Introduction to The Next Economy
Capitalism is collapsing under the weight of itself, and it’s not pretty. The planet is fighting back against our abuse of the environment, geopolitical tensions are escalating in tandem with popular confusion and panic, and we have levels of income inequality that would make a robber baron blush. In a sense, transition away from the limitless extraction and profit creation is actually a logical necessity. Our current macro-economy is predicated on the notion GDP will rise exponentially, that more money will be created to pay the interest on the loans that buttress our economy, and that material resources will be used to create the value to fuel those forms of growth. Infinite growth in world of finite resources isn’t practicable math.
The next fifty years will bring a tremendous transition; the question is what that transition will look like. Will it look like a return to the awe, connection, and resilience that is indigenous to all of hearts; or will it look like tech-fueled tyrants using wealth and power to protect themselves against a collapse of civilization? The arc of the moral universe is long, but it only bends toward justice when cast our vision to the future and start pulling.
The feature section for this issue is about a movement that is doing exactly that. It is known by many names: new economy, next economy, solidarity economy, and just transition are just a few. It is comprised of a complex ecosystem of people, communities, organizations, ideas, and strategies all focused on one goal: finding a way to supply our material needs in way that actualizes our highest ideals about humanity while regenerating the life sustaining capacity of our planet.
The thing that distinguishes this movement from others is its theory of change. It seeks to create new economies, new ways of managing resources and needs, right now. It is not primarily concerned with building enough power or will to seize existing means of production and distribution or occupying existing governance systems; it is concerned with creating new means, no matter what scale, in the face of an economic apparatus that attempts to render all alternatives impossible. As new solutions that implement shared power, shared ownership, shared responsibility, and shared destiny claim bits of physical, psychic, and experiential terrain, the movement networks them together to create a mycelium that will nourish the soil of a new world. What may appear to the untrained eye as a worker owned bakery, a non-profit credit union, a community revolving loan fund, or a local CSA is actually evidence of a sophisticated network of enterprises building a new world right here in the shell of the old; and it uses every new experiment to incubate ideas that will feed everything else in the system.
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Tikkun 2018 Volume 33, Number 3:16-17