The Dysfunctional Relationship between Society and Species

Here’s the premise: the celestial rock we reside on is the only living planet within the observable universe. This means that we are just a speck, that we are all that we have, and that is why we should care about the planet we live on.

Murray Bookchin wrote in Society and Ecology that “the present generation seems more self-centered, privatized, and mean-spirited by comparison with earlier generations. It lacks the support systems provided by the extended family, community, and a commitment to mutual aid. The encounter of the individual with society seems to occur through cold bureaucratic agencies rather than warm, caring people.” Through government policies that harm the environment, institutions allow businesses to assault the animal kingdom which, in turn, hurts us and our planet.

Capitalism is the cold-blooded culprit that is responsible for this state of affairs. In Japan, despite a ban on whale hunting since the late 1980s, whaling companies use a legal loophole to continue to decimate Minke Whales. Federal researchers in the U.S. Northwest as well as in Alaska found that 46,000 seabirds called Common Murres are dying off because of the warming water temperatures in the region. These warming temperatures are associated with anthropogenic climate change which is killing their food source. The Zoological Society of London reported that 7,100 cheetahs remain wild in Africa and in a small area of Iran because of the loss of their habitat to mankind for farming and raising livestock.

Further, authors of For the Common Good, Herman E. Daly and John Cobb Jr., wrote that “we are living by an ideology of death and accordingly, we are destroying our own humanity and killing the planet” (21). Chris Williams, in Ecology and Socialism: Solutions to Capitalist Ecological Crisis, also acknowledges the battle between capitalism and the ecology: “the rapacity of capitalism knows no bounds…by its very nature is ‘unbounded’– as soon as a limit or boundary is reached, it must be exceeded….capitalism forcibly alienates us both from ourselves and our own planet.” Even the Dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and former Environmental Advisor to Jimmy Carter, James Gustave Speth said in an article Global Warming and Modern Capitalism that, “the system of modern capitalism will grow in size and complexity and will generate ever-larger environmental consequences.” Capitalism’s ecological crisis is profound. It cannot solve existing problems; any reforms put in place will leave the root cause intact. If this continues, capitalism will keep on annihilating and every species in the animal kingdom will be first to go as literal canaries in the coalmine.

Environmentalists should demand a transition out of capitalism into socialism. It is imperative that we achieve ecological harmony, be more ecologically responsible, prioritize people over profit, and learn to live equitably among the species around us. To do that, we need to be protagonists for socialism, including addressing the woes of capitalism. For a genuine change, one needs to help create institutions that are antithetical to current ones. Cautious people often imagine future drastic change when they think of replacing capitalism with socialism. Certainly, capitalism was the drastic change when it replaced feudalism; nevertheless, the transition from capitalism to socialism will need an effective path. Michael Lebowitz, the Director of Program in Transformative Practice and Human Development at the Centro Internacional Miranda in Venezuela from 2006-2011, offers workers a space to create their own power. In The Socialist Imperative: From Gotha to Now, Lebowitz does not advocate social democracy, which simply reinforces capitalism. Rather, this space allows workers to evaluate how production affects the ecosystem, including all species. A policy model might be the 2010 Bolivian Law of the Rights of Mother Earth where, from earth to sky, Bolivians celebrate those rights and their struggle to defend the Earth.

To build a future worthy of our dreams, we must focus on species, including the human species. We need to become protagonists for the socialist imperative to improve the metabolism between society and species.

Let’s end the capitalist system!

The time is now.



who for nearly 20 years has been an activist, community organizer, and political strategist in the Midwest, is also the Founder and Lead Organizer for the grassroots organization Speaking Truth To Power.

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