May 20, 2012 | As our political system sputters, a wave of innovative thinking and bold experimentation is quietly sweeping away outmoded economic models. In ‘New Economic Visions’, a special five-part AlterNet series edited by Economics Editor Lynn Parramore in partnership with political economist Gar Alperovitz of the Democracy Collaborative, creative thinkers come together to explore the exciting ideas and projects that are shaping the philosophical and political vision of the movement that could take our economy back.
Read the articles in the series:
“The Rise of the New Economy Movement,” by Gar Alperovitz (Democracy Collaborative)
Just beneath the surface of traditional media attention, something vital has been gathering force and is about to explode into public consciousness. The “New Economy Movement” is a far-ranging coming together of organizations, projects, activists, theorists and ordinary citizens committed to rebuilding the American political-economic system from the ground up.
The broad goal is democratized ownership of the economy for the “99 percent” in an ecologically sustainable and participatory community-building fashion. The name of the game is practical work in the here and now—and a hands-on process that is also informed by big picture theory and in-depth knowledge.
Thousands of real world projects — from solar-powered businesses to worker-owned cooperatives and state-owned banks — are underway across the country. Many are self-consciously understood as attempts to develop working prototypes in state and local “laboratories of democracy” that may be applied at regional and national scale when the right political moment occurs. Read more…
“There Is a Way! Beyond the Big, Bad Corporation,” by Tara Lohan (Alternet)
The corporate model we have today hasn’t always been around and it doesn’t need to remain the dominant way we do business. There is no reason we should be swabbing the decks of a sinking ship — alternatives already exist and they are flourishing. Read more…
“Why Building Community Wealth is a Key Challenge to Corporate Power,” by Steve Dubb (Democracy Collaborative)
As resistance has grown to America’s widening gulf between the “1 percent” and the rest of the population, something new has exploded in America’s communities; “community wealth building” is an explicit strategy to democratize the ownership of wealth from the ground up. With traditional regulatory and tax-and-spend approaches faltering at every level, the notion that we should create new democratic economic institutions to build wealth, community by community, is quietly gaining traction. We now have the potential for larger and longer-term transformation throughout the nation. Read more…
“Cooperative Banking, the Exciting Wave of the Future,” by Ellen Brown (Public Banking Institute)
Banking in an age of greed is fraught with usury, fraud and gaming the system for private ends. But there is another way to do banking; the neighborly approach of George Bailey in the classic movie It’s a Wonderful Life. Rather than feeding off the community, banking can feed the community and the local economy.
Today, the massive too-big-to-fail banks are hardly doing George Bailey-style loans at all. They are not interested in community lending. They are doing their own proprietary trading—trading for their own accounts—which generally means speculating against local interests. They engage in high-frequency program trading that creams profits off the top-of-stock market trades; speculation in commodities that drives up commodity prices; leveraged buyouts with borrowed money that can result in mass layoffs and factory closures; and investment in foreign companies that compete against our local companies.
We can’t do much to stop them. They’ve got the power, especially at the federal level. But we can quietly set up an alternative model, and that’s what is happening on various local fronts. Read more…
“Capitalism Has Failed: 5 Bold Ways to Build a New World,” by Sara Robinson (Alternet)
The problem, in a nutshell, is this: The old economic model has utterly failed us. It has destroyed our communities, our democracy, our economic security, and the planet we live on. The old industrial-age systems — state communism, fascism, free-market capitalism — have all let us down hard, and growing numbers of us understand that going back there isn’t an option.
But we also know that transitioning to some kind of a new economy — and, probably, a new governing model to match — will be a civilization-wrenching process. We’re having to reverse deep and ancient assumptions about how we allocate goods, labor, money, and power on a rapidly shrinking, endangered, complex, and ever more populated planet. We are bolding taking the global economy — and all 7 billion souls who depend on it — where no economy has ever gone before. Read more…