In an interview in this month’s issue of Ode Magazine, Lester Brown, founder of the WorldWatch Institute refers to Oystein Dahle, a former vice-president of Exxon in Norway, to whom he attributes this quote:
“Socialism collapsed because it did not allow the market to tell the economic truth and capitalism may collapse because it does not allow the market to tell the ecological truth.”
Robert Shetterly (activist and artist who has created the Americans Who Tell the Truth portrait series) and I gave a talk recently on the purpose of education. During the presentation I asked the audience to analyze a fast food cheeseburger to determine its effects — both positive and negative — on ourselves, other people, animals and the environment. After this analysis, I asked the audience what systems are in place that perpetuate this kind of food, and we explored agribusiness, politicians funded by lobbyists and industry, the school lunch program, advertising, and so on.
One woman said capitalism was the system to blame for the cheeseburger, and I asked her to say more. On the one hand it appears that capitalism perpetuates such unhealthy food systems because the market supports their success, but the truth is that we don’t have a capitalist system when it comes to food production, and fast food isn’t really a result of free market capitalism.
Without the massive subsidies, paid for with tax dollars, for water, grazing land, and dairy production; without the subsidies for escalating health care as people become obese and succumb to diabetes, heart disease, cancers, and other illnesses related to unhealthy diets; without the cheap labor of illegal immigrants in our slaughterhouses and on our farms; without the tax-payer-funded costs of our military protection of oil sources which are necessary for such food production, and much more, those fast food cheeseburgers would be prohibitively expensive. It is because we’ve socialized many of our systems that we don’t actually pay the true costs of a fast food cheeseburger at the register.
Socialism, in this case, tells neither the economic nor the ecological truth.
There are economists, activists, thinkers and solutionaries who are working to develop and promulgate systems that do tell the truth. Peter Barnes, for example, author of Capitalism 3.0, puts forth a system that protects the commons while maintaining the healthy and positive aspects of capitalist economies.
Rob’s and my presentation addressed the purpose of education. We believe that education should engage youth in the restoration and success of democracy and produce citizens who pursue the truth so that they may become solutionaries themselves.
Filed under: economy, education, food and diet, humane education, systemic change Tagged: | capitalism, changemakers, citizen activism, economics, education, environmental protection, food and diet, honesty, socialism, systemic change, truth