Friday, May 08, 2009

Why capitalism is killing us

This is very powerful and insightful, I think:

We are so used to the idea of possession in our society that it isn’t easy to get any perspective about it. Most Americans assume that it’s “just human nature” to want to own things. Yet more than 90 percent of all the human beings who have ever lived have been hunter-gatherers, and for most such people mobility has been so important that possessions were shunned as a useless encumbrance. A few tools and weapons might have been in one person’s possession, but the sense of “mine” and “yours” was very weak indeed.

Private ownership of land is also a very recent concept. The original inhabitants of the U.S. thought it ludicrous to imagine that a person could “possess” a segment of the land, which so obviously belonged to all living things and therefore to no one in particular. Human beings lived off the land on this planet for millions of years before anyone was arrogant enough to claim ownership.

-- Philip Slater

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