BP : We’re All Downstream
British Petroleum’s oil cataclysm in the Gulf of Mexico – the biggest oil calamity in U.S. history – is a horrendous example of our “Profits Rule” system’s degradation of life. Though it is among the worst, this catastrophe is part of a long train of similar disasters. The fouling of our planet will continue unabated as long as Capitalism is at the helm.
While implementing “green energy” such as solar or wind instead of fossil fuel is minimally necessary for the survival of the human species, that survival will certainly be limited if Capitalism continues to exploit and plunder the planet. We have to move beyond this impoverished survival in order to really live life to the fullest potential. Do we want to just do what’s necessary to survive – barely eking by, or do we want to do what’s needed to improve and enrich the quality of our lives and our environment? If we desire the latter, then we are going to have to make more drastic changes, not simply in our energy sources, but in the entire social system and world order.
BP, like all corporations, is solely concerned with making material profit regardless of the environmental impact, thus to save money they skimped on both the safety procedures and equipment of their oil rig. Beyond that, the government regulators have been corrupted. The whole idea of regulations presumes that we must tolerate the system of exploitation. Evil needs regulations, Good Work needs encouragement and reward.
As a result of this insane status-quo, the oil rig explosion : left a petroleum-spewing geyser in the ocean floor; killed 11 workers and countless living creatures in the sea and air; much of the Gulf of Mexico will now be a miasmic dead zone where no aquatic life can survive due to lack of oxygen; illnesses in the area are increasing; and the damage has only begun! This is just a glaring (and nauseating) reminder that we are under the reign of a corrupt and absurd value system – wherein profit is made from our illnesses and from the pollution created by this system. As long as they’re making money, our Capitalist rulers don’t care that they are poisoning our water, land and air – from their perspective it’s good for business – they can sell us water filters, bottled water, and air filters, to accustom us to a polluted environment. Capitalism continually reduces the quality of just about everything under the sun – from soil and food to architecture and forests.
Quality is made scarce, and only the rich can afford to live as we all should be able to live – in high quality dwellings, surrounded by lovely nature, eating and drinking of the finest of Earth’s offerings. Instead, the vast majority of us are forced to live as cheaply as possible, with minimal wages and encouraged to hoard/”save up” what money we are able to obtain to buy this or that “luxury”. “As ‘natural’ products have become a niche market for those affluent enough to pay for them, the goods available to everyone else are even shoddier and more toxic than before.” – Brian Tokar, Earth for Sale. Good-quality food, water and housing should not be a luxury.
Capitalism is a system based on the spoiling and scarcity of all that is good quality in life. Thus Capitalism is a system of poverty. As Oscar Wilde wrote in his Soul of Man Under Socialism, “The proper aim is to try and reconstruct society on such a basis that poverty will be impossible.” And he wasn’t only referring to material poverty, but to social, æsthetic and spiritual poverty as well. Is the misery and degradation of most of what exists really worth the pleasure of the few? And is not even that pleasure diminished by the suffering and destruction surrounding it? Wouldn’t it make better sense and be more desirable to live in a society where the quality of the whole of life and the well-being of the planet were of the utmost importance?
We are all downstream and downwind of BP’s toxic mess, and every other assault of the planet by the Capitalist system. And no water or air filter is going to be enough to protect us, unless we stop this Capitalist madness!
Instead of a system that puts profits before people and the environment, we need something new, something that has not been tried before – a system that holds the planet and life on it in the highest regard, seeing no other profit than the improvement of the quality of life for all living things.
May 31, 2010
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