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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

April, 2007



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Honeybee Capitalism
By Frank Scott

The debate between those who view climate change as due to human activity, and the minority who blame it on god, fails to name a cause other than "us". While greed, waste, rapacious use of resources and other euphemisms for capitalism are mentioned, seldom is heard that discouraging word. But whether we apply the label or not, it is clear that the burdens placed on nature, in all its forms, are pressing especially hard because of what is called the global economy. Its precarious structure is creating enormous stress on the foundation for humanity's future.
In fact, the pressure on people may be nearing that forced on the Honeybee, which is vanishing at alarming rates and for some of the same reasons that threaten humans. Economic crimes against nature are creating massive strains on all environments, and all creatures great and small, which depend on them. Commonly dubbed a globalization that spreads new wealth and democracy wherever it goes, the blight on environments is really nothing but dirty old industrial capitalism in modern dress.

The Honeybees are de-evolving under the perversions of corporate agribusiness, which has been breeding them in unnatural forms so as to create larger crops of food products. Under the domain of capital the noun, product, is far more important than the modifier, food. Whether it is clothing, housing, medical care, or manufactured consumer desires, under the rules of market capital, sale of the product is more important than its use, if any. That is the substance of this cause and effect system: It causes social loss, to effect private profit.

Capitalism produces subjects conditioned to be individually responsible for their survival, and social formations separated by ethnic, racial or religious categories.

Balkanized groups with identities they are socialized to accept are fine, as long as they compete for what are supposedly scarce resources. They must never see themselves as a social organism that might function best if they cooperated, as citizens in an abundant and democratic political economy. Rather, the private shopper is the public mechanism, trained to buy all the things necessary to make it a successful individual, even though success is denied most members of an alienated consumer class. Isolating people guarantees that even if they are materially secure they will remain anxiously stressed, for the marketing of items to artificially create mental peace that might be real in a less alienating environment. We thus have millions with physical security who still pursue a psychological state labeled personal self-esteem. They purchase drugs, therapies, exercise programs and other psycho-commodities in order to feel genuine and satisfied, primarily because they are denied a social union that might mean less tension and more balance in their lives.

In the real world, material survival is far more important than psychological esteem, but billions cannot afford the first so that millions can try to purchase the second. Global and national research shows the same results: The gap between the richest and poorest human beings are wider than ever, and the number of impoverished is growing. Worldwide, billions live below the poverty line, while in the richest countries millions suffer destitution in societies that spend hundreds of billions on weapons, and tens of billions on pets. This is not because of a demon ruling a country or a corporation, nor is it thoughtless individuals unconcerned about their fellow humans. It is the proper functioning of a system, which works best when it enriches some, at the expense of most.

Propaganda has long had it that producing goods and services exclusively for sale at a market and mainly to accrue private profit, is the most natural way to organize societies and distribute their productive wealth. And it is as natural as a mother charging her infant for breast-feeding. Making such perverse antisocial-ism seem natural was easier in the past, but present conditions are so bad that even the most committed marketeers can see survival problems for humanity. Not an individual, an identity group, a national or religious subdivision of people is threatened, but the human race itself.

The Honeybee is helpless under the domain of capitalist economics, but if we continue treating this system as some form of cosmic power beyond our control, we may well face the same fate as the Honeybee.

It would be simplistic to claim that all problems are caused by capitalism; the truth is that only most problems are caused by capitalism. The sooner we stop identifying satanic villains as the causes of war, hunger and depression, or angelic heroes as the reasons for peace, a full belly and happiness, the sooner we may learn to transform our political economy. Once we end the production and provision of food, clothing and shelter simply to create full bank accounts for thousands of stockholders, we will end the hideous reality of creating empty stomachs for hundreds of thousands of human beings in the process.

In a world where some diet because they eat so much, while others die because they eat so little, it isn't because of the awesome, invisible power of universe, or the militarily visible power of an individual leader. It is the minority controlled, majority sustained system of capitalism, and it must be changed for humanity to have a future. That majority needs to act in its own interests, which means more than replacing leaders at the top. It calls for transformation from the bottom, where most of us really live, and it has to deal with what we produce, for what purposes, and how we see to its distribution.

Honeybees cannot take control of their economy or their future, but humans can. And we'd better learn to do both, and even more, or we may soon have neither. Or even less.

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