Cannibal Capitalism ends up by eating itself

NASA Apollo 8, the iconic picture on the cover of The Whole Earth Catalogue,, Wikimedia Commons

Rosa Luxemburg said: ‘There is socialism, or there is barbarism.’

By Gordon Liddle

We live on the only Paradise humans will ever know. It reduces down to one strike and you’re out. Life here is as far as we know the only life there is. We haven’t even begun to understand it. We have barely begun to understand, we don’t understand it, yet we are at ad hock war with every other life form, organic or inorganic, the very mix that sustains us, driven by greed and ignorance. I suggest we turn our gaze to those who rule and subdue us. They are the enemy at the gates.

            People often see my stuff and ask me why I’m painting about it. Why not just do some portraits, or maybe a nice landscape or whatever. Why the need to paint about an Extinction event. Isn’t it a bit ‘depressing?’ Well yes, it is. And it’s getting more depressing by the day. And I don’t just paint or make art about it, I write about it as well as forming poetry about it. That and politics, which is almost the same thing. And of course, Capitalism, Consumer Industrial Capitalism, which is at the heart of everything bad.

I suggest we turn our gaze to those who rule and subdue us. They are the enemy at the gates.

It is as basic as this, at this moment in time we are losing the race to survive as a species on a viable planet, and we are condemning our fellow passengers on this pale blue dot into the bargain. And they don’t deserve to share our fate. We categorise them as biomass, mainly to be exploited but not as family members, which they all are.

We have just witnessed the great and good gather for this year’s photo-op at the G7 summit, at which our glorious leaders, well some of them, pontificated on climate change, ecological collapse, intra-country relationships, trade deals, coming disputes and wars and who is an ally to whom.

Oh, and they discussed the Zombie Apocalypse and their failure to open-source vaccines to those countries who can’t afford it. Biden then tripped off to NATO to gird members loins and determination in the upcoming war against China. Nothing changed. Nothing happened to lower fossil fuel use, nothing changed to stop resource extraction which is fuelling ecological collapse, and nothing happen to protect or even acknowledge our fellow non-humans.

Here in the UK, Spaffer was hoping to use the meetings to stage Brexit Britain, open for business, but instead looked and sounded more like the drunk uncle at the party. Truly embarrassing and more so as we see the Spaffer variant (entirely down to him and his desperation for an Indian Trade deal) starting to take us into a third wave.

Here in the UK, Spaffer Johnson was hoping to use the meetings to stage Brexit Britain, open for business, but instead looked and sounded more like the drunk uncle at the party.

Idiocy doesn’t even cover it. Now, after seeing how our leaders handled Saars/covid, imagine how badly they are going to handle the future of this planet. They put the economy first time and time again at the cost of lives and they will do exactly the same with the planet. Nothing will stop consumer capitalism. It remains sacrosanct to this civilisation.

            They keep talking about a Green New Deal, Building Back Better, and whatever slogan is dreamt up this week, and how new Green Tech is going to alleviate climate change and ecological drift, and create clean jobs and a more equal society, but as every day passes the assault on the planet gathers pace. Ever since man became agrarian and started clearing forests to plough, the assault has been relentless, then turbocharged by the Industrial Revolution. First by burning wood, the coal and now oil.

Monocrops have denuded the soil itself. The very existence of a monocrop is a direct attack on the planet. Every other creature in that cultured landscape is deliberately killed to allow one species to dominate. A teaspoon of healthy soil can have a billion creatures within it, each interacting with each other. Imagine how many in an acre, how many interactions.

A teaspoon of healthy soil can have a billion creatures within it, each interacting with each other.

And we think only humans can have a society. Our civilisation is in thrall to subduing the planet, to skin it alive, remove mountains by mining, remove topsoil by monocrops and ploughing, denude the oceans of fish and feedstocks, break every ecological cascade until it is too weak to survive. 

The Greens themselves are ensconced in the nonsense of building more wind turbines, more solar panels, more dams. None of this reduced the use of fossil fuels as all the technologies rely on those fuels for their existence. Every new green technology is a product of our industrial society and none are compatible with saving the planet. They all want to save civilisation and yet, at the moment, it is this very civilisation that if the destructive force.

Each dam constructed for supplying power to logging and mining conglomerations destroys the river it sits on, destroying the ecosystem beneath and above it and belching methane for decades. Each solar panel means huge mining operations for silicon.

They all want to save civilisation and yet, at the moment, it is this very civilisation that is the destructive force.

For batteries, the great hope or so we are told for energy storage, we need Lithium and other toxic materials, usually at the expense of local indigenous peoples who are either subjugated as slaves to man the mines or ethnically cleansed from the land to allow operations to continue. Each mine pollutes the land and local water supplies, and each mine pushes further species into extinction.


Detail from Gordon Liddle’s extinction series

Each new industrial breakthrough needs more power and more chemicals, and more minerals and so more and more fossil fuels are needed, not less. Refining ore requires huge amounts of water, acids and other toxic chemicals to break down the ore, denuding and polluting aquifers, rivers, soil and other reserves.

Silicon for instance produces about four times the amount gained in waste alone. Usually this is dumped on hapless locals as an externality. To collect the waste and treat it takes a huge amount more energy and so more fuel burning. The desperate race for Lithium has the United States government undermining political groups in Latin America to organise coups to allow their corporations access for mining.

The indigenous peoples in the wild parts of these countries are not worth the worry. The capitalist industrial machine has to be fed at all costs to keep the profits coming to the few. The Liberal Greens new idol with his space exploits and battery driven cars Elon Musk even Tweeted his approval of the coup attempt? ‘We will coup whoever we want!’ And this man is our Green hope? Gtf!

Elon Musk even Tweeted his approval of the coup attempt? ‘We will coup whoever we want!’ And this man is our Green hope?!

Our big tech billionaires are convinced we will be mining asteroids and colonising (yes, they really do use that word) other planets in the near future, setting up groups to live on Mars and then beyond. The arrogance, the hubris of these billionaires is simply staggering. These people who have accumulated so much wealth from other people’s labour are ruthless psychopaths. We have no chance of living on Mars, or anywhere else apart from Earth.

Humans are of this planet. We evolved over millions of years to the conditions here. Our blood flow, the rate out hearts pump, the way our brain works, all evolved within a very specific gravitational pull which is not represented on any other planet we know of. We would become very sick very soon if we even managed to make the passage there.

The first thing an astronaut gets in space is a headache, then during long term stays on the ISS they have to do a repeat daily of very specific exercised and they still come back with damaged bones and severely depleted muscle mass. The only thing we can send to distant planets are robots and signals.

There will be no long-term human expansion to another planet. Let’s nail that lie now.

We are turning the planet into products. To make new ‘Green’ energy (it is no such thing), we need more mines, more destruction and more slaves, be they human or machines, and these machines need more power to make more stuff.

Each ‘new Green product makes more and more pollution and takes more from the planet than it gives back; and each big step forward kills more and more of our non-human companions. Can you see the pattern yet? Oh, and each new ‘Green’ advance is fuelled by more and more fossil fuels and needs more and more plastic and chemicals therein.

Greens (I don’t even have to talk about the psychopaths on the right, the corporations and their stooges in governments the world over), want to preserve our ‘way of life’ not the planet. They want carbon taxes, more industrial fixes, more tinkering with market mechanisms, which, ironically puts them in lockstep with climate change deniers and fascists running the conglomerates. They at least understand that to save the planet needs transforming the very fabric of our civilisation, and they cannot contemplate anything else as an alternative. They cannot (neither can the Greens) contemplate de-growth. An end to industrial consumer consumerism.

Humans are of this planet. We evolved over millions of years to the conditions here.

More energy needs more machines, and more machines need more materials and even more energy in an exponential cycle of destruction. We need a socialist ecologically driven new paradigm which encompasses the basic needs of everyone on the planet, be they human or non-human. Capitalism ends up eating itself, as Marx fully understood. And as another great socialist Red Rosa remarked, there is Socialism or Barbarism. Our non-human friends are also our comrades. Whatever we do we have to protect them as if we were protecting our own families.

            I was chatting to an evangelical friend of mine recently. He has his views on life the universe and everything and is planning for the next life, for those who will be ‘saved on the Arc!’ I suggested that even by the literature in his very own much revered book, we were thrown out of Paradise by God for transgressing His laws.

We have then gone on to trash this planet and you are suggesting He is going to lead us into another one. What is it? Three times lucky?


Gordon Liddle in his studio

Gordon Liddle was born 1956, Horden, County Durham, United Kingdom Married, lives and works at his Derbyshire studio. BA Hons, Sheffield Psalter Lane Art College Gordon has had numerous positions and travelled extensively through the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Yemen, Lebanon, Bahrain, Africa and Europe, with particular interests in religion, democracy, politics, economics, MMT, and culture. The results of these studies form the basis of the series of works now under way. Numerous works bought by private collectors #Madonna Victorian Mood Bought by Andrew Cavendish the 11th Duke of Devonshire is owned by the Chatsworth Collection. ‘Celestial Teapot’ was exhibited at La Galleria Pall Mall in London for one week in 2013, 4 days at Art Basel in 2014. Currently working on Gaia, The Sixth Extinction Series, of paintings, woodcuts and hopefully etchings soon. Also writing two books and a book of poems and rants. Gordon is on Twitter @sutongirotcip and his website is pictorignotus.com