newbie on Participatory Economics

Brett Knowlton brettk at
Thu Jul 16 15:01:42 PDT 1998

Hey folks,

I'm new to the talk line here, so forgive me if this topic has already been beaten to death.

It seems to me that our current political and economic system is inherently flawed. It may not be as bad as other systems, past or present, but it is bad enough that I would like to see it changed drastically.

The correct approach, to my mind, is outlined by Michael Albert in his books on Participatory Economics. That is, to decide on what our values are first, and then build economic and political institutions which reinforce and nurture those values. If your values include democratic self-management, for example, then our current system fails pretty badly.

Albert goes through the exercise of creating an economy which furthers his values (if I remember correctly they are self-management, equity, diversity, and solidarity - maybe I'm leaving one out) and comes up with something that is pretty good. I'm not saying it is what we should all agree on, but it is certainly an excellent starting point for further change and refinement.

In the likely event that you are unfamiliar with Albert, some of the defining features of a participatory system are: 1) no private property, or at least no income based on ownership of property, 2) remuneration based solely on effort and sacrifice, 3) balanced job complexes, 4) prices obtained via supply and demand from the submission of consumption and production plans from consumers and producers, 5) strictly democratically based decision making in the workplace (elimination of bosses and underlings), although voluntarily ceded authority is permissable as long as it can be recalled at any time.

Are any of you familiar with his work? If not, have I described it well enough to get the discussion going?

Looking forward to responses.

Brett Knowlton, aka "muskrat"

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