Andrew Zitcer, "Practicing Cooperation: Mutual Aid Beyond Capitalism" (U Minnesota Press, 2021)

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Have you ever stopped to think about your local grocery cooperative and what makes it different than, say Safeway or Giant or Whole Foods? That is, if you have a grocery cooperative in your neighborhood – they are neither ubiquitous nor evenly distributed. They do, however, offer perhaps the most visible model of how economic practices can exist outside the central dogma of capitalism.

In Practicing Cooperation: Mutual Aid Beyond Capitalism (U Minnesota Press, 2021), Andrew Zitcer uses the travails and triumphs of four non-traditional organizations to create a compelling argument for a better, more equitable way to organize social and economic practices. His portraits of two grocery co-ops and a dance collective in Philadelphia, as well as a national acupuncture multistakeholder cooperative, ground his theory in the real world where ordinary people sweat, argue, stock shelves, heal each other, and make art. But his interlocutors have an underlying passion – to create a place where cooperation, rather than competition, is the guiding principle. This approach to social practice has deep implications for the creation of a more equitable and just society. Zitcer’s personal immersion in his research yields a “loving critique” of his four case studies and offers a realistic optimism for our post-pandemic world.

Rachel Pagones is an acupuncturist, educator, and author based in Cambridge, England. Her book, Acupuncture as Revolution: Suffering, Liberation, and Love (Brevis Press) was published in 2021.

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