25 March 2003


You know what happens at the checkout line at the grocery store: you put your groceries on the conveyor belt, and when it's your turn, the cashier scans them, the cashier tells you what you must pay, you pay the cashier, the cashier gives you a receipt, and you take your groceries and leave the store. What's happening in that little ritual? Well, first of all, you're paying for your groceries, but more importantly, you're reaffirming a connection to society. When you buy your groceries, you're reaffirming a role within society. You're a customer of a grocery outlet, and there is where you take the proceeds of your contribution to society, your wages, and plunk those proceeds down in exchange for your daily bread so that you may continue to live.

What would happen under ecosocialism? Well, when you went to the store to get groceries, you would still be reaffirming your connection to society, and you would still get your groceries, but you would do it in a different way. The way you do it now, your right to eat is conditioned upon your possession of money. Money doesn't just buy everything -- it buys you your reaffirmation as a member of society. And thus under capitalism we have a society for money. Without money, then, you are a nonperson: it doesn't matter if you work, or if you contribute to society in any small or important way, or how good you are. The system is patently unfair in that way; it confers personhood only upon those who can get money.

Ecosocialism would be a society based on the idea of there being a future. Everything will be done with the future in mind. In the checkout line of the grocery store, then, your contribution to the future will be measured against your receipt of groceries. Nobody would be denied the right to eat, but society would at least want to know that you took some groceries so that its members could know what is needed to set store for each other.


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