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Transformation

If This Is Us At 20, What Could We Be At 40?

My main work over the past 44 years has been about figuring out how we can consciously develop democracy all over this country. This has included 16 years of active involvement with the cooperative/solidarity economic movements. I believe that bringing this developmental perspective to the cooperative movement can be a rich and productive way for celebrating the 20th birthday of the USFWC. I have two suggestions for consciously growing the worker co-op movement, which naturally reach beyond to the whole cooperative economic movement. The first is to make full use of both Eleanor Ostrom's work and the wisdom emerging from the field of cultural evolution.

The Climate Crisis Is Directly Related To Inequality

In an interview with Rachel Donald of the podcast Planet: Critical, science historian Naomi Oreskes spoke about her new book, The Big Myth: How American Business Taught Us to Loathe Government and Love the Free Market, cowritten with Erik M. Conway. She explored why our climate is in crisis, detailing how institutions, lobbyists, and corporations continue to undermine democracy; and why a renewable world threatens the powers that be. Ultimately, Oreskes points out that the climate crisis is not a scientific problem, but a political, economic, and social issue. Oreskes is a professor at Harvard University who co-authored the bestselling book Merchants of Doubt, and has written nearly 200 scholarly papers and popular articles.

How Working For Place-Based Solutions Can Change The World

In a world of onrushing crises, where the level of change required to meet them boggles the mind, even as too many trends are moving in the wrong direction, questions of “What will be enough?” and “Can it come soon enough?” surge to the foreground. There must be a place to begin grappling with the complex questions of societal transformation. A place to grab hold and gain enough leverage to begin making fundamental changes. That place is the communities and bioregions where we live. We must begin to build the future in place. Clearly we are over the line ecologically, as the planetary boundaries study I recently covered underscores.

‘New Economies’ And The Rebuilding Of Democratic Power

In September 2023, I joined the New Economies gathering in Rotterdam, hosted by the international philanthropic fund Partners for a New Economy. Convening 180 ‘changemakers’ from across Europe and the US, it was an opportunity to catch up on the latest developments across a movement to redesign the economy, with sessions on the impact of inequalities between the Global North and South, the consequences of international debt and currency hierarchies, the disruptions of AI technologies, and tensions surrounding the extractive role of private capital in green infrastructure investment.

Network In Defense Of Humanity: Current Challenges After Two Decades

Within the framework of the II International Meeting of Theoretical Publications of Leftist Parties and Movements this morning at the Havana Convention Palace, the Network in Defense of Humanity (REDH) held a forum which brought together 92 leading intellectuals, and academics from 35 countries, the meeting of the Network in Defense of Humanity – REDH at the Palace of the Conventions here in Havana. The REDH, as explained by José Ernesto Novaez, Coordinator of the Cuban Chapter, is based on ten principles initiated and approved in 2004 in how to act in defense of the planet, the integration of peoples, the building of solidarity,  sovereignty and international legality, unity in diversity and of culture for all, access to knowledge for all, popular participation, truthfulness and plurality of information, memory and peace; under which certain lines were drawn on how to act within the scenario of the resurgence of current neo-fascism.

We Know A Different World Will Be Born Out Of This Mess

‘The West is in danger’, warned Argentina’s new president, Javier Milei at this year’s World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos, Switzerland. In his dangerously appealing style, Milei blamed ‘collectivism’ – that is, social welfare, taxes, and the state – as the ‘root cause’ of the world’s problems, leading to widespread impoverishment. The only way forward, Milei declared, is through ‘free enterprise, capitalism, and economic freedom’. Milei’s speech marked a return to the orthodoxy of Milton Friedman and the Chicago Boys, who pushed forward an ideology of social cannibalism as the basis for their neoliberal agenda.

Planning For Degrowth

There was an article in Nature from late 2022 on degrowth that got some sudden attention over the holidays because economists and tech bros noticed it and turned out on social media to do some hating. In fact the lead author, Jason Hickel, claimed on Ex-Twitter that as a result the paper was the most-read on Nature during the break. Regular readers here will know that my main issue with the idea of “degrowth” is the name—that if you’re trying to change behaviour around an idea that is deeply culturally embedded in 250 years of modernity, it’s best (a) not to do it head-on, and (b) not to frame it as a negative. But I’ll park that for now.

Commons And Commoning: A Progressive Vision Of A Good Society

Established systems don't welcome fundamentally new ideas – even when they desperately need them, even if people are clamoring for them. Entrenched systems see new ideas and logics as disruptive. They see them as threatening and even incomprehensible. And yet, as Albert Einstein famously said, "Problems cannot be solved with the same mindset that created them." We're at an impasse today because contemporary institutions keep bringing the same mindset to solving problems that need some fresh and strikingly different approaches. The many problems afflicting agriculture and the food system today are fundamentally similar to those afflicting the rest of society. They are just another theater for rentier capitalism, which relies on market/state collusion, extractivism of nature, and systemic precarity for many ordinary people.

Opening A New Path On Climate And The Future

Of the many climate struggles going on today, the great one, played out in hundreds of arenas around the world, is the struggle to rein in and then halt the buildup of greenhouse gases. Gaining ever-more attention is the struggle to adapt to the climate impacts already upon us. But there is a new struggle that needs to be joined now: the struggle to learn from our mistakes — the Big Mistake of climate catastrophe. What is it about our society, our economy, our politics, and our culture that has let this giant failing happen? What is it that has led us to this tragedy? There are a set of readily available answers to this question, the conventional wisdom of the matter.

What Abandoning Fossil Fuels Could Look Like In The Arab World

For the second year in a row, world leaders met in the Arab world to negotiate the future of the planet. As a backdrop to the United Nations climate conference in Dubai, it’s a fitting venue for a planet-wide shift that scientists say needs to happen: The region has extensive deposits of oil and gas, but also immense, untapped potential for renewable energy. Over the past several years, European governments and corporations have made moves to capitalize off this potential, investing in sprawling mega-projects to capture the sun’s energy from the region’s vast deserts and export the electricity north.

Ideas For Living Through The Great Unraveling

This year Post Carbon Institute has leaned into the “Great Unraveling” as a label for framing what’s happening in modern society and the natural world. In short, the Great Unraveling represents humanity’s comeuppance from overshoot, a time when debts are coming due and the promise of everlasting growth is fading. Since the Industrial Revolution, we’ve experienced an unprecedented expansion of the human footprint, mostly driven by fossil fuel consumption and marked by inequality, that has put us in a precarious position. Humanity’s use of energy and materials, as well as the scale of our polluting emissions, have surpassed what the Earth’s biosphere can sustain.

Jacob John’s Call For Justice And Unity

On Thursday, September 28, 2023, a harrowing and racially motivated incident occurred while members of the united states climate action network, members of local Tewa tribes, various Pueblos, Indigenous and Hispano community at large and Española/Rio Arriba County citizens came together for a spiritual convening/ceremony to continue to pray for a favorable resolution against the reinstallation of the Don de Oñate monument in front of the Rio Arriba County Offices.  Invoking prayers from the future to weave a bond of spiritual unity, Jacob Johns (Akimel O’otham and Hopi) a community supported organizer and member of USCAN was not just a participant, he was invited to deepen his spiritual involvement by partaking in an overnight prayer vigil on Wednesday evening, prior to a larger gathering the next morning.

Transforming Suburbia

From the street, anyone would notice something different about these two properties in the middle of this bi focal suburban block in Eugene, Oregon. The houses on one side of the street date from the mid 50’s, the other side, larger and two stories, have replaced a wholesale nursery over the past 15 years. The two quarter acre properties of interest here, are green all the way to the street with food producing trees, brambles, vines. One place, notably, does not have a driveway. My property is a permaculture landmark in the Pacific Northwest. Literally, thousands of people have visited over the years to see what a nothing special suburban property can become.

Manifiesta 2023: 15,000 Voices Amplify Call For Solidarity And Hope

Approximately 15,000 people gathered in Ostend, Belgium, on September 9-10 for the latest edition of the solidarity festival Manifiesta. This year’s festival was an enormous success and featured additional programs designed to immerse visitors in the event. Music performances by Meteor and Axelle Red drew large crowds during the evenings, but so did Chris Smalls from the Amazon Labor Union, as he reminded listeners that the workers’ struggle is “a marathon, rather than a sprint.” The experience of building the Amazon Labor Union serves as a practical example of the possibility of creating a different world, a message that Manifiesta’s organizers are eager to convey in Belgium and on a global scale.

Learning From Chile: Navigating Complexities Of Political Crises

Twenty years of grassroots organizing by Black and Latinx community organizations, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), and the broad Left propelled CTU organizer Brandon Johnson to victory in the April 2023 Chicago mayoral race. Similarly, across the country, progressive and left organizations are focusing on electoral politics as a central arena of struggle. These campaigns are part of a larger motion—a new generation of social movements, union organizing, and Black-led uprisings against racist state violence—provoked by intertwined political, economic, social, and ecological crises in the US and globally. Yet our movements and campaigns lack political cohesion.
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