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Gar Alperovitz is the author of What Then Must We Do?, America Beyond Capitalism, and The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb, and an advocate for a new, community-sustaining economy.

Gar Alperovitz on “What’s Next with Peter Buffet”

Originally published on December 26, 2015 on Radio Woodstock 100.1 FM.

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 11.46.43 AMThe Democracy Collaborative co-founder Gar Alperovitz joins Peter Buffet on Radio Woodstock 100.1 for his weekly radio show, What’s Next With Peter Buffet. Buffet interviews Alperovitz on systemic change, Alperovitz’ speech at the SOCAP 2015 conference, youth movements from the 1960s’ “McCarthy era” to the present, and more.

Listen to the full broadcast here.

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Gar Alperovitz speaks on “Standing Room Only” broadcast

Originally posted on WFHB/Firehouse Broadcasting on December 16, 2015.

 

Badge-wo-Tagline1-e1449100189689On December 4, 2015, political economist, activist and author Gar Alperovitz discussed redesigning our economic future as part of Indiana University’s Fall 2015 Themester programming. Alperovitz challenged his listeners to consider ways in which communities might help to transform the current system of wealth and political power to benefit more of society than just an elite few. The event begins with an introduction by Ryan Conway of IU’s Center for Sustainable Living.

Click here to listen to the full broadcast.

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Sanders’ strength? Millennials back socialism

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This morning, I spoke with Dorian Warren on MSNBC’s “Nerding Out” about the meaning of “democratic socialism” amidst presidential election fervor, and the possibility for a next system through a global political and historical lens. I joined Joseph Schwartz to dissect Senator Bernie Sanders’ plan to extend democracy from its political sphere into an economic sphere… Watch the full interview.

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Wall Street Journal embracing the democratization of wealth?

Just three years ago, I worked with the staff here at the Democracy Collaborative to write this article, which made a very basic point about the way systemic solutions to economic inequality were treated by the business paper of record, the Wall Street Journal.  As you can see, business structures that directly democratized ownership of the economy received short shrift:

But three years later, as the crisis of inequality continues to deepen—and after Piketty and Corbyn and Sanders and Pope Francis—the WSJ seems to have changed its tune.  The system question—that is, the question of how the ownership of capital should be structured in society that purports to be a democracy—is clearly on the table in a remarkable long essay published this past Saturday, written by the authorized biographer of Margaret Thatcher.

The piece begins with the simple imperative: “If Western countries want to disprove the dire forecasts of Karl Marx, we must think creatively about how to make the middle class more prosperous and secure.“

Let that sink in for a minute. The threat, according to this featured piece in the Wall Street Journal, is not just Marxists and their ideas, but the possibility that they might be right about capitalism after all. The author strikes the same note in his conclusion:

 […] Marx did have an insight about the disproportionate power of the ownership of capital. The owner of capital decides where money goes, whereas the people who sell only their labor lack that power. This makes it hard for society to be shaped in their interests. In recent years, that disproportion has reached destructive levels, so if we don’t want to be a Marxist society, we need to put it right.

And what is the alternative that this author sees as the way forward to avoid the hypothetical looming dictatorship of the proletariat?  Simply put, the author insists that we need to “take ownership much more seriously,” and put democratic control back into corporate governance:

Why are so few companies owned by the people who work for them, and why do both liberal and conservative political parties not offer greater incentives, such as tax advantages, for this to change? It is extraordinary that the joint stock company, the foundation of modern commercial and industrial wealth, is still so little influenced by the views of shareholders. This is perhaps most evident in the preposterous salaries paid, particularly in the U.S. and Britain, to top executives of public companies. If the owners of these companies truly exercised authority over what is theirs, this wouldn’t happen. If these enterprises had grown over the last 20 years at the same rate as pay for the men who run them (it usually still is men), no one would be talking of a crisis of capitalism.

But even more strikingly, the author goes beyond the idea of shareholder democracy, and insists on a large-scale push to imagine and implement the democratization of wealth, not through redistribution, but through newly revitalized forms of cooperative and democratized ownership and control of our economic institutions:

The Victorians were more imaginative than we are about principles of mutuality—credit unions, building societies, the cooperative movement. Such organizations feel creakier in an age when people want larger sums, faster. But is it really beyond the skill of our great modern business brains to develop these concepts and adapt them to modernity?

Admittedly, this is a single article that does little in the long run to correct the systemic bias revealed in the graphs above: the WSJ is by no means running regular coverage of the growing number of experiments in community wealth building and democratized cooperative ownership that are emerging throughout the nation (yet). But the oddity of the WSJ, bastion of capitalism’s most defended ideological heights, running such a forceful indictment of the current system and its tendency to reproduce and deepen levels of inequality inimical to democracy cannot be ignored: the system question may not quite be on the table in the mainstream media in the way it ultimately needs to be, but it’s getting close.

 

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The New New Deal: Gar Alperovitz on Radio Open Source with Christopher Lydon

Originally posted on Radio Open Source/90.9 WBUR Boston on September 24, 2015.
Produced in partnership with The NationAvailable in podcast form on iTunes.

radioopensource

An American conversation with global attitude.

This week with the new economist Gar Alperovitz and Felicia Wong, the head of the Roosevelt Institute, Radio Open Source explores the creation of an economic platform in search of a 2016 candidate. What would a presidential candidate have to say this summer to win over the discouraged workers, the house-poor, the indebted students, the indigent elderly?

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