Category Archives: Articles

Progressive Visions: The Pluralist Commonwealth

Read Dan Sisken’s review of Gar’s book, Principles of a Pluralist Commonwealth on Progressive Strategy. Sisken highlights the many successful examples of alternative forms of ownership and economic institutions across the United States that Gar features in his book:

These are just a few of the building blocks put forth as part of a pluralist commonwealth. Among the others addressed in the book are climate change, decentralization, culture, democracy, liberty, investment, markets, technology, and trade. There is a short chapter that explains how each of these plays a role in the pluralist commonwealth that may be starting to appear on the horizon.

The Principles of a Pluralist Commonwealth proposes building blocks that help progressives and others envision something different that works for everyone.

Click here to read the full review.

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The Policy Weapon Climate Activists Need

In this article published in The Nation, Gar Alperovitz, Joe Guinan, and Thomas M. Hanna, make the case for using quantitative easing as the knockout punch that shuts down the fossil fuel industry before the climate bubble pops. As window for acting on climate change, the government could use the same tool it used to save the economy from depression to save the climate from burning.

We’re running out of time on climate change. As Donald Trump and Big Oil’s other friends in Washington do their utmost to keep global temperatures climbing, our window for preserving civilization is closing fast. Yes, solar, wind, batteries, and energy efficiency are plummeting in cost and grabbing market share the world over, but this clean-energy transformation is not proceeding anywhere near fast enough to prevent catastrophic climate disruption. The science is clear on what’s most needed: We must leave the vast majority of Earth’s remaining reserves of oil, coal, and gas unburned and underground. But those reserves are the basis of the stock prices of some of the richest, most powerful companies in history. And those companies give every indication that they plan to keep burning them, science and humanity be damned.

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How Philanthropy Can Help Community Development Survive Trump

Trump’s presidency will likely do significant damage to community development especially for the communities that are most at risk. While philanthropy will certainly not be able to fill the massive gap left by cuts in federal spending, if used in the right way, it can help create local and regional programs and innovations that could be expanded when the political winds inevitably shift, contend Gar Alperovitz and Ted Howard in an article for The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Donald Trump will not be president forever, but in his time in office he can do substantial damage in many areas of American life. As one donor told us, “We risk having 40 years of progress in community development unraveled in the next 18 months.”

Principally, that’s because the new administration, along with Republican congressional leaders, is targeting federal spending on social programs and community development — a major bulwark against the consequences of generational poverty and ever-growing wealth inequality. Hundreds of billions of dollars are at risk.

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The Possibility of a Pluralist Commonwealth Evolutionary Reconstruction Toward a Caring and Just Political Economy

In this article published in the Winter 2017 issue of the Interdisciplinary Journal of Partnership StudiesGar Alperovitz outlines the characteristics of the “Pluralist Commonwealth” model and the step-by-step movements that are already happening toward a democratic political economy that supports caring community.

New developments at various level of the political-economic system suggest possible institutional trajectories supportive of community, and a longer term systemic design more supportive of strong democracy and a caring culture. An integration of institutional elements also offers possibilities more productive of equality and ecologically sustainable outcomes. The “Pluralist Commonwealth” is both pluralist in its institutional characteristics and supportive of such “commonwealth” institutions as co-operatives, neighborhood land trusts and community corporations, municipal utilities and a range of other larger scale ownership forms. An “evolutionary reconstructive” institutional, political, and cultural path is projected as a longer term transformative process different from both traditional reform and traditional ideas of revolution. Such a path inherently seeks to maximize the development of a caring community as it builds.

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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.

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