In this article originally published by the Economic Security Projecton December 16, 2016, Gar Alperovitz makes a case for a universal basic income, beginning with the understanding that most income is, in fact, a gift from the past, or a “technological inheritance.”
One or another form of unconditional “basic income” has now been advocated by individuals ranging from conservative economists like the late Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Modern feminists concerned with “care work” have emphasized versions of it, as have Black activists facing an economy that simply does not provide jobs for millions of people.
Leaving aside numerous questions about how best to structure a basic income, the idea of providing people with income as a matter of right — whether or not they do what society considers “work” — runs into age-old concerns about individual responsibility as well as endless arguments about political and economic equity. Until these are confronted, the prospect of significant change in the direction of any form of basic income is clearly highly uncertain.
On December 1st, 2016, Gar Alperovitz delivered the plenary lecture at the Pendle Hill Moral Economy Conference in Wallingford, PA, discussing the challenges of building a new community-sustaining political economy:
From Black Lives Matter and climate change activists to Senator Bernie Sanders political organizers, a new movement is building the basis of a historic transformation. How, specifically, can the creation of a meaningful democratic and moral community became central to the transformation of the largest corporate capitalist system in the history of the world? How, specifically, can we build from community to confront some of the larger order challenges true systemic change will require?
In this op-ed for Truthout, originally published on November 30, 2016, Democracy Collaborative co-founder Gar Alperovitz discusses the possibilities for designing a new system in the Trump Era:
Any serious perspective on how to respond to the election of Donald Trump must begin by recognizing that his victory flowed in substantial part from the growing global crisis of capitalism, which demands a specific strategic response. The response must begin with — but also go beyond — the urgent work of defending, wherever and however possible, the individuals and communities most at risk.
At the most obvious level, our collective response must build upon the energies illuminated by Bernie Sanders’ “democratic socialist” campaign, Black Lives Matter, climate justice, the mobilization in Standing Rock against the Dakota Access Pipeline, the Green Party, LGBTQ activism, immigration activism, People’s Action and many, many other efforts. It must also find ways to bring such energies together with the community-level organizing aimed at democratizing the economic system from the ground up, starting with the development of alternative institutions and building toward a larger vision.
Originally published in The Nationon November 29, 2016.
In this forum for The Nation, Gar Alperovitz explores what the election of Donald Trump means for local organizing — particularly at the level of cities, which will inevitably play a central role not only as sites of resistance to Trump’s agenda, but also as the birthing ground for new progressive strategies. Other contributors to the discussion, “‘All Resistance Is Local’: A Plan of Progressive Action for the Trump Years,”include Heather Gerken (Yale Law School), David Bollier (Commons Strategies Group), and Gary Gerstle (University of Cambridge). Here’s an excerpt from Gar’s contribution:
Cities—along with a handful of states—are the most important places left in America under Democratic control. They will inevitably play a central role not only as sites of resistance to Trump’s agenda but also as the birthing ground for new progressive strategies. An explosion of new forms of democratic ownership suggests how new power can be built and how foundations for long-term political change can be established.
In cities all across the country activists have been developing worker-owned cooperatives, community-based land trusts and financial institutions, and publicly owned broadband networks. Some have even launched efforts to take over and municipalize electric utilities as a way to address climate change. Mayors, realizing the potential, have begun to respond to this new wave of organizing and institution building. In New York City and Madison, Wisconsin, funds have been allocated to help build worker cooperatives. In Santa Fe, Oakland, and Philadelphia, intensive city-sponsored explorations of municipally-owned banks are underway.
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