Department of Humanities and Social Sciences
Indian Institute of Technology, Powai
Mumbai, 400076, India
Phone: 091 022 576 7372
On 26 Mar 1999, Roberto Verzola wrote:
> The capitalism vs. socialism discussion is very relevant to this list,
> as I explain below, and I'd like to pursue it further:
> > And for those who think socialism is a better way than capitalism, I
> >think you can now purchase an airline ticket to Cuba; one way.
> Socialism -- Cuban or Russian or Chinese style -- is not the only
> alternative to capitalism. There is a growing body of literature
> worldwide which represents a range of alternatives which does not
> subscribe to the Marxist-Leninist principles of Cuba, etc. For want of
> a better term, I'd call them the Green alternatives. They reject the
> highly monopolistic "free" market approach of capitalism as well as
> the centrally-planned "people's" dictatorship of socialism. You can't
> have missed these...
> The Green alternatives differ from the socialist one in several ways
> at least:
> - we prefer decentralized to centralized approaches, and consider the
> community as important a locus of human activity as the nation, if not
> - we recognize the spiritual as much as the material aspects of
> - we don't look at nature simply as raw material for production but as
> our common ecological home with other living things.
> >From the Green viewpoint, socialism and capitalism are two social
> expressions of what might be called industrialism, which is focused on
> large-scale material production in pursuit of progress.
> This discussion is very relevant to ecological agriculture, because
> industrialism approaches agriculture in the same way it approaches the
> manufacturing industries. In doing so, it misses the core difference
> between industry and agriculture.
> Industry involves transforming raw materials into finished goods
> through the application of human labor (often enhanced by machines).
> Industry is really about dead matter. If the raw material is alive, it
> often has to be killed before it becomes suitable for the industrial
> process. Typical operations include: cutting, sawing, melting,
> punching, etc.
> Agriculture is about living matter, which goes through its own process
> of living growth independent of human intervention. The farmer's role,
> unlike that of the worker, is simply to enhance, take care, support,
> etc. a living process. Industrial agriculture applies to living
> processes methods which are suitable for dead matter and therefore
> runs into all kinds of problems. This industrialist approach to
> agriculture is a common feature of both capitalism and socialism.
> Genetic engineering is a further development of this industrialist
> approach to agriculture.
> As for Cuba and the U.S.A.: it is true that more Cubans want to go to
> the US than vice versa. But the comparison is somewhat unfair because
> Cuba has been a target of a cruel economic embargo for decades and can
> only rely on its own limited resources. The embargo, coupled with the
> mistakes of the Cuban socialist regime (like relying on the former
> USSR and on sugar exports instead of building a self-sufficient
> economy), puts the Cuban people through a lot of hardships which many
> understandably want to escape from. The U.S., on the other hand,
> benefits from American control over huge resources outside their own
> borders. Through their unsustainable use of these resources, many
> Americans artificially, though temporarily, enjoy a better life than
> others. If Americans had to rely purely on their own resources as much
> as the Cubans do, the American smugness about their superior standard
> of living might dissipate quickly.
> In fact, the decades of U.S. blockade against Cuba has forced the
> Castro regime to adopt "Greenish" policies in some areas. It would be
> interesting how things would turn out if a socialist country like Cuba
> abandons socialism but transforms itself into a Green society rather
> than back to capitalism.
> Finally, on democracy and the "free" market: at the core of today's
> global capitalism are the corporations, many of which are economically
> larger than most of the world's nations. Internally, a corporation is
> as top-down and dictatorial as you can imagine. Internally too, the
> corporation is a centrally-planned economy, not a free market. There
> are more similarities between a corporation and a one-party State than
> initially meets the eye.
> Regards to all,
> Roberto Verzola
> Philippine Greens
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