In The Grip of Necrocapitalism

Evolution has come a long way, perhaps longer than we thought or at least taught in university.  We would like to believe that we, humans, represent the forefront of evolution on Earth.  But arguably there are other forms of existence here on this planet which supersede us, including some which precede us.  One of the most recent of these is our own economic system: a logistical intelligence network which may have been originally developed by humans to serve humans, but which now thinks for itself, and serves only itself.  Although humans are its original creators, they have been demoted and reduced to a mere resource within the wider system: they are there as maintenance workers who continue to engineer its expansion, while at the same time being exploited and monetized by it.  Then, they are simply thrown away.  It is a bizarre symbiosis which has taken millennia to evolve, like many bizarre symbioses found in Earth’s ecosystem.

At the most fundamental level, a life form is defined as an entity which can replicate itself.  Our economic system is so efficient, so adaptable and vicious in its search for profit, that it partially fulfils the criteria to be classified not only as a life form all to itself, but also as a semi-sentient one.  Nothing can kill it, not even its creators, who have become both servants and dependents within it.  This system has proven to be the ultimate predatory life form: able to survive on scraps here and there, and even eat itself if it needs to.  Most of all, it can feed on death itself.

If all of this sounds too much like the Matrix movie series, think about why we are heading full speed towards self-destruction.  The reason why we have not solved the climate crisis yet is because we are not the ones in control of our destiny.  Our economic system is in control of everything now: it is our boss, keeping us in check with alarm clocks, salaries and consumer propaganda.  We live under the delusion that we have developed an economic system that works for us, when in reality we are the ones working, being exploited. What we did in fact create is our own slave master. One who is always ready to discard us, if we dare not participate.  Whether this system represents a higher or lower form of intelligence than us, it really doesn’t matter.  What matters is who is winning, and it’s not us. 

In order to avoid a pointless, philosophical and narcissistically human-centric debate on the sentience or not of this system, I will resort for now to refer to it as the “Thing”, also to avoid direct comparisons to DNA-based biological life forms.  Some people, including myself, may at times refer to the Thing as capitalism.

The big problem with the Thing is that it is by definition self-destructive.  It is a resource-syphoning system driven by profit and efficiency alone, aimed at maximum utilization of resources to the point of exhaustion.  Regardless of how one describes it or names it, the economic system humans have created has taken over and now has a mind of its own. It owns us, the Earth and all of its resources, and it will deplete everything before it turns the gun to its head.  The Thing has been programmed by humans to be a beast that never sleeps. It never knows how to pace itself, or conserve its energy. It just continues, until one day suddenly, it doesn’t.  Even those who still nurture hope and are exploring solutions admit more or less that the only realistically feasible way to reform this system is really to start all over again.  This of course implies the collapse of many, but maybe not all, of the edifices of our civilization which have an existential dependency on the Thing.  But very few admit this publicly.  This is why for every pragmatic and honest book on this subject matter there are twenty more utopian, “hopeful” ones advocating unrealistic solutions which could only be implemented in another universe, by a much more intelligent being.

But aside from the climate crisis, which is on track to end human civilization and much of life on Earth anyway, there is another reason why it is paramount to at least try and eliminate the Thing.  We all need to realize that we are not it, and it is not us. The Thing doesn’t care about humans, in much the same way it doesn’t care about its own eventual self-destruction.  It is a threat to humanity and has no respect for its original creators.  Although the Thing is enmeshed in our society, and we think we control it and live within it and around it, it in fact controls us.  It mirrors some of our tendencies and may appear to be human, but it is not really part of us.  It has no concern for, or preoccupation with, the multi-faceted interests and needs of humans, and only focuses on the hard, cold figures of its business bottom line.  Any economic system which sees nature and human rights as threats to its bottom line is self-destructive and doomed to consume itself. Humanity has erroneously convinced itself that the Thing is the best economic system: offering the fastest, highest returns, at a cost that can be deferred to future generations who haven’t even been born yet.  Consumption, overpopulation, growth, are the toxic outcomes of this economic dogma. The more this civilisation refuses to acknowledge the unsustainable foundations of its existence, the more it confirms that its ultimate destiny is to self-annihilate.

It is important to understand the power that the Thing now has over us, and by no means am I trying to transfer the massive responsibility humans have for the state of the planet to an abstract nebulous entity.  We created the Thing exactly because it embodied and executed our vision of domination and greed, but we have come to the point where the Thing has completely hijacked the central nervous system of human civilisation.  More accurately, it has co-evolved with us as an internal parasite. 

The Thing is a device, an optimized machine which is an extension of the human brain, another logistical device.  Humans, if anything are rarely truly intelligent, nor are they fully self-aware. They are simply very efficient in resource appropriation and exploitation. This is not intelligence by any measure, but a type of skill.  The Thing is a steroid-infused extension of our skillset, which unintentionally got out of control and now unfortunately has the upper hand.  The problem with “skills” such as these is that they eventually become outdated.  True intelligence, which both us and the Thing lack, doesn’t.  Without true intelligence, we are stuck with developing tools which end up taking a life of their own, turning us into mere peripheral, expendable components within a semi-sentient self-destructive ecosystem of skills.  This is an evolution lesson that may be too dark, dystopian, and difficult to swallow to ever be taught in schools. 

It takes considerable effort to begin to see the Thing, given that all of us are so incredibly linked to it in every way.  Like a true symbiont, it provides us with nutrition in exchange for taking over our lives and the planet, and this is why many of us will defend the Thing to our death.  By the age of 15, most of us have already become greedy consumers living in a colorful theme park made of corruption, exploitation and extinction. Our transformation from aspiring thinking beings to consumer zombies is almost complete.  Like coral and algae on a reef, consumers and the Thing are seemingly forever locked in a symbiotic relationship: our economic system traumatizes us every day, offering us iphones and social app likes in return as painkillers, so that we don’t opt out.  Only those with special eyes and ears can see and hear the nightmare that we have created.

The Thing is of course also completely in charge of all power structures and the government.  The problem with authority will always be that it cares more about maintaining itself than about serving the well-being of the people it was meant to represent. This is true regardless of who is in power. Therefore, the role of all governments is, and has always been, to maintain the self-destructive economic system which brought the government to power in the first place.  This ensures that there is no change of government, which is the goal of every political party.  In this sense, it can be argued that both the government and the church came into existence to protect economic oligarchs, by manipulating people into submission.  Economic oligarchs in turn are the direct engineers of the Thing.  In fact, the only type of economy that humans have experienced in the last few hundred years is one where the Thing increasingly dominates everything.  Over millennia we matured into an elaborate web of laws, religions, governance systems and technologies enabling wealth accumulation through the widespread theft of people, beings, and the resources they were originally meant to share.  We refer to this as civilization, but it is only one possible version of it.  Our profit-obsessed society has become nothing but a 24-hour sweatshop which only serves profit. In this pointless rat race, no one is allowed to stand still, to stay content, or stay in the present.  We are all working zombies.

The industrial revolution was the point where this human civilisation completely lost it. Like a virus, it became more concerned with making infinite copies of itself, rather than contemplating the meaning and purpose of that which it was making copies of.  A narrative of continued economic growth, the very toxic time bomb that will end both the Thing and us, had to be developed by both governments and the church.  Today all leaders feel obliged to talk about achieving an economic boost for their nations, many of them knowing that the pursuit of such growth guarantees a spectacular extinction for every life form on Earth, including themselves.  But they cannot change their propaganda.  The survival of entire nations is now dependent on the metrics the Thing uses, and people are not seen as humans but as singular GDP units.  This numerization of humanity started long ago, once value became expressed as money and became abstract currency, making real meaning and value invisible to humans.  Because money emphasized quantity of supply and demand and not actual quality of life or value of goods, it would soon become an object of mindless accumulation, which further supported the growth paradigm of expansion and leveraging.  It can in fact be argued that the death sentence to the planet was set the minute money was invented, as it became the basis for a self-destructive economic system.  The problem with abstract currencies, such as the human monetary system, is that they assign value in unfair, often arbitrary ways, mostly based on supply. Because of this uncoupling between monetary value and real value, everything and everyone is at risk of becoming undervalued, devalued, and eventually extinct.  In fact, the destruction of renewable resources and the invention of single use products like throwaway fashion, have been essential prerequisite elements of the Thing.  Products which die or break down have much more value to the Thing, as they ensure more products will be made.  But a new planet will not and cannot be made, once everything has been turned to trash.  There are hardly any products in our civilization, for the birth of which something or someone didn’t have to die or be exploited.  In fact almost everything man-made is cursed with the karma of a spurned planet.  This erosion of value of course extends to humans themselves and is witnessed as the devaluing of the employee.  We live in a world where real, value-producing jobs have become cheap resources to be exploited by those who have the so-called “bullshit jobs” that simply push paper and shift blame and responsibility.

Much like with smartphones, computers and other devices that are purposely made to break down after a few months or years, we have condemned the entirety of Earth to obsolescence.  As long as the Thing is in charge, this is the ultimate outlook.  Our economic system is one of necrocapitalism, with premature death built-in as an essential component.

There is a tripartite toxic feedback loop between leaders, voters and economic oligarchs which is not really of any significance, given that it is all ultimately governed by the Thing.  Voters are too brainwashed and powerless, while leaders cannot upset economic oligarchs who brought them to power, and who provide jobs to voters. Therefore, unless all of them wake up at the same time, we are looking at the worst case scenario. A humanity that restores the planet will never take root using today’s social, political and economic systems, as long as these systems are completely under the control and influence of the Thing.  Only a complete demolition of these toxic systems can form the basis for a fair and sustainable planet, with or without humans.  The most likely, palpable scenario, and one which very few want to entertain, is that by the time thousands die daily, there will be too much hunger, war and lack of funds available for reform to even remember what the climate crisis was in the first place, who the Thing was, and how we got to this inferno.  It will be a time of panic, isolationism and self-preservation, rather than collective solutions.  As both climate and the social situation deteriorate, events will more likely than not take a natural turn towards a downward spiral of collapse.  Frighteningly, the Thing may still survive this collapse, albeit heavily injured.  Provided a nuclear holocaust has not made the planet completely uninhabitable, pockets of local economies who have rejected the Thing may exist within a wider framework of a global fascist tech dystopia which has further emboldened the Thing via artificial intelligence assisted by smart surveillance.  These scenarios are too bleak for anyone to even begin confidently making predictions and accurate descriptions, but they are not fantasies.  They are highly possible, and many will argue many of them have already come true.  All dystopias, including our current one, eventually become a normalised, tolerable form of pain, so that no one ever suspects they may be living in one…let alone dares to ever use the word dystopia to describe their present situation.  Only during rare moments in human history does the pretty façade of the system briefly fall down, suddenly revealing all the ugliness, exploitation and despair finally visible for all to see, in all their naked grotesqueness. As long as people take their daily prescription of affirmations and entertainment drugs which the Thing generously provides, we are living in a perfectly “normal” world.  It takes immense vision, not to mention courage, for the brave ones to wake up from their manufactured happiness in the matrix, knowing already that doing so will get them depressed. How many of us wake up on a Monday, look outside our window and think: “What have we done to this world?

Humanity has, rather unconsciously, decided to engage in a futile war with the entire planet. The planet’s biggest weapon is the climate, an intelligence network I refer to as the EoT – the Earthnet of Things.  The war at large is between the EoT, a system which obeys physics and science, and the Thing, which does not.  Humans are caught in the middle of this struggle. Gaia will use the EoT to bring death, hunger, viruses, locusts, tornadoes, droughts, floods and hurricanes in times and places never thought possible, in the hope of eradicating the malaise of necrocapitalism.

George is an author, researcher, chemist, molecular biologist and food scientist. You can follow him on Twitter @99blackbaloons or enjoy his books

16 thoughts on “In The Grip of Necrocapitalism

  1. We humans do not know how to live responsibly or share the planet with other life forms or each other of our own kind. Especially past the dunbar number. The Thing is another tool we invented to help direct our insatiable behavior. We do not naturally have a biological operating system that works at the scale of 8 billion ravenous human animals. We are more likely than not a failed species. We have already done immense damage to a very clever biosphere, that some might even call intelligent. We are tool using and creating monkeys. Great insight George as usual. Love Rick

  2. Maybe we should be more specific as to Who exactly is responsible for creating and maintaining The Thing. “We” engaged The Thing that was created by “Them”. “We” need to face that fact- We enabled their pathological value system which is underpinning the global necrophilia.

    1. Hi, this is my first reply here and the first article I read, so excuses if what I say it is already said somewhere else in this blog, but I felt compelled to reply, which I don’t do often. Because, if I follow your arguments to the end, the conclusion I arrive at is that we, if we want to mean something to this planet and to its future, we have to provoke the fall of The Thing. We have to destroy it, I mean, Extinction Rebellion should become more like a “Machine Rebellion”, something like Us against The Thing. I mean, it seems that the only hope for all humanity and the planet or all things alive is to destroy this system we have created that is heading to self-destruction, and who else is going to do it? Why should we wait that IT destroys itself when it is too late and it destroys us also in the process?

      1. Thank you for your comment. You have outlined our dilemma. I like the “Machine Rebellion”, it is quite fitting. There is also the band Rage against the Machine. May listen to them tonight ..

      1. Fine essay. Reminded me of Ben Ehrenreich’s essay, “We’re Hurtling Toward Global Suicide. And what’s that phrase, “It’s easier to imagine the end of the world that the end of capitalism.” Gary Snyder in his book The Practice of the Wild, called our system a cancer on the planet, which we use as a lumberyard and hardware store. I’m an old man, so I won’t be around to the full extent of the devastation.

  3. A lovely albeit terrifying perspective. The predicaments of our time are of human cause and, as ever, their solution is also distinctly human. The Thing is as described, self aware and self serving. Its insidious, and much valued benefit is that it feeds our greed whilst effectively hiding our responsibility. We can point at addictions to oil, built-in-obsolescence and the corruption of our leaders with great eloquence and insight; yet, during all the moments in between these virtuous insights are we not industriously adding to our very own pile of stuff? You see the Thing allows us to easily see the greed (often referred to “Wetiko”) in others whilst providing all the “shadows” of self deceit that allows us to ignore the greed inherent in our own behaviour. Like all species that self-destroy through overshoot their fundamental individual internal flaw is greed. Have you noticed that all solutions for climate change that are currently in vogue are focussed on keeping your ability to keep adding to your pile? The only way the Thing can continue is if it is fed. There is no “solution” that states loud and proud “You have too much stuff already, you can’t have any more”. The Thing dies if we can all turn away from our greed and accept less in our lives.

  4. On the other hand, none of us as individual ultra social ants is “responsible” for the supersystem, or is going to be “blamed” by any sky gods of goddesses for how we managed to live during our inherited spins around the universe, so let’s cut out the pretense that shit is going to change for the better.

  5. This is among the best I’ve read about the situation on the planet. It creates many thoughts. As a believer (Bible, it religion) it is written and the only way is a new beginning, which is our hope. Thanks for your thoughts and a question: is it ok to translate the text into Swedish and share it?

    1. Thank you for reading Rikard yes you can translate as long as you also provide a link back to my website. The essay will also be part of my new book. I’m not Christian but much of my writing often references the Bible, It is a parable for what humanity is going through. Thanks again.

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