As we inch forward into the future, uncertain of the planet’s fate, I find myself cynical of tradition, for tradition has led us here. The ruling elite demand complacency among the masses, the workers, and the workers follow the rubric set in place, fearful of falling into poverty. They are exploited, alienated, and marginalized by the aristocracy, all because a culture of individualism demands the division of both humanity and wealth. The key to the sustainable revolution is simple, but some may say it is radical: capitalism must come to an end.
It is impossible to design a utopian society because no such creation has ever existed. As Marx famously wrote: “All history is the history of class warfare.” Our inability to function properly through the standardized design of the powerful few reigning over the people leads us to seek new solutions to old questions. Now, admire Marx or not, it is for certain that capitalism, even in its distorted form found in American society, has flaws that will forever hinder the potential that we hold as a collective.
There are many issues with capitalism, however, the easiest argument to make against it lies in its nature. Capitalism is intrinsically unsustainable; it relies solely on the boom and bust, profit and deficit, positive and negative. Wherever there is positive, somewhere else there is the negative. Poverty is not simply the result of some sort of mistake in the numbers or overlooked paragraph in the guidebook. Capitalism both creates it and relies on it to survive. It is difficult to sustain the environment when not even fellow humans can be sustained.
Capitalism is quite interesting because it convinces people to go against their own self-interests. For example, class and consumerism are needed to continue the growth of capitalism, yet, these concepts are destructive to human nature. While class divides humanity by status and comfort, consumerism further drives a wedge between our connection with one another. We have become lost in our own misguidedness, convinced that the new IPhone is worth the death of the workers who make it. These very economic divisions of class, race, and gender all end up benefitting a very small minority who own the means of wealth. If we desire sustainability, it must be for the entirety of humanity and not just a select few.
In the end, one of the most forgotten aspects of capitalism ultimately contributes greatly to worldwide destruction. Capitalism is unsustainable because it creates an excessive amount of waste. The marketplace demands production, but much of that production is either non-recyclable or creates pollution as a byproduct. Pollution has affected all walks of life and touched every corner of the globe, be it land, sea, or air. If sustainability is our end goal, it must be understood that it cannot be fully achieved within a social construction that systematically counteracts it. We must fight for a grand system that cherishes humanity, promotes egalitarian principles, and respects the environment in order to sustain ourselves, human beings, for generations to come.