The idea of an economy based upon several kinds of ruin may seem a contradiction in terms, but in fact such an economy is possible, as we see. It is possible however, on one implacable condition: the only future good that it assuredly leads to is that it will destroy itself. And how does it disguise this outcome from its subjects, its short-term beneficiaries, and its victims? It does so by false accounting. It substitutes for the real economy, by which we build and maintain (or do not maintain) our household, a symbolic economy of money, which in the long run, because of the self-interested manipulations of the “controlling interests,” cannot symbolize or account for anything but itself. And so we have before us the spectacle of unprecedented “prosperity” and “economic growth” in a land of degraded farms, forests, ecosystems, and watersheds, polluted air, failing families, and perishing communities.
This moral and economic absurdity exists for the sake of the allegedly “free” market, the single principle of which is this: commodities will be produced wherever they can be produced at the lowest cost, and consumed wherever they will bring the highest price. To make too cheap and sell too high has always been the program of industrial capitalism. The idea of the global “free market” is merely capitalism’s so-far-successful attempt to enlarge the geographic scope of its greed, and moreover to give to its greed the status of a “right” within its presumptive territory. The global “free market” is free to the corporations precisely because it dissolves the boundaries of the old national colonialisms, and replaces them with a new colonialism without restraints or boundaries. It is pretty much as if all the rabbits have now been forbidden to have holes, thereby “freeing” the hounds.