wheels of transportation … //

… As a result, the planet is at risk of an extinction event because of short-sightedness, and the pathetic mantra of profits at all costs. Is this the invisible hand of the market guiding people to act in the public interests by following their own self-interest? Yes, it sure is, but that self-interest is not only bringing competitively priced products to consumers, which is what Smith’s self interest is all about, it may be irreparably damaging everybody’s most precious interest, a healthy planet.

Even though capitalism has profited handsomely by providing fancy gadgets that monopolize attention spans and filled fancy homes with every convenience, it has bamboozled the world by ignoring what is happening behind-the-scenes (out of sight, out of mind), even though everybody has known all about the problem of global warming for decades. They choose to ignore it, and they depend upon a tawdry class of climate deniers to confuse the public by repetitively claiming climate change/global warming is Hollywood fiction.

It is precisely this other side of the ledger where people like Larry Bell, a conference speaker at the Heartland Institute’s International Conference on Climate Change, in his book Climate of Corruption claims: Climate change “has little to do with the state of the environment and much to do with shackling capitalism and transforming the American way of life in the interests of global wealth redistribution.” Which is one helluva good idea! And, who knows, maybe Bell’s mention of income redistribution will gain traction. Fortuitously, he is floating the idea.

But, mercilessly, Bell’s income redistribution suggestion will be a serious blow to everything the Right has accomplished ever since supply-sider Reagan took office, distorting the tax code such that federal tax receipts as a percentage of GDP are at 50-year lows. And, let’s not forget the recent presidential election and how vividly Mitt Romney brought to the public’s attention the rich pay taxes of only 15%. What’s your tax rate?

As if America’s ultra low tax code is not enough, capitalists continue beating the drums to outsource offshore businesses to the lowest labor bidder thereby undercutting the middle class, which, in turn, generates higher corporate profits, which inevitably generates bigger stock market profits for CEOs who are paid tens and hundreds of millions, which only strengthens Bell’s comment about income redistribution … //

… Meanwhile, according to AMEG, “the Arctic is in a Meltdown” and methane is gushing into the atmosphere like never before. Can it be fixed? According to AMEG, the answer is ‘maybe’ via geo-engineering by scattering sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere over the Arctic, which purportedly will cool the Arctic. There are, however, scientists who disagree, feeling this could be a dangerous intrusion into nature, causing a Frankenstein climate. But, in the final analysis, the alternative of an impending extinction event may very well carry the day for the fix-it crowd. Nevertheless, unless the world gets off fossil fuels, geo-engineering in the Arctic will only prove to be an enormous band-aid.

And, why haven’t governments been promoting renewables in place of fossil fuels?

As a matter of fact, from coast-to-coast, America’s politicians are gloating over the prospect of fossil fuel energy independence.

Meanwhile, capitalists remain behind the scenes as their sycophants, from coast-to-coast, denigrate any mention of climate change. So far, it works!
(full long text).

(Robert Hunziker (MA in economic history at DePaul University, Chicago) is a former hedge fund manager and now a professional independent negotiator for worldwide commodity actual transactions and a freelance writer for progressive publications as well as business journals. He can be contacted here. Read other articles by Robert).


War reporting – a veteran’s guide: shot at, seized by a murderous mob and chased by kidnappers, on The Independent, by Robert Fisk, May 2, 2013;

Serie: voices in danger, on The Independent, May 2013;

Like Russia, Bolivia Expels USAID for Supporting Political Destabilization Activities, on Global, by Ria Novosti, May 5, 2013;

A pregnant mother of four sentenced to 10 months in prison by US for resisting the Iraq War, on Global, by Naomi Spencer, May 5, 2013;

The Truth Tellers Lament in a Time of Darkness, on Dissident Voice, by William A. Cook, May 4, 2013.

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