The Temporalities of Capitalism

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Updated: Aug 21, 2023
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Category: Capitalism
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With the contemporary fiscal platform that our unyielding human consumption must serve as a catalyst for economic growth, nature is tasked with the impossible. Our environment and the most impoverished people often bear the brunt of the biodiversity collapse brought about by climate change. This change arises from the large-scale production and consumption processes of capitalism. Karl Marx’s early philosophical manuscripts of 1844 are best known for developing his concept of “alienated labor,” proposing a source for our estrangement from nature.

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In this characterization, capitalism may be argued to act as a social system requiring non-market solutions for survival. Through the economic pressure for businesses to cut prices to protect themselves from market rejection, and the underpricing of natural resources, our capitalist epoch further fuels negative environmental impacts. These impacts may be portrayed to the public as insignificant issues through corporate influence.

Increased human consumption and a lack of quantitative information regarding future values of natural resources have led consumers to trust commodities, despite their external impacts. Our demand for products, coupled with overpopulation, creates a surplus in human consumption by depleting limited natural resources. Human population in relation to consumption is also a compelling measure; it dictates a plant’s net primary production, or in other words, the net amount of solar energy converted into organic matter through photosynthesis. This factor determines how much carbon is released into the atmosphere, causing alterations to atmospheric composition, biodiversity levels, and energy flows within food webs (Imhoff, 2004).

The overpopulation issue arises because the form of social organization humans currently employ and the materials found in nature are insufficient to provide people with the products they are accustomed to in their lives. By seeking to change the technical and cultural appraisals of nature, the scarcities of man-made and natural resources may be addressed. One way capitalistic societies can approach this is by understanding how significantly people’s lives are influenced by forms of rentiership. As capitalism conforms to the concepts of neoliberal thought, ownership of an individual’s assets allows them to capture value, which is prevalent across economic platforms of real estate and social media (Birch, 2017).

The underpinnings of capitalism’s involvement in the environment stem from the increasing demands for goods due to increasing human consumption, a lack of quantitative data on the prices of future usable natural resources, and the trend from entrepreneurship to rentiership among modern societies.

As the manifestations of corporate capture further undermine the public’s realization of capitalism’s harm on the environment and human rights, it becomes increasingly difficult to lessen the maladies of private profit maximization. Influential business firms downplay the seriousness of environmental issues because the industries that yield the greatest environmental impacts are the very ones from which they acquire their profits. Therefore, corporations and business firms have an obligation to allay public outrage over nature’s impacts in order to protect their continuous profitable interests.

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The Temporalities of Capitalism. (2020, Mar 18). Retrieved from