Left, Right and The Environment

Another misleading idea used to be that capitalism and communism represented opposite extremes, opposite poles of economic theory and practice.

Proponents of communism used to believe, inter alia, that if only the world were communist there would be no more environmental degradation, no more pollution, no more problems in that area.

There was a tendency for environmental conservation movements to become subsumed into the political “left” so that advocates on this side of politics regraded themselves as the only legitimate spokespeople for environmental matters, and conversely many environmentalists felt obliged to support general left-wing causes and to side with communist and socialist nations in the world political and ideological wrestling.

The next step has been that many environmental movements have become mainly left-wing activist groups with conservation issues pushed into an inferior position and warped and chopped to fit the political causes. This will often put the environmentalist in the position of supporting some action which points in quite the opposite direction to a healthy ecosystem and a sustainable world economy.

On the other side, some environmentalists have become captured by the business lobby, giving rise to a movement for “sustainable development” whatever that means.

A better view of world economics is perhaps that capitalism and communism, and the various hybrids in between, are but different varieties of one economic philosophy, the conventional, traditional flat-earth economics. The assumption common to all is that the earth is a limitless source and a bottomless sink; or rather, that the question of whether the earth is or is not these things is irrelevant and need not be considered.

The difference between capitalism and communism was in their emphasis and practice rather than in their essential nature. More will be said on this in two following digressions.

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  1. Pingback: Environmental Concerns That Should Concern You « Environmental Concerns That Need Your Action

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