-Life Without Money, pg. 154
Industrial civilization, materially constructed from abstract representations, fuels the ongoing development and destruction leading to social and ecological collapse. Individuals are bound by the mental structures that motivate them to act in ways diametrically opposed to their natural inclinations. Such symbols and emerging common systems maintain the governing forces of a collective social illusion—the unsustainable spectacle that exploits our world.
The Anthropocentrism Inherent in Human Systems
Capitalism for instance, historically based on a rapacious colonialism, catalyzes environmental liquidation for the purpose of personal wealth: nature is privatized, processed, and sold for profit, demanding a constant increase of investment as the supreme purpose of social relations. While the consequences are evident everwhere (read domestication), this is merely the logical extent of the economic demand for perpetual growth. Here, living communities are continually threatened by human encroachment, so that we are in fact witnessing John Muir’s grisly prophesy play out, that nature will soon become “commodified to death.”
Nature, once characterized as valuable in and of itself, is thus considered to possess value insofar as the potential for conversion into profit through labor (exploitation) extends. Because such relationships to the natural world are based on hierarchical value systems, the systematic devaluation of the “least important” parts justifies the domination of plants and the communities they make up, reinforcing illusions of separation that promote violent, destructive policies based on utility and instrumental relationships—”what do I get out of it?” The earth is bought and sold purely as exploitable “property” to be developed without regard to any harmful consequence so long as wealth can be extracted, so that capitalism essentially creates its own barriers to long-term sustainability by destroying the environmental conditions for its own productivity. This contradiction is made explicit as the infinite expansion/absorption by capital (qualifying reality in purely monetary terms) in a finite environment creates a culture of inherent immorality and the utter dissolution of traditional values.
As human relations to nature develop into purely possessive terms, the resulting alienation provides a one-sided, egocentric, self-absorbed attitude in which the world loses any inherent value.
Profit and Exploitation as Ecological Evil
In the capitalist view of industrial growth society, it does not matter that plants, animals, or landscapes display purposeful behavior, or that humans are in fact descendants of such living processes, dependent on the delicate reciprocity that has been historically maintained by indigenous communities. Nature is rather given little moral consideration in a system actively promoting separation, exclusion, and hierarchy as necessary precepts for a dominating logic that suppresses the value of nature apart from its profitability and utility. To this end, the planet itself is exploited as a kind of technology used to increase one’s “standard of living,” conditioned by a mass media that in turn directs mass consumption. The current world system of industrial capitalism and global monoculture is in fact based on inherently unsustainable assumptions espoused as “laws”—a convergence of language, time, and money that takes the form of policy and results in the enslavement of humanity and the non-human world to a concentrated power.
Profit therefore must be identified as the primary factor driving capitalism to convert nature into commodities, marginalizing any life-sustaining processes as social dynamics are dominated by monetary values. This priority of self-interest over ecological value in decision-making demonstrates that the symbolic value of money is held in higher esteem than the natural function it supposedly represents, leading to the wholesale neglect of what makes wealth possible to begin with: money, as a system of abstraction, encourages the conversion of nature into a commodity, disconnecting its users from nature’s direct life-sustaining effects, while promoting ongoing relationships of exploitation. The cost of which is unlivable ecosystems, and requires a drastic reduction of material production and consumption along with a revaluation of what is worthwhile and beneficial if the possible long-term sustainability of human and natural ecologies is to remain at all likely.
Accumulation of money as the driving force of capitalism disconnects consumers and producers from an understanding of the primary functions of nature, seeing the worth of living systems only in terms of their exchange values. Any emerging economic system based on such fallacies will likewise augment resource extraction for expanding consumption levels, increasing ecological scarcity by imposing the ignorance, cruelty, and death these abstractions are imbued with on living ecologies for the sake of privatized profits. Such self-interest necessarily leads to exploitative relationships fostering an operating system that structurally perpetuates a violent climate of enslavement lacking any comprehension of essential meaning—in essence, violating principles of proper relations that allow for the continuity of life. This lack of awareness can only be overcome by applying moral action to cultivate and nurture harmonious relationships while fully manifesting the energy of loving compassion for the world we live in.
Primal War is a Moral Imperative
Primal War necessitates nothing less than a new concept of growth, in which the evolving configurations of energetic and material flows allow for a new consciousness and (non-)politics that understands human wellbeing is predicated upon biodiversity, healthy ecosystems, and the natural conditions that sustain life-places. People protect what they cherish, so a life-enhancing relationship offers deep communion with the natural forces of life. While an industrial society driven by exchange value (trading words, dollar bills, and the minutes of our lives) is obliged to appropriate and exploit nature for profit and material accumulation, traditional cultures transcend such disconnection by recognizing nature’s intrinsic functionality, living freely within the natural confines of biological systems and ecologies. By liberating these various living communities, previously exploited relationships in nature can be healed, and unsustainable social systems can be abolished.
As local cultures become aware of their effect on the web of life they are inextricably caught up in, exploitation as a morally repugnant set of relations can be averted, altering the identity of a seemingly corrupt and malicious social system. Abstract human conceptions simply cannot be imposed on natural cycles. Life is ever more complex than ideas. Primal war first demands a reassessment of modern assumptions–what is valuable, meaningful, and true–so that life, and the freedom to live, remains central in the ongoing story of what nature is to ultimately become: a place each living creature can call home.