Moving Beyond Capitalism

Jul 29 2014 - 12:00am to Aug 4 2014 - 12:00am

Review by Susan Goldman

Challenging times confront us on so many levels:

  1. Transnational corporations have no loyalty to individual nations and its citizens. Trade agreements such as the TPP are being drafted in secret to benefit corporations over citizens and the environment, allowing corporations to sue governments for loss of profits if a nation decides to protect its people and ecosystems over the rights of corporations.
  2. Climate change is melting arctic ice, causing super storms, drought, and acidifying the ocean, threatening ocean life.
  3. Extractivism has accelerated with non conventional methods of drilling, expropriation of land, contamination of water, and the displacement of people, especially the indigenous communities.
  4. Inequality is increasing worldwide.
  5. Wars and violence are increasing as resources become scarcer. The list goes on and on of how we are allowing people to be disposable and destroying the earth.

The “Moving Beyond Capitalism” conference brought together almost 200 people who shared ideas and passionately addressed the need for a different world where people and mother earth are the priority over profit and enriching the few. At least half the attendees were women and one of the most dynamic sessions was “Women Moving Beyond Capitalism”. Matriarchal societies, the increased equality and involvement of women in community planning among the autonomous Zapatistas, the role of the Catholic church in Mexico, and creating a new vision of feminism were some of the topics discussed. Over 25 women signed on to an email list to continue the conversation of how women can help create a better world.

Many participants commented how important it was to have art as part of the conference. The focus of the art exhibition was on visual art. Eleven artists from Canada, Mexico and the US shared their social change themed art work. A total of 75+ pieces of artwork were represented.The art included paintings, contemporary huipiles, paper mache sculpture, photography and plaster bas reliefs.

In addition to the power of the words spoken from the likes of Gustavo Esteva from Mexico to Erella Shadmi from Israel, the power of art was everywhere that attendees gathered and shared their ideas and dreams. A large painting of an indigenous woman embracing mother earth in her arms by Joan Columbus hung opposite a painting on canvas of the horrors of war, “Collateral Damage”, by Sallie Latch. Outside the bar area, sitting on an old pool table, was a paper mache soldier with his gun pointed at another paper mache sculpture of a woman extending her arm with her fingers flashing the iconic peace sign. Ariel Garibaldi had eight more of these powerful figures representing human struggle, including black masked Zapatistas, the masks, a visual symbol of resistance.

The focus of the art exhibition was on visual art. Literature, dance, music, poetry, film are all art forms that communicate social injustices. The arts move us to a more just, equal, democratic world by confronting a failed system. In the future, the arts would play a larger role in a society that values and protects the earth and culture over the current emphasis on money and consumption, as in “those with the most toys wins”. Cultural power is a force to guide us in imagining another future. To quote Nietzche, “We have art so that we don’t die from the truth.”

As we all work to create a better world, we’ll need a tool box filled with every possible instrument of change: art, charismatic voices of resistance, matriarchal and indigenous women power, compassion and civil disobedience, to name a few. “The Moving Beyond Capitalism” conference is the type of conference that is also an important tool, bringing together, in solidarity, like-minded world citizens who want to work collectively and expand the conversation and actions beyond capitalism.

I would like to see the next conference be focused solely on the incompatibility of capitalism with environmental sustainability.