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  • Theory and policy for a next system
January 30, 2020

Theory and policy for a next system

Working on both sides of the Atlantic, we are advancing bold interventions in transformative policy that move the window of possibility decisively towards systemic change.

Our analysis is grounded in the political economy of our co-founder Gar Alperovitz and his half century of work elaborating the need for a systemic alternative. What Gar grasped as early as the late 1960s was that the exceptional period of capitalist prosperity following World War II was just that: an exception.  The internal contradictions generated by an economy built spatially around racial exclusion could not be addressed without fundamentally reorienting the economy towards community. At the same time, the external imperative to oppose US imperial expansion—which he contested both in his groundbreaking historical explorations of the decision to drop the atomic bomb and in his bold activism against the war in Vietnam—could not be met without reorienting the economy away from market-driven growth.

If the design of corporate capitalism is unable to sustain values of equality, genuine democracy, liberty, and ecological sustainability as a matter of inherent systemic architecture, what systemic ‘design’ might ultimately achieve and sustain these values? How specifically might it be possible to move forward, especially in difficult political times, to lay foundations for a transformation in the direction of a serious new systemic answer? We need to go beyond rhetoric about a broken system to a critical and informed understanding of how a real systemic alternative might actually work.

—Gar Alperovitz

From these two basic insights—together with the practical experiences advocating for a radical path during the creation of federal infrastructure for community development, and for a groundbreaking worker/community ownership plan in the earliest days of deindustrialization in the Rust Belt—unfolded Gar’s vision of the “pluralist commonwealth”: an alternative economic system built around multiple overlapping scales of community, common, cooperative, and public ownership, reachable from our current system through a process of “evolutionary reconstruction.” It is this framework that forms the foundation for our work on the ideas and policies needed to create a democratic economy.

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The book cover for The Making of a Democratic Economy, on a field of raised hands

The Making of a Democratic Economy

The Making of a Democratic Economy is a clarion call for a movement ready to get serious about transforming our economic system. Illuminating the principles of a democratic economy through the stories of on-the-ground community wealth builders and their unlikely accomplices in the halls of institutional power, this book is a must read for everyone concerned with how we win the fight for an economy that’s equitable, not extractive.

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An abstract depiction of a local economic system

Principles of a Pluralist Commonwealth

In this book by The Democracy Collaborative’s co-founder, Gar Alperovitz lays out his vision for a next system. The approach and model outlined — the Pluralist Commonwealth — offers a trajectory and pattern for wide-ranging institutional change towards real democracy over the long haul, guided by a transformative vision beyond both corporate capitalism and traditional state socialism.

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Right to own

Right To Own: A Policy Framework to Catalyze Worker Ownership Transitions

Our new report explores the “right to own”—giving workers the right of first refusal anytime their workplace is up for sale—as a strategy to massively scale up employee ownership in the economy. We outline the major provisions and legal changes necessary to enact this right, and the ecosystem of

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An array of prescription medications on shelves

Medicine For All: The case for a public option in the pharmaceutical industry

Democratic, public ownership of pharmaceutical development, production, and distribution in the U.S. is necessary to combat the increasingly harmful impacts of Big Pharma which decades of regulation have failed to counteract.

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September 21, 2020
Democratising Ownership

Democratizing knowledge: Transforming intellectual property and research and development

We need to apply democratic ownership and control principles to intellectual property and research and development, so that interconnected and entwined systems are used to build a more equitable, sustainable, and democratic 21st-century economy.
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January 8, 2021
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After the insurrection: Defeating Trumpism, rebuilding America

Our message about how we must respond to the 2017 Charlottesville tragedy is even more relevant after the attack on the US Capitol by Donald Trump supporters.

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A Common Platform

A Common Platform: Reimagining data and platforms

Digital platforms have proven indispensable to how we live, work, and play. The challenge is to liberate the democratic and enlivening potential of the platform from the logic of concentrated corporate ownership and profit maximization.

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October 24, 2020
The New Systems Reader

The New Systems Reader: A 'landmark book' for an unprecedented time

This book highlights some of the most thoughtful, substantive, and promising answers to how to reshape an economy battered by a global pandemic on top of the looming climate crisis, chronic structural racism, and worsening wealth inequities.
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