The Cancer Stage of Capitalism is a modern classic of critical philosophy and political economy, renowned for its depth and comprehensive research. It provides a step by step diagnosis of the continuing economic collapse in the US and Europe and has had an enormous influence on new visions of economic alternatives.
John McMurtry argues that our world disorder of unending crises is the predictable result of a cancerous economic system multiplying out of all control and destroying ecological, social and organic life – a process he describes as ‘global ecogenocide’. In this updated edition he explains the ‘social immune response’ required to fight the ‘macro cancer’, something which has already been shown in developments such as the Occupy movement and the democratic social transformation of Latin America.
In an official global culture increasingly destructive of life, this book shows the necessity and possibility of building a sustainable society based on a universal commitment to life and nature.
The pace of change in the human ecosystem has accelerated rapidly in the past 30 years. These changes not only affect human health, but the health of plants and animals that share the environment with us. Nine keystone vertebrate, invertebrate and plant species have experienced extinctions or population crashes since the 1980s, and opportunistic human infections are on the rise. These crashes and infections can be traced to changes in metabolism that underlie epigenetics, innate, and adaptive immunity. Epigenetic and immunologic ripple effects have led to new Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndromes (AIDS) in plants and animals, and Acquired Autoimmune Disorders (AAIDS) in humans and domesticated animals. Autism is one of nearly a dozen new, neuroimmune and metabolic spectrum disorders (NIMS) that have emerged as a consequence of these new combinations of environmental factors that have never before been encountered by the human genome. This talk will showcase examples of AIDS, AAIDS, and NIMS that teach us about the unintended, and often-invisible environmental changes caused by human technological progress, and how these changes can be measured and managed systematically.
Like others, I have thought from the first day of the Covid-19 pandemic that it was forcing us to awake from exponential life-system destruction by ‘business as usual’ to our common life-ground.
Returning for his fourth appearance on the podcast, Zach Bush, MD is triple board-certified physician specializing in internal medicine, endocrinology and hospice care.
He is the founder of Seraphic Group, an organization devoted to developing root-cause solutions for human and ecological health in the sectors of big farming, big pharma, and Western Medicine at large.
And he is also the founder of Farmers Footprint, a non-profit coalition of farmers, educators, doctors, scientists, and business leaders aiming to expose the deleterious human and environmental impacts of chemical farming and pesticide reliance — while simultaneously offering a path forward through regenerative agricultural practices.
To me, Zach is a master healer. And this is a master class in thinking both deeply and broadly about this unique and unprecedented moment of global calamity.
You may or may not know that I was his private doctor, and I had several opportunities to discuss many issues on life, that were relevant to his life and that of the life of our community.
What became clear very early on was that he was mourning the diminution of our liberating communal spirituality by an enslaving materialistic religiosity, that had captured our political and economic systems of good governance and had created histories and legacies of mental enslavement of our people, still yet unseen.
In this light, I am going to take a deep history and deep heritage approach, to show from whence we came and to whither bound, to show how we can make the Great Turn to transform all of the rules of our social engagements so that they can uplift us to the highest heights and not lead us downtrodden to the lowest-lows.
Sir Probyn had pride of place of Brimstone Hill in his heart, for it manifested the unbreakable spirit in the hearts and minds and backs and hands and feet of the slaves who built it, as manifested in their superb craftsmanship.
For him this was proof of principle that no matter how diabolic the times were, THAT spirit could never have been extinguished and can NOW be tapped into as a source of transformation that guides our thoughts, feelings and actions, individually and collectively, in comprehensively inclusive and imaginatively creative life-enabling ways.
We live in a head-spinning, gut-wrenching time of multiplying crises. At home we face outsourced jobs, crumbling cities, underpaid teachers, unaffordable healthcare, endless wars, political corruption, a co-opted corporate media, skyrocketing inequality, and public “austerity” measures whose main purpose is to make tax-breaks for the rich more affordable. Working-class stagnation is producing widespread anxiety, mounting debt, and “despair deaths” from opioid abuse. Fear is fueling populist outrage, along with extremism, authoritarianism, and the conditions for a fascist takeover. Meanwhile, climate change poses an existential threat to humanity itself. All of these calamities spring from the same root cause: an oligarchic capitalism that puts short-term profit for owners over people and planet. While this system seems immutable, upheavals from Occupy Wall Street to the rise of right-wing populism signal a backlash to a political–economic establishment that treats people and planet as resources to be pillaged and expenses to be minimized. Its failures have also been driving the development of new possibilities in the form of more systemic approaches. Still, while systems thinking has improved approaches in fields from agriculture to medicine, so far none of these reforms have been able to channel public frustration into true transformation because none addresses the root problem: oligarchy. The science of systemic vitality we need is also being born, but so far, its findings are diffuse. This article shows how the science of energy systems can galvanize today’s economic reformation by articulating the common sense rules and rigorous measures of systemic vitality, while anchoring them in an evidence-based vision of humanity as a collaborative learning species. The result is a practical path to building systemic socioeconomic vitality by revitalizing human networks, energizing collective learning, and clarifying why oligarchic capitalism is a distortion of our original democratic free-enterprise dream, which is now careening toward collapse.
KEYWORDS: Big history, energy networks, economic development, great change, paradigm shift, regenerative economics, societal learning.
Exponential economic growth is rapidly destabilizing the biosphere. Among the many factors that stimulate such growth is the human tendency to consume goods and services far beyond what is required to meet basic needs. We have to grasp what drives this tendency in order to manage it. The brain’s core circuits were long believed to stimulate us to seek pleasure—greedily and selfishly—while higher cortical circuits try to rein us in. Neuroscience now shows that the core circuits serve not pleasure per se, but efficient learning. When we obtain a reward that our frontal cortex values highly, the core circuit delivers a chemical pulse that we experience as satisfaction—so we repeat the behavior. Satisfaction is brief and diminishes as a particular reward becomes predictable. This circuit design works well for pre-industrial societies in which rewards are varied and unpredictable. But capitalism shrinks the diversity of possible rewards, leaving the remainder less satisfying, and making stronger doses, i.e., more consumption, necessary. The path toward sustainability must, therefore, include re-expanding the diversity of satisfactions.
The global nutrition transition, which embraces major changes in how food is produced, distributed and consumed, is associated with rapid increases in the prevalence of obesity, but the implications for diabetes differ between populations. A simple conceptual model treats diabetes risk as the function of two interacting traits: ‘metabolic capacity,’ which promotes glucose homeostasis, and ‘metabolic load’, which challenges glucose homoeostasis. Population variability in diabetes prevalence is consistent with this conceptual model, indicating that the effect of obesity varies by ethnicity. Evolutionary life history theory can help explain why variability in metabolic capacity and metabolic load emerges. At the species level (hominin evolution), across human populations and within individual life courses, phenotypic variability emerges under selective pressure to maximise reproductive fitness rather than metabolic health. Those exposed to adverse environments may express or develop several metabolic traits that are individually beneficial for reproductive fitness, but which cumulatively increase diabetes risk. Public health interventions can help promote metabolic capacity, but there are limits to the benefits that can emerge within a single generation. This means that efforts to curb metabolic load (obesity, unhealthy lifestyles) must remain at the forefront of diabetes prevention. Such efforts should go beyond individuals and target the broader food system and socioeconomic factors, in order to maximise their efficacy.
Humanity, like all other species of Earth before and with us, is evolving — and evolution, for humans as for all species, is neither predictably linear nor solely Darwinian. Earth’s nearly four billion years of evolutionary experience reveals reliable patterns that give us hope, inspiration and valuable guidance for getting ourselves through the unprecedented confluence of enormous crises in which we humans quite suddenly find ourselves. Here we see the evolutionary Big Picture, including the amazingly complex lives of our remotest bacterial ancestors, who had Earth to themselves for fully half of evolution, and much of whose experience we seem to be mirroring now. They engaged in hostilities, generated global crises of hunger and pollution as great as ours today, and solved them without benefit of brain! Along the way they invented electric motors, atomic piles and the first World Wide Web of DNA exchange; then, in the greatest of all evolutionary ventures, formed cooperatives that became nucleated cells. These cooperatives were the basis for the evolution of our own hundred-trillion-celled human bodies, which role model amazingly sustainable economies. Learning from newly revealed problems and solutions in biological evolution, we too are finding out how to survive and even thrive into a better future despite — perhaps because of — our greatest challenges. That would indeed be cause for celebration.