Can you imagine a world after capitalism? David Cobb can, and he wants you to join him.
“We need a system that puts people and planet before profit,” Cobb says in a recent phone interview with the Journal
The good news, Cobb says, is that the core elements of the solidarity economy he and others believe will bring about a more equitable and just world don’t need to be imagined — they can be looked at, felt, experienced and replicated. And that’s one of the core messages of the Post-Capitalism Conference, a four-day virtual forum that begins Thursday and is hosted by Cooperation Humboldt, the nonprofit Cobb cofounded, and sponsored by Humboldt State University’s Native American Studies, Politics, Sociology and Environmental Studies departments, HSU’s California Faculty Association and the Environmental Justice/Climate Justice hub at University of California at Santa Barbara.
Cobb said the four-day event will focus on tangible solutions to pervasive problems, with discussions on universal basic income, worker-owned cooperative companies, community land trusts, public banking and food sovereignty designed to showcase work that’s currently being done to bring about a more equitable world.
“This is actually happening,” he said. “There’s a new economic system that’s being created right now but we don’t actually see it because it’s not being talked about.”
The conference is designed to meet people where they are, Cobb said, offering more detailed panel discussions — like Thursday’s “Regenerative Economic Development to Re-Indigenize” — for those already steeped in the concepts of decolonization and land trusts, alongside ones offering more broad-strokes introductions to larger concepts — like Thursday’s “From Where We Are to Where We Want to Be: How Do We Get There.” The idea, Cobb said, is to bring together a group of knowledgeable academics, theorists and practitioners to provide insight and information that will help guide people on their own paths to understanding the underlying ideas and putting them into practice.
The COVID-19 pandemic’s impacts on the conference are also profound, Cobb said. First, he said the virtual nature of the conference will allow people across the nation and world to participate free of charge, but it’s also allowed organizers to tap leaders at the forefront of various movements to participate from around the country. That means the conference will feature names like famed Marxian economist and author Rick Wolff, public banking pioneer Trinity Tran and Emily Kawano, the co-director of the Wellspring Cooperative Corporation in Massachusetts and coordinator of the U.S. Solidarity Economy Network.
“We have some really famous players — and also some people who frankly should be more famous,” Cobb said, pointing to Ramon Torres, who led the formation of Familias Unidas por Justicia, an indigenous farmworker labor union in Washington, and later founded a worker-owned cooperative berry farm.
But Cobb said the pandemic has also laid the nation’s gross economic disparities bare, leaving families struggling for food and housing, while the billionaire class has grown markedly richer. This, Cobb said, has increased the critical eye on the nation’s economic systems and how to change them.
“A decade ago, things like universal basic income and public banking weren’t — or didn’t seem — possible,” he said. “We now have an opportunity to dream big and think about systemic, transformational change.”
The conference will also put a spotlight on some issues of keen local interest — the food sovereignty movement, cannabis equity programs and the interconnectedness between white supremacy and capitalism. Cobb said he’s proud of the lineup that organizers have put together, noting it is “intentionally and deliberately multi-racial, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural,” with more female than male speakers.
Get the full schedule of events, presenter biographies and all the details on how to participate here
. And check out the press release from HSU below
Imagining a ‘Solidarity Economy’ at Virtual Post-Capitalism Conference
What is a “solidarity economy?” This month, community stakeholders, Indigenous scholars, and national movement leaders will gather online at the Post-Capitalism Conference, held virtually from April 22-25.
A variety of speakers will address the meaning of a solidarity economy and how cooperation, equity, and sustainability are essential to transformative social change in a post-capitalist economy.
The conference is sponsored by Humboldt State University’s Native American Studies, Politics, Sociology, and Environmental Studies Departments, in partnership with Cooperation Humboldt and HSU’s California Faculty Association.
“This will be a virtual space for grassroots organizations, community activists, educators, and students to come together to devise strategies on how to implement cooperative economic practices in our community,” explains HSU Politics instructor Nicola Walters.
Over the course of four days, the conference will offer 21 sessions featuring national progressive leaders, HSU faculty, and speakers from Cooperation Humboldt. Events include:
Thursday, April 22 at 10 a.m.
“Regenerative Economic Development to Re-Indigenize”
This session will explore how local communities can transition into a regenerative economy based on ecological restoration, community resilience, and social equity.
Thursday, April 22 at 3 p.m.
“The Importance of Food Sovereignty”
This panel will examine what Indigenous food sovereignty is and why food sovereignty is necessary to post-capitalism planning.
Friday, April 23 at 3 p.m.
“The Red Nation”
A coalition of Native and non-Native activists, educators, students, and community organizers will address the marginalization and invisibility of Native struggles within mainstream social justice organizing.
Saturday, April 24 at 4:30 p.m.
“Immigrant’s Rights: Moving Past Survival”
Comida del Pueblo is a food sovereignty project led by immigrant and southern Indigenous community members in Wiyot territory focused on food cultivation grounded in culture for collective thrival.
Sunday, April 25 at 10 a.m.
This session will be an exploration of the interconnectedness between white supremacy and capitalism.
The Post-Capitalism Conference is free and open to the public. Register here.
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