Unlearning Capitalism

“Unlearning racism” refers to teaching people who believe they are white about thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and actions which they are not aware of, which support racism. Racism is so deeply embedded in our culture that most white people uncritically accept any number of norms in our society that are actually discriminatory and unjust.  The first thing white people have to do when they want to engage with people of color or address race is to learn about their own racial biases.  This is a life long process in our society, but it is important to begin.

Similarly, I believe it is urgent today that we “unlearn capitalism“.  As discussed in the post about Capitalocene, capitalism has evolved into a system that values profit over people and that has pursued extractive practices that consume resources far beyond the ability of Mother Earth to replenish them.  Capitalocene is powered by fossil fuel energy and is overwhelming our environment with toxic methods of extracting these fuels, the consumption of vast amounts of water in the process, and production of greenhouse gases that result from burning them. And those countries with the greatest industrialization consume vastly disproportionate amounts of these fuels, thus producing the bulk of the resulting pollution.

These are not a new concepts among Quakers.

“At the World Conference of Friends held at Guilford College in North Carolina in 1967, some young Friends crossed over from a concurrently running young Friends conference to raise a concern that became known as Right Sharing of World Resources. The new concern recognized poverty in the world economic system as in part a systemic problem, and as a legacy of colonialism.”  Quakers and Capitalism, Steven Dale Davison, Friends Journal,  July 1, 2006.  The organization Right Sharing of World Resources is devoted to addressing global economic and energy inequalities.

Steven Davison has written much more about this on his website Quakers and Capitalism–The Book.

I’m re-posting the following comments that were made recently after Quaker midweek meeting for worship in Indianola, Iowa.  These Quakers were describing the life they lived as children in the early 1900’s.  It is clear that people once lived and thrived in what seem to be primitive conditions compared to our lives today. We need to quickly return to a similar lifestyle.

  • We didn’t have electricity or running water.  (I might add we had a party line telephone, no television, and an outhouse for the bathroom)
  • We broke a lot of glasses that we had taken upstairs during the night (as the water turned to ice)
  • There was no heat upstairs
  • We wrapped the kids in a cocoon of multiple blankets with only their arms outside
  • We heated stones on the stove, and put them in the beds before we got into them
  • We used bottles of warm water for the same purpose
  • The first thing we did in the morning was open, and sit on the door of the stove to warm up
  • Sometimes we had to be picked up by someone in a horse and buggy when the school bus was stuck on the muddy roads
  • (There was also mention of mud-ball fights)
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