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January 12 2010


Raj Patel on “The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy”

Patel-dn Democracy  Now 2010-01-12: Author and activist Raj Patel joins us to discuss his new book, The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy. “We’ve come to believe that the only way we can value things is by sticking them in a market,” Patel says. “The trouble is, as we’ve seen through this recession, that markets are a tremendously bad way of valuing


RAJ PATEL: Well, what—I mean, the latest Nobel Prize in Economics was won by a woman called Elinor Ostrom for her work on what’s called “the commons.” Now, the commons is a way not only of delineating a set of resources, but also of governing those resources together. And the way that commons are governed can be tremendously successful.

In a recent study in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, over eighty forest communities were examined, and those forest communities that were able to common together, to work autonomously and to have enough forest to sustain the community, well, those communities did much better. They were able to provide better development for their—for the members of the community. And they were able to sequester more carbon. They were able to take care of the forest much better than communities that had governments or free markets come in. And so, what we see is that there are ways in which we can value the world without free markets. And those commons are well worth looking at, because historically they’ve worked quite well, too.

And historically, commons have been venues for—actually, for struggles for justice. And in the book, I talk about how those struggles for justice look today. And, in particular, since I’m particularly concerned around issues of food, I’m very interested in the success that the International Peasant Movement, La Via Campesina, is having around food systems and food justice, and particularly their vision of food sovereignty, which is about communities having control over the food system. Well, that vision of food sovereignty is tremendously exciting for the principles of justice that lie at its heart. And there’s a slogan about food sovereignty that I think is very exciting. One of the slogans for food sovereignty is that food sovereignty is about an end to all forms of violence against women. Now, to have that slogan, you know, to start off with thinking about food and ending up with violence against women shows the trajectory that this organization has gone on to understand the root causes of injustice that lie behind capitalism. And what they’re offering is a way of valuing that involves equalizing power relationships everywhere, from the household to the international level, when it comes to exchanging food. And that kind of comprehensive, thoughtful strategy is something I think we can all be inspired by.


November 20 2009


Why Are We Destroying Public Education? University of California Students and Staff Prepare for System-Wide Strike to Protest Cuts


The governing body of the University of California system, the Board of Regents, is preparing to vote on a major tuition hike for both undergraduate and graduate students. Undergraduate tuition would rise an average 32 percent, while some graduate schools would begin charging thousands of dollars for programs that are currently tuition-free. The Regents are meeting Thursday at UCLA, where students from across the state are converging for what organizers have dubbed a “Crisis Fest,” including mass protests, civil disobedience and teach-ins. [includes rush transcript]

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