Published on AlterNet, Sept. 1, 2006, by Ethan Miller, Dollars and Sense. Is the raw capitalism in American society the best possible outcome for our well being? Surely not: It’s time to think about an economic system that makes us happy people.
Other Economies are Possible!
This article is reprinted from the July/August 2006 issue of Dollars & Sense: The Magazine of Economic Justice. – Can thousands of diverse, locally-rooted, grassroots economic projects form the basis for a viable democratic alternative to capitalism? It might seem unlikely that a motley array of initiatives such as worker, consumer, and housing cooperatives, community currencies, urban gardens, fair trade organizations, intentional communities, and neighborhood self-help associations could hold a candle to the pervasive and seemingly all-powerful capitalist economy. These “islands of alternatives in a capitalist sea” are often small in scale, low in resources, and sparsely networked. They are rarely able to connect with each other, much less to link their work with larger, coherent structural visions of an alternative economy.
Indeed, in the search for alternatives to capitalism, existing democratic economic projects are frequently painted as noble but marginal practices, doomed to be crushed or co-opted by the forces of the market. But is this inevitable? Is it possible that courageous and dedicated grassroots economic activists worldwide, forging paths that meet the basic needs of their communities while cultivating democracy and justice, are planting the seeds of another economy in our midst? Could a process of horizontal networking, linking diverse democratic alternatives and social change organizations together in webs of mutual recognition and support, generate a social movement and economic vision capable of challenging the global capitalist order?
To these audacious suggestions, economic activists around the world organizing under the banner of economía solidaria, or “solidarity economy,” would answer a resounding “yes!” It is precisely these innovative, bottom-up experiences of production, exchange, and consumption that are building the foundation for what many people are calling “new cultures and economies of solidarity.”
Origins of the solidarity economy approach: …
(Read the whole article on AlterNet).