The Dark Side of Growth by Fritjof Capra summary and simplified notes

Fritjof Capra

Fritjof Capra,the Austrian- American physicist who founded the center for Ecoliteracy has penned several works on contemporary vital issues that still remains unaddressed. In  his The web of life Capra focusses on systemic information generated by the relationships among all parts emphasising the interconnectedness of everything. In his work The Turning Point he speaks about the negative side of development. In The Dark side of Growth, Capra opines that in the bliss of economic progression human tends to forget the harmful side effects that can ruin the commoner's life.

The Dark Side of Growth

Globalisation has now become the buzzword from the last two decades. The Nobel Prize winning Economist Amartya Sen is of the opinion that," globalisation has enriched the world scientifically and benefited many people economically as well ". While some praises the positive side some criticizes it for perpetuating inequality in the world instead of reducing it. Capra in his Dark side of growth, deals with a serious problem ; the neglection of harmful consequences of the scientific and technological progression  which can turn fatal to the commoner's life .

      Today our economy seems to be dominated by the most dangerous appearances of institutional growth ie.  corporations. These  multinational corporates that have even transcended the  Nation's boundaries has flourished in different parts of the world . These corpotations even pose a threat to nation's economic, political and monetary stability in many ways especially in Western countries. These giants even control the  legislative process and  distort the information   received by the public through the media and even interfere with the functioning of educational system of our nation. corporate control  has even devastated public education. Instead of reforming the system with special emphasis on sustainable development ,you can see that private corporations have been steadily taking over educational system all around the world.  Many of the corporate and business leaders occupy the prestigious positions in the boards and trustees  of academic institutions, where they use their influence to perpetuate  a new value system consistent with corporate interests.  The New corporate core standards narrows the curriculum by emphasising science, technology, engineering and maths, over arts, history  and ethnic studies. Thus, corporate educational reforms promotes corporate values and capitalist interests.
The profoundly inhumane nature of these multinational giants have given rise to a number of white collar crimes too.  Maximizing of profits to the exclusion of all other considerations has become their trademark. competition ,coercion and exploitation are the essential aspects of their activities. Motivated by  the desire for indefinite expansion they are not expected to show any feelings, nor express any regrets. All they talk about is coercion, control and manipulation.
   These MNC s work like machines rather than like human institutions, once they have grown beyond a certain size. Their growth has even outstripped an appropriate legal framework. It seems that there are no laws, national or international to deal effectively with these giants.
  Though corporate crimes are proscribed and punishable by law, the courts are forced to give newer interpretation about the concepts of criminal liability and we can see that the government adopting new legislations thereby incorporating new jurisprudence in handling corporate crime and corporate guilt.
  Even though laws made for humans are  applied to corporations we can see that these MNCs  do not asume the responsibilities of individuals. the complex hierarchy of  mainstream corporate make it difficult to find out the real culprit who acted on behalf of legal personification.In this sense these corporations have lost all resemblance to human beings.
in this era of cut throat  competition, another interesting aspect is that  many corporate leaders believe that  corporate are value- free and should be allowed to function outside the moral and ethical order.  For them, values  and ethics are simply codes of conduct that govern transanctions.
 As many of these MNCs manage to spread their tentacles in most parts of the world , thousands  of small business and driven from the market place by the power of large companies. As they intensify  their Global search for natural resources, cheap labour and New markets, the environmental and social vulnerability created by them becomes  evermore apparent . Bilateral Migration of labour from small scale industries to large corporations is another major issue . Instead of regaining self sufficiency,by changing occupations and practicing simple yet vital skills like carpentry ,tailoring ,plumbing etc., most workers remain totally dependent  on these large Corporates even in the time of economic hardship.
   Capra says that if the consequences of Corporate power  are harmful in industrialized countries, they are indeed disastrous in the third world countries. In these countries  those had already been chopped up and divided by colonial powers , the exploitation of people and the land has reached extreme proportions. With the help of media and US government , they often use polluting and socially disruptive Technologies thereby causing environmental disasters and political chaos. They abuse the soil with continuous cultivation of cash crops instead of  providing food for local population and promote unhealthy patterns of consumption. But on the contrary ,corporate crimes and violence seems to permeate the world, least prosecuted.
     Capra is of the opinion that many of the multinational corporations has now turned to be outmodern, locking up  capital and resources .They are unable to adapt their functioning to changing needs. Automobile industries and utility companies falls under this category .If we are able to restructure the functioning to the changing needs ,it can steer us to a  sustainable economy  in no time. These  Giants are also powerful enough to persuade the government to bail them out with the taxpayer's money even at the time of bankruptcy .They allure the common man with Promises of job offers. They claim that their motives are clearly based on preservation of jobs although it is clear that small scale, labour -intensive enterprises generate more employment with much lowersocial and environmental costs. Capra says that these obsolete corporate should either transform or pass from the scene for the effective release of capital resources in order to build a sustainable economy.
   Unfortunately we always have an obsession with growth that is accompanied by an idolatry of gigantism. In this modern world we need both small and large corporations and also we need to achieve a balance between the two.  we need a profound revision of the very basic conceptual framework of Economics . Many economic patterns will have to be changed and all economic activity will have to be studied within the context of global ecosystem. The current economic concepts need to be expanded modified or even abandoned.
  A new trend is that ,the economists freeze the economy arbitrarily instead of restructuring it according to the changing needs . Instead of viewing our economy  as an evolving system,they have turned our economy and institutional structures into dinosaurs , that are unable to adapt to the environmental changes and bound to die.
In the present day economy, which is based on  configuration of power , class structures and unequal distribution of resources, wealth is highly concentrated and tightly controlled by a small number of people who belongs to the corporate class who derive their income largely from ownership . This social inequality is no way an accident . It is a deliberate action, which has caused similar patterns of maldistribution between developed countries and the third world .Infact, they are taking money from the poor people in the rich countries and giving it to the rich people in the poor countries causing the perpetuation  of an equilibrium of poverty in third world .
     The anti- ecological bias of current economic theory has led to the avoidance of social issues. The age old debate between economists and ecologists  has clearly shown that the main body of contemporary economic part is inherently anti- ecological. Economists tend to neglect  the social and ecological interconnectedness, treating all goods equally ,without considering the many ways in which all these are related to the rest of the world weather they are man- made, naturally occurring, renewable or nonrenewable resources.
     Here all values are reduced to a single Criterion of private profit making.  The current day economists ignore their social and environmental costs, labelling them as mere "external variables", that find no place in their theoretical models. For the present day corporate economists ,water, air  and various resources of ecosystem are free commodities and so is the delicate web of social relation which is severely affected by continious economic expansions.  Private profits are being made at public costs in deterioration of environment and general quality of life." They tell us about the sparkling dishes and clothes but forget to mention the loss of those sparkling rivers and lakes", says Hazel Anderson.


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