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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 by 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.

Learn more

Visit The Next System Project, our site dedicated to advancing bold ideas for a democratic economy.

To connect with us around policy solutions, email Dana Brown, Director of the Next System Project, at dbrown -at- democracycollaborative.org.

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