"Corporate Growth"Posted: January 27, 2007
A few weeks ago, I read an interesting post on the similarities between unrestricted capitalism and cancer. The idea is, essentially, that corporate growth without regard to anything but profit parallels cancer, which is the unrestricted growth of cells without reference to the rest of the body. After I’d had this new metaphor rolling around in my head for a week or two, it reminded me of a book I’d run across by accident a few years ago, called Cradle to Cradle.
The authors, an American architect and a German chemist, argue that industrial growth isn’t fundamentally bad, as many environmentalists argue, but that it isn’t being done correctly. The example they point to is nature: the waste that the cycles of plant and animal life produce isn’t ‘waste’ in the way that a plastic bag is; it’s not even recycled the way cardboard is; natural ‘waste’ is in fact an integral part of the cycle. So, for example, the leaves dropped by trees in a forest decompose and replenish the soil; plants ‘breathe’ carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen, and animals breathe oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. Everything alive is something else’s food.
I realize the two ideas aren’t directly related; that is, even if modern industry was revolutionized following the cradle-to-cradle model, it would still have the potential to be ‘cancerous’. But both ideas suggest ways in which an imperfect system (which is still preferable to most of the alternatives) can be improved upon.
The photo is from the website Postsecret. It’s only very tenuously related to the post, but I think it’s funny.