Liberation Through Community Self-Sufficiency
The current oppressive systems that govern our lives only have power over us because they control the resources that we need to survive. We all need food and shelter. In order to get food and shelter, we need money to pay for them. Most of us are not born with the possession and ownership of income-producing assets. We need to work in order to get money so that we can use that money to pay for the food and shelter that we need to survive. In addition to that, food and shelter have become increasingly more expensive while our income from the jobs that are offered to us has not increased. This forces us into a position of submission to those who own the means of our subsistence. How can we free ourselves from this position?
The solution that is promoted by the people in power is, of course, to either participate in their system as an employee or participate and become one of them. Both "solutions" involve participating in their system as if there were no possible alternatives. According to them, there is nothing wrong with the way our society works. In order to pay for food and shelter all that we need to do is to earn more. Therefore, we have the option to get a higher-paying job or to start our own business, eventually joining the people in power. These solutions, of course, completely disregard the fact that this is a problem for every one of us who is dominated by those who control the resources we need to survive. Getting a higher-paying job doesn’t give us control over those resources. It may make them more abundant to us, by making them more affordable, but it doesn’t solve the underlying problem that they are not under our control. Once we get higher-paying jobs, we are also encouraged to get into debt so that we become trapped working for someone else while paying the debt. As for starting a business, new businesses very rarely succeed, and without a lot of resources at one’s disposal, starting a new business is very risky. At best, one may find themselves working even harder than before. Still, even if one succeeds against all odds, joining the ranks of the people in power, that doesn’t solve the problem at all. All it does is further perpetuate the problem by becoming yet another oppressor that governs our lives and has power over us because they control the resources that we need to survive. One may hold that immoral attitude, but that certainly doesn’t solve the problem.
Another typical solution that is proposed to this problem is the union. Through the union, we can come together and gain the bargaining power that we need to regain control. But there are fatal flaws to the union model. First, it does not change the power dynamics. We are still begging those who have power over us to give us enough to survive and to give us some physical and financial security, but it does nothing to change that power dynamics. The fight goes on, indefinitely. Second, our ability to exert this collective power is very limited. The typical way we accomplish this is through a strike. But a strike requires us to stop working, which stops the flow of money. We typically don’t have a lot of money saved because we are only paid enough to just barely survive, so we can’t strike for long. That is a fatal flaw in this strategy. Finally, unions typically function through a hierarchical body that organizes workers. This hierarchical body is as susceptible to corruption as any other hierarchical body. Thus, union organizers may be bribed and co-opted.
In order to truly solve this problem, we need to address the hierarchical structure that creates it. The hierarchical structure empowers a few to have control over our means of subsistence. The solution, then, is to create a structure that empowers us and gives us control over the means of our subsistence. First, we need to recognize that we are embodied beings, living in a specific physical location. If we are to gain control over the means of our subsistence, we need local control over our food and shelter. That means that we need to produce all our food locally, and own our shelter directly, without private landlords or banks. Second, we need community self-sufficiency. We can’t individually grow all our own food and build our own housing. That would not only be cumbersome but would also be inefficient, not to mention most of us don’t have sufficient skills to do everything. The alternative, then, is for us to create local cooperative organizations that are designed to pool our skills, time, and resources so that we can, together, become self-sufficient and stop relying on corporations to gain access to our means of subsistence. We can thus own and control access to the food and shelter that we need to survive, giving us the bargaining power that we need to free ourselves from corporate rule.
We need to work together to free ourselves. We need to organize ourselves into city-wide cooperatives where each and every one of us owns and controls the systems that we need to survive. In these cooperatives, each citizen would hold one share of the equity that we build in our community, with an equal say in it. Each citizen would thus be a partner in all the organizations that they participate in within their city. They would hold the claim to one share of the equity in the cooperative partnership, and one vote toward every decision that is made that affects them. They would not be required to participate in debates about the decisions being made and they would not be required to vote on every decision, but, unlike the current system, they would be allowed to participate in the decision-making. In this manner, we can share control over the systems and resources we need to survive. We can each be a partner in a food cooperative that produces all the food that we need. We can develop an online platform where we can organize ourselves. We can decide which foods we want to be produced and those who are interested in participating in their production can work on producing them. We can pool our resources together to build systems to improve both the quality and the efficient production of food. We can, for instance, build vertical farms, to increase the proximity of the food and minimize transportation time. Providing shelter can also be done through a cooperative or through a network of specialized cooperatives, but that is a specialized discussion for another time. Ultimately, the idea is that we can free ourselves from corporate rule by working together for ourselves, without relying on them to supply us with our necessities.
The source of power in the current system, the reason why most of us are poor and only a few are rich, is due to our dependence on their systems for our survival. We need money to purchase food and shelter. In order to get money, we need to work for a corporation. Therefore, in order to gain our freedom, we need to gain independence from corporations. We can only do this by organizing ourselves and working together to produce our own food and shelter. Our corporate rulers keep us separated, isolated and competing against one another so that they can take advantage of us. They remain in power by individualizing us and making us dependent on them and their systems in order to survive. They remain in power by focusing on us as individuals, keeping us separated and competing against one another. All their narratives are specifically designed to disempower us by keeping us apart and fighting against one another instead of working together to overcome their rule. We must reject their narratives and their systems. We must work together to create our own systems so that we can free ourselves from our dependence on their systems and, thus, free ourselves from their control over us.