Alternatives to Capitalism: Proposals for a Democratic Economy
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What would a viable free and democratic society look like? Poverty, exploitation, instability, hierarchy, subordination, environmental exhaustion, radical inequalities of wealth and power—it is not difficult to list capitalism’s myriad injustices. But is there a preferable and workable alternative?
Alternatives to Capitalism: Proposals for a Democratic Economy presents a debate between two such possibilities: Robin Hahnel’s “participatory economics” and Erik Olin Wright’s “real utopian” socialism. It is a detailed and rewarding discussion that illuminates a range of issues and dilemmas of crucial importance to any serious effort to build a better world.
“system” mean when we talk about “social systems”? This is a big theme in social theory, one filled with opaque formulations. For present purposes, a contrast between two metaphors for thinking about systems can be helpful. One metaphor conceives of a society as analogous to an organism in which all of its parts are tightly integrated into a functioning whole. There is some degree of freedom and variability in the way the parts function, but basically the component parts of an organism constitute
statist empowerment: Authoritarian Statism The experience of authoritarian statism has justifiably lead to great skepticism about the desirability of the centralized state planning model of socialism. Nevertheless, the power configuration of statist socialism remains an important component of any prospect for transcending capitalism, particularly for large infrastructure projects, systems of public transportation, various kinds of natural monopolies, and for at least the core components of the
central values we would like to see realised in a post-capitalist society, and a common commitment to progressive reform within capitalism as a necessary part of the (possible) transformation beyond capitalism. Within this context of such shared understandings, what I hope to do here is not mainly defend my positions against Robin’s last piece, but rather revisit a variety of themes we have been discussing throughout this dialogue to give as much precision as I can to the nature of our remaining
world with a participatory economy, people will abandon competitive sports just as Robin hopes that they will completely abandon markets. But it is also possible that in the context of the cultural forms that are consolidated within such a world, whatever the negative effects of competition in sports will be minimal, and competitive sports will flourish as a human activity because many people will find them interesting and fun to play. 2. But Is There Anything Actually Desirable about Markets?
“social economy” and “solidarity economy” are used more or less interchangeably. Sometimes they are coupled in the expression “the social and solidarity economy.” Generally it seems that the term social economy is used as a broader, more heterogeneous umbrella term than solidarity economy, although both are meant to identify more egalitarian, socially oriented forms of economic life than capitalism. Here I will use the term “solidarity economy” to define the form of social economy in which social