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Seven ways to build the solidarity economy

Seven ways to build the solidarity economy

We can transform capitalism by encouraging the ‘better angels of our nature.’

Credit: Flickr/Cogdogblog. CC BY 2.0.

The solidarity economy is a global movement to build a post-capitalist world that puts people and planet front and center, rather than the pursuit of blind growth and profit maximization. It isn’t a blueprint but a framework that includes a broad range of economic practices that align with its values: solidarity, participatory democracy, equity in every dimension including race, class and gender, sustainability and pluralism, which means that it can’t be a one-size-fits all approach. Nevertheless, the notion of buen vivir, or living well and in harmony with nature and each other permeates everything the movement does.

Some of these practices are old and some are new; some are mainstream and others are ‘alternative.’ Solidarity economy practices exist in every sector of the economy: production, distribution and exchange, consumption, finance and governance/state. People often think about cooperatives and credit unions which are collectively owned and managed by their members, but they are just one example. Others include community land trusts, participatory budgeting, social currencies, time banks, peer lending, barter systems, gift exchange, community gardens, ideas around ‘the commons,’ some kinds of fair trade and the sharing economy, and non-monetized care work.

The idea of the solidarity economy is to build on and knit together all of these practices in order to transform capitalism by lifting up and encouraging the ‘better angels of our nature.’ Rather than making a virtue out of the pursuit of calculated self-interest, profit maximization, and competition—the things that underpin capitalism—this economy nurtures our capacity for solidarity, cooperation, reciprocity, mutual aid, altruism, caring, sharing, compassion and love. Increasingly, research across many disciplines has shown that we are hard wired to cooperate—that in fact, the survival of the human species has depended on our ability to work together.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Does Goldman Sachs care if you raise chickens? Some thoughts on accelerationism

Does Goldman Sachs care if you raise chickens? Some thoughts on accelerationism

In other words, it’s the kind of book that probably ought to be complete anathema to me. And in some ways it is. But actually I find myself in agreement with a good deal of what S&W have to say. It’s a serious, grownup book about the challenges now facing progressive politics – the kind of book that Leigh Phillips should have tried to write instead of penning fatuous putdowns to the green movement2. By contrast, S&W’s diagnosis for the mess we’re in seems to me spot on in many ways. But I think they lose their way when they try to provide solutions. It’s plain that they don’t know much about farming or about the history of agrarian populism. I’d like to think that if they corrected this – perhaps through a long chat with a farmer over a hard day’s shared work, like the one I recently had processing and salting down my recently-slaughtered pig (not sure what Goldman Sachs’ line is on suids) – we might find a surprising amount of overlap in our thinking.

The points at issue are important, I think, if we’re to create the kind of moral/ethical polities that Steve Gwynne raised in the comments on my recent post about commons – polities of the kind I think are necessary to achieve just and sustainable societies. So let me whizz through a few aspects of S&W’s analysis in order to lay some foundations for that project.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Mapping the Emerging Post-Capitalist Paradigm and Its Main Thinkers

MAPPING THE EMERGING POST-CAPITALIST PARADIGM AND ITS MAIN THINKERS

“We do not live in an era of change, but in a change of eras” is the way Jan Rotmans from the University Rotterdam describes the structural changes impacting our societies. This is also the phrase Michel Bauwens chose to open his latest book yet to be published in English which title is likely to be close to “Towards a post-capitalist society with the Peer-to-Peer”.

For thinkers like Jan Rotmans and Michel Bauwens this change of eras is akin to the Industrial Revolution in the second half of the 19th century, and characterized by transitions in various fields. In a nutshell, our societies face 3 major tipping points:

  • A change in social order from a central, hierarchically-controlled society to a horizontal, decentralized, and bottom-up working unit.
  • A changing economic structure: where in the past large, bureaucratic organizations were necessary to produce cheap products, in the new digital economy it is possible to develop products and services locally on a small scale.
  • A change in power relations: where once political influence and economies of scale determined access to resources, access to knowledge and information is now also accessible outside of political and social institutions.

Following this analysis, it is to gain further insights that we at blaqswans.org wanted to paint a big picture of the emerging post-capitalist paradigm, underpinned by peer-to-peer and collaborative dimensions. We started mapping various domains to go beyond the anecdotal evidence that such or such initiative is venturing into car-sharing or house swapping.

(click on the images for higher resolution)

Alternatives - roue 0.2 - P2PFoundation BW

Alternatives - roue 0.2 - 2P2Foundation Color

We confirmed a few things as we drew this map:

  • There is much more to this transition that the greenwashing offered by Uber and Airbnb, which are actually not peer-to-peer. This is precisely why we deliberately reused the shape of a honeycomb popularised by the “Collaborative Economy Honeycomb” infographic. It lists startup companies claiming to be part of that ‘sharing economy’, when many really are unbridled capitalism trying to further optimise the existing ‘selling economy’ – nothing wrong with selling but let’s not call it ‘sharing’ with the ethical claims usually attached to it.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Beyond Extinction: Transition to post-capitalism is inevitable

Beyond Extinction: Transition to post-capitalism is inevitable

In Margaret Atwood’s powerful essay on the reality of climate change — and its implications for the future of oil-dependent industrial civilization — she tells two vastly distinct stories of our future.

The first is a tale of dystopia — a future so bleak, it would make Hollywood moguls looking for the next science fiction blockbuster of action-packed (post)apocalypse salivate with anticipation. Here, Atwood tells a story of human failure: of short-sighted choices based on fatal addiction to business-as-usual, and an egoistic hubris rooted in centuries of globalisation.

The post-apocalyptic world of Mad Max: Fury Road (credit: Warner)

In this scenario, we largely ignore the overwhelming evidence of climate change, and the result is that industrial civilization enters a period of protracted collapse, fuelled by accelerating war, famine, and natural disasters.

The second is a vision of utopia — a collectivist dream-world in which everybody works together, harnessing the best of human ingenuity across society, economics, politics and technology, to peacefully restructure the fundamentals of human existence. Here, Atwood tells a story of human success: of far-sighted decisions based on confronting the follies of business-as-usual, and by embracing our unity as a species.

Image of a future techno-utopia by Staszek Marek

In this scenario, we act on the overwhelming evidence of climate change, and the result is that industrial civilization enters a period of carefully calibrated transition to a techno-utopian post-capitalist, post-materialist infrastructure, avoiding the worst of today’s scientific warnings.

Crossroads

Of course, both these scenarios are extremes, but there is a purpose to such extremes. Atwood uses the power of story to help us awaken to the starkness — and gravity — of the choice we now face: a choice, effectively, between hell and heaven on earth.

And Atwood is spot on when she notes that this is not just about climate change.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

 

Michel Bauwens: The Transition Will Not Be Smooth Sailing

Michel Bauwens: The Transition Will Not Be Smooth Sailing

Michel Bauwens is one of the pioneers of the peer-to-peer movement. Theoretician, activist, and public speaker, he founded the P2P Foundation in 2005. His work, both rich and complex, is built around the concepts of networks and commons, and lays the conceptual foundations of a production system that would serve as an alternative to industrial capitalism. I had the opportunity to meet him at the French release of his latest book, Saving the World: Towards a Post-Capitalist Society with Peer-to-Peer (published by “Les Liens qui Libèrent”).

Michel, Save the World, your last book, is the translation of a series of talks with Jean Lievens published two years ago. What happened between then? Do you have the impression that the transition you talk about has accelerated?

In this regard, one should make haste slowly. It is clear that the transition to a post-capitalist, sustainable economy will not happen overnight, or even in a few years. It is a long process. Some projects which seemed to work well according to a peer-to-peer logic one or two years ago have since become purely capitalistic. This enables them to grow faster. It contrasts with other more open and truly collaborative projects that have chosen to grow more slowly.

When one has no money, one takes on “solidarity dynamics”. So yes, it can give an impression of a relative stagnation, but I do not worry too much. For this is a major crisis, ecological, social and economic, looming on the horizon. The challenge is to be ready when it breaks out, probably around 2030. FairCoop, WikiSpeed… These kinds of projects are still small and yes, too few. In the coming years, those who are still only the seeds of this transition will have to develop a stable ecosystem, in order to initiate a real movement.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

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