It was a pleasure to read Julie Matthaei’s essay on feminism and revolution. What a useful retrospective of the feminist movement and the progressive expansion of its sphere of concern to other races and sexual orientations, to our relationship with nature (as eco-feminism), finally breaking away from identity politics to embrace a solidarity politics that is committed to eliminating all forms of inequality and oppression. The new form of feminism, going to the root of systemic oppression (by way of patriarchy and capitalism), is presented to be the solidarity economy framework. This framework is focused on offering solutions, instead of struggling with the status quo: “We must keep shifting the lens from resist to build, from what we are against to what we are for, and inspire ourselves with the many solidarity economy examples around the world.”
I appreciate what is implied in this evolution of the feminist movement: reaching out across divides and finding common ground. From these commonalities, creating joint platforms of action, such as the Women’s March, which had an enormous impact around the world, creating visibility and attractiveness for the values it espouses. This provides a powerful example for all progressive organizations nowadays, encouraging an attitude and orientation towards movement building. What is also implied in this evolution towards the solidarity economy framework is the willingness to research, create, or identify new forms of livelihoods and economic arrangements away from the conventional capitalist system, that aim to embody the new values of sufficiency, well-being, and solidarity, away from consumerism, marketization, nationalism, and self-interest, as a recent article in Kosmos magazine suggests.1 This evolution towards a model of relationship that is egalitarian, instead of domination-based, requires a fundamental shift at both the micro and the macro levels.
This is very inspiring to us, as we have been creating an ecovillage in Colombia for twelve years, exploring different alternatives to effectively build community and take care of our environment in a commitment to foster egalitarian relationships.2 We can attest to the complexity of this in practice, as we often fall into attitudes of resistance and domination, as we have all been indoctrinated in these distortions. What it takes to shift the values in practice is the constant willingness to observe oneself and others compassionately, not from judgment and punishment. At the core, these are communities of practice that promote new ways of being; they are like a dojo in the martial arts, where every day we fall down, and get back up with an aspiration of resilience and willingness to learn—“falling down” meaning when we fall back into patterns of domination and oppression of others.
These communities of practice that serve as prototypes of the new world being born need a mixed approach. This involves living in a way that actively seeks to create new ways of being and doing things, but also adapting to the capitalist system for certain income streams. It is hard to isolate oneself completely from the system, so attitudes that are flexible, that find creative ways to blend the new with the conventional seem appropriate at this time. As an example, while we are exploring ways to exchange our goods and services through time banks and other ways to enhance our collective abundance, we are also creating a more conventional eco-tourism business to attract people who are willing to pay for a weekend away in nature, in order to subsidize our alternative project.
As the two loops of systems change model suggests, I understand there is a decaying system and a new system being born simultaneously, and many roles to play in both, to encourage the next phase of our human evolution.3 We can reach out to actors in the current capitalist system to help support the new alternatives through funding, mentoring, and strategizing, so that our alternatives benefit from the learning and structure of the system. Many alternative initiatives lack rigor and structure and become amorphous, or too fluid. I think at the bottom of this there is a resistance to anything that remotely resembles the current system. This attitude can be detrimental. I intuitively support an integrative approach to evolution, which seeks to include and transcend. A reject-and-transcend model will leave new initiatives lacking in important ways, thus more vulnerable to disintegration.
Finally, as the work of Otto Scharmer suggests, we are at a time where we need to exchange ideas and build common platforms that link change agents, to accelerate systems change.4 GTI is such a platform for sure. How can we go beyond theories and exchange practices, do learning journeys, and learn from the praxis of the new alternatives being born and that have potential to replicate and scale? Many of us are hungry to learn from other like-minded people pursuing the solidarity economy framework, and wonder about lessons learned, new approaches, new methods and insights. I applaud such networks currently working on this, such as BALLE (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies). I am feeling hopeful for all the resources we have in hand to communicate and exchange ideas, even if just virtually, and have an experimental approach to put them in practice quickly. My sense is that building local resilience through the solidarity economy framework is a matter of survival in the event of a disaster, a market crash, or any disruption—that seems increasingly likely.
Thank you for offering hope and a clear picture of evolution of a movement that is increasingly open and aware of the surrounding needs of humanity, and flexible to expand and build bridges as is needed today.
1. Micha Narberhaus, “Towards a New Activism to Effectively Support a Transition to a Post-Growth Economy,” Kosmos (Fall-Winter 2014), http://www.kosmosjournal.org/article/towards-a-new-activism-to-effectively-support-a-transition-to-a-post-growth-economy/.
2. Read more at http://www.aldeafeliz.com.
3. The Berkana Institute, “Two Loops: How Systems Change,” December 16, 2010, http://tinyurl.com/y33mdp3c.
4. Weaving Influence, “The Essentials of Theory U – Otto Scharmer,” March 22, 2018, http://tinyurl.com/yam94odh.