Container Ships and Capitalism

Photo/Ian Taylor

PTLN 3.30.21

Container Ships and Capitalism

By Karel Riley

The container ship recently stuck in the Suez Canal reminds us that global commerce relies on enormous container ships to transport goods all over the world, mostly from Asia to the US and Europe. This is incredibly wasteful. The energy and fuel requirements add to global pollution and global climate change. And, economically, estimates are that the traffic jam held up nearly $10 billion in trade every day. So, guess who will foot the bill? They’re already telling us that prices for goods are going up.

The US and Europe have the ability to produce nearly all the goods they demand, so why have a massive shipping industry? Capitalism demands maximum profit. This leads to the search for the lowest cost labor combined with ever greater automation. Goods are produced in countries far away with the lowest labor costs and then shipped around the world using the latest technology.

Who benefits? The owners of the ships and the exporting and importing companies. Who loses — everyone else, including much of nature. Marine life is harmed, climate change is accelerated, pollution is spread. All of this is done for the private profit of a small percentage of the global population. Logically, this looks like insanity.

It is the result of an economic system reaching the end of its life, to be replaced by something. Will that something be more fascism to squash the peoples’ demands for a better world? Or will the new world be one in which human needs are placed above all else, and corporate private profit is eliminated? It is up to us to spread the truth that a new and better world is possible and we must organize to make it happen.

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