Five Years On By William Bowles

by William Bowles
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
Monday, July 7, 2008

It’s over five years since I started publishing InI (and not coincidentally, since the illegal and disastrous invasion of Iraq) and it’s been a struggle to keep it going not only because of the cost of maintaining it but because I’ve kept it going single-handed throughout this entire period. Not that I’m complaining but it does wear one down especially as the situation goes from plain bloody awful (March 2003) to absolutely disastrous and income from readers is virtually nil.

And without blowing my trumpet too much, InI has grown into a vast source of information for anyone interested in what’s going on in the world, so much so, that even on a ‘bad’ week, InI still gets around 120,000 visits.

Keeping up an optimistic view of things gets more and more difficult for me to maintain in the face of a capitalist system determined to carry on regardless of the consequences.

But it would appear that events have finally come to a head,

“It is been proposed by a group of British geologists that the Holocene Age is over and that the new era should be named the Anthropocene Age to reflect the clear commencement of human induced geological change.” — ‘The Anthropocene Age’ [1]

According to the research, the average temperature of the Earth during the Holocene Period (about 10,000 years to the present) fluctuated by only one degree centigrade and tellingly it’s during this period of relative climate stability that we witnessed the rise of modern humanity. Good sense dictates that the two are not unconnected.

Whilst we survived on a bounteous Nature but without upsetting the four billion years in the making, homeostasis, things looked generally positive. And then about five hundred years ago, in Europe, along came capitalism and everything changed.

Looking back on the age when Marx wrote his magnum opus, Capital, it’s not difficult to see why he felt so positive about the direction that humanity almost seemed impelled to take. Science and technology, when under democratic control by an informed citizenry, is a progressive force — when working in harmony with both man and Nature, able for the first time in human history to satisfy all our basic needs and thus free us to pursue our own, personal development.

But if anything, Marx underestimated the power of Capital to keep on reinventing itself after every catastrophe it created and it’s because it has to keep reinventing itself by revolutionizing production in ever more ‘efficient’ forms (efficient here means using less and less labour power thus greater profits) and in the process, consuming ever greater quantities of pretty much everything in the insane drive for profit.

I can only assume that Marx himself assumed that before capitalism chowed the entire planet in its inexorable drive to keep recreating itself, humanity would have taken charge of its own destiny, tossed the money lenders out and got on with the business of living rather merely consuming.

Am I wrong in assuming this? The 20th century saw immense changes, many for the better in spite of the global wars of destruction unleashed by capitalism and for the first time, the possibility of a real alternative to capitalism came along.

Alas, it didn’t survive but clearly the idea is not only alive but at least in some parts of the world, actually flourishing, but not in mine and indeed as the contradictions of capital become ever more extreme, so does the struggle to maintain a system that is obviously dangerous to both man and beast and possibly the existence of our species.

It presents us with a dilemma for without overthrowing capitalism, the countries determined to make a clean break with the past are forever on the defensive, fighting for every inch in the face of overwhelming odds.

Ultimately, it comes down to us in the so-called developed world to do something about it, yet we seem in the thrall of capital even as it screws us down into the ground as the latest crisis to befall capitalism reveals.

“Stop wasting food” — Gordon Brown

And let’s not beat around the bush, the crises, which get worse with each iteration, are wholy the fault of capitalism. And the ruling elites answer to the latest crisis reveals just how bankrupt (and desperate) they are,

“Britons must stop wasting food in an effort to help combat rising living costs, Gordon Brown has said en route to the G8 summit in Japan.

“Mr Brown said “unnecessary” purchases were contributing to price hikes, and urged people to plan meals in advance and store food properly.”” — ‘Stop wasting food’, urges Brown

Unnecessary purchases? But the entire point of capitalist production is rooted in “unnecessary” purchases of just about everything, it’s what keeps the entire system staggering along.

For example, the UK Cabinet report criticises the tactic of supermarkets offering ‘buy 2, get one free’ alleging that it contributes to the waste, yet increasing consumption is the holy grail of capitalism, it’s called ‘growth’.

By questioning the sales tactics of supermarkets, the government inadvertantly exposes the sheer lunacy of capitalist production based as it is on nothing other than consumption for the sake of profit. Are Brown and his crony advisors really claiming that throwing away less food will reduce the cost of it? Is he completely insane?

Yet the BBC along with the rest of the corporate media take this kind of drivel seriously. The BBC story from which the above quote is taken reveals the complicity between the media and the state in hiding the true state of affairs from its citizens.

Buried away in one of a number of stories on the BBC Website which allegedly ‘explain’ the cause we find the following fact under the heading ‘Long era of cheap food is over’,

“But the increased interest in agriculture also has a downside, as “non-commercial traders” – speculators in normal language – have come into the agricultural commodity market.

“Apart from drought, speculation was the other factor named in the report as being responsible for the record highs and the recent volatility in markets.

“From 17% in 2005, their share of the futures market rose to 43%.” — ‘Long era of cheap food is over

No mention of course of the role of futures trading speculators in energy, the root cause of the current “turbulence” as the BBC describes it elsewhere.

Yes, consumption will fall because people won’t be able to afford to buy the basics needed as indeed they already are (check the financial pages for the numbers on the high street, eg ‘Service sector adds to UK gloom’).

The question is, for how much longer will we allow our ruling elites to get away with what is finally the mass murder of literally millions of poor people around the planet because of capitalist policies? Perhaps when our poor start dying of starvation and hypothermia in numbers that are too large to hide away behind all the double-speak?


1. For an overview see Holocene

This essay is archived at:

William Bowles


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