by Robin Hahnel
As of June 2021, 54% of Gen Z adults view capitalism negatively and over 41% have a positive view on socialism. A Participatory Economy is written for people who desire an equitable, ecological economy but want to know what an alternative to capitalism could look like.
A Participatory Economy presents a fascinating, new alternative to capitalism. It proposes and defends concrete answers to how all society's economic decisions can be made without resorting to unaccountable and inhumane markets (capitalism) or central planning authorities (communism). It explains the viability of early socialism's vision of an economy in which the workers come together to decide among themselves what to produce and consume. At the same time, Hahnel proposes new features to this economic model including proposing how "reproductive labor" might be socially organized, how to plan investment and long-term development to maximize popular participation and efficiency, and finally, how a participatory economy might engage in international trade and investment without violating its fundamental principles in a world where economic development among nations has been historically unfair and unequal.
"Tired of having your life determined by a handful of gazillionaires, but afraid there is no alternative except an economic dictatorship? In A Participatory Economy, Robin Hahnel shows in concrete detail -- and without economic jargon -- how ordinary people can run an economy to meet their own needs through worker and consumer councils and federations. Of course many economists question that this is even possible but Hahnel provides powerful answers to rebut their denials. A Participatory Economy provides a provocative 'thought experiment' demonstrating that there is indeed an alternative to both neoliberal capitalism and economic despotism." -- Jeremy Brecher, author of Strike!
"'What comes next then?' This is likely one of the most common questions opponents of capitalism are asked when we critique the brutal and exploitative features of our economy. Hahnel has been developing a wide-ranging response to that very question for decades and in A Participatory Economy, he expertly advocates for an alternative to capitalism that rejects both the competitive and dehumanizing features of markets and the authoritarian, bureaucratic forms that are part and parcel of central planning. A recommended read for any student of political economy and necessary for organizers who want to understand one of the most popularized alternatives to capitalism outlined to date." -- Deric Shannon, co-editor of The Accumulation of Freedom and editor of The End of the World as We Know It
"I found Robin Hahnel's work on participatory economics as a young activist. I was mad at the world and committed to changing it, but ultimately hopeless about our chances of winning and confused about what winning might look like. Participatory economics gave me an opportunity to think about that future, to really imagine it, and to fight for it more effectively. This book is a brilliant distillation of those concepts, and a must-have resource for people looking to reshape this world into one in which we can truly thrive." -- Yotam Marom, facilitator and former leader in Occupy Wall Street
"Today's labor movement is in crisis. Many unions have not only abandoned the struggle to challenge the rule of capital, but also the responsibility to imagine the features of a new world. To break free of this impasse, we need to advance a socialist vision that puts humanity on the road to a classless society. In A Participatory Economy, Robin Hahnel advances a vision in which the means of social production and reproduction are held in common, human needs are met, our ecosystem is protected for present and future generations, and economic activity is planned and coordinated democratically by councils of workers and our communities. If you're curious what a better world beyond capitalism might look like, read this book!" -- Pádraig Connolly, Virginia Caucus of Rank-and-file Educators and CounterPower
About the Author:
Robin Hahnel is a life-long radical activist and economist whose work emphasizes environmental sustainability. Hahnel is best known for his work on alternatives to capitalism and as co-creator of the most famous and detailed model for a democratic and participatory approach to economics. He is now retired from American University where he taught economics. He lives in Portland, OR.