Course 123: Alternatives
Leaders: Charles Sackrey and Joseph Detelj
Description: Marx argued that before we can make history we must make a living, and that the way we do that crucially shapes the people that we become. One doesn't have to be a Marxist to conclude that American capitalism provides ever fewer ways to engage in lives that call forth what is best in us. In our time, Americans have put together an economic order that no longer guarantees most people good jobs, encourages habits of production and consumption that are rapidly fouling the human nest, and the whole affair is largely controlled by a considerably greedy plutocracy. It is therefore certainly reasonable to wonder how one can find alternative economic activities that shape us to be more interesting to ourselves and better citizens of the world. That is what we will talk about in this course.
At our first meeting, borrowing from Karl Marx and David Korten especially, we will discuss how our deregulated capitalist system cannot function without eventually pushing us all into the suffocating corner we described above. After that, we will have five sessions in which we talk about "alternatives" to capitalism as usual. We will study some of the specific ways that people here and abroad have withdrawn from the larger capitalist melee into smaller and more democratic ways of making a living and a life. In four sessions, we will discuss some of most widely known examples of this "withdrawing": 1) reducing personal consumption (2) creating communities of local food production and distribution, and (3) democratizing production with worker owned cooperatives. And at our final meeting we will add to this short list of examples a much, much longer one, gathered over the weeks by class participants from magazines, books, and the Internet.
Biographies: Joe Detelj holds a Master's Degree in Economics from the New School for Social Research. He currently attempts to incorporate the principles of "communion" on his biologically-based farm. Charles Sackrey taught economics at Bucknell and during the past three years has managed the Mondragon Co-op Bookstore, which he and others co-founded in 2009.
Materials for Course: At the beginning of the course a set of photocopied readings will be handed out. These readings will provide the basis for lively discussion that will be the central activity of every class meeting.
Number of Participants: Minimum: 4; Maximum: 12
Location: RidgeCrest at RiverWoods - Creative Arts Room
Meeting Time: Fridays, March 1 through April 5, 10 - 11:30 a.m.