Category Archives: Articles

Technological Inheritance and the Case for a Basic Income

Economic Security ProjectIn this article originally published by the Economic Security Project on 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.

Click here to read the full article.

Posted in Articles | Comments closed

Building a System-Changing Response to Trump and Trumpism at All Levels

TruthoutIn 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.

Read the full article here.

Also posted in Uncategorized | Comments closed

Systemic Crisis and Systemic Change in the United States in the 21st Century

Systemic Crisis and Systemic Change in the United States in the 21st CenturyThis new working paper by Gar Alperovitz, Gus Speth, Ted Howard, and Joe Guinan from The Next System Project—prepared as an invited contribution to the “After Fossil Fuels: The New Economy” conference in Oberlin, Ohio from October 6-8, 2016—explores the intersections of systemic economic and ecological crisis, and propose that only a break with the mechanisms of corporate capitalism is capable of guaranteeing a sustainable future.

The challenge of mounting an adequate response to climate change has to be understood within the context of the larger systemic crisis facing the United States. The perpetuation of generalized austerity and the continued reliance on traditional— and manifestly insufficient—policy solutions which do not address the underlying drivers of inequality, poverty, and ecological overshoot is especially wrongheaded given the historically unprecedented productive capacity our nation enjoys, and the growing consensus on the fundamentals of post-scarcity monetary theory. As the ecological rift widens, we must recognize the incompatibility of core features of the current corporate capitalist system with a sustainable, just, and equitable future…

Read the full paper here.

Also posted in Uncategorized | Comments closed

Obama’s Visit Raises Ghosts of Hiroshima

By David E. Sanger. Originally published in The New York Times on May 10, 2016.

screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-1-39-57-pmGar Alperovitz has been a leader of the conversation about the atrocities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki for decades. Here, he is cited by New York Times journalist David Sanger for his evidence that dropping the bomb was an unnecessary part of the Japanese surrender and the end of World War II:

“The top American military leaders who fought World War II, much to the surprise of many who are not aware of the record, were quite clear that the atomic bomb was unnecessary, that Japan was on the verge of surrender, and — for many — that the destruction of large numbers of civilians was immoral,” Gar Alperovitz, a leader of the movement to revise the United States’ own historical accounting, wrote last year in The Nation…

Click here to read the full article in The New York Times

Also posted in Uncategorized | Comments closed

Do We Really Need a Billionaire Class? Gar Alperovitz on inequality and excess

Too Much LogoThe Institute for Policy Studies’ publication Too Much focuses on inequality and excess. In this interview originally published on February 21, 2016, Too Much editor Sam Pizzigati speaks with Democracy Collaborative co-founder and Next System Project co-chair Gar Alperovitz about his “long-haul perspective on how we can go about shearing inequality down to democratic size:”

Too Much: You see capital — who gets to own it, to benefit from it, and derive political power from it — as a key to both understanding and ending our staggering levels of contemporary. What do you mean by capital?

Alperovitz: In the formulation I use, capital amounts simply to wealth ownership of any kind, ownership that can be translated into power. You can sell it to get income. You can hire people with it. It’s another word for wealth ownership.

Too Much: We’ve become so unequal, you’ve also noted, that we’ll never become significantly more equal unless we have a fundamental shift in who controls capital, in who owns wealth. A shift to what?

Alperovitz: Wealth brings power, political power, institutional power. Wealth on its own gives people the capacity, as a friend of mine likes to say, to “rent” politicians and control the political process. Wealth gives the wealthy access — access to political levers that alter the way the economy works.

Wealth gives the wealthy the capacity to ‘rent’ politicians and control the political process.

In all the advanced countries, labor organizations used to provide a counterbalance to this wealth. On the shop floor and in the political system, unions directly challenged capital on wages and the distribution of income.

But in the United States we’ve always had a much weaker labor movement than most other advanced capitalist nations, and today our labor counterweight is disappearing. Increasingly, we have no institutional counter to the political power of capital.

Many activists today think that building a movement will solve this problem. We obviously need a movement. But at the heart of the movement that helped make America more equal in the middle of the 20th century, we also had an institution, labor unions.

Unless you can build both institutions and a political movement, you won’t have the power and wherewithal to really challenge capital.

Read More »

Posted in Articles | Comments closed