Late-stage capitalism and environmental destruction: the rise of collective responsibility
2017 has seen the advent of the term “late capitalism”, referring to a new economic stage of the post-industrial development, characterised by deregulation and a reckless approach to profit. However, the last two years have also seen the ravages and damages caused by global warming worldwide, the dwindling of natural resources. Is there a direct correlation between individualistic course for profit and political apathy?
Economist, political advisor and activist Jeremy Rifkin believes the current economic system is soon to self-destruct. Accurately predicting technological and fiscal trends, Rifkin writes of a third industrial revolution, which credibly demonstrates the contradictions of capitalism, its immanent death and the necessity of renewable energy.
The collapse of capitalism has long been prophesized, profoundly so, by philosopher Karl Marx. As the author of The Communist Manifesto, written in 1848, Marx predicted the conflicts of overproduction, concentration of capital and a rising intelligent proletariat. (Marx 19:83:210-214). Marx based the heart of his system on ideas of human production. Marx’s study of the division of labour is extremely like philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s. The want for private property led to the division of labour, which in turn gave rise to the subsistence of unconnected social classes based on economic variances. Believing that the existence of the proletariat alone, would render the State unneeded, Marx argued the state to be an instrument of social control used by the members of one class to suppress the members of another.
"In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an association in which the free development of each is the condition for the development of all." (The Communist Manifesto (1848), in Marx-Engels Selected Works (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1962)
Subjected to critique, scholars such as Jeremy Rifkin discuss the ways in which the work of Marx did not foresee all the core contradictions of the system.
“We are beginning to witness a paradox at the heart of capitalism, one that has propelled it to greatness but is now threatening its future: The inherent dynamism of competitive markets is bringing costs so far down that many goods and services are becoming nearly free, abundant, and no longer subject to market forces. While economists have always welcomed a reduction in marginal cost, they never anticipated the possibility of a technological revolution that might bring those costs to near zero.” (Rifkin, 2016).
The far-reaching grip of capitalism infiltrated systems throughout society, and as financial power transcended into political power, its influence was seen in government, media, education and science. How has capitalist theory impacted environmental changes, and humanitarian management of said eco issues?
A core characteristic central...