Capital Chimaera

Some argue that Capitalism is a ubiquitous slur that “anti-system” activists use as a scapegoat for all of society’s ills. The truth is that no economic and political system has yet proven fair to the spectrum of human and non-human beings - not Capitalism, nor any other. All of them have been considered evil in their own way. Capital accumulation is Capitalism’s fatal flaw, with the exploitation of all living things, as a praxis.

Scots had been making use of their woodland since the first hunter-gatherers arrived in about 6,000 BCE. Even so, it was not until the Industrial Revolution (England, 1760-1840) and the Highland Clearances (1760-1850), inevitable progress for some and a capitalist tragedy for others, that the ancient woodland of Caledonia was severely damaged by applying an intensive use of the land.

In the relatively infertile, acid pinewood soils with their low available nitrogen, base (alkaline) status and low ion exchange capacity, any nutrient loss is potentially serious. Fortunately, the native Scots pine appears to be well adapted to these poor soils. The logging operations over the years must have taken out a great deal of nitrogen, phosphorus and the bases. However, the rainfall in the base forests was probably sufficiently high to replace nitrogen and the bases, but not phosphorus, an essential element for converting nutrients into usable building blocks with which to naturally grow.

The old-growth temperate forest of Scotland, the Caledonian Forest, was once a vast woodland of Scots pine, birch, rowan, aspen, juniper and other trees that colonised 1.5 million hectares of which merely 1% is preserved nowadays.

The capital chimaera transformed human hopes and re-invented the way all living species related to each other. Interestingly, this mass production endorsed by industrialisation, and the resultant accumulation of capital, overlooked Natural Resources as Capital, mistakenly treating them as an ephemeral asset instead. Any given capitalist would agree not to burn the capital of a business, as this would inevitably lead to bankruptcy. Similarly, if the Earth’s natural capital is over-exploited, this surely would lead to global extinction.

Mankind is not the master of nature but a child of it. Hence, with Mother Earth gone, how long do you figure we could last?


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