This essay asks a question: what can't capitalism imagine in confronting the major social problem, poverty, facing the world today? The answer to that question is: the communal. To define the limits of capitalism's imagination, this essay begins by analyzing U.S. constitutional theory as represented in Federalist 10, where “the first object of government” is stated to be the “the protection of different and unequal faculties of acquiring property” (my emphasis). Thus, economic democracy, which, this essay asserts, is the only answer to the question of poverty, is beyond the limits of capitalism's imagination. The essay then turns to Indigenous philosophies and practices of the communal to propose an answer to the question of poverty. Examples of the former are found in such thinkers as Taiaiake Alfred (Mohawk) and Leslie Marmon Silko (Laguna). Examples of the latter are found in the ongoing revolutions in Bolivia and Chiapas. The essay is grounded in the observation of Frantz Fanon that “what matters today, the issue which blocks the horizon, is the necessity for a redistribution of wealth. Humanity must respond to this question, or be shaken to pieces by it.”
Research Article| April 01 2011
What Is a Just Society? Native American Philosophies and the Limits of Capitalism's Imagination: A Brief Manifesto
South Atlantic Quarterly (2011) 110 (2): 291–307.
Eric Cheyfitz; What Is a Just Society? Native American Philosophies and the Limits of Capitalism's Imagination: A Brief Manifesto. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 April 2011; 110 (2): 291–307. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-1162462
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