There's a Broad Consensus Among Activists Across the Country — Is Social Change Around the Corner?
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Currently people are not only creating new systems, but they are questioning the stories that have been told to maintain the status quo and are recognizing that many of our restraints are artificial. People do have the ability to rethink the premises upon which we base our assumptions and to change their views and behaviors.
For decades we have been taught to believe in capitalism and neo-liberalism. We have been told that there will always be poor people and we must accept that. We’ve been told that wealth trickles down and that we should all compete to achieve the “American Dream.” We’ve thought that in order to achieve that dream we must go into debt. And we’ve believed that the people in power should be trusted to make decisions for us, that we didn’t have the capacity to make them.
All of that is changing and being turned in its head. Awareness is growing that we can do things differently. People are actively confronting the old ways through both resistance and the creation of new approaches or the re-emergence of older methods. One area is the recognition that there are alternatives to debt-based economies. This is not a new idea. There were debt jubilees in ancient history.
In the article, “ Debt Refusal Essential To Rebuilding Popular Democracy,” the editor writes that “resisting debt is not only moral, it may be essential to re-envisioning a democracy built on legitimate bonds to our community.” StrikeDebt, which was organized out of Occupy Wall Street, teaches us that “working together to build greater economic democracy would mean weaving a dense, creative network where our debts are to each other, not to them (read: the big banks).”StrikeDebt created a Debt Resister’s Manual and is organizing a nationwide debt resistance movement. Their new manual is due out soon.
Another area of renaissance is globalization. To date, globalization has been based on the neoliberal economic model that leaves poverty and environmental destruction in its wake. But now that we understand these consequences , it is becoming more difficult for governments to continue on this path. A case in point is the current Trans-Pacific Partnership which was negotiated for years in secret and the plan was to pass it quietly through Congress using Fast Track. That effort has stalled for now and instead civil society groups are working together to redefine what global trade should look like and how it should be governed.
There is a call for ‘deglobalization’ which does not oppose global trade but refers to orienting trade so our communities can build local economies, to produce goods that are needed and to become more self-reliant. A detailed plan for this is outlined in the blog on systemic alternatives. They write that deglobalization is not about withdrawing from the world economy but is about restructuring it: “Today’s need is not another centralized global institution but the deconcentration and decentralization of institutional power and the creation of a pluralistic system of state and non-state institutions and organizations interacting with one another, guided by broad and flexible agreements and understandings, which receive their authority and legitimacy from below.”
We have an opportunity right now while trade deals are stalled to redefine global governance. Collectively, the people can confront the dominant paradigms and global power structure and rebirth a world grounded in the principles of human rights and protection of the planet. Resistance is not only protest, but includes acts of creation. When you get involved in your community to build democratized economies, you are part of the global transformation.