The Mutualist Society

One of the priority topics at Minnesota Women’s Press is telling the story of co-operatives, collectives, collaboratives, mutual aid, and “mutualist societies.” This is how we build equitable economies and sustainable ecosystems in ways that are not possible otherwise. We are calling this Ecolution — a revolution in which people invest support and action into the wholeness of our ecos, not individual parts.

Rural broadband, for example, cannot be effectively created on market economies alone because there are not enough consumers for profit-driven providers to want to invest in the infrastructure without government incentives, or co-operatives. Find our story about that here.

Black farmers cannot get the financing they need from traditional institutions, so they build their own co-operative networks. Here is one of our video conversations about that, with Angela Dawson of 40 Acres Co-op.

Although “socialism” has a bad name in some circles, “co-ops” are long known in agricultural communities — which are similar in definition: allowing people to collaborate together in the production, sales, distributions, rewards, and profits of a service or product.

In a May 20 conversation with Sara Horowitz, author of the new book “Mutualism,” she pointed out to host Nathan Schneider, of Media Enterprise Design Lab, that we can reduce polarization by looking at the values we agree on. She says red agricultural states have a strong base of support for self-sufficiency and independence. She believes we can break bread around similar values, incorporating fairness and equity into the evolution of our economic systems.

With that starting point, she says, “we can get out of this 49/51 political moment we are in. Build our collectives. Own it. Keep our eyes on the prize.”

The U.S. once had more energy around collectives — more than 100 years ago, credit unions and farmer co-ops stepped in when industry did not, Schneider pointed out. In Italy, he says, the building of infrastructure is intended to be for future generations, not simply current members. They learned from fascism that the “right to cooperation” needs to be a requirement in its constitution. “When they saw what fascists wanted to do, they learned to appreciate” the core virtue of civic and economic life requires collaboration.

With issues from climate change looming, Horowitz pointed out, we must transform our economy.

“We can’t have a two percent growth rate. We can’t use resources the way we did. We have to have racial equity.” That requires “building institutions around people first. That is the job we all have to do.”

Find a clip of the conversation here.