Capitalism, the ideology that governs nearly every aspect of our lives, encourages capitalists to kill in order to protect their surplus value. Killing is not the goal of capitalism, however, capitalists assume the risk to kill for the sake of making a profit. The generation of surplus value is the driving force that causes capitalists to assume the risk to kill, and is intrinsic to capitalism. Capitalism also causes a rift in our relationship with nature, and if the way labor is viewed doesn’t change, capitalism will continue to foster death and destruction. The film Erin Brockovich and the book, The Radium Girls serve as two historically specific examples of big corporations killing several innocent community members. The unsafe labor conditions perpetuated by the Radium Dial Company led to the deaths of many Radium girls, and the lack of consideration for the environment by PG&E Hinkley further disturbed the relationship between man and nature, and killed several Hinkley residents. When confronted about their actions, these companies go through great lengths to avoid paying settlements to the people they negatively affected. These corporations cheated the people they were killing, attempting to silence their victims and defend their surplus value. In both lawsuits, the corporations were found guilty, and were forced to pay the settlements they worked hard to avoid. These lawsuits show that social movements and class struggle can yield positive change. Although environmental and labor regulations work within the capitalist system, they are able to contain the most destructive aspects of capitalism.
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Jenks, Devyn, "How the Generation of Surplus Value Causes Capitalists to Assume the Risk to Kill" (2022). Research Days Posters 2022. 34.