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Date: 2019-03-24 Page is: DBtxt001.php L0500-The-Next-System-Project

The Next System Project

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The Next System Project
National Essay Competition on the Next System ... 5,000 t0 15,000 words plus bio due by end December 2016
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The First Four Papers

The Next System Project’s “New Systems” paper series seeks to publicize comprehensive alternative political-economic system models and approaches that are different in fundamental ways from the failed systems of the past and present, and capable of delivering superior social, economic, and ecological outcomes. While there are complementarities and overlaps, the first papers in our series set out four very different visions of an alternative system:

In “Economic Democracy: An Ethically Desirable Socialism That Is Economically Viable” David Schweickart proposes a model that would preserve a role for markets in goods and services while extending democracy into the workplace and the linked spheres of finance and investment. In place of private ownership of the means of production with markets in capital, labor, goods, and services under capitalism, or state ownership and planning under socialism, Economic Democracy has a basic economic structure of socially-owned, worker-controlled firms in a competitive market. The model has neither capital markets nor labor markets in the usual sense. Workers would control their own jobs and workplaces, while productive resources would become the collective property of society and there would be social control over investment.
Open PDF ... David-Schweickart-Economic-Democracy
Open PDF ... David-Schweickart-Economic-Democracy

In “Participatory Economics and the Next System” Robin Hahnel describes a model (developed together with Michael Albert) that revolves around (a) social ownership of the productive “commons,” (b) consumption rights based on effort and need, (c) and workplace councils and neighborhood consumer councils which coordinate their interrelated activities through participatory planning rather than through markets. While long-run development and investment planning are carried out mostly by federations of industry and consumer councils, an annual planning procedure decides which worker councils will produce what goods and services for consumption by which consumer councils. Ever more accurate estimates of the full social costs of producing goods and services, and the opportunity costs of using different capital goods, categories of labor, and natural resources and sink services, emerge during the annual participatory planning procedure, as councils and federations revise and resubmit proposals for what they wish to do until a feasible plan is agreed on. All proposals and revisions of what a council will do originate with the council itself – which distinguishes the participatory planning process from all other planning models, and ensures meaningful self-management by workers and consumers.
Open PDF ... Robin-Hahnel-Participatory-Economics-and-the-Next-System
Open PDF ... Robin-Hahnel-Participatory-Economics-and-the-Next-System

In “Whole Systems Change: A Framework & First Steps for Social/Economic Transformation” Riane Eisler’s model places economic policies and practices in their larger social context, proposing two integrative social categories that go beyond religious vs. secular, capitalist vs. socialist, East vs. West, and so forth. It distinguishes between societies that orient to either a domination model or a partnership model, the latter characterized by three interactive components: a democratic rather than authoritarian structure in both family and state or tribe; equal partnership between women and men rather than ranking the male half of humanity over the female half, and with this, valuing in both women and men of the “feminine” such as nurturance and caregiving; and an end to institutionalized/idealized abuse and violence as no longer necessary for maintaining rigid rankings of domination. It proposes an action plan to break with traditions of domination, identifies trends in this direction, and outlines four strategies to build the missing foundations for a more equitable and sustainable socio-economic system.
Open PDF ... Riane-Eisler-Whole-System-Change
Riane Eisler - Whole System Change
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Finally, in “Social Democracy: Not Socialism, and Coming to America” Lane Kenworthy proposes a model that closely resembles the actual political economies of the Scandinavian countries and has as its primary goals the full realization of economic security, equality (low inequality) of opportunity, and shared prosperity. It is in essence a market capitalist model with generous and employment-friendly social policy. Government transfers rather than taxes would play the principal role in reducing and minimizing inequality. Over the past century, it is argued, the U.S. government has slowly been moving closer to a social democracy, as policymakers have come to realize that larger government will help to improve economic and living conditions and have pursued policies to that end. Going forward, this is likely to continue.
Open PDF ... Lane-Kenworthy-Social-Democracy
Open PDF ... Lane-Kenworthy-Social-Democracy

The Second Four Papers

The second volume of papers in our “New Systems: Possibilities and Proposals” series offer visions ranging from the cooperative solidarity commonwealth and the civic economy of provisions to fresh takes on commoning and democratic eco-socialism.

David Bollier outlines the ways in which the commons provides a critique of neoliberal capitalism and offers critical possibilities for a new system. Bollier argues that a commons-based new system would “integrate production, governance and bottom-up participation into new sorts of institutions.” It would not be an economic system in the traditional sense, but would instead present “a blended hybrid of the social, the economic, and self-governance.” In contrast to the present regime, commoning would be a flexible system, controlled by communities and responsive to their needs. In the commons-based society that Bollier envisions, economics, governance, politics, and culture are blended, and based on de-commodification, mutualization, and the organization and control of resources outside of the market.
Open PDF ... David-Bollier-Commoning-as-a-Transformative-Social-Paradigm
David Bollier ... How Does the Commons Work?
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Gordon Nembhard describes a system that seeks to establish and strengthen economic participation from the bottom up through interlinking networks of cooperatives. “These interconnections start locally but build into regional, national, and international interlocking structures,” she argues. In the cooperative solidarity commonwealth, the economy is centered on need not profit, economic and political power are decentralized, and wealth is democratically controlled and distributed. Since “we can’t have economic democracy in a racist and sexist society,” working on anti-oppression and non-exploitation would be an imperative. This system would be built in the United States by local groups of marginalized peoples. Out of a desire to reverse oppression and exploitation, communities would start cooperatives, control resources, and combat economic exclusion. Cooperators would produce much of what they need locally, contributing to ecological and environmental health and sustainability. When necessary, they would also network and link up regionally, nationally, and internationally.
Open PDF ... Jessica-Gordon-Nembhard-Building-a-Cooperative-Solidarity-Commonwealth

In Toward Democractic Eco-Socialism as the Next World System Hans Baer proposes a new approach to what he calls “authentic socialism.” As opposed to past experiments with socialism – associated with sudden revolutions, violence, and adverse economic contexts – democratic eco-socialism in his vision would emerge slowly through a series of “system challenging reforms” and pressures from social movements. In Baer’s system, all citizens would have the opportunity to participate in decision making, at work and in organizations that impact their lives. Baer rejects a growth-oriented economy; instead, democratic eco-socialism would take into account the fragility of the planet and its limited resources through equitable distribution mechanisms. Key features of Baer’s democratic eco-socialism include public ownership of the means of production, representative and participatory democracy, an economy oriented to meeting people’s basic needs, protecting the environment, and creating a high degree of social equality.
Open PDF ... Hans-Baer-Towards-Democratic-EcoSocialism-as-the-Next-World-System

Finally, in A Civic Economy of Provisions Marvin Brown presents a model for the next system in which economic activity is based not solely on property ownership or the free market but on civic membership in a “global civil society.” He advocates a new approach to system change that would re-frame our social structures around civic relations. Oriented around families, communities, attachments, and mutual identities, this civic economy of provisions would ensure that all people have access to food, housing, health care, and education. “The civic,” for Brown, is centered around conversations that take on difficult social and economic issues and ask participants to “draw on their shared humanity to listen and learn from one another.” Thus, instead of specific designs, Brown proposes civic conversations that would bring together those who work in each area of provision and ask them to design new arrangements based on common needs. More than a specific formula, he offers a means by which people could collaboratively design a next system, while also setting out some of the fundamental changes that would be required to make such civic conversations possible.
Open PDF ... Marvin-Brown-A-Civic-Economy-of-Provisions
Cooperative Commonwealth & the Partner State By John Restakis
In Cooperative Commonwealth & the Partner State, John Restakis advocates for a “pluralist, cooperative commonwealth based on the principle of economic democracy.” As defined by the author, his model represents a civil socialism in which states act as “partner states” but “democratically structured civil institutions make up the organizational basis of the economy.” For economic democracy to thrive, Restakis contends that social control over capital is required, and cooperatives and collectives should be the dominant enterprise model. As a result, “employees gradually become owners and shareholders in the enterprises in which they work.” Restakis also outlines a number of other institutions that need to be restructured and democratized to fully realize his model, including social care, the social economy, and social markets. Restakis is hopeful about the future as new information and communications technology can play a key role in enhancing more participatory and democratic forms of information sharing between citizens and the Partner State. In fact, as he concludes, “the society we wish for is being built every day.”
Open PDF ... John-Restakis-Cooperative-Economics
Diversifying Public Ownership: Constructing Institutions for Participation, Social Empowerment and Democratic Control ... by Andrew Cumbers
In Diversifying Public Ownership: Constructing Institutions for Participation, Social Empowerment and Democratic Control, Andrew Cumbers argues for a new system based on diverse forms of public ownership, enabling workers, consumers, and citizens to participate in economic decision making and community control over resources. In particular, Cumbers explores “seven broad types of public ownership” and how they could be strategically incorporated across the economy: full state ownership, partial state ownership, regional/subnational state ownership, local/municipal state ownership, employee-owned firms, producer and consumer cooperatives. To “typify the spirit” of his model, the author also details two existing, successful examples of public ownership: oil development in Norway and renewable energy initiatives in Denmark. Cumbers recognizes that a transition to a highly democratic economy based on public ownership would take considerable political work and dedication to interacting with governments and institutions. Yet, Cumbers is optimistic; the continuing “popularity of public ownership among the wider population in opposition to, and despite, the negative rhetoric of the mainstream, corporate media” shows, he affirms, a positive and hopeful sign of what is possible.
Open PDF ... Andrew-Cumbers-Diversifying-Public-Ownership
The Joyful Economy: A Next System Possibility, ... by NSP co-chair Gus Speth
In The Joyful Economy: A Next System Possibility, NSP co-chair Gus Speth offers his vision of the next system, one in which society has moved decisively away from what Tibor Scitovsky called “the joyless economy” by embracing a radically new system to create and sustain joy. Joy, explains Speth, “comes, not from money, but from ‘other people.’ We flourish in a setting of warm, nurturing, and rewarding interpersonal relationships, and within that context we flourish best when we are giving, not getting.” As a result, Speth’s “new America” is more democratic; it is designed to encourage and sustain “human solidarity, devoted friendship, and meaningful accomplishment,” structured to ensure that economic benefits are shared equitably, and the “environment is sustained for current and future generations.” Simply put, life is “simpler, people more caring, and less grasping and status-conscious.” To achieve his proposed system, Speth enumerates several critical sites of strategic intervention, such as the market, the corporation, economic growth, money and finance, social conditions, indicators, consumerism, communities, dominant cultural values, politics, foreign policy, and the military. Along with crises, Speth recognizes leadership, social narrative, social movements, and education as key agents of change to help shift cultures and values, and support a Joyful Economy.
Open PDF ... Gus-Speth-The-Joyful-Economy
Navigating System Transition in a Volatile Century ... by Michael Lewis
Finally, in Navigating System Transition in a Volatile Century, Michael Lewis puts forward a vision for a new global economic system built from the ground up. Structured on values such as resilience, cooperation, decentralized and democratic ownership, the commons, and dependence on nature in demand, Lewis’s model is based on “cooperative economic democracy” and the solidarity economy. To transition to this new system, Lewis recognizes the need for strategic interventions, from minimizing investments on carbon intensive services and products to the adoption of basic minimum income guarantees, debt-free money, and 'glocalization' through a federation of networks, coalitions, and movements. As he explains, cooperative economic democracy and the solidarity economy are not only ends, but also important features of the transition, as they can help us effectively “resist what thwarts transition, build out the alternatives and, whether in opposing or proposing, vigorously advocate” for alternatives. Throughout his paper, Lewis also presents important examples to illustrate what can be accomplished within the current system, including the RESO initiative in Montreal, the successful worker and consumer cooperatives in Emilia-Romagna in Italy, and the Vía Campesina movement.
Open PDF ... Michael-Lewis-Navigating-System-Transition

Open PDF ... Transformation-Consumerism-2017
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Open PDF ... Community-Control-Land-Housing-2018

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