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<TITLE>E.4 Can "education" solve ecological problems under free market
 capitalism? </TITLE>
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<p>

<H1>E.4 Can "education" solve ecological problems under free market
 capitalism? </h1>
<p>
Besides their emphasis on the right to sue polluters, supporters of "free
market" capitalism sometimes also address ecological problems like pollution 
and depletion of resources by calling for public education which will raise 
people's awareness to the point of creating enough demand for 
environment-friendly technologies and products that they will 
be profitable to produce.
<p>
This argument, however, ignores three crucially important facts: (1) that
environment-friendly technologies and products <B>by themselves</B> are not
enough to avert ecological disaster so long as capitalism is based on
"grow or die," which it necessarily is due to the requirements of
production for profit (see <a HREF= secD4.html#secd41>D.4.1</a>); 
(2) No amount of education can 
countermand the effects of market forces. If faced with a tight budget
and relatively expensive "ecological" products, consumers and companies
may be forced to choose the cheaper, ecologically unfriendly product
to make ends meet or survive in the market. Under "free market" capitalism, 
we may be free to choose, but the options are usually lousy choices, and 
not the only ones potentially available; and (3) Under the price system,
customers have no way of knowing the ecological (or social) impact of
the products they buy. Such information, unsurprisingly, is usually
supplied <b>outside</b> the market by ecological activists, unions, customer
groups and so on. As is the case today, the skillfully created media
images of advertising can easily swamp the efforts of these voluntary
groups to inform the public of the facts. And the example of McDonald's,
who (until the famous McLibel trial) successfully used the threat of
court action to silence many of their critics, indicates that the money
and time required to fight for free speech in court against large
companies is an effective means to keep the public in the dark about
the dark side of capitalism.
<p>
We must also point out that if, as is increasingly the case, companies
fund children's education then there are obvious limitations on the
power of education to solve ecological problems. Companies will hardly
fund schools which employ teachers who educate their pupils of the
<b>real</b> causes of ecological problems! And we may add, alternative 
schools (organised by libertarian unions and other associations) which used
libertarian education to produce anarchists would hardly be favoured
by companies and so be effectively black-listed - a real deterrent to
their spreading through society. Why would a capitalist company employ
a graduate of a school who would make trouble for them once employed 
as their wage slave?
<p>
This indicates the real problem of purely "educational" approaches to
solving the ecological crisis. Even in a "pure" capitalist world in which 
private property is protected by a "night-watchman" state or private 
security forces, a wealthy capitalist elite will still control education, 
as it does now. 
<p>
Any capitalist elite must control education, because it is an essential
indoctrination tool needed to promote capitalist values and to train a
large population of future wage-slaves in the proper habits of obedience
to authority. Thus capitalists cannot afford to lose control of the
educational system, no matter how much it costs them to maintain
competitive schools. And this means that such schools will not teach
students what is really necessary to avoid ecological disaster: namely
the dismantling of capitalism itself.
<p>
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