In this section we describe what you can do as an individual to both protect yourself and fight back; what we can do in our communities and a draft Manifesto for Economic Justice (policy solutions).
The current situation is deeply unfair and deeply threatening to the future of humanity (and many other species). We have been told lies; told that this is the way things have to be, that nothing can be done, austerity is the way forwards, the market will come up with a solution. We are expected to be grateful for having job, whatever the conditions and those who need to have benefits are increasingly being attacked. We have suffered abuse for so long, often in invidious ways, it feels normal; it’s the status quo.
Ulrich Duchrow lists the resistance strategies that are described in the Hebrew Bible as the money system and inequality began to develop, together, in a land based economy, and strategies from the New Testament. This is a handy way to summarize our possible strategies today:
- Prophetic critique (speaking out about the evils of the present system)
- Demanding reform, such as the relief of debts, returning land lost through debt, forbidding taking a workman’s tools in settlement of a debt – ensuring everyone has a share in the means of production and is looked after in need (cf Jubilee Debt campaign, changing the money system).
- Resistance to totalitarian empires (no worshipping ‘The Markets’; withdrawing our money from main High Street banks; strikes and boycotts; other direct action)
- Developing alternatives (living alternatively, building alliances and support groups, developing co-ops, green and social enterprises, choosing to buy from the enterprises and systems we want to see; rebuilding localized fair structures, debt free money etc)
- Love/solidarity guiding actions as alternative to imperial law and greed
Actions you can take as an individual / family
- Build your resilience by reducing your dependence on a failing system! (tips from Chris Martenson)
- Reduce your need for energy for heating and transport. (go green a step at a time: pick some things you can do easily, then later add more)
- Reduce your debts and resist the pull to shop for things you don’t need. (here are some tips from Becoming Minimalist)
- Grow food at home and on allotments. (here’s an introduction to permaculture for growing food)
- Be an active part of your community, join local initiatives (see below)
- Join a campaign or union, fight back! (e.g. Positive money, Tax Justice UK, Jubilee Debt, Campaign against Climate change, Unions, Savory Institute, be inspired by coalition of the willing and automatic earth )
- Move Your Money from corrupt banks to ethical providers (see the UK campaign for details of why and where to put it)
- Shop local, ethical and fairtrade, join coops; who supplies your energy? (you can get lots of help from Ethical Consumer)
- Stay healthy; fasting and seasonal local food helps (Hugh Fearnley-whittingstall on the 5:2 diet (if you’re not overweight, two days a month is good for your health)
- Get informed outside the mainstream- fore-warned is forearmed- and have fun! (commentators and news channels: RT shows, Positive news)
- Spread economic literacy- share street school economics prezi and handout
Actions that can be taken by Communities
- Develop a local currency like the Stroud Pound (eg the Brixton Pound)
- Develop a local Community Supported Agriculture (how they work and an example in Stroud)
- Promote boycotts of tax-dodging companies (Ukuncut have some good ideas, find out the latesttargets on Tax Justice UK)
- Develop a local farmers market and online local shop (like Stroudco)
- Increase community owned renewable energy. (eg the Gloucestershire energy coop)
- Become a transition town and look for ways to localise the economy (check in with the transition network)
Draft Manifesto for Economic Justice
1. An Economy for the people and planet
Support the development of a mixed, locally-focussed economy: small private enterprises, larger cooperatives and public ownership of things best run as monopolies. (models from economic democracy, PROUT and Green economics, with useful lessons from peer progressives).
Thinking in ‘systems’ terms – taking full account of the spatial, temporal, human and ecological relationships required to meet our needs – and using the concepts of synergy and symbiosis:
- Seek and treat causes, not symptoms.
- Ensure that strategies identify (what economists call) ‘resource needs’ – in promoting renewable energy sources, for example – ensure that the skills base to install and maintain the technology is available … or can be developed.
- Ensure that spatial planning is not just about ‘land use’ – it has to be about (among other things) public transport, energy, water, amenities, participation. Development of the built environment cannot be piecemeal; public transport must be integrated, not run by ‘competing’ companies.
- See that ‘waste’ (including ‘waste heat’) from one process is an input to another.
- See the precautionary principle as some safeguard to the future
- See that actions lead to multiple beneficial outcomes – promoting cycling as a means of personal transport, for example, reduces carbon dependency, promotes good health and reduces noise pollution – but also requires design to ensure road safety.
2. Reduce the potential for corruption
- Tackle tax havens and tax dodging (Tackle taxhavens website and a manifesto for Tax Justice through the book Over Here and Undertaxed.)
- Tackle inequality which allows the wealthy to have a larger voice (more below)
- Limit the scale of political donations and lobbying (IDEA’s review and ideas for change)
- Support transparency in lobbying (see Who’s Lobbying for more details)
- Localise decision making as far as possible, introduce liquid democracy (a youtube clip on liquid democracy)
- Prosecute the board members of businesses who break the rules and tame corporations
3. Tackle the Debt Crisis and prevent another from happening
- Re-introduce capital controls (see commentaries by NEF)
- Re- regulate the financial sector to give complete separation ordinary banking and investments (See the Charter for a new Financial System). Use a Financial
Transaction Tax to reduce speculation to a minimum. Loans should only be made as sound investments.” (Examples are given here and here)
- Make it illegal for any enterprise other than the State and local cooperatives to create the nation’s money (and create money as a credit not debt)
- Run a citizens debt audit and cancel toxic debts owed by Governments (CADTM outline debt audits)
- Instigate a Modern Debt Jubilee – give everyone some money to pay off debts (Steve Keens’ proposal for a modern debt jubilee)
- Spend money into the Economy through a Green New Deal
- Put credit into the economy by giving everyone a Citizens income
4. Transform from an economy based on fossil fuels to renewables with reduced consumption
- Undertake a “Great Transition” of the economy as outlined by NEF
- Localise food production through cooperative, permaculture farms (Colin Tudge is good to follow on these issues)
- Use Green taxes, regulations and tariffs to reduce carbon footprints and pollution (more here)
- Invest in energy efficiency, renewable energy and support community ownership (ideas from the Post carbon institute)
- Create the offence of Ecocide as the 5th international Crime Against Peace
- Reverse desertification across the globe and reforest to capture all the carbon released since the industrial revolution
5. Tackle inequality and level the playing field
- Promote cooperatives and employee owned businesses
- Limit the pay differentials in any business to 20:1 (See One Society analysis)
- Introduce a land value charge (and charges for the use of other commons) to free land back to ordinary people.
- Remove the charging of interest for loans (other charges for a service would remain) (think differently about usury and from a Christian perspective)
- Build publicly, cooperatively owned infrastructure, housing and health services (an overview from Common Wealth and a debunking of the myth of public sector inefficiency: HALL-FriendsHouse-2011)
We don’t need an elite controlling the work. The land and other commons belongs to all living beings including us, we can organise our economy differently. We have seen that the elite are corrupt and if it’s not personally affecting us now it’s likely it will soon. Its time to get real and its time to fight back. Lets learn about resistance from the French and Icelanders, the Greeks (including social supermarkets) and the Spanish and be inspired.