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economic liberation

alternatives to capitalism

Capitalism, global in scope, generates inequality and reduces individuals to monetary worth. Concentration of wealth worsens, with 1% of the population gaining 82% of wealth generated last year. In addition to the social and political implications of this growing rift in material conditions, the dynamics of the dominant economic system inextricably drive exploitation of nature (conceptualized in sociology as the metabolic rift). In the context of this capitalism versus the climate showdown, the language of climate change has become politicized and polarized. Folks from many walks of life and in diverse geographies have proposed alternatives to capitalism, yet much more needs to be done to dismantle the system and the ideology that supports it.

The theme of economic liberation opens up a space to move beyond a recognition of the problem, and to engage in conversations that help shift awareness of the problem and uplift alternatives. Some areas to explore:

How do we challenge capitalist ideology? When we hear folks uphold and perpetuate capitalism around us, when and how do we speak up? Consider the taboo on salary and compensation. How do we as individuals help change that norm? How can music and humor help drive changes in conversations?

How do trends in the labor market demand action? The rise of the gig economy alters the ways in which people are connected to each other through work. What implications does this have for class consciousness? Consider how this connects to poor people's movements of our past, and any linkages with student debt cancellation.

How can we support alternatives? When it comes to economies, small is beautiful. What alternatives to capitalism are emerging, and how can we as individuals connect to them? Consider minimalism and the barter economy, with examples in Portland

What policy proposals would speed up change? Consider the potential role of a universal basic income, and examples of the ways it is being proposed and implemented. How does a basic income connect with ending poverty and the paternalism of current welfare programs and policies?

In what ways could a universal basic income alter food systems? If people have more power to make labor market decisions, how might this connect to community and home gardens? How could this affect animal protein consumption?

David Amsden. 2016. Inside Portland's Cash-Free Bartering Economy in Rolling Stone

Michelle Chen. 2017. Could a Universal Basic Income Work in the US? in The Nation

John Bellamy Foster. 1999. Marx’s Theory of Metabolic Rift: Classical Foundations for Environmental Sociology in American Journal of Sociology

Fullwiler, Kelton, Ruetschlin, & Steinbaum. 2018. The macroeconomic effects of student debt cancellation by The Sanders Institute, and report summary

Megan Garber. 2015. The Life and Death of the American Lawn in The Atlantic

Nathan Heller. 2017. Is the gig economy working? in The New Yorker

Naomi Klein. 2011. Capitalism vs. the Climate in The Nation

Marx & Engels. 1848. Manifesto of the Communist Party

Dylan Matthews. 2016. Basic income: the world’s simplest plan to end poverty, explained in Vox

Frances Fox Piven & Richard A. Cloward. 1977. Poor people's movements: Why they succeed, how they fail

E. F. Schumacher. 1973. Small is beautiful: Economics as if people mattered

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