Emily Kawano: When we think about going “beyond capitalism,” what’s that got to do with owning our economy? Ownership is more than just owning stuff. It’s really a bundle of rights that are individual, social, and collective. There is an increasing interest these days in challenging and rethinking these rights of ownership. Why is that? Well, I think it’s partly because there are these convergent crises. This is a pivotal and historic moment; it doesn’t come around all the time. There are many converging crises: climate change; ecological destruction; increasing inequality, which is leading to a concentration of wealth and power, and clearly undermining democracy; our slide towards fascism, which is leveraging racism, xenophobia, and white supremacy. All these things are converging, but these converging crises have also shaken people’s faith in the dominant capitalist system, and people are more open to thinking about system change. The whole shebang, so system change beyond capitalism. That’s where we’re getting with the “beyond capital.” At the end of the day, capitalism is a social construction, right? We human beings created it. It’s not even that old, a little more than 200 years old. And if it isn’t serving the common good and Mother Earth, we have not only the duty, but we have the power, to change it. It is a social construction. It’s not a natural law of motion like gravity.
Solidarity Economy is a global movement. It’s a framework that connects Solidarity Economy practices, which are grounded in principles and values of solidarity, participatory democracy, equity in all dimensions, sustainability, and pluralism. In that sense, it’s not a one size fits all model. We embrace that Solidarity Economy will look very different in different places and different cultures and different periods of time. And all that is welcome. We’re all heading towards the same goal of an economy and world that serve the people and the planet.
What does this all have to do with owning our economy? Ownership, again, doesn’t just mean owning stuff. It’s not about what is mine. It’s about having a voice. It’s about having standing. It’s about having control. We’re particularly interested in thinking about collective ownership—so collective control, voice, stewardship, and democratization—so that we all have a right to have that standing and to have that voice. We can think about ownership and democratization along a whole spectrum of things. For example, in the workplace, in community decision making and governance, in terms of crafting policies that serve the common good, in terms of stewarding natural resources, in terms of stewarding Mother Earth, and in terms of ensuring that we have access to clean air and clean water. We can think about democratization of land and housing, we can think about collective democratization of capital and finance. Collective ownership across all these spheres is not only about creating practices of Solidarity Economy. It’s also giving us a base of power, a foundation of power, that ownership, that voice that’s built in and recognized, which is where we really can build our power as a movement and then give birth to a transformation to a post-capitalist Solidarity Economy.