Feb 23

The Dysfunctional Relationship Between Society and Species


Let’s run on the premise that this celestial rock we reside on, is the only living planet within the observable universe.  Which means we are just a speck in the universe and we are all that we have.  Which is more of a reason, why we should care about the planet we live on.  Murray Bookchin wrote in Society and Ecology that “The present generation seems more self-centred, 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.”1.

We can see this through the very institutions that allow businesses to assault the animal kingdom and governments passing policies that are not in the best interest for our ecology.  Like in Japan, that despite a ban on whale hunting since the late 80s are currently using a legal loophole to keep on the eradication of Minke whales as we speak 2.   Federal researchers in the US Northwest and Alaska found that 46,000 seabirds called Common Murres are dying off due to the direct correlation of their food source being killed in warm water temperatures in the region 3.  The Zoological Society of London reported that there are 7,100 cheetahs remain wild in Africa and in a small area of Iran because of the loss of their habitat.  These are among the many examples that are before us.  And the cold-blooded culprit that is responsible for this is capitalism.

Herman Daly and John Cobb Jr. wrote in their book, For the Common Good, “…We are living by an ideology of death and accordingly, we are destroying our own humanity and killing the planet…””5.  To reinforce this thought, Chris Williams offers the following when it comes to 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.”6.  Even the Dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, plus former Environmental Advisor to Jimmy Carter, James Gustave Speth said that “The system of modern capitalism will grow in size and complexity and will generate ever-larger environmental consequences…”7.  Capitalism has created more of an ecological crisis than any other idea.  It cannot solve any of the problems, plus any reform that is put in place is a false solution.  If we continue to allow this to happen, then it will keep on the annihilation everything in its path and very species in the animal kingdom are the first to go.  Literally the canary in the coal mine.

So it ought to be realistic to demand that we transition out of a capitalism into socialism.  If I may go a bit further.  It is imperative that we transition into socialism.  In socialism, we can achieve ecological harmony, be more ecological responsible versus thinking about profit, and find a suitable practice of mutual aid with the species among us.  In order to do that, we need to be protagonists of socialism.  To address the woes of capitalism is an aspect of it.  But to become real protagonists of socialism, then one needs to be involved in the creation of institutions that are antithetical to our current ones.  Though one cannot escape the cautious person that anytime they hear socialism, or want to replace capitalism with socialism  is when they automatically think that drastic change is ahead.  If anything capitalism was the drastic change when it replaced feudalism.  Any transition needs to have a path and no one knows this better than Michael Lebowitz.  Lebowitz was the director of Program in Transformative  Practice and Human Development at the Centro Internacional Miranda in Venezuela from 2006-2011.

What Lebowitz offers in his book The Socialist Imperative is to provide a space for workers to create their own power.  Not social democracy, which has reinforced capitalism 8.  The creation of a space for workers would also allow the evaluation on how production affects its surrounding ecology, including all species.  We could also look at the public policy Bolivia implemented in 2010 titled “Law of the Rights of Mother Earth”9, where from earth to sky the people of Bolivia understand what those rights are and how to defend the Earth.

To build a future worthy of our dreams, which is to have species on our mind.  Then we need to become protagonists and announce that socialism is imperative.  It will bridge a better relationship between society and species.  So let’s end the capitalist system! The time is now.


1    Murray Bookchin, “Society and Ecology”. January 1993. https://archive.org/details/SocietyAndEcology

2    http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/24/world/japan-minke-whale-333-irpt/

3    http://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/researchers-warm-pacific-water-led-to-vast-seabird-die-off/

5    Herman E. Daly and John Cobb Jr, For the Common Good, p.21

6    Chris Williams, Ecology and Socialism: Solutions to Capitalist Ecological Crisis, p. 299-300

7    https://www.thenation.com/article/global-warming-and-modern-capitalism/

8    Michael Lebowitz, Socialist Imperative: From Gotha to Now

9    Law of the Rights of Mother Earth, http://www.worldfuturefund.org/Projects/Indicators/motherearthbolivia.html


Author: A.J. Segneri


For nearly 20 years, AJ has fought for economic, environmental, and social justice as an artist, academic, activist, community organizer, political strategist and public speaker. He is also affiliated with the R9 Media Collective.  You can Follow AJ Segneri on Twitter at: Speaking Truth 2 Power