Saturday, 12 January 2013

Economic Activism


 [hide]  From the P2P Foundation


Taylor Ellwood:
"Economic activism focuses on the idea of using one's wealth to represent one's values. For the purposes of this article wealth is represented in two different ways. The first way is the financial resources, savings, stocks, bonds, etc. that a person has. The second way is the resources a person has such as food, trade skills, networking, and other related every day activities which are used to navigate the maze that is called life." (


Economic Activism through Financial Resources

Economic Activism through financial resources occurs through charities and through socially responsible investing. Monetary donations to charity can fund many different projects and can be an effective way of representing your ideology. Certainly it can be abused, as is the case where rich people will donate to charities in part to avoid paying as much tax, but a charity does provide a person the opportunity to financially support causes that s/he believes in.
The other form of economic activism, which is becoming increasingly popular is socially responsible investments. Socially responsible investments involve investing in companies in order to leverage your influence as an investor and push for social changes which emphasize humanistic values, while also making money in the process. Landier and Nair explain this kind of investing in the following quote:
"As societies become affluent, they experience a migration of values. As constraints on persons' existence are relaxed as a result of economic growth, there appears to be a shift away from 'materialist' values, emphasizing economic and physical security, and toward 'postmaterialist' values, emphasizing self-expression, and quality of life concerns." (2009, p. 12)
Readers will undoubtedly gravitate on the word affluent, arguing that this kind of investing is only done by rich upper middle class people. However, this kind of investing can be done by any of us, provided we have money to invest and a desire to influence companies on relevant social issues, which are reflected in the portfolio choices we make. Socially responsible investing is a form of economic activism because it involves investing our money wisely as a way of making money, but also speaking to the values that we feel need to be expressed in the companies we invest in. And any company, even Monsanto, has to respond to investors, because it is investors that those companies ultimately rely upon in order to be a viable force on the market. Investors can leverage their influence when it comes to social issues, and if enough investors speak up, a company does need to change its policies.
All this said, we shouldn't just rely on socially responsible investments as a way of making companies change their policies. Socially responsible investments is just one tool among many that need to be used to change the policies of companies such as Monsanto. The value of public protests and other activities is just as important for making visible economic policies which are detrimental to the planet and to each other. To learn more about socially responsible investing, I recommend reading Investing for Change: Profit from Responsible Investment by Augustin Landier and Vinay B. Nair.

Economic Activism as a Collaborative Use of Resources

Economic activism can also involve a collaborative sharing of resources. Giving away old clothes and other items to charity is one example of economic activism. Instead of letting those resources go to waste, they are donated to charities where those items can then either be bought at a much lower price or given to people who need clothing or other items, but don't have the money or means to get those items. However, while charities are important and should be supported, there is much more we can do to be economic activists within our community.
Learning to share resources and barter services is absolutely essential to do in this economy, and it occurs when we start to network. Networking isn't just professionals suited up, drinking wine, and exchanging business cards. Networking really involves learning who has what skills and matching those people up with people who need their services. Likewise, good networking can involve bartering services or skills that each person has. By learning who has what skill and creating a relationship with that person, you create a community, which supports itself by actively reaching out and helping each other when help is needed.
Sharing resources is probably the highest form of economic activism. Creating a community garden not only teaches everyone how to garden, but also teaches people to share the resources and foster a relationship with the environment that is healthier, because each person working in that garden recognizes just how s/he is connected to the Earth as well as to each other. The collaboration involved makes the garden something which is sustained by each person involved in working on it." (

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