Is capitalist globalization biologically sustainable?
Only by accepting a permanent triage of humanity and dooming part of the human race to eventual extinction.
Economic globalization — that is to say, the accelerated free movement of finance and investment within a single world market where labor is relatively immobile and deprived of traditional bargaining power — is different from economic interdependence regulated by the universal protection of the rights of labor and small producers. Instead, we see a world system of accumulation that is everywhere breaking down traditional boundaries between animal diseases and humans, increasing the power of drug monopolies, proliferating carcinogenic waste, subsidizing oligarchy and undermining progressive governments committed to public health, destroying traditional communities (both industrial and preindustrial) and turning the oceans into sewers. Market solutions leave in place Dickensian social conditions and perpetuate the global shame of income-limited access to clean water and sanitation.
The present crisis does force capital, large and small, to confront the possible breakdown of its global production chains and the ability to constantly re-source cheaper supplies of overseas labor. At the same time, it points to important new or expanding markets for vaccines, sterilization systems, surveillance technology, home grocery delivery and so on. The combined dangers and opportunities will lead to a partial fix: new products and procedures that reduce the health risks of constant disease emergence while simultaneously spurring the further development of surveillance capitalism. But these protections will almost certainly be limited — if left up to markets and authoritarian nationalist regimes — to rich countries and rich classes. They will reinforce walls, not pull them down, and deepen the divide between two humanities: one with resources to mitigate climate change and new pandemics and the other without.