Friday, November 14, 2014

Change Everything

Being a socialist is possessing the ability to look at the world as if it could be otherwise. It is the capacity to envision alternative possibilities for our communities and our world which  makes social change possible because an understanding of what might be gives us a perspective from which to challenge things as they are, as well as the hope and determination we need to build something different.

Socialism rejects one-size-fits-all economic blueprints and instead seeks to identify diverse instances of liberatory livelihood practice, linking them together in mutually supportive networks. Socialism implies the use of direct democracy, it does not necessitate the use of any one form of decision making. The goal is to be flexible and responsive, so that all voices are heard and empowering relationships are created. Participatory democracy is a system that facilitates the active involvement of individuals in all important decisions and institutions affecting their lives. Rather than being a static system, participatory democracy is a constant process of contention and transformation.

Usufruct is the right to use and enjoy the “fruits” of a given resource, as long as the resource itself is preserved. The term comes from Roman property law, but is also used to describe ancient and Indigenous land-use paradigms in which land is held in common while individuals retain the right to hunt, fish, garden, or otherwise use the land sustainably. Usufruct is a key tenet of commons economies, offering a more just and sustainable alternative to private ownership. It is a recognition that we do not own the land and its resources — we are stewards, maintaining and improving our world for future generations.

Any control we have over the assets of this planet may be a gift from nature and our ancestors, but one thing is for sure: our dominion is only temporary. Others bequeathed us these assets, and others will depend upon them after we are gone. Stewardship, as opposed to ownership, embraces this reality. Whereas ownership suggests a right to do as we please, stewardship emphasizes our responsibility to protect, cultivate, and serve that which nourishes us.

In pre-capitalist times, shared commons were the source of sustenance for most people. Capitalism have now privatized and depleted much of the commons and under capitalism, common wealth is appropriated for profit . To counter this, we need to reclaim and strengthen both the commons and the institutions that sustain them. A commonwealth means that ownership of the economic foundations of society is shared in common and democratized.

There is enough. Enough sunlight, wind, and water to nourish us and power our tools, enough roofs for everyone to sleep under one, enough work for everyone to have a livelihood, enough knowledge to keep teaching and learning forever. We start to believe there is not enough when we feel we need to own what could be shared, when we assign market value disconnected from use value, when those in power amass vast fortunes through stealing, hiding, and holding out of reach. A society that cultivates abundance does not treat human needs as something to be bought and sold, resists a culture that uses the perception of scarcity to obscure problems of distribution and discourage generosity, restores sovereignty, and operates on principles of solidarity and mutual aid.

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