The Quest for Alternatives beyond (Neoliberal) Capitalism

Melisa R. Serrano and Edlira Xhafa

Capitalism is not the only form of economy. Alternative economies—people’s economies—exist in which human needs and relationships are more important than competition and profit.

Forms of solidarity economy built on the principles and values of cooperation, equality, self-determination and democracy, exist and are taking shape in many parts of the world. These forms include household economies, barter economies, collective economies including cooperatives, worker-controlled economies, subsistence market economies, community budgeting, participatory budgeting, community-based local currency exchange systems, and ethical trading, among others. Labor organizations have also provided spaces for building capacities in the struggle to defy capitalism.

The paper aims to contribute to the discourse on alternatives to capitalism. We go about by first examining recent works dealing with the issue of alternatives to capitalism (and neoliberalism). We define `alternative’ as an on-going multi-dimensional, non-deterministic process of people’s economic and political struggle beyond the capitalist logic, whether macro, meso or micro, to change their circumstances and simultaneously transform themselves in the process. Full development of human potential based on equality, solidarity and sustainability through democratic participatory processes is at the core of an alternative.  Then, we look at how various forms of peoples’ solidarity economies and state-initiated democratic participatory schemes become spaces or provide spaces for the development of counter-consciousness (outside the capitalist `common sense’) and concomitantly build capacities for the development of projects, initiatives and economies beyond the capitalist logic. By addressing changes in the mode of production and the labor process within their spaces, we argue that many of these organizations, projects and initiatives, are the ‘materialization’ or actual
manifestation of non-capitalist alternatives.

Socialist Register
Publication/Event Date: 
September, 2011