Monthly Archives: January 2012

A round-up of reactions to America Beyond Capitalism

I’m delighted to report that the thesis of America Beyond Capitalism has been the subject of thought-provoking commentary from across the political spectrum.

In the New York Times blog “Economix,” Professor Nancy Folbre of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst wrote a piece last month entitled “Utopian Capitalism.” She discusses the admission among capitalists like Richard Branson of the Virgin Group that the “short-term focus on profit has driven most businesses to forget about the long-term role in taking care of people.” She continues:

If all owners, bankers and corporate executives were virtuous souls, capitalism might function flawlessly. Adam Smith outlined a similar argument in the mid-18th century, in “The Theory of Moral Sentiments.” The pursuit of economic self-interest, he explained, would generally be tempered by natural morality.

Most economists, whatever their political stripes, generally put more emphasis on incentives than on virtue. And most ordinary people understand that the incentives built into the global capitalist system tend to reward some very bad behaviors.

Large corporations can often squelch their competition. They can minimize their costs by dumping waste products into the environment, contributing to pollution and global warming. They can use their profits to buy political influence. If they don’t like the regulatory policies of one nation-state, they can simply shift their operations to another.

Can we do something to minimize the perverse incentives that our current form of capitalism creates and move closer to our free enterprise ideals?

In his new book, “America Beyond Capitalism,” and in a recent opinion article in The New York Times, Gar Alperovitz makes a strong case for promoting cooperatives and worker-owned businesses.

The idea of empowering workers and communities to be able to control the economic decisions that directly impact their lives has even been welcomed on the website of the business magazine, Forbes. In “Are We Wandering Toward Socialism?,” contributor Erika Andersen writes approvingly of a community-based conception of “socialism”: Read More »

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Interview with Bob Edwards

I had the pleasure of speaking to award-winning radio journalist Bob Edwards about my book America Beyond Capitalism for his show on SiriusXM.

You can purchase the podcast of the interview here.

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David Bollier on America Beyond Capitalism

(Reposted, under Creative Commons license, from David Bollier’s excellent website on the commons )

While a great many commons seek to develop alternatives to conventional businesses – and even to bypass markets altogether – the struggle to democratize capital should not be lost in the shuffle. Popular ownership of capital assets and business enterprises is still a great strategy for building the commons and advancing the public good. Fortunately, there’s a growing enthusiasm for this approach.

One of the most eloquent advocates for socially friendly forms of capital ownership – the French call it the “social economy” – is Gar Alperovitz, a historian and political economist at the University of Maryland and a founder of the Democracy Collaborative. Alperovitz’s 2005 book, America Beyond Capitalism, was recently re-issued, presumably because it speaks to the political moment. How can we make economic progress when banks and large corporations are simply looking out for themselves? How can we reduce wealth inequality when government is captured by corporations and the affluent?

Read More »

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Movements, History, and Economic Transformation

(This is the complete interview, in one file, that has previously appeared here as individual segments)
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Interview with Scott Harris from Between the Lines & Counterpoint

I had a chance to talk with Scott Harris, host of Counterpoint and Between the Lines, about my book America Beyond Capitalism; listen to the audio below:

Download the audio: Interview with Scott Harris of Counterpoint/Between the Lines

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