What is Systemic Alternatives?
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We are living a systemic crisis that can only be solved with systemic alternatives. What humanity is facing is not only an environmental crisis, an economic crisis, a social crisis or an institutional crisis. It is a crisis of humanity and of the Earth's system. This systemic crisis has been triggered by the capitalist system – whose relentless pursuit of endless growth and profits at the expense of the planet and people – has pushed species to extinction, biodiversity to critical losses, people to depravity and nature to its absolute limits. This is not one more cyclical crisis of capitalism, of suffering a depression then recovering with record numbers of growth and continued expansion. It is a much deeper crisis that has spread to all aspects of life on planet Earth and that now has its own accelerating dynamic that will not reverse under the current capitalist system.
The most urgent task in front of us is to overcome capitalism if we are to stop this free fall of life. Humanity and nature will suffer but capitalism will not implode because of its contradictions. Instead, it is reconfiguring itself and seeking new ways to increase profit until the last drop has been squeezed out of people and the planet. Everything can be commodified and converted into an “opportunity” for new ways of making profit. Natural disasters and tragedies, financial speculation and militarism, human trafficking and war – there are no limits for capitalism. Overexploitation and overconsumption are the main drivers of this system that seeks endless growth in a finite planet. Increasing inequality and destroying the vital cycles of nature are its lasting legacy.
Alternatives to the current system can only be built by deepening the understanding of the process of reconfiguration of capitalism. Capitalism has shown that it has great flexibility to adapt, capture, reshape and create options for itself. What begins as a progressive idea or movement is co-opted, transformed and absorbed to maintain and reproduce the system. The challenge is to build in the current situation a society that is capable to break from the logic of capital and not fall into the trap of co-optation. Alternatives do not emerge in a vacuum. They emerge in the struggles, in the concrete experiences, initiatives, victories, defeats and reemergence of social movements. They emerge in a process of analysis, practice and proposals that are validated in reality. Many attempts have being tried during the last century and have either fallen short or lost momentum. To explore why this has happened is essential in building new systemic alternatives.
There is not one alternative. There are many alternatives. Some come from our roots (such as the indigenous peoples) like the “Vivir Bien.” Others like the “degrowth” are constructed in industrialized societies that are reaching limits. “Deglobalization” is a reaction to the process of globalization by transnational corporations. Eco-socialism is an attempt to rethink alternatives from a non-anthropocentric perspective. Food Sovereignty has developed concrete alternatives for small farmers, peasants and indigenous peoples. Eco-feminism brings the women dimension that is essential to overcome the current patriarchal regime. The Rights of Mother Earth calls for building a new way of relating with nature. The proposal of the “commons” highlights the ways humanity has and builds collectives. Solidarity Economy, Economy for Life, Transitional Economy are all pointing to a different kind of economy. There are many other alternatives that draw its strengths from our diversity, creativity and solidarity. All of these proposals have strengths, limitations, contradictions and points in common. All of them are proposals in progress.
Systemic Alternatives means engagement. Engagement to learn from the other, from other alternatives, seeking creative complementarity. It is a call to look critically at its own perspectives, finding the limits, internal contradictions and flaws in order to recognize what is missing and what has been developed by other alternatives and see how to further build on each others proposals.
In synthesis, the key aim of Systemic Alternatives is creative interaction to go beyond our own perspectives in order to imagine, create, build and strengthen our alternatives.