Ecopsychology: Addiction Recovery for a People (pt. 4 of 5)

I believe that non-profit environmentalism is unsustainable.  If environmentalism is charity, then it requires profitable non-environmentalism to fund it.  You’re eternally stuck robbing Peter to pay Paul.

We need to take our cue from nature: organisms survive by making their living from activities that actively benefit their community.  Cleaner fish, dung beetles, vultures, the wandering herds and the wolves that follow them, corals, the horse-guard wasps—these are our role models.  We must become able to actually make a living replenishing our earth.  It cannot be a hobby.

We will continue to need clothing, food, shelter, etc for the foreseeable future, and we are already becoming more able to do so locally.  That builds local economies that are much less prone to widespread, systematic abuse, because in local economies businesses have to live with their mistakes.  It also takes customers and dollars—their only source of power—from the multinationals, or what I like to think of as the “locust economy.”

And if there’s anything I learned from my genocidally deranged Anglo-American ancestors, it’s this: that it might feel good to fight your enemies, but carving apart their resource base and starving them out is so much more effective.

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3 responses to “Ecopsychology: Addiction Recovery for a People (pt. 4 of 5)

  1. Nicole I April 12, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    I’m having a hard time with your rejection of non-profit environmentalism. Profit results as a rearranging of ‘surplus.’ The traditional Marxist argument is that surplus value comes from paying workers less than the value they make through alienation and exploitation. While Marx saw surplus as explotation of labor, it can also come about as exploitation of nature. So, I’m having a hard time seeing how accepting a capitalist system that embraces profit has any hope of embracing the environment.

    That isn’t to say that the current non-profit environmental world is all hunky-dory. Any time you try to work around capitalism while in capitalism, it gets messy. But that doesn’t necessarily mean we should embrace profit.

  2. xenawarriorscientist April 14, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    Sure, but where’s the obligation to “accept a capitalist system” in order to do business? There’s not much worth doing that couldn’t be done by a cooperative, and cooperatives are doable *today* (i.e., no lengthy legal or political battles to pitch first).

    I think that “if you want to make a living, you can’t be sustainable/if you want to be sustainable, you can’t make a living” is a false dichotomy invented to scare people away from trying to be good stewards. It works pretty well, too.

    There’s a pretty good article profiling Mondragon, the largest co-op I’m aware of, and discusses honestly some of the difficulties they encounter as they try to both 1. be a viable global business, and 2. stay true to their egalitarian values, e.g., capping the salary differential between top management & floor workers at 6:1. They give a lot of food for thought on socially & environmentally sustainable commerce.

    …and here’s the link, sorry, I don’t know how to embed it in the text (yet?). http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/the-new-economy/mondragon-worker-cooperatives-decide-how-to-ride-out-a-downturn

  3. Nicole I April 22, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    I read the OP as ‘you have to have a for profit business because non-profits aren’t viable.’ I think I may have misunderstood. I guess it was not clear to me that the suggestive alternative was a cooperative. Cooperatives are non-profit, yes?

    I’m as sick of the hobby farms and hobby CSAs as anyone. It undermines the true price of quality, eco-friendly, labor friendly products which hurts everyone in the long-run. But, I think there is a difference between sustainable and profitable. I generally think people misuse ‘sustainable’ often because they think something must be profitable to be sustainable. Why must this be true? The reality is that sustainable only implies the ability to come out even.

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