By Farzad Forouhar at Cooperation Humboldt
Imagine a little tiny baby hamster that you can hold in your palm. Usually, hamsters double their weight every week up to ten to twelve weeks and then stop growing. But what if your hamster does not stop growing? Well, by its first birthday, you have a ten-billion-ton hamster which would eat the entire yearly corn production of the world in one day. This is what unending growth looks like. It turns a cute, lovely hamster into a monster that exploits the resources of our world in less than a day. Now think of capitalism. Capitalism is like that hamster that does not stop growing. Same as the hamster that looks so adorable and innocuous at the beginning, so does capitalism. Nevertheless, as time goes further, capitalism, like the hamster, becomes something scary as it exploits our finite planet and its natural resources.
Although it seems innocuous, capitalism is a hegemonic discourse (a story the ruling class tells to justify its power) characterized by competitive, exploitative, individualistic, and divisive principles embodied in raced, classed, and gendered relations. It lacks diversity and pluralism in its view of the world and human beings. Everything and everyone are merely cogs in the machine with an expiration date. Capitalism degrades and desensitizes humans. In a capitalist society, people are nothing but mere numbers. You are what your credit score says you are. There is no sense of any humane values regarding people in this view, and we are compelled to consume and spend more to get our credit scores higher so we can spend more. A vicious circle! Capitalism exploits us by extracting the surplus-value and considers profit as its fundamental right and, on top of that, encourages us to consume, consume, and consume.
Going back to my example of the hamster, this monstrous creature of capitalism has some tentacles that it relies upon to survive, like colonialism, settler colonialism, imperialism, technology determinism, propaganda, and inadequate public education. These parts have a vital role in the resiliency and flexibility of capitalism that help it evolve throughout time and endure any threat to its existence. Nevertheless, we come to a point, a historical conjuncture, in which capitalism’s unending growth becomes its Achilles’ heel. Climate change, unprecedented global warming, increase in intensity and quantity of natural disasters like wildfires, floods, and longer hot seasons, along with species extinction, are a few to name. Our planet is finite, and capitalism exploited it to an irreversible extent.
Let us think divergent about organizing an economy that creates the most convivial ways of living, not just for people but for all inhabitants on the earth and the planet herself. The way to peace and sustainable living cannot be found in capitalism. Rather, the prevalence of capitalism and capitalist relations of production have weakened our infrastructures, exploited our natural resources, and devastated our planet. Nevertheless, there will come a time when we must reclaim our rights and alter the hegemonic narrative of capitalism. We need alternative, sustainable, and ecological growth schemes and economic solutions that allow us to be ourselves and work in concert with our planet and its inhabitants.
One opportunity to learn more about the alternative narratives and become ready for a post-capitalist world is the second Post-Capitalism Conference (PCC). This virtual conference will be held on April 22-25, 2021 by Cooperation Humboldt, The US Solidarity Economy Network, and Humboldt State University. The conference will be available online using the web platforms of Eventee, Zoom, and YouTube, along with being aired on television and radio stations, local and national.
This year’s virtual conference will provide an exceptional opportunity to expand the conversation about the post-capitalist world through the intellectual contributions of the organizers and guest speakers. Noam Chomsky and Kali Akuno will discuss the post-pandemic economy and share their thoughts on the potentials for a transition to a solidarity economy. Richard Wolff and Emily Kawano will ponder the solidarity economy as the best alternative to the capitalist economy. David Cobb and Michelle Vassel will reflect on regenerative economic development to re-indigenize. Anthony Silvaggio will talk about academic capitalism and assess the neoliberal approach of the California State University system. Jerome Scott will examine racial capitalism, and Kaitlin Reed will confer on capitalism’s impacts on the indigenous people of the United States. Trinity Tran will describe public banking as a burgeoning transformational way to democratize economic decisions.
These are just some of the speakers and topics that the Post-Capitalism Conference will offer. There will be twenty sessions over four days, and none of them will be competing against other sessions. If you are interested to know more about the Conference and the wide range of the topics provided by the experts who can think out of the box, go to the Cooperation Humboldt website to find out more. It will be an excellent opportunity for our small community in Northern California, especially those who imagine a better tomorrow, to tune in and broaden their perspective of a post-capitalist world.
In terms of the economics and the organization of life, one of our significant failings is a failure to address the question of scale and appropriateness of scale. The notion of scale gives us a lens that, by looking through it, we see a vision of more convivial and ecological ways of development and economic growth that is much more rooted in cultural and traditional practical knowledge and experience. The Post-Capitalism Conference is an excellent occasion that will help to tamper with the narrative of capitalism to create our own narrative; an ecological and sustainable narrative that is diverse and inclusive, acknowledges the history of the landscape and its people, respects the environment, and appreciates mother Earth and all her inhabitants.
I am looking forward to participating in the virtual conference together to enjoy this mental latticework and to discover the pearl of worldly wisdom.
Onward to the world we deserve!