Michael Albert – USA

Linked with Amy Goodman – USA, with Parecon and Aspirations,

with Mandisi Majavu – South Africa, with Participatory Economics, with again Alternative Economy, with the parecon idea, with ParEcon – A Participatory Economy, with Which Way Venezuela, with the London Project for a Participatory Society LPPS, with Social Reports 2005 and  with Life After Colonialism. Michael Albert (born April 8, 1947) is a longtime activist, speaker, and writer, is co-editor of ZNet, and co-editor and co-founder of Z Magazine. He also co-founded South End Press and has written numerous books and articles. He developed along with Robin Hahnel the economic vision called participatory economics. Albert identifies himself as a market abolitionist and favors democratic participatory planning as an alternative. During the 1960s, Albert was a member of Students for a Democratic Society, and was active in the anti-Vietnam War movement … (full text).

Michael Albert is one of the nation’s leading authorities on political economy, U.S. economic policies, and the media. A veteran writer/activist, he currently works with Z Magazine and the website Znet.

He says: … “Capitalism is a horrific system. Capitalism is a system that breeds an environment in which dignity is robbed, in which people are out—nice guys finish last, in the words of a famous American baseball coach, or in my more aggressive formulation, garbage rises, meaning it’s a competitive environment in which you care about others, you suffer. If you violate others, you advance. It’s an environment in which there’s about 30 million poor people. There’s about seven million homeless people and seven million empty hotel rooms. There’s war, and so on. And the question for me was always, starting right at the beginning in 1968, ‘67: what do we replace it with? If we’re about changing this fundamentally, then we have to be about not just better values, people controlling their own lives, equity, justice, diversity, solidarity, we have to be about institutions that would make those values real. So parecon or participatory economics is a model” … “Yes, and it’s not a brilliant choice, I’m told. It’s an economic system, a set of institutions to accomplish production and consumption and allocation, stuff that makes up economics, and to do it in a way that the act of doing it gives people control over their lives, gives people solidarity with others, gives people an equitable share of the social output, gives people a range of options that’s fulfilling” … (full long interview text, April 17, 2007).

His personal website with cooking recipes and photos.

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Michael Albert – USA

His videos with Michael Albert:

… In an article entitled “Which Way Venezuela?” published in a recent issue of Znet.org, Michael Albert writes that Hugo Chavez became President of Venezuela “largely due to the ravages of neoliberal reforms in the 80s and 90s … the Venezuelan poverty rate had reached 50% … the aim and promise of Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution was to not only eliminate rampant, raging, poverty, but to attain a new economic and social system consistent with the highest standards of human fulfillment and development” … (full text, July 25, 2008).

Albert’s memoir, Remembering Tomorrow: From SDS to Life After Capitalism (ISBN 1583227423), was published in 2007 by Seven Stories Press.

And as Google download book: Parecon: Life After Capitalism, by Michael Albert, 311 pages, 2003.

Venezuela’s path, Nov. 06, 2005.

Find him and his publications on BSF Audio Library, on Zmag.org/Parecon; on Z Communications; on Google Video-search; on Google Book-search.

David Schweickart versus Michael Albert, Nov. 2, 2006.

… Not surprisingly we began compulsively trying to develop, advocate, and win support for a new type economy. But why would anyone, we asked ourselves, like one economy, such as parecon, and not like some other economy, such as capitalism or what’s called market socialism or centrally planned socialism? Robin and I decided the only sound grounds for judging economies was to determine whether they fostered values we liked. So we had a problem. What were our values? What were the values a good economy should promote by its operations? And that’s what the first part of the book, Parecon, is about … (full long text).

He writes: … Participatory economics is built around new defining institutions which propel different values than market systems, than private ownership, than corporate divisions of labor, etc. It is impossible to describe a whole different economy, and argue its merits even in a full interview much less in one question. But what parecon achieves is to facilitate each producer and consumer having a say in economic outcomes proportionate to the degree those outcomes affect him or her (self mangement), via social structures which promote mutual solidarity and shared interests, which advance diverse patterns of behavior and outcome, and which attain distributional equity both of circumstances and of income. Parecon is an economy that has no owners monopolizing property and without what I call a coordinator class (what was the ruling class in the old Soviet Union and Poland) monopolizing empowering conditions of work. It is built on new institutional choices including councils, balanced job complexes, self managed decision making, remuneration for duration and intensity and hardship of work, and what is called participatory planning. Those interested in the possibility of a solidarity economy, an equity economy, a diversity economy, a self managed economy, a participatory economy, might wish to take a look at www.parecon.org. There they will find full presentations so they can come to a judgement about this system themselves. But, however they might feel about parecon, there is simply no reason whatsoever to pay the slightest intellectual credence to agents of power and wealth prattling about free markets and their benefits. This is all propaganda and rationalization – nothing more. It deserves our attention only due to the power it wields, not any veracity, which it totally lacks. (full text, June 13, 2004).

Parecon also does away with markets which pit each actor against all others, destroy solidarity, impose class division, mis-price all public goods, ignore collective effects beyond direct buyers and sellers, violate ecological balance and sustainability, and have many other faults as well. In place of markets parecon utilizes a system of workers and consumers, through their self managing councils, cooperatively negotiating inputs and outputs for all firms and actors in accord with true and full social costs and benefits of economic activities. In a short article it is impossible to make even a quick much less a compelling case for an entirely different economic system. I can only offer a brief list of parecon’s values and institutions. I know such brevity is vague and hard for unfamiliar readers to give substance to. But here we have no room for clarification, supporting argument, or detailed discussion. My apologies. What I hope, however, is that readers who know from their own experience that capitalist economies routinely cause us to fleece each other, deny us having a say over our own lives or force us to dominate the lives of others, distribute massive outputs to those who do the most pleasurable or even who do no work at all and distribute meager outputs to those who do the least pleasurable and the overwhelming volume of work, will hope that parecon is a real alternative. I can hope, in other words, that instead of quietly accepting rich people’s passivity-inducing mantra that “there is no alternative,” we will all seek something better, beyond capitalism, and that, moved by our aspirations we will carefully consider parecon on its merits. One place that you might begin, if you don’t accept that humanity is forever doomed to suffer gross inequality and hierarchy via capitalist ownership, corporations, and markets, is Parecon.org. (full text, July 27, 2005).

He writes also: … Parecon’s Values – Okay, then what:

  • We were anti-Leninist with roots in the traditions of libertarian socialism and anarchism.
  • We hated capitalism.
  • We suspected old socialisms were horribly flawed.
  • We had decided that movements needed an economic vision to succeed. We saw that no one was successfully proposing such vision.
  • We believed markets were abhorrent, but we also knew that no one was offering a compelling alternative.
  • We had experience, at South End Press, of innovative new ways of organizing work.
  • We hated obscurantist posturing.

links:

The Z Communications;

Parecon / Participatory Economics;

The Africa Project of participatory society;

South End Press;

Participatory politics;

Coordinatorism;

Left-wing politics;

Building African Cadres of Excellence: A study of the neo-colonial coordinator class, June, 16 2008;

Government as an Agent of Social and Economic Justice, June 28, 2007.

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