Capitalism in Context – The Occupied Times #8


While corporations are busy marketing themselves as environmentally responsible global citizens, scientists warn that global ecological systems are severely destabilised. The confusion created by the gap between frightening scientific reports and reassuring messages from advertising and corporate media provides an excuse to continue shopping, watching TV and generally ignoring escalating social, political and economic crises (as long as you happen to be privileged enough to avoid the immediate impacts).

Business as usual continues because capitalism denies its own ecological (and social) context. Communication processes directed by the market obscure the environmental consequences of industrial processes. The failure to recognize ecological context creates a basic schism between the environment and the market economy.

When markets determine what information is available in the public sphere, ‘knowledge’ comes to reflect what is profitable for those with economic power. This representation of the truth rarely takes the Earth’s needs into account. Though efforts are made by hopeful environmentalists to create a basic understanding of environmental context, their efforts are vastly overshadowed by the onslaught of corporate advertising and spin.

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Mapping Environmental Discourses

Having just finished writing a sub-chapter of my PhD I decided that a new model was needed to address certain problems. I am not going to publish the whole discussion yet. This new diagram attempts to reflect power dynamics and ideological positions of dominant environmental discourses.

The model is premised on the idea that discourses that suit business interests are legitimized at the expense of discourses that more profoundly problematise current industrial practices. To a large extent, the market determines what information is publicly available because communications either take the form of marketing and/or are produced by industries that are dependent on advertising. Discursive discipline marginalizes critical positions. Furthermore, discourses are not always made explicit; vested interests will mask their intentions to influence policy that works in their favour. The green capitalism discourse is hegemonic but as crises continue to accelerate, a more coersive type of ‘disaster capitalism’ emerges (Klein, 2008).

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