Craig Collins writes "But capitalism’s prime directive is profit, not growth. If growth turns to contraction and collapse, capitalism won’t evaporate. Capitalist elites will extract profits from hoarding, corruption, crisis, and conflict. In a growth-less economy, the profit motive can have a devastating catabolic impact on society. The word “catabolism” comes from the Greek and is used in biology to refer to the condition whereby a living thing feeds on itself. Catabolic capitalism is a self-cannibalizing economic system. Unless we free ourselves from its grip, catabolic capitalism becomes our future.
Capitalism’s catabolic implosion raises important predicaments that climate activists and the Left must consider. Instead of relentless growth, what if the future becomes a series of energy-induced economic breakdowns–a bumpy, uneven, stair-step tumble off the peak oil plateau? How will a climate movement respond if credit freezes, financial assets vaporize, currency values fluctuate wildly, trade shuts down, and governments impose draconian measures to maintain their authority? If Americans can’t find food in the supermarkets, money in the ATMs, gas in the pumps, and electricity in the power lines, will climate be their central concern?"
His solution: "If green community organizers and social movements initiate nonprofit forms of socially responsible banking, production, and exchange that help people survive systemic breakdowns, they will earn valuable public approval and respect. If they help organize community farms, kitchens, health clinics and neighborhood security, they will gain further cooperation and support. And if they can rally people to protect their savings and pensions and prevent foreclosures, evictions, layoffs, and workplace shutdowns, then popular resistance to catabolic capitalism will grow dramatically. To nurture the transition toward a thriving, just, ecologically stable society, all of these struggles must be interwoven and infused with an inspirational vision of how much better life could be if we freed ourselves from this dysfunctional, profit-obsessed, petroleum-addicted system once and for all."