This essay explores the potential of solidarity economy (SE) as theory, practice, and movement, to engender an ontological politics to create and sustain other worlds that can resolve the existential crises of ecological destruction and historic inequalities. We argue that such a politics is necessary to go beyond the world as it is and exceed the dictates of a dominant modernity—capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy -- that positions itself as the only singular reality -- or One World World (Law 2011).
This chapter in the Handbook of Environmental Sociology is based on a particular understanding of post-capitalism, as a series of strategies for socio-economic-ecological negotiations. These strategies engage 1) the politics of language, 2) the politics of the subject, and 3) the politics of collective action. Understanding language, subjects, and collective actions as spaces for political engagement is about considering them as processes actively and always under negotiation rather than as fixed objects.
Environments and ecosystems around the world support human life, culture and basic needs in myriad ways. Indeed, the ‘labour’ of non-humans, or Earth Others, as we refer to them here, is hugely diverse. But ecological descriptions of Earth Other interdependencies demonstrate that rethinking labour to build sustainable futures should not be a purely human-focused project. Much of the work that keeps our planet going has nothing to do with humans. We humans benefit from it but it is not for us.
Sustainability has emerged as a central concept for discussing the current state of the human-environment system and planning for its future. To delve into the depths of sustainability means to talk about ecology, economy, and equity as fundamentally interconnected. However, each continues to be colonized by normative epistemologies of ecological sciences, neoclassical economics, and development, suggesting that with enough science and development, a more equitable sustainability is achievable.