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.
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 »
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.
"This book offers by far the most serious, intellectually grounded strategy for system-changing yet to appear. It could be the most important movement-building book of the new century..."
—Daniel Ellsberg, author of Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers
"Concrete and feasible ways to reverse the ominous course of the past several decades and to open the way to a vibrant democracy with a sustainable economy…
A marvelous book…I recommend it all the time"
"Highly readable; excellent for students…. A tonic and eye-opener for anyone who wants a politics that works."
—Jane Mansbridge, President-Elect, American Political Science Association, Adams Professor, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University