Monthly Archives: October 2011

Movements, History, and Economic Transformation, Part 6: Coops and community, ecology and economics

In this segment, I explain the overall political economic philosophy behind Cleveland’s Evergreen Cooperatives, which I helped develop as a part of the Democracy Collaborative. By reinscribing worker ownership within a community framework, cooperatives like these can not just build a more equitable economy, but can help us get past the growth imperative and stave off ecological crisis.

Watch previous segments:

Interview shot and produced by Jordan Karr-Morse from Softbox Digital.

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Neither Revolution nor Reform: A New Shape for Progressive Politics

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2011 Issue of Dissent.

For over a century, liberals and radicals have seen the possibility of change in capitalist systems from one of two perspectives: the reform tradition assumes that corporate institutions remain central to the system but believes that regulatory policies can contain, modify, and control corporations and their political allies. The revolutionary tradition assumes that change can come about only if corporate institutions are eliminated or transcended during an acute crisis, usually but not always by violence. But what happens if a system neither reforms nor collapses in crisis?

Quietly, a different kind of progressive change is emerging, one that involves a transformation in institutional structures and power, a process one could call “evolutionary reconstruction.” At the height of the financial crisis in early 2009, some kind of nationalization of the banks seemed possible. “The public hates bankers right now,” the Brookings Institution’s Douglas Elliot observed. “Truthfully, you would find considerable support for hanging a number of bankers…” It was a moment, Barack Obama told banking CEOs, when his administration was “the only thing between you and the pitchforks.” But the president opted for a soft bailout engineered by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers. Whereas Franklin Roosevelt attacked the “economic royalists” and built and mobilized his political base, Obama entered office with an already organized base and largely ignored it.

When the next financial crisis occurs, and it will, a different political opportunity may be possible. Read More »

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Two new articles and an extended interview

First and foremost, I want to thank the Capital Institute for the excellent, in-depth interview and profile they’ve just posted.  It’s always a pleasure to talk to people who fully understand the necessity of systemic change in the economic system, and I’m grateful not just for this piece, but also for the excellent and comprehensive “Field Study” they did of the Evergreen Cooperatives.

Second, Alternet just posted my review of journalist Maria Armoudian’s Kill the Messenger: The Media’s Role in the Fate of the World, an excellent and much-needed look at the power of the media to knit communities together or tear them apart.  Armoudian’s book explains “two things: first, how deeply the media can affect our lives—for good or bad—and second, now more than ever, it is vital to create, empower and support responsible media that educate, explain, and elevate, and to discard those approaches that merely blame, deprecate and divide.”  Read the full review on Alternet.

And finally, for those who have access to a university library, be sure to check out my article “The Emerging Paradoxical Possibility of a Democratic Economy” in the Review of Social Economy (Volume 69, Issue 3, 2011).

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