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The 1% and Environmental Destruction

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A bit of an older piece now, but Ian Angus and Simon Butler provide some real solid evidence to a point I have made repeatedly–that overpopulation is far from the greatest environmental problem we face:

But most of the 7 billion are not endangering the earth. The majority of the world’s people don’t destroy forests, don’t wipe out endangered species, don’t pollute rivers and oceans, and emit essentially no greenhouse gases.

Even in the rich countries of the Global North, most environmental destruction is caused not by individuals or households, but by mines, factories, and power plants run by corporations that care more about profit than about humanity’s survival.

No reduction in U.S. population would have stopped BP from poisoning the Gulf of Mexico last year.

Lower birthrates won’t shut down Canada’s tar sands, which Bill McKibben has justly called one of the most staggering crimes the world has ever seen.

Universal access to birth control should be a fundamental human right — but it would not have prevented Shell’s massive destruction of ecosystems in the Niger River delta, or the immeasurable damage that Chevron has caused to rainforests in Ecuador.

Ironically, while populationist groups focus attention on the 7 billion, protestors in the worldwide Occupy movement have identified the real source of environmental destruction: not the 7 billion, but the 1%, the handful of millionaires and billionaires who own more, consume more, control more, and destroy more than all the rest of us put together.

Of course, rising consumption rates by a growing middle class in China, India, Brazil, and other developing world nations complicate this narrative, but the larger point stands–population is not the major cause for environmental degradation. Rather, the profit motive and capitalist control over the potential regulatory power of governments are much greater problems.

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  • Sam Weslyman

    Well, sure, the destruction of the environment is most proximately caused by the resource extraction companies. I appreciate the highlight of this problem, but population underlies even THESE sources of environmental harm; the larger the population of the earth, the more demand there is for the extraction of oil, coal, timber, metals, etc. Mines et al. are the nail, but population is the hammer driving it in.

    Finding (or rather, “encouraging”) better methods of resource extraction is one part of the puzzle, as is limiting population growth, reducing use, recycling, etc.

    Ideally, the goal is that we lift as many people up to as high a standard of living as possible while minimizing the environmental impact (thus sustaining the lifestyle). That’s much more difficult when you add a few billion people to the equation.

    • shah8

      And this is why the perennial middle-class buggaboo will never go away. Just nice, candy-flavored xenophobia that’s still just as destructive as the rest of its kind…

    • Bill Murray

      For mineral extraction, the US Government has funded almost none since the Bureau of Mines closed back in 1995

  • Rob in CT

    What Sam said. People mine for coal because people want electricity and you can create electricity cheaply with coal.

  • Im a loser

    Rather, the profit motive and capitalist control over the potential regulatory power of governments are much greater problems.

    Funny conclusion, considering that, historically, governments that had plenty of regulatory power and did not allow resources to be distributed according to profit motives still managed to ravage their environments while inducing massive famine.

    • Erik’s point about power imbalances and greed is a terrific one.

      But identifying those power imbalances as unique to capitalism, not so much.

      However, I’d say that right now, in the world we’re living in, the greed/power lust and the power imbalances that actually drive the environmental destruction we’re seeing are, indeed, locating within capitalism.

      • The question about communism and environment is quite valid. The more accurate term might be modernism, but with Soviet-style communism dead in the water outside of two very isolated countries, in the 21st century, it is capitalism pushing environmental degradation.

        • Murc

          I’m not sure you can call North Korea a bastion of Soviet-style communism. (I’m assuming that’s one of the two on your list.)

          Lord knows the USSR was deeply fucked up, but there was always a certain underlying thread of practicality running through it. Shit had to WORK to a certain degree. It tolerated a large degree of wastage and inefficiency in the name of ideological purity but (especially post-Stalin) you never hit that point where, say, fighter pilots were only doing ten hours of training a year because they were spending the rest of the time contemplating Mao Zedong thought.

          I’d say NKs ‘baseline’ combines the worst excesses of Stalinism with the worst ones of Maoism.

          • Malaclypse

            Juche thinking condemns you as a capitalist-roader.

          • BradP

            Lord knows the USSR was deeply fucked up, but there was always a certain underlying thread of practicality running through it. Shit had to WORK to a certain degree.

            Except it didn’t work. Millions upon millions lived and died under incredible hardship because the economic activity within those nations were drastically disconnected from the economic well-being of those nations.

            • No–people didn’t die because of the economic system. They died because of the authoritarianism in the hands of a single autocrat. And the economic system and authoritarianism can be disconnected to some degree from each other.

              • BradP

                And the economic system and authoritarianism can be disconnected to some degree from each other.

                Not in China or the USSR’s case.

                Both of those economies were command economies defined by cargo cults and obfuscation by subordinate officials.

                • Malaclypse

                  Brad, if you are arguing that China and the USSR had the same economic system, you should quit while you are behind.

                  If you are arguing that Leninism was the same as Stalinism, and Stalinism was the same as Breshnevism, well, once again, please quit while you are behind.

                • BradP

                  I am saying that, in absence of an adequate pricing mechanism, economic information becomes distorted by certain factors leading resource distribution to become detached from the needs of the people.

                  In China and the USSR, resource distribution was largely determined by prideful competition with the west and fear of reprisal from superiors.

                • Malaclypse

                  I am saying that, in absence of an adequate pricing mechanism, economic information becomes distorted by certain factors leading resource distribution to become detached from the needs of the people.

                  Yes, I’ve read Socialism by von Mises as well. Can we discuss actual historical systems and not libertarian theory?

                • DrDick

                  Brad has never read anything not written by a libertarian, which is why he is always so confused by reality.

                • wengler

                  Actually in a centrally planned economy like the Soviet Union there was a lot of pressure to make necessities very cheap.

                  The Soviet Union fell principally because Gorbachev’s liberalization was exposing the cracks of 25 years of economic stagnation.

                  This sort of stagnation should be very familiar to vast majority of Americans.

            • Murc

              So, apparently all of my qualifications in my post (“to a certain degree” “tolerated a large degree of wastage and inefficiency in the name of ideological purity” “a certain underlying thread of practicality”) mean nothing.

              I CLEARLY was saying that the USSR worked. Entirely worked. Without reservations. I wasn’t attempting to make a nuanced point that there are real differences between communism as practiced in the USSR and as practiced in NK.

              • BradP

                So, apparently all of my qualifications in my post (“to a certain degree” “tolerated a large degree of wastage and inefficiency in the name of ideological purity” “a certain underlying thread of practicality”) mean nothing.

                No. Those systems didn’t work even with those qualifications.

                They didn’t “tolerate a large degree of wastage and inefficiency”, they encouraged and mandated it.

                There was no rationality or underlying social practicality to Maoist China. It was pride, fear and deceit from top to bottom.

                I guess there is an argument to be made that absent the Maoist government, social collapse would have been more extreme, but I’m not buying it.

                • Malaclypse

                  There was no rationality or underlying social practicality to Maoist China.

                  Okay, but Murc wrote Lord knows the USSR was deeply fucked up, but there was always a certain underlying thread of practicality running through it.

                  The USSR and the PRC were different places, with very different systems.

                • mpowell

                  As Mal says. And you know, the USSR did pretty damn well for itself. Would the USSR have been fully industrialized in the 70s were it not for communism, much less the 30s? Hey, maybe instead they would have enjoyed Nazi rule.

                  Stalinism left a lot of dead for both political and economic reasons. And quality of life in the late USSR was worse than in the western world, but better than India at the time, for example (and most of SE Asia; it’s not until the last 20 years that those countries have really started to catch up).

                • Murc

                  Those systems didn’t work even with those qualifications.

                  Except I never claimed that they did.

                  What I claimed was that in the USSR, despite the fact that their system was generally pretty jacked up, shit had to work to a certain degree, especially compared to the PRC and DPKR. And that this was due to a certain level of practicality that ran through it.

                  This is hardly the same as claiming that the system as a whole ‘worked.’

                • BradP

                  The USSR was one of the most resource rich nations in the world and the government collapsed in 69 years.

                  My grandfather outlived the Soviet Union.

                • DrDick

                  No. Those systems didn’t work even with those qualifications.

                  Which, of course, is why the Soviet Union managed to go from an agrarian feudal society to an industrial power in less time than any country on earth and why they were one of two global super powers. It is also why everyone starved to death and lived like cavemen in all the communist countries.

                  I am not a fan of the Soviet Union or China, let alone North Korea, but they worked, however imperfectly, and provided for their people. Arguably, they did so better than had been the case before the revolutions. Do try to at least visit reality occasionally.

                • Right; the question is not “did they provide a standard of living equal to the United States,” it’s “did they provide a standard of living superior to what previous regimes provided.” In the cases of both the USSR and China the answer is undoubtedly yes. It’s not that the two regimes weren’t problematic–obviously–but to argue that the U.S. economic system is vastly superior is really simplistic and triumphalist.

                  As for Cuba, while there are legitimate critiques of Castro’s regime, Cubans live a hell of a lot better than the populace of longtime American allies like Honduras and the Dominican Republic. Is there any reason to believe that a non-communist Cuba over the last 52 years provides a equivalent standard of living to what Cubans have today?

                • Malaclypse

                  Is there any reason to believe that a non-communist Cuba that experienced a stifling economic embargo over the last 52 years provides a equivalent standard of living to what Cubans have today?

                  Added a germane detail.

                • Even without an embargo, which similar Caribbean nation is anywhere near Cuba’s level of development?

                • Murc

                  why the Soviet Union managed to go from an agrarian feudal society to an industrial power in less time than any country on earth and why they were one of two global super powers.

                  I’m not sure I’d describe early 20th century Russia as an agrarian feudal society. They were pretty industrialized. Their level of industrialization and the working class that accompanied it was a key factor in, y’know, that whole revolution thing.

                  the question is not “did they provide a standard of living equal to the United States,” it’s “did they provide a standard of living superior to what previous regimes provided.”

                  I dunno, Erik. A guy who might chop off my arm is unquestionably a superior roommate to a guy who might chop off my head, but that’s not exactly a fair standard. I think the question is less how well they did on a relative scale, but on an absolute scale.

                  I find your defense of Castro problematic for the same reason.

                • DrDick

                  Murc –

                  These statistics do not indicate much industrial development in 1913. There was some and they were beginning to develop some industry, but it was still largely an agrarian feudal society. The lack of a proletariat and an industrial base is exactly why Marx never expected Russia would adopt Communism, and would have been horrified that it was the first to do so.

              • DrDick

                There are differences between the communisms practiced in each of the communist countries, as the form it took in practice was heavily influenced by the historical systems, as well as current conditions, in each country. Thus Soviet Russia was as much a product of Czarist Russia as of Marx and Engels and China owed as much to the imperial past.

            • Live expectancy in Russia dropped by several years after the fall of the Soviet Union.

              • BradP

                Are you trying to tell me that people endured hardship when the political and economic structures of their society fell apart simultaneously?

                Incredible!

                • DrDick

                  It is still higher than it was under the communists. Capitalism kills.

          • LeeEsq

            The Eastern European communists, especially after Stalin died, never seemed to get into ideological wackiness the way that the Asian communists did. Only the Vietnamese communists seemed to have escaped the ideological wackiness that was otherwise common among Asian communists.

            • Curmudgeon

              Some of the Balkan communists got into ideological wackiness in a deadly way. Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, etc. Whether they count as European is a matter of perspective.

      • BradP

        However, I’d say that right now, in the world we’re living in, the greed/power lust and the power imbalances that actually drive the environmental destruction we’re seeing are, indeed, locating within capitalism.

        I’m sure that’s true, but the point is that the profit motive and capitalist control of regulatory schemes have been completely absent in other situations of environmental devastation, so those certainly aren’t the root cause.

        In fact, the profit motive, to me, seems to be the difference between the environmental devastation that has lead to incredible wealth and higher living standards than the world has ever seen, and environmental devastation lead to an abundance of worthless steel and starvation.

        On a side note, we are all very aware of the terrible distribution of financial wealth in this and most developed nations. Does anyone have a link to a study which shows what sort of distribution exists as it pertains to energy consumption?

        • DrDick

          Why are you comparing Sweden and Finland to Detroit and dissing Detroit like that?

          • BradP

            Anecdotally, China had a program where people were ordered to give up iron tools and utensils to make steel that ended up being of very poor quality. It was a cargo cult, as generally shows up as soon as you forgoe market pricing.

            Sweden is driven by the profit motive, and their substantial regulatory structure has not stopped them from having the 10th largest ecological footprint in the world per capita:

            http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/env_eco_foo-environment-ecological-footprint

            • Malaclypse

              Brad, programs from the Great Leap Forward are not what “generally shows up” under socialism.

              And again, Murc spoke about the USSR. You keep acting like the PRC is the same place, with the same system. They are not the same.

            • DrDick

              So you are admitting that the profit motive is the primary cause of environmental destruction?

              • BradP

                You are like pushing a spaghetti noodle DrDick.

                Lets try and establish some linearity here:

                Loomis: The profit motive and regulatory capture are the major hurdles to the pollution problem in the US.

                BradP: Pollution has been and is a problem in countries with extreme regulatory controls and minimal profit motive. Additionally history has often shown that countries that distribute resources according to a profit motive at least see better returns to living standards for their pollution than those that don’t.

                DrDick: derp derp Sweden derp derp

                BradP: Sweden is an example of the profit motive providing returns on pollution, but the idea that their regulatory scheme has managed to protect the environment from people is untrue.

                So:

                So you are admitting that the profit motive is the primary cause of environmental destruction?

                No. The primary cause of environmental destruction is a lot of people wanting a lot of stuff that they cannot have unless they tear up the world and rearrange according to their desires.

                Meanwhile, an established profit motive, while hardly fool-proof, has historically lead to greater returns to well-being for their pollution.

                Sweden is an example of a country whose primary system of resource distribution comes from a profit motive, and whose environmental destruction has actually improved human lives.

                The alternative to a profit motive has historically lead to environmental destruction in the name of militarism (Soviet aggression and dominance) or wasteful nationalism (Mao selling Chinese made cloth internationally at depressed prices while critical shortages exist domestically).

                • Malaclypse

                  Meanwhile, an established profit motive, while hardly fool-proof, has historically lead to greater returns to well-being for their pollution.

                  With notably rare exceptions, the profit motive will curb pollution while bypassing regulatory capture.

                • DrDick

                  And you are like talking to a brick wall. You really need to get out of you libertarian bubble and experience the real world.

                • Malaclypse

                  (Mao selling Chinese made cloth internationally at depressed prices while critical shortages exist domestically)

                  And now I’m curious – when did Mao, who closed most Chinese markets to trade, sell cloth internationally? To who? I’m not saying it did not happen, but I have never heard about this, not could I find any reference to it.

                • DrDick

                  Also, Sweden and the other Scandinavian countries have mixed economies. The human benefits in those countries come not from the “profit motive” (at least not directly), but from the socialist elements, which actively curtail profits through heavy regulation and high taxes.

                  I will also note that you have absolutely no sense of humor, as that comment was snark based on this comment:

                  Sweden is driven by the profit motive, and their substantial regulatory structure has not stopped them from having the 10th largest ecological footprint in the world per capita:

                  .

                  That statement would logically imply that the profit motive will triumph over regulation and produce environmental destruction.

                • BradP

                  I will also note that you have absolutely no sense of humor, as that comment was snark based on this comment:

                  I have an excellent sense of humor. Your jokes are just indistinguishable from those statements you intend to be meaningful.

                • BradP

                  And now I’m curious – when did Mao, who closed most Chinese markets to trade, sell cloth internationally? To who? I’m not saying it did not happen, but I have never heard about this, not could I find any reference to it.

                  In Mao’s Great Famine refer to page 79.

                • Malaclypse

                  Page 79 does not seem to be available, but thank you for the reference.

  • BradP

    I’m the loser.

  • LKS

    Huh? Seriously?

    Are the corporations only selling stuff to each other? What’s that shit I’ve been pumping into my gas tank all these years?

    Environmental problems are complex, but they all begin with demand. More people = more demand.

    • More Americans may mean more demand, but the additional demand from most of the world’s people is very little demand. Americans are the world’s version of the 1%.

      • Anonymous

        Wait, the world’s population is 30 billion?

        • Walt

          That was me.

      • Stag Party Palin

        Arguing that population is not the biggest problem is sophistry (as others have pointed out). If there were two people in the world, we wouldn’t be after the tar sands. If a billion Chinese didn’t want cars and air conditioning we wouldn’t be looking at sharp increases in pollution in the future.

        You might just as well blame Christianity for the Crusades. Religion exists because human nature demands it, and the excesses of religion are human excesses. If we were all intelligent bonobos the Pope would be the biggest fucker in the world (wait a minute, something wrong here…..).

        • mpowell

          Well, I am not very sympathetic to the basic argument Erik wants to make here, but there are two sides to this coin. Societies have wrought significant amounts of economic damage in order to satisfy the wants of much smaller (and less wealthy) consumer classes. So you can say that with similar environmental policies and a much lower world’s population, things would be better, but with the same population and better policies, things would also be better.

          My personal take is that population growth is a problem, but existing population is also a problem. There is no realistic path towards this planet supporting multiple billions of people at living standards close to those enjoyed by either Americans or Europeans. You just cannot get your footprint down far enough when you extend it out to those kinds of numbers without making real sacrifices. I am honestly not sure how I feel this issue ought to be resolved, but I have a pretty good idea that ought is irrelevant in this case.

          • Timmy in Oz

            Simple. 95% of the world’s population can have a reasonable standard of living (say living in 1970 Sydney) and the population of the US can go live in a cave and eat dirt.

            Looks like you’re on your way now. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

            • L2P

              And if the world’s population is 30 Billion? How poor are you willing to make the world be in order to blame the first world, rather than population growth, for environmental problems?

              Or to put it another way, if the world’s population was 1 billion, i don’t think any reasonable person believes the seas would be fished bare of tuna and Africa turning to desert.

          • LeeEsq

            My problem with the school of thought that says that the best way to deal with environmental problems is to limit population growth is that I see no realistic way of severely limiting population growth without resorting to some rather drastic and dictatorial policies.

            Every real serious attempt to limit population growth artificially, that is before a population is rich enough, educated enough, secular enough, and urbanized enough to limit it on their own as required the state using some rather heavy handed abuses of police power. See China’s Family Planning Policy with its forced abortions and sterilizations and resulting gender imbalance.

            • L2P

              Yeah, well, we have zero actual systematic attempts at lowering long-term population growth except for China, so there’s not a lot of comparison there. Most third-world countries have de facto pro-growth policies culturally, religiously, or both. It’s only pretty recently that birth control’s been consistently available. It’s very possible that simply providing access to birth control and empowering women, and doing nothing else, will drastically affect population growth.

              • Lee

                Encouraging urbanization would also probably reduce birth rates significantly since urban couples tend to have fewer children.

  • One critique of the U.S. “Occupy” movement (though it is widely supported by the rest of the planet) is that the U.S. in general is the world’s “One percent” that hogs the resources and commodities the rest of us are expected to provide.

    Even your middle-class, the better off part of the 99 percent are using a hell of a lot more of the planet’s goods than the rest of us enjoy. It’s perhaps the one percenters’ fault that even simple things like public transit are unavailable to ordinary people, but still… you need to own up to your own cultural excesses if you’re going to have a valid critique of the economic and political mess you (and most of us) find ourselves mired in.

    • I disagree with none of this.

    • David Kaib

      I get the critique about resource use, but what does cultural excess have to do with anything? It is in fact the case that the 1% is responsible for the lack of public transportation. To the extent there is a cultural element here, I’m more inclined to see it as a justification for the choices made by elites than driving policy.

      • I was thinking of things like the large houses people in the U.S. “need” and air conditioning. I have a larger house than most people in Mexico, and air conditioning, something I´ve come to expect, although I recognize how wasteful (both in raw materials and energy consumption) a “world one-percenter” lifestyle is.

        Think of it — in the U.S., an entire apartment for a single person is normal, but culturally an oddity in most of the world, even for the upper middle class. Whether built for one occupant or four, the amount of copper in the plumbing is the same, as is the concrete, wood, etc. The electrical and gas consumption might be slightly less for one person, but the base amount is going to be the same.

        As to the “one percent” and public transit. It was a corporate decision by the elites in the 1950s to build highways and suburbs and eliminate subsidies for public transit. In most of the world, the poor and even the middle class do not have their own car (or cars) for daily use, nor are they needed in most instances. In the U.S. even the poor need a car if they are to get to work.

        I don´t think the consumption is a result of some sort of conspiracy by the elites, but it is difficult for us to understand why such materially surfeit is considered insufficient for people in the rich countries.

  • Maria

    Interesting post coming from a guy who travels internationally every year. But I’m sure that’s all carpooling, not the highly destructive act of air travel.

    If you fly to Europe and back from the US, you’ll add about 3-4 tons to your (already large) carbon footprint. With one flight you will have caused more emissions than 20 Bangladeshi will cause in a whole year. Unfortunately they are the ones who will lose their homes and livelihood once sea level rise inundates their low lying country.

    • wengler

      If the environmental cost was added in and offset such travel, it wouldn’t be a big deal. The problem is people in this country want to consume without paying the full price of that consumption.

  • shah8

    You know what? There needs to be an austerity policy so the breeders won’t go past the limits? and overwhelm us all!

    Errrr, overwhelm the Earth, you know what I mean…

  • BradP

    Which, of course, is why the Soviet Union managed to go from an agrarian feudal society to an industrial power in less time than any country on earth and why they were one of two global super powers. It is also why everyone starved to death and lived like cavemen in all the communist countries.

    I am not a fan of the Soviet Union or China, let alone North Korea, but they worked, however imperfectly, and provided for their people. Arguably, they did so better than had been the case before the revolutions. Do try to at least visit reality occasionally.

    This is the same idiotic cargo cultism that has resulted in famines across the Soviet Union. Sure millions were forced off of their farms, sure millions were imprisoned or executed for their resistance, and sure those that weren’t forced off or arrested faced constant starvation, but boy could the Soviet Union produce oil and heavy metals.

    Developed economies industrialized due in large part to increasing agricultural productivity. The Soviet Union, on the other hand, desired the industrialization but paid no attention to economic factors that allowed or caused it. They forced industrialization while they ravaged agricultural production. The result was millions upon millions of deaths due to starvation, and an economy that was held together by violent repression. In the end, the USSR collapsed in a shorter period of time than the average lifespan in a developed country. There are few better examples of an economic model that doesn’t work.

    And the same pattern of central-planned industrialization that was devoid of the roots of industrialization occurred in Mao’s China.

    • DrDick

      Ever hear of the enclosure laws? How about the deaths of millions of Native Americans? You might want to read some actual economic history (not the libertarian hogwash you normally read) regarding the rise of capitalism before you start making stupid statements like that.

      For the record, Russia has never been able to adequately and reliably feed itself. It has something to do with the fact that most the country (and the former USSR) is north of the US-Canadian border and at the northern extreme of agricultural viability (scroll down to fig. 3). Nobody is making excuses for Soviet or Chinese abuses, but fewer people are starving now than before the revolutions and you need to face reality, including the horrors of unrestrained capitalism.

      • BradP

        Ever hear of the enclosure laws? How about the deaths of millions of Native Americans? You might want to read some actual economic history (not the libertarian hogwash you normally read) regarding the rise of capitalism before you start making stupid statements like that.

        Its rather remarkable that, after all this time, you would still make comments like that. I have repeatedly referred to the historical analysis of leftists like William Appleman Williams, Gabriel Kolko, and Kevin Carson.

        I have linked this article at least twice:

        http://www.mutualist.org/id4.html

        And the most ridiculous of all? In response to my arguments against centralized economic management (even calling out how it tends to separate abstract economic production from the actual needs of the people), you would be unaware enough to bring up enclosure and Native American genocide.

        • DrDick

          This is your statement to which I responded:

          This is the same idiotic cargo cultism that has resulted in famines across the Soviet Union. Sure millions were forced off of their farms, sure millions were imprisoned or executed for their resistance, and sure those that weren’t forced off or arrested faced constant starvation, but boy could the Soviet Union produce oil and heavy metals.

          My point is merely that capitalism with its profit motive has caused far more death and suffering (I even omitted the Tansatlantic slave trade) than all of the communists combined, a fact which you continue to ignore As a rabid libertarian, you also have a lot of gall accusing anyone else of “cargo cultism”.

          • BradP

            My point is merely that capitalism with its profit motive has caused far more death and suffering (I even omitted the Tansatlantic slave trade) than all of the communists combined, a fact which you continue to ignore As a rabid libertarian, you also have a lot of gall accusing anyone else of “cargo cultism”.

            Why I’m ending this discussion with you:

            1. You have blamed the transatlantic slave trade, Tudor Enclosure, and the genocide of Native Americans on capitalism. There are valid social failures that can be blamed in part on, but the ones you have chosen really stretches the remaining credulity I can offer you.

            2. I have no need for a communism/capitalism pissing match. If you ever had any interest in engaging me rather than using me for your latest launching pad for a rant about libertarianism, you would know that I have no love for modern capitalism.

            3. We are probably about one comment away from you linking to a Krugman article as proof that libertarians are delusional idiots.

            In sum, I have no interest in discussing these issues with someone who directs all of his arguments past me and to some model libertarian he has created in his own mind.

            • Malaclypse

              You have blamed the transatlantic slave trade, Tudor Enclosure, and the genocide of Native Americans on capitalism.

              Ahem.

              • BradP

                Yes, I have read that. I think you are getting cause and effect confused.

            • DrDick

              No, you have no interest in discussing the facts. All of those acts on my list were in fact driven by the capitalist profit motive. The enclosure laws were enacted because the aristocratic landlords could make more profit grazing sheep and sell the wool to the capitalist textile mills than in renting to tenant farmers, overturning centuries of British common law in the process. The transatlantic slave trade and the British settlement of North America were also capitalist market driven events (in search of resources for the emergent industries in England). Do try to read some actual economic history sometime.

              Also, I am not the one who started this pissing match. You just get all defensive when I point out the excesses of capitalism.

              • DrDick

                I would also add that the colonization of the Americas was initially entirely a profit driven capitalist venture. Among both the English and Spanish colonization and exploration was conducted by private stock companies (corporations) intent on making a profit for their investors by exploiting the resources of the Americas. The first French colonization was by fur traders seeking to make a profit and subsequent colonization of Louisiana was by a private stock company seeking to profit from establishing sugar plantations.

                The first slaves were introduced into the Americas by the Virginia company to cut costs and eliminate the externalities created by their earlier reliance on indentured labor. Slavery throughout the Americas was driven by capitalist markets (and was itself a highly lucrative capitalist market) and the profit motive. So, yes, my examples are entirely apt and a direct consequence of capitalism, whether you want to deal with that or not.

              • BradP

                You just get all defensive when I point out the excesses of capitalism.

                This is getting absurd.

                You do realize that I am a borderline anarchist who is equally opposed to capitalistic economic coordination by the state as socialistic or communistic coordination.

                I’m flirt with primitivism due to my opposition to state economic coordination and my opinion that modern capitalism wouldn’t exist without said coordination.

                My political philosophy gets mocked as “returning to the shire”, and you bring up Enclosure laws like I wouldn’t completely agree.

                • DrDick

                  Your statement upthread that I responded to:

                  1. You have blamed the transatlantic slave trade, Tudor Enclosure, and the genocide of Native Americans on capitalism. There are valid social failures that can be blamed in part on, but the ones you have chosen really stretches the remaining credulity I can offer you.

                  Do at least try for a little consistency.

                • DrDick

                  Oh, and this is the kind of evasion and goal post shifting that happens every time I “engage” you with the facts, which is why I generally resort to snark.

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