(Based on a reply to a comment)
In the last post I argued pollution erupts everywhere there:
a) is no support for ecological thinking;
b) where the costs of pollution are not factored into the economic process; and
c) where there has been conquest.
I should have added a point
d) that pollution appears to be a strong part of developmentalism wherever it operates, whether in capitalist, socialist, communist, or nationalist systems.
Making products or energy by cheaply destroying the ecology is an easy way to make money, and generate the products associated with development. Again the ecology (and often the people who depend on it) are sacrificed to the gods of development, which are usually material prosperity (for some more than others), modern technology, industrialism and military power.
The more speedy the development the more pollution seems to occur, and if it takes force or law to overwhelm those who resist, then force or law will nearly always be used. This was first illustrated in 19th century England where people were poisoned and restrained by law, and the environment was polluted on a visible scale perhaps never seen before and rarely replicated since – although parts of the communist world which did similar development in an even shorter time were probably up there with it. Its hard to compare descriptions, and to measure the past.
Developing countries can see attempts to reduce their pollution as attempts to keep them undeveloped – particularly when countries like Australia refuse to diminish their own pollution.
It may be possible to make the argument that capitalism is now often justified by its ideologues in terms of it being a major force for development, which is why it is so bad for the environment. Both the demand for profit and the desire for development give each other support in their destructiveness.
If pollution was only marginal to capitalism we probably would not have had so much political action trying to justify pollution and make it sacred. How often do we hear something like: “If we stop polluting then the economy will crash. We can’t afford these restrictions?” Likewise, I have not seen that many companies protest against President Trump’s attempts to ‘free the market’ by making it easier to pollute and poison people, but I dare say there may be some – after all being capitalist does not mean a person is inherently evil.
The days in which ‘the people’ could use ‘their State’ to attempt to unambiguously reduce pollution, or enforce costs onto business use of pollution seem pretty dead, as the idea of the ‘free market’ fossilises corporate power, and any such anti-pollution movement is accused of wanting to bring about poverty and primitivism- that is they are said to be “anti-development.”
The ability of people as consumers to affect capitalism is probably limited – after all they still have to buy something to live… but if the consumer wants less pollution, they have to find correct information about pollution and who is making it (which companies may try to hide) and find a difference between companies with similar products. They must also be able to afford buying products with less pollution. There is no sense they should participate in the processes of the State to gain enough power to enforce less pollution, as that might diminish the liberty of the powerful to pollute on those less powerful.
We should also probably note that in capitalism the word ‘cost’ usually means ‘monetary cost’ alone. If the creatures and the land do not belong to anyone who both cares and is wealthy enough to go to law, or to make law, to protect them, then there is no recognisable cost; even if the destruction may be fatal to humans in the long term. If the person destroys their “own land” then everyone should be happy, as it is their ‘private property’ to destroy as they will, as if that property was separate from everything else in the world. Non-monetary cost, or cumulative dysfunction, seem difficult concepts to deal with once monetary profit becomes the only mark of virtue and success. If something is priceless, then it has no value.
In response to these kind of arguments, some people will appear to argue that there can be an ideal capitalist market in which problems dissolve, ie we just get rid of State regulations and protections for the environment and workers. This is bold, but the problem is that this ideal process never arises, and all the talk of free markets appears to do, is justify a more stringent plutocracy. So I assume that producing plutocracy is the function of that talk.
I may be wrong, but it does seem to be the case that the more pro-free markets the political party claims to be, the more they defend pollution and ecological destruction with vigour. They see themselves as vigorously defending capitalism and development, and demonstrate why we have to be careful with both of those institutions.