A Better World is Possible!: Alternative to both Capitalism and to Centrally-Planned Communism
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 12 years ago
In my early years as an anti-capitalist, I experienced despair because of the negative outcomes in centrally planned "communist" countries. I knew capitalism was causing tons of suffering all over the world, but it seemed that nations which utilized central-planning style "communism" also caused tons of suffering. Was a better world impossible? Then a friend told me about Parecon (abbreviation of participatory economics) and my life changed. Finally, here is a viable alternative economic system! And it is described in explicit detail. It's not just a bunch of empty rhetoric about how we should have an economy based on equity, classlessness, non-hierarchy, participatory democracy, self-management, etc. It is a specific and detailed map of how such an economy can operate. Unlike capitalism, parecon is equitable and non-exploitative. Unlike centrally-planned communism, parecon is democratically planned and non-hierarchal. Parecon has many supporters amongst anarchists and libertarian-communists, because it is a vision for an economic system which embodies many of the ideals of anarchism and libertarian-communism - values such as those mentioned earlier: equity, classlessness, non-hierarchy, participatory democracy, and self-management. However, the Parecon is not officially affiliated with any particular political orientation. Even if you don't know what anarchism or libertarian-communism means you can still understand and appreciate Parecon on its own terms. Parecon also has a political vision to accompany it, parpolity (abbreviation of participatory polity), conceived of by political science professor Stephen R. Shalom. And then there is also parsoc (abbreviation of participatory society) which is a vision for a fully participatory society, addressing issues of economics, politics, "race" and culture, gender and kinship, etc. (See: Real Utopia: Participatory Society for the 21st Century) This particular book, "Looking Forward: Participatory Economics for the Twenty First Century", explains Parecon thoroughly and in a way that the average person can understand. There is also a book on Parecon written for those who have studied economics and have a good understanding of economic jargon and mathematics: The Political Economy of Participatory Economics. This is a good book for economists who want a more scientific explanation of how Parecon works.
A Workable Vision of A Better Society
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 17 years ago
Yet another great book from Robin and Michael decribing a post-capitalist economic system which avoids the pitfalls of market socialism and is more in-depth and coherent than other post-capitalist economic visions (guild socialism, anarcho-syndicalism, etc.).I highly recommend this book, along with all of Albert and Hahnel's other works.Also, I'd like to respond to the previous reviewer's horrified proclamation that "this study involves the author's absolute ignorance regarding the freedom of musicians and artists." In actuality, both Albert and Hahnel have written extensively about this particular problem. Both authors have differing viewpoints in regard to the role of artists in a participatory economy.Albert says, basically, that the work of an artist should be treated like any other kind of work. And they should have balanced job complexes just like everyone else (gasp!). They must, in the previous reviewer's words, "participate in menial, rote labour in an effort to further enrich society as a whole and close the gaps between [classes]."Yeah? And? Doesn't that just make sense? If we want an egalitarian society, we can't have certain individuals doing all the meaningless, rote tasks and others living lives filled with enriching and empowering work.Albert replies to the question of whether "parecon would limit individual artistic creativity by what art to produce by referendum or committee"..."Do you think this because artists, like producers of vehicles, get resources to work with (outputs of other people's efforts) or are allotted income for their work (and a claim on the social product) only insofar as their work, overall, is respected in the economy? I don't see why.In fact, quite the contrary. By (1) elevating diversity and self management parecon greatly promotes exploration and attitudes conducive to it, and (2) by allocating resources and tools and time self-consciously, it removes the impact of power or misdistribution of (voting rights) on the allocations, reducing the built-in tendency for "popularity" to outweigh "innovation" without any real assessment being made of the value of innovation.If you mean to point out that it would be within the purview of society to decree that some type innovation is unwanted or unlikely to be successful and that resources shouldn't be given over to it - yes, that is true - for art as for innovation in, say, how to electrocute people better, or for that matter, how to make better ladders, say, or whatever. But the assumption that in a parecon the population would not want musical and artistic innovation pursued by those with talents and creativity, in their own manner as they evolve their dispositions and talents, seems to me very very dubious. I should think the opposite would be true, overwhelmingly. What people currently like would be part of the issue in parecon - for sure. But it isn't the whole of it, as you are about to indicate, I bet. For one thing, smaller groups can like things a lot, mak
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 21 years ago
Looking Forward is the introductory manifesto of the participatory economics movement. The book is meant to give anarchists, socialist-libertarians, and idealists in general a positive alternative to capitalism, centralized economies, and market socialism.It is always interesting how one can draw comparisons between the far right and the far left. Milton Friedman, in Capitalism and Freedom, told us that the way to preserve freedom is to centralize information and disperse power. This is the essence of participatory economics.Power is dispersed among all citizens, even to the extent that all have equally empowering job complexs (referring to the amount of authority and conceptual work). This way there is a double check against the libertarian fear of power players-- equal access to resources and equal empowerment.And, the more novel feature of this system, information is centralized and avaliable to all. This is for the purpose of planning one's consumption bundle and work proposal. If, for example, I discover that there is a shortage of steel, I might postpone the purchase of a car, in order to get a better (artificially determined) price next year and also to relieve the strain on the workers in the industry.But why would anyone care about the workers? This is one of the key contrasts between PE and capitalism. Hahnel and Albert argue that if people have the information and the power to help and consider others, then it will be done. In capitalism, we need know nothing about the conditions under which most of what we consume is made. Under PE, we would. By removing the disincentives to human compassion, our social nature is allowed to flourish.While Looking Forward gives a clear outline of PE, it is too ambiguous at points. Hahnel and ALbert seem to respond to difficulties with generalizations. They do, however, refer the reader to other works meant to fill the gaps-- The Political Economy of Participatory Economics, Liberating Theory, and The Quiet Revolution in Welfare Economics.If you want to know what the modern anarchist ideal looks like, in which poverty is no longer "necessary" and human sociality is cultivated, read this book.
any other ideas than capitalism?!
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 23 years ago
If you want to learn how an anarchist economy would work, and this even for the best of us all, then Alberts and Hahnels book is definitely for you. encouraging, pragmatic, plausible, convincing after all. It offers an interesting alternative model for a world where capitalism is the ruling fundamentalism of the elites. many people have lost their intellectual weapons against this. here is a possible refill.
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