Applying the Precautionary Principle to Capitalism Itself.

Plastic waste snagged during floods along the River Wye. Photo by me.


Unless you believe that we are members of some kind of intergalactic cult, we humans are not alien to this world. We are intrinsic to it; a manifestation of the diversity of all the life that ever existed.

Despite our geologically recent farming cultures, the schism between humans and the rest of nature is false. In fact, growing and harvesting food, generating our water and energy supplies, and getting rid of waste is where we are submerged deepest into the flows of life, and where we are perhaps closest to our teresapien kin. The problem is that the connections are now largely negative in the flow of ecological and climatic entropy, and in our moralities.

You can tell how Capitalism deconstructs the interconnections that sustain life. Just look at waste costed into price. It’s something we try not to think about, until it more obviously surfaces in the flood waters, or flaps from a road verge, or a school yard. The recycling industry, as it stands, is a Capitalist perpetuation of the problem.

More often than not, the invisible dangers are the deepest concern, the ones our sensory organs cannot easily discern. And these are delicate and complex dangers because life systems are both delicate and complex. We either need access to the tools to be able to trace these dangers, or see them manifest in ourselves, our loved ones, and in other life forms, in the shape of disease and death. Even more resources are required to then treat and save, though teresapien lives are not granted anywhere near the same attention as humans, and some humans are not granted anywhere near the same attention as ‘other’ humans.

We are always playing catch up with the negative forces of competitive Capitalism.

It’s beyond time to apply the Precautionary Principle to extreme Capitalism itself. Capitalism puts public (human and teresapien) health at risk. We (the biosphere) can no longer afford to let these harms be driven by competition for a fat bank account or a gilded mansion. I am not speaking of local trade and creativity, and I am not speaking of basic comforts. Some say it would be paralysing, to restrict a natural drive to accumulate resources in cash and property for further innovation. But there’s no paralysis more permanent than death. So what are the alternatives? Because these too are intrinsic to the Precautionary Principle. Let’s create them collaboratively, with no waste, and for the good of all life.