These are times of upheaval, with greater changes rapidly approaching. Times of uncertainty and fear. These are also times of opportunity. Can we use this collapse to envision and build more just communities?
I believe we can. But first, we need to understand the injustices the capitalist economic system is based upon. And use this understanding to guide the development of mutual aid communities. which reject capitalism.
It is difficult to escape the status quo. But that is the only way we can protect and heal Mother Earth and build communities for future generations. The status quo in this country is about preserving the capitalist economic system and White superiority. Maintaining the status quo will only deepen environmental devastation and collapse. And collapse of the systems built on capitalism.
The eyes of the future are looking back at us, and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time. They are kneeling with hands clasped that we might act with restraint, that we might leave room for the life that is destined to come.Terry Tempest Williams
The Seventh Generation Principle is based on an ancient Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) philosophy that the decisions we make today should result in a sustainable world seven generations into the future.
I’ve had my own experiences of looking back and trying to help people “to see beyond our own time“. Over fifty years ago, I moved to Indianapolis, a big change for a farm boy. I was not prepared for the noxious clouds of auto exhaust enshrouding the city. I was led to live without a car. Of course, that was not the status quo.
Looking back to that time, I feel sorrow for what might have been. How different the world would be if we had rejected the car culture in this country. Our cities and towns would have been built to be walkable. Land would not be covered by asphalt and concrete. Most importantly, we would have been able to live in a sustainable manner and would not be on a path toward extinction.
Looking back now, who doesn’t wish we had rejected the car culture in this country? Wish we had not let banks and fossil fuel companies rape the earth?
If those who lived prior to the rise of the car culture could have visited our world today, to see the disastrous consequences we are dealing with now, I believe many people who lived then would have chosen to live a different (sustainable) lifestyle.
Wealth is attended with power, by which bargains and proceedings, contrary to universal righteousness, are supported; and hence oppression, carried on with worldly policy and order, clothes itself with the name of justice and becomes like a seed of discord in the soul.John Woolman, “A Plea for the Poor.”
As the sign in the photo above says, Colonial Capitalism = 7th Generation Genocide
Despite trying every way I could think of, regardless of my prayers, I was not able to convince others to give up their car. People chose convenience over care for Mother Earth and future generations.
It is the same when I urge others to build alternatives to capitalism. Those who are comfortable economically strongly resist any suggestion to abandon capitalism. Capitalism is the materialism Martin Luther King warned about. “The giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism”.
How has hunger for millions become acceptable? Houselessness? Lack of access to medical care? Police brutality? Locking people away for years for nonviolent crime? Profligate consumption of nonrenewable fossil fuels? Poisoning water?
As Americans honor King on his birthday, it is important to remember that the civil rights icon was also a democratic socialist, committed to building a broad movement to overcome the failings of capitalism and achieve both racial and economic equality for all people.
Capitalism “has brought about a system that takes necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes,” King wrote in his 1952 letter to Scott. He would echo the sentiment 15 years later in his last book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?: “Capitalism has often left a gap of superfluous wealth and abject poverty [and] has created conditions permitting necessities to be taken from the many to give luxuries to the few.”
In his famous 1967 Riverside Church speech, King thundered, “When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”
“What good is having the right to sit at a lunch counter,” King is widely quoted as asking, “if you can’t afford to buy a hamburger?” In King’s view, the Greensboro lunch counter sit-ins, the voter registration drives across the South and the Selma to Montgomery march comprised but the first phase of the civil rights movement. In Where Do We Go From Here, King called the victories of the movement up that point in 1967 “a foothold, no more” in the struggle for freedom. Only a campaign to realize economic as well as racial justice could win true equality for African-Americans. In naming his goal, King was unflinching: the “total, direct, and immediate abolition of poverty.”
THE FORGOTTEN SOCIALIST HISTORY OF MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. By Matthew Miles Goodrich, In These Times, January 16, 2023
What will the eyes of the future see when they look back upon us today? How will they feel about the state of the world we are leaving them?
What are we willing to do now to make the world a better place for ourselves and future generations?
- Radically reduce our fossil fuel consumption?
- Continue to build renewable energy infrastructure?
- Resist false solutions such as carbon capture?
- Reject capitalism?
- Reject White superiority?
- Build Mutual Aid communities?
There is an urgent need for reflection on these questions. And to seek and implement ways to answer them.
mutual aid is the new economy. mutual aid is community. it is making sure your elderly neighbor down the street has a ride to their doctor’s appointment. mutual aid is making sure the children in your neighborhood have dinner, or a warm coat for the upcoming winter. mutual aid is planting community gardens.
capitalism has violated the communities of marginalized folks. capitalism is about the value of people, property and the people who own property. those who have wealth and property control the decisions that are made. the government comes second to capitalism when it comes to power.
in the name of liberation, capitalism must be reversed and dismantled. meaning that capitalistic practices must be reprogrammed with mutual aid practices.Des Moines Black Liberation
“Quakers will only be truly prophetic when they risk a great deal of their accumulated privilege and access to wealth. Prophets cannot have a stake in maintaining the status quo. Any attempt to change a system while benefiting and protecting the benefits received from the system reinforces the system. Quakers as much as anyone not only refuse to reject their white privilege, they fail to reject the benefits they receive from institutionalized racism, trying to make an unjust economy and institutionalized racism and patriarch more fair and equitable in its ability to exploit. One cannot simultaneously attack racist and patriarchal institutions and benefit from them at the same time without becoming more reliant upon the benefits and further entrenching the system. Liberalism at its laziest.”Scott Miller
How can Friends achieve the 2022 theme of World Quaker Day, “Becoming the Quakers the World Needs,” while functioning in a blatantly and politically corrupt, racialized world? In engagement with this exciting theme, offered by the Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC), the Black Quaker Project would like to remind Friends of the tools at our disposal to challenge those aspects of society which we wish to change and to see changed. Our fractured societies are further divided by enormous gaps of inequality in almost every imaginable category—psychological, social, political, cultural, economic. How might we, as Quakers, achieve justice, equity, and peace under these circumstances?Black Quaker Project