Nurturing Revolution

Nurturing Revolution

The system, whether broken or doing exactly what it’s meant to do in colonial and racial contexts, will always conjure resistance. Even as it crumbles, it exerts every effort to cling on and drag down its surroundings. We understand the current system as violent and, at worst, a sore loser. It resembles the individual who would rather burn down their own home than allow a new community to thrive within it. We witness this in the rhetoric of politicians who vilify alternative economic and philosophical models, in the systemic neglect of basic health and labor rights across the nation, and in the selective enforcement by cops who seem quick to disrupt and arrest peaceful protests while turning a blind eye to the actions of neo-Nazis. However, while resistance is enduring and essential, sustaining ourselves within these challenges becomes paramount, reframing sustainability as a form of resistance. Recognizing the importance of socioeconomic empowerment within movements, we embrace the dual imperatives of resistance and resilience. We’re emphasizing the critical need for activism and community advocacy to champion alternative economies that prioritize and successfully protect the most vulnerable while also creating an abundant environment.

The evolution of radical activism and the disruption of the status quo will most likely include emerging community-driven initiatives, innovative economic models, and transformative cooperative efforts. We must lay the groundwork for a revolutionary paradigm that not only demolishes oppressive structures but also fosters resilient, people-centered communities.

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The Problem: Navigating a Flawed System

Reimagining our community began with a realization of the systemic flaws we faced within the movement. For weeks, months, and years, we witnessed the struggles of our community as essential needs went unmet and the vitality of local initiatives began to wither away. Organizations come and go, policies extend and contract, and initiatives rarely scale, expand, or adapt to other demanding neighborhoods. Those that lasted relied on capitalism in some way. This is not an isolated incident; it is the direct result of a system that aggressively diverts resources away from the areas where they are most needed, rather through material or political means. The success of past resistance movements has demonstrated that change is not only possible but also achievable. However, amidst the progress, there looms the presence of a counterbalance—the fear-mongering rhetoric of ‘You’ve destroyed our nation.’ It’s crucial to recognize that what is crumbling within this system is not the fabric of our society but rather the structures of the economy as we know it today. We must acknowledge that poverty stems from systemic issues, failed leadership, and division. At a cost that is occasionally as low as an American flag emoji or a raised fist emoji, greed consumes the lives of all individuals. Therefore, the responsibility lies with us, as citizens, to step forward toward a solidarity economic system that fulfills the safety net. A broad stance through the fearmonger and into the center of all our needs. Only then can we truly achieve a collective revolution.

The financial funnel, which fuels corporate stakeholders rather than community stakeholders, is a clear example of this problem. This was most evident during the pandemic when we saw corporations like Walmart and Amazon grow $116 billion richer during the pandemic—35 times the total hazard pay given to more than 2.5 million Amazon and Walmart workers. When we purchase a pack of water for mutual aid, the money goes to the supermarket owner, who in turn pays their employees. However, the majority of those employees direct their earnings toward purchases, often from mega-capitalist entities such as Amazon, and those funds end up in the pockets of politicians with the corporation’s interests in mind. Even if one chooses to support Black-owned businesses, the currency somehow eludes the grassroots efforts on the ground where it’s needed most. Meanwhile, on-the-ground organizations are pushed to conform to the expectations of investors and sponsors, and the cycle of exploitation continues. This funnel only serves to reinforce the very system that exploits us in the first place.

The Solution:

How do we replace this aggressive and failing system while staying true to our movements? The struggles we see today aren’t due to a lack of resources, but rather a lack of interconnectedness within our community. Our comrade (Unapologetic) Angie has said something like, “We don’t lack people or power; we lack organizational efforts” (I’m paraphrasing). This challenge is multifaceted and rooted in a variety of valid concerns, including issues of capacity and convenience. In a world where daily tasks already demand so much effort and sacrifice, the prospect of going the extra mile can feel like an unnecessary burden when capitalism is at your doorstep. This reality brings to light a fundamental truth: it’s often easier to follow the path of least resistance, even if it means indirectly supporting systems that counteract our collective goals. And that’s why building a solidarity economy should be considered a strong part of movements towards resistance against oppressive structures. Imagine if the hundreds of dollars spent on water, hygiene products, and other supplies for student protests on campuses went to the food cooperative rather than capitalism. We’d have more money to distribute and donate, most likely at a lower cost. Collaborative and organizational abilities are necessary for this.

The current systems, with all their flaws and inequalities, offer the allure of convenience. Breaking away from this convenience requires not only a reshaping of our habits but also profound confidence in where our dollar is going and why. It requires a willingness to put long-term struggle ahead of short-term convenience. In this struggle, wealth is circulated rather than funneled. If you want to tax the rich, hold corporations accountable, ensure affordable housing, reduce healthcare expenses, advance technological efficiency, safeguard vulnerable populations, and establish a universal basic income as well as food sovereignty, we must at least recognize that abruptly abandoning capitalism is akin to quitting opiates rather than cigarettes. Reversing the effects of wealth extraction in our communities, and continuing the lives of the most vulnerable in the opposite direction of the vicious cycle, requires a more tactical approach. Capitalism’s roots run deep within society, necessitating a thoughtful and gradual transition away from its grip.

Coalitions In Affect

There are two types of coalitions we can build within a solidarity economy: vertical supply chain networks, which help with the production and distribution of goods and services, and horizontal affinity groups, which pool purchasing power. The supply chain connects consumers to natural resources, including everything from the clothes we wear to the food we eat. Consider a product made from Supima cotton, which is grown extensively in the United States. Beginning on a farm, cotton may go through refineries, distribution centers, and manufacturers on its way to retail stores and, finally, to the homes of consumers at the “bottom” of the supply chain. Affinity groups, on the other hand, allow consumers to leverage their collective purchasing power to negotiate lower prices and get better deals on products and services at any stage of the supply chain. This type of horizontal coalition, which could form throughout the vertical supply chain, could include a coalition of self-defense instructors who buy in bulk for community distribution and a coalition of farmers who work with community land trusts.

By investing in a product, even if it is produced within a capitalist system, through an affinity group, we can significantly reduce wealth extraction. Conversely, keeping our dollars within the solidarity economic supply chain, or within a vertical coalition, increases wealth retention. For instance, when organizations collaborate in a horizontal coalition focused on public transportation, purchasing a fleet of electric vehicles presents an opportunity. If these vehicles are sourced from capitalist entities, bulk purchasing may secure a favorable deal, but the money leaves the community. This diminishes our ability to support each other during emergencies. In contrast, procuring the vehicles from a cooperative manufacturer within the vertical supply chain not only secures a deal but also ensures that the coalition retains funds for sustainable reproduction or meeting members’ needs in crises. This is just one example of the benefits of wealth retention. Manufacturers participating in a solidarity economy are more likely to reinvest in the community, fostering greater economic resilience and mutual support.

When we need to stop supporting corporations for bad behavior, solidarity economics supports us in those goals. Whenever companies or politicians are implicated in funding genocide or other atrocities, divestment campaigns gain momentum, drawing participation from a broader base than scattered individual efforts alone. While divestment campaigns today wield significant influence, their impact could be even greater if entire districts, cities, and states united to reject corruption outright. This collective action not only holds culpable parties accountable but also empowers communities to shape their economic destinies. By joining forces to divest from unethical entities, communities can redirect resources towards sustainable and socially responsible investments, thereby bolstering local economies and fostering a culture of ethical consumerism. Despite the challenges posed by sourcing from oppressive regimes or environmentally destructive practices, we possess the agency to effect change. Start from the ground and work your way globally.

Revolutionizing Finances

Throughout history, capitalism has used a variety of tools to maintain its power and silence opposition. These tactics include propaganda, state-sanctioned repression, and the establishment of legal frameworks. These are just a few examples, but we understand that capitalism thrives not because it is inherently superior, but because it has leveraged humanity’s resilience to maintain its dominance while also being oppressive. And the prices we pay are clearly reflected in poor transportation, rent increases, stagnant wages, food and health-care overpricing, mass incarceration, and so on. If we shift our attention elsewhere, and do things differently, capitalism tends to panic, resulting in one of two things: militarization or adaptation.

Consider the historical impact of initiatives that challenged capitalism’s economic interests. The Black Panther Party’s Free Breakfast for School Children Program and the Jane Collective’s provision of safe abortions disrupted the capitalist status quo by meeting critical community needs outside the profit-driven market. These initiatives, serving thousands then and continuing today, highlight a formula that compels systemic adaptation. To dismantle capitalism, whether wholly or sectorially, we must not only critique its flaws but actively engage in developing and promoting alternative economic models that prioritize collective well-being.

However, beneath capitalism’s militarization, there is a disturbing trend toward fascism. In recent years, the Proud Boys, Three-Percenters, Patriot Front, and other nationalist, racist, xenophobic, and fascist organizations have gained prominence. Neo-Nazis march openly through the streets, avoiding public safety intervention. While direct action can be used to combat fascism, policy-level strategies are also important. Building coalitions focused on solidarity in economic systems gives people more power, threatening capitalism’s grip. By meeting people’s needs, we challenge the system in which corporations influence politicians, the police are unaccountable, and propaganda spreads fear. It is our responsibility to build resilience and free people from insecurity and manipulation. This can be accomplished through the work you are already doing: community organizing, education, and advocacy for policies that prioritize human rights and equality. Working together, despite our differences, we can build a more inclusive and equitable society that rejects fear and challenges the extraction of community wealth.

The Path Forward

It is evident that group action is necessary for true transformation when we consider the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. Beyond criticism and theory, we need to take concrete actions that strengthen communities and topple oppressive structures. Now is the time to take action. First, let’s build coalitions in our social circles, workplaces, and neighborhoods. Imagine self-defense groups coming together to guarantee safety and autonomy, food cooperatives working together to combat food insecurity, or artists organizing to reclaim venues for expression and creativity. These are but a few examples of the strength we possess when we unite around a common goal. Justice, equality, and abundance can become realities in our world by constructing solidarity economies and reshaping the existing quo.

THANK YOU FOR READING

Contributor:

Vic Stizzi

Community Strategist / Creative Director

“Bang on the system”

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