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.
Posts in this Series
- Review of 1988 edition of Economics for a Round Earth
- Ends and Means
- Evolution Not Revolution
- Notes on Evolution Not Revolution
- Concepts and Terms – What is ‘wealth’?
- The Throughput Chain
- The Derivatives of Wealth
- Global Inequalities in Wealth
- Economic Growth Redefined
- Misconceptions in Practice
- Borrowing to Invest to Get Rich
- Environment versus Economic Progress
- Digression: Pollution Red Herrings
- Digression: Depletion and Inflation
- Value Inflation – the Trigger, not the Bullet
- Living Standard and Quality of Life
- Digression: Resource Consumption, Jobs, and Hands Off
- When the Boom comes
- The Effect of People’s Expectations
- Hard Work – Virtue or Vice?
- Who needs the Snail Darter?
- More Dollars for Conservation?
- Non-renewable Resources – Leave Them in the Ground?
- Digression: Fast Breeder Nuclear Fission Reactors
- Minerals in National Parks – Leave Them in the Ground?
- Population and Wealth
- Left, Right and The Environment
- Digression: “So Long As We Profit, Costs Elsewhere Aren’t Our Problem”?
- Limits to Growth?
- Solar Energy – a Special Case
- The Solar-Powered Car
- Money Supply, Throughput and Inflation
- Real and Money Wages: Living Standards
- Digression: Caution about “Increases” and “Decreases”
- The Idea of Proportionate Flows Applied to Wages: the Great Depression
- Deficit Financing
- The Optimum Proportionate Flow Condition
- Digression: Thrift versus Spendthrift
- Digression: the Private Motor Car – a Basic Necessity?
- The Idea of Proportionate Flows Applied to Wages – the Stagflation of the 1970’s and 80’s
- Excessive Wages Can Cost Jobs
- Fight Unemployment or Inflation First?
- Digression: Work and Jobs
- Other “Job Creation” Schemes
- Visual and Noise Pollution
- Digression: Renewal and Recycling of Resources; Wages and Jobs
- Ratio Distortion and Consumption
- Aggregate Demand – Components and Internal Ratio
- The Slave Economy
- Employment and the Steady State
- Consumer-Led Recovery
- Interest Rates and Ratio Distortion
- Demographic Trends and Living Standards
- Digression: Bad Economics Good for Conservation?
- Coping with Aging Populations
- Stabilising the Human Population
- Costs – What Really Costs Us and What Doesn’t?
- Digression: Other Comments on Statements in UN Report
- Discussion of Costs Resumed
- Budget Balancing Methods – Cost or Gain?
- Digression: Government Expenditure – Government Employees
- Expenditure on Weapons