This week we will read two texts that offer different approaches to situating economic alternatives in the here and now.

First, we would like you to read Standing on Solid Ground: A Materialist Ecological Feminismby Gwyn Kirk. As part of a collection of essays on materialist feminism, Kirk’s essay demonstrates how the struggles for economic justice, gender equality, and environmental sustainability are deeply intertwined. As a primer to materialist feminist practice, Kirk introduces us to how this theoretical framework can help organize anti-capitalist resistance around a number of seemingly disparate issues: from agricultural development and biotechnology to women’s health and militarization. Despite its theoretical undercurrent, however, the essay clearly gestures toward action we can take today, in the here and now.

Second, we would like you to read Socialism in America Is Closer Than You Think,” a 2016 Nation article by Gar Alperovitz, author of America Beyond Capitalism. This article is an extension of last week’s discussion concerning “real utopias,” identifying the many anti-capitalist structures that already exist all around us. Citing the growing dissatisfaction with today’s economic system, Alperovitz dares to imagine what a 21st-century socialism would look like in America.

Finally, we would like you to take a little time to find your own examples of real, already existing economic alternatives. Consider using Gar Alperovitz’s Nation article as a starting place, Googling some of the locations or initiative listed to find out a little bit more about their goals, success, and scale. You can also take a peek at this Huffington Post article listing nine existing “Utopias” if you like. We will take some time next week to discuss the value (and possible shortcomings) of these various approaches to economic justices.

Discussion Questions

  • In “Standing on Solid Ground,” Gwyn Kirk introduces A Materialist Ecological Feminism — What is involved in creating sustainable economies worldwide? How can we work toward this change? How can materialist ecological feminism foreground how capitalist structures differently affect women, people of color, and political minorities in terms of their concrete economic and social conditions?
  • What examples of working alternatives did you find? What did you like about them? What could be improved? To what extent do they smash, erode, escape, and tame capitalism? What specific aspects of capitalism does it seek to fix? What negative aspects of capitalism does it overlook/not address?
  • How do the readings help us think about economic justice issues of scale? (it’s relatively easy to imagine and organize something like a community garden, but what does a sustainable network of community gardens across the nation or world look like? Or, alternatively, what can we do against the immense scale of multinational corporations that are disproportionately responsible for global environmental degradation?).
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