Together with my colleagues at the Democracy Collaborative, we have assembled what we hope will be a useful resource for activists, scholars, and policy makers trying to come to terms with the system problem: If we know the system is broken, and we want to move beyond both corporate capitalism and state socialism—how do we clarify the nature of a serious alternative?
Over the last decades, I have tried to sketch an answer—or at least a serious point of departure for defining and refining an answer. The Pluralist Commonwealth is a system anchored in the reconstruction of communities and the democratization of wealth. It involves plural forms of cooperative and common ownership, and, following the principle of subsidiarity, begins with decentralization and then moves to higher levels of regional and national coordination, but only when necessary. I invite you to visit the new site now; or keep reading to learn more about what you’ll find there.
IN THE LAST YEAR of his life, Martin Luther King Jr. struggled with what are best understood as existential challenges as he began to move toward an ever-more-profound and radical understanding of what would be required to deal with the nation’s domestic and international problems.
The direction he was exploring, I believe, is far more relevant to the realities we now face than many have realized—or have wanted to realize.
I first met King in 1964 at the Democratic Party’s national convention held that year in Atlantic City—the occasion of an historic challenge by the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) to the racially segregated and reactionary Mississippi Democratic Party. I was then a very young aide working for Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin. Read More »
Picking up where the short introductory excerpt left off, this next segment from our long conversation finds Peter Buffett and myself discussing the influence that growing up Midwestern had on both of us, and how these early experiences of community have shaped—for the better (we hope)!—the way we each try to talk about systemic challenges and solutions.
The following segment is an excerpt and preview of a conversation that took place between myself and Peter Buffett: composer, chairman of the NOVO Foundation, and son of investor Warren Buffett. Peter’s op-ed last year in the New York Times on the “charitable industrial complex”—retweeted over 8000 times and liked and shared by over a hundred thousand people on Facebook—was not only a stunning and unexpected indictment of the philanthropic status quo, but a bold call to imagine a new economy. This latter aspect—Peter’s demand for, as he put it, “concepts that shatter current structures and systems that have turned much of the world into one vast market”—led to the conversation excerpted here, when I sat down with Peter at the close of 2013 for a discussion of systemic crisis and the possibility of hope. The full conversation will appear soon.
"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