Shifting Cultures

Want Alternatives to Current Capitalism? Studies Say You’re Part of the 50%!

Photo: Brooks Elliott via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo: Brooks Elliott via Flickr (Creative Commons)

I used to think I only knew a few people besides myself who truly desired a system beyond capitalism. I used to think folks would just disregard me if I clearly stated my anti-capitalist views.

Well it looks like our “radical” views to implement alternatives to the current expression of capitalism are almost the majority opinion.

In the last few years, the Pew Center and even the right-leaning Rasmussen Reports found estimate that around 50% of the U.S. population wants to do away with our capitalist system.

Just think about that for second.

The economic system almost all of us participate in everyday (willingly or not), barely has 50% of people that support its continued existence.

While this has not trickled up to our governmental or financial systems yet, our people-powered movements have shown the anger many feel at our corporatized economy (e.g. in our medical and higher education systems) and the passion they have to create alternatives (e.g. increasingly impactful Evergreen Cooperatives of Cleveland).

While the Occupy Movement has gained the most attention since its prolific spread across the U.S. and world, what may be just as important is the paradigm shift that has led a near majority to desire something other than capitalism!

Next time you are walking down the street, just consider the fact that every other person you see is seeking a new economic system that puts our values front-and-center. I know thinking about this definitely gives me motivation!

So let’s look at how exactly we can disrupt capitalism and craft a system that focuses on meeting the world’s needs (and not just the needs of the few).


What are some alternatives to the current expression of capitalism?


Now that it’s clear frustration with capitalism is reaching new heights, we have to be consciously thinking of how to channel that energy into shaping a new livable, people-centered, and sustainable economy.

So what are some of the key ways changemakers are showing us how we can, at this very moment, be pushing forward a monumental shift away from hierarchical capitalism?

These examples listed below may still participate in the current economic system, but often do so in dramatically different ways that demonstrate alternatives are entirely feasible.

Business cooperatives and worker cooperatives – where workers collectively own and manage the business

As I mentioned earlier in this post, the Mondragon co-op system in Spain with 85,000 members and the Evergreen Cooperatives of Cleveland are perfect examples of robust business that also propel forward our other values (e.g. sustainability and ethical practices).

These systems are already having a noticeable positive economic impact and that trend only looks to grow.

There are many different types of cooperatives including: Mesh Networks (i.e. internet co-ops), Community Land Trusts, health care collectives, bike shares, utility cooperatives, artists collectives, and so many more!

To better understand the different array of cooperatives and collectives, check out this great resource that breaks down the differences.

Restructuring corporations – e.g. corporate rechartering and ending corporate personhood

Right now our current corporate law actively reduces ethical business practices. This is due to the fact that, right now, corporate charters include only an interest for shareholders, but they should also include interest for stakeholders.

Another big push to change corporations is by ending “corporate personhood” (i.e. idea that corporations should have the same legal status/protection as people). Move to Amend, a national network of organizations and individuals, is leading this charge for ensuring corporations remain accountable economic justice and to all people.

Smaller-scale banking – i.e. moving our capital away from huge banks, and instead investing in small scale banks and city/regional/state banks

You might have heard a bit of criticism of Big Banks (i.e. the “Big Four” in the U.S. of Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo) in recent years, and much of that is due to the Big Banks’ inability to support communities and small-businesses after the crash they created.

These banks are too large to be responsive to local dynamics, so there is an increasing call for small-scale banks.

These smaller scale banks can take the form of regional, state, or even city-owned banks. Currently the only state-owned bank in the U.S. is the Bank of North Dakota, which has been a keystone to North Dakota’s ability to withstand the financial crisis.

Moving to a values-based economic analysis – shifting beyond GDP to a system that incorporates the needs and aspirations of our society

GDP per capita (gross domestic product) is the dominant means for measuring a country’s standard of living; however, this lens of the world obscures what people actually seek in life (e.g. health, happiness, and leisure time) or even promotes long-term detrimental actions (e.g. strip mining and deforestation).

Though there has been no wide-spread adoption of alternatives to GDP per capita (other than the pathmaking country of Bhutan), there are an increasing number of groups calling for new systems. Some examples include the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) used in Maryland, and the UN sponsored indicators of World Happiness.


What does a majority seeking alternatives to capitalism mean?


It means showing people a vision of a world based on expressing human values and potential, instead of one based on never-ending growth.

The examples above show that this movement is growing. The dedicated efforts prove a more holistic approach to social betterment is already here.

I now know we’re already halfway there, now let’s keep building a new infrastructure to support the other 50%!

What are some other alternatives to capitalism that you know about? How they can support all of our organizing work? Leave a comment below!

By Drew Serres

Drew Serres began working on Organizing Change to combine his dedication to showing impactful organizing practices with his passion for learning. Find out more about him at the About Page and see his updates on Twitter and Google+