This is part of an essay I probably won’t finish right away, but as Earth Day is approaching, and every day I am reading more about the peril the Earth is in, I feel it important to state my piece.
The past century feared the mixture of church and state, but now we have no reason to fear that, as it has already happened, and the state has become, to our ennui and alternating dismay, a kind of religion in itself, with every politician a minister, every lawyer a monk or nun, and every president as irrelevant, infalliable, and caricatured as the pope, all thinking they are representatives of order who can guide us toward living “well,” living “a good life.” Today what we must fear is the intersection of science and business, which is a frontier that is largely unlegislated—and with our cult-like devotion to capitalism, will remain so. Business can invent whatever it wants, whatever machinery of destruction or alteration of the environment, without reproach from communal ethics, it seems, because communal ethics has not articulated itself in a way that has not involved supremacies and competitions. Hence our suspicion of all forms of communality in this culture, which is truly unfortunate. We see the elements of livability in our culture precisely in those treasured holdouts of communality—public libraries and public parks are two big but endangered examples. So business can alter “science” to serve its capitalistic ends, and this is already happening, and when someone goes from saying the earth is flat to making a profit from saying the earth is flat, we are in grave danger. Americans eat dead food and spray toxic chemicals in their homes and business spins this perversion of science as “progress.” Yet the millions who are enlisted in the army of big business cannot be persuaded to quit their posts, because in capitalism, no one wants to take such a chance. It is more lucrative to be on the team inventing products to destroy the ozone rather than the team working to save the ozone. Knowing better, why is there a single aerosol can in circulation? Knowing better, why are styrofoam cups not extinct? Knowing better, why is recycled paper not only cheaper, but why is it not the only kind of paper available—why are trees still being cut [and at a faster rate than we could ever replant them] to make paper? In capitalism, bravery—those who are truly brave—are those who resist capitalism, who forge a responsible life and who do not waver on what a responsible life is; in capitalism, poverty is too devastating for most people to bear, and that is why capitalism persists, precisely because the only thing it has been successful at is the demonization of poverty. It is true that the law has sold out and lost its muscle. But somewhere along the line, science has sold out as well, and we are really suffering for it. Divert the botox research and the viagara research money until we find a cure for AIDS, cancer, Alzheimer’s, MS.