Thursday, June 20, 2013

One Scary Article, and Why it Matters to the Environment

It started out pretty scary.

The article I was reading, Financial Totalitarianism: The Economic, Political, Social and Cultural Rule of Speculative Capital, not only had a daunting title, but also had a fear-inspiring aspect.  Finances cause blood pressures to raise, and totalitarianism... well... who doesn't freak out when they read that word describing out county's current climate?

Naturally, I continued reading.

It begins, as it should, with the author's definition of "financial totalitarianism", which can best be explained in his own words.  Max Haiven explains that totalitarianism in the United States, as he sees it, is an
" totalitarianism where financial power and modes of thinking increasingly stain the social fabric. And like the totalitarianisms of old, the "financialization" of life is ultimately directed by and benefits a tiny minority, at the expense of everyone else."
Financialism is segmented into two different aspects.  On one hand,
"Financialization means the increased power of banks, hedge funds, private equity firms and other financial actors, and the increasing wealth and power of the top percentile of Americans."
On the other hand, however,
"But financialization also refers to the way financial goals, ideas and practices start to shape and influence economic actors outside and beyond the financial sector."
The article goes into painstaking detail, and I admit that I became addicted to reading it, mainly because it pointed out a few things that I've personally observed.  I also liked that Haiven pointed out that we feed the problem, as well.  We like to ignore that part.

If the problem is to be fixed, it needs to be fixed from the ground (that's us) up (that's the big corporate entities).

I know what you're thinking.

"So what in the heck does this have to do 
with the environment, Rebecca???" 

Valid question.

The idea for writing about it here came from the author's solution.  
"So the answer to financialization, on an economic and political level, must be the rejection of capitalism in favor of some other economic system."
He mentions commons, which he defines as "sets of shared resources that are not commodified." as one aspect of that, referring to things like community gardens (which I adore). This can be seen as a social and cultural break-away.

Ha!  Gardening!  See?  I told you this was related...

Then there's the second part of the solution, which builds on that:
"Second, the political and economic transformation away from financialization requires we build and network these commons into a mass movement that can reclaim the productive capacity of our society and government."
Here, he's talking about cooperatives.  

You guys all know how much I adore coops!  Food, shelter, and other necessities can all be done cooperatively.  With 20 miles of my home there is a basic community coop, where people can find necessities like tools and car parts.  There's a Just Foods coop, which deals in... well... foods.  There's even a cooperative housing project!

Everyone that I've met which works within a coop is responsible... proud... happy.  

His solution is doable.  

Not only that, but it's environmentally responsible.  Community cooperatives don't wrack up as much mileage, because as many of the supplies as are possible are found locally.  People that work at coops shop at coops, as well, meaning that their personal mileage is decreased.  This means less pollution.

Max Haiven is one smart cookie. 

Read the article.  I've only talked to you about the aspects that relate to the environment... which is a pretty tiny amount.  The article is scary, but it's brilliant. 

It also inspires hope, however, which is always a good thing.


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