A year ago Verso books released Parecon: Life After Capitalism. Now the
paperback is available as well.
The Parecon book page which includes comments, reviews,
excerpts, and some interviews and debates, is at:
Last May, after a few mailings like this, the cloth bound edition shot
to number 13 on Amazon. Yes, 13. It was an incredible performance
defying all expectations.
Can the paperback do as well at the cloth did?
How high can we move up from our starting
position = 1,871,970th?
And can we sustain momentum by sticking to our
promotional mailings sufficiently long so that parecon
gets serious public evaluation?
I am asking you to please consider buying and reading Parecon: Life
Of course I think Parecon is a viable, worthy alternative to capitalism
and that the distribution of this book can help debate and advocacy. But
don't rely on my view. Instead, consider these comments from others:
Noam Chomsky, linguist, dissident, and ZNet commentator says...
"There is enormous dissatisfaction, worldwide,
with prevailing socioeconomic conditions and the choices
imposed by the reigning institutions. Calls for
change range from patchwork reform to more far-reaching
changes. ...Participatory economics outlines in substantial
detail a program of radical reconstruction, presenting
a vision that draws from a rich tradition of thought
and practice of the libertarian left and popular
movements, but adding novel critical analysis and specific
ideas and modes of implementation for constructive alternatives.
It merits close attention, debate, and action."
And here is a quote from Chomsky from 1970 that helped motivate my
unrelenting concern for vision. I hope that it will motivate you as
"If the present wave of repression can be beaten
back, if the left can overcome its more suicidal
tendencies and build upon what has been accomplished in
the past decade, then the problem of how to organize
industrial society on truly democratic lines, with
democratic control in the workplace and in the community,
should become a dominant intellectual issue for those who are
alive to the problems of contemporary society, and, as a
mass movement develops, speculation should proceed to action."
Arundhati Roy, writer, dissident says...
"The structure of capitalism is flawed. The motor that
powers it cannot but vastly increase the disparity between
the poor and the rich globally and within countries as well.
Parecon is a brave argument for replacing that flawed
machine and offers a much needed -- more equitable,
democratic, participatory -- alternative economic vision."
Howard Zinn, Historian, dissident says...
"I can't count the number of times when serious critics
of our social system would say to me: 'Why can't we come up
with a vision of what a good society would be like?' This is
what Mike Albert boldly does in Parecon: Life After Capitalism,
and the result is an imaginative, carefully reasoned description,
persistently provocative, of how we might live free from
Cynthia Peters, writer, activist, ZNet commentator, and member of SEIU
Local 285 says...
"As an organizer, writer, and union-based educator, there is a
certain refrain I hear over and over again. That is,
`Why bother struggling for social change? We can't really do
any better than this.' Too often our reply is simply that
`another world is possible.' But we don't say what might this
world look like. How would we design institutions? How would
we structure society? These are reasonable questions, and
progressives lose credibility when we have no real answers.
Participatory economy (parecon) offers a vision of how we
might organize production, consumption, remuneration and
distribution in ways that foster the values we believe in,
such as justice and solidarity. Albert gives us what we need
to imagine and debate what `another world' would look like.
Albert's writing is clear, and his case for parecon has
been fine-tuned by many years' experience writing and speaking.
This is an important book, not just because it does economic
vision so well and so credibly, but because it is a model for
all the vision work that needs to be done.
>From the Italian edition's dust jacket -- the first to appear
"After the triumph of neoliberism worldwide, many believe that
market laws are nothing more nor less than natural laws, and that
their luggage of injustice and unequally is an inevitable ill.
However, the failure of historical alternatives to capitalism
does not rule out the possibility that the principles of equity,
solidarity, self management, and diversity may replace free trade,
whose failures are increasingly evident. Without limiting personal
freedom, indeed encouraging it. And without compromising
research, innovation, development. These are the aims of
participatory economic planning `from below', giving to
self-managed workers and consumers councils the
responsibility of elaborating production and consumption choices
in light of their social costs and benefits.... Participatory
is an exercise in collective intelligence elaborated by people
from different countries, to which everybody is invited to
contribute. Through an accurate exposition and the rebuttal
of the most serious criticism, through case studies and a
detailed description of the strategies to translate the model
into reality, it shows that bringing democracy to all aspects
of economic life, from production to labor organization, from
consumption to resource distribution, is not a utopia;
indeed, it shows that another world is possible."
Adele Oliveri, economist, political activist, ZNet commentator, and
Italian translator of Parecon says...
"If we are to convince people to join the growing worldwide
struggle for global justice, we must be able to offer them
a glimpse into what our desired future society might look like.
Parecon takes economic vision out of the realm of academic
journals and throws it right in the middle of the activism
arena, showing us how we can build from the bottom up a set
of consumption, production, and allocation institutions that
foster equity, diversity, solidarity, participation, and
self-management. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and definitely
recommend it to anyone who is serious about winning the hearts
and minds of the undecided to the cause of our common
effort to build a more humane world."
Andrej Grubacic, historian, political activist, ZNet commentator, and
Serbo-Croat translator of Parecon says...
"Transition from capitalism to a more desirable economy,
especially in Eastern Europe, will come to pass only after
more sweat and tears have flowed in more campaigns on more
fronts than we can yet imagine. Parecon, as a model which
acknowledges all the merits and all the debits of a Soviet
system, Eastern European experience, and Yugoslav experiment,
is, in my opinion, extremely important for its attempt to
formulate a coherent anti-authoritarian, left libertarian,
economic vision. Parecon seems to me to be an anarchist
economic vision which adds detail and depth via its attention
to the specific positive economic institutions not previously
clearly advocated by anarchists - perhaps most notably balanced
job complexes and participatory planning."
Ezequiel Adamovsky, Argentine Activist, ZNet commentator, and author
"I believe the Argentinean social movements that are trying to
build alternatives to capitalist irrationality --such as the
barter markets, piquetero productive projects, workers
self-managed factories, independent distribution centers, etc.--
will surely find inspiration in Michael Albert's book. Will
the future be exactly as he envisions it? That's not the question.
What matters is that Parecon helps us imagine how we can
organize society after we get rid of capitalism.
Parecon makes utopia look feasible."
Robert McChesney, Co-editor, Monthly Review says...
"There is no more important issue facing humanity than
imagining and putting into place a post-capitalist economy,
based upon democratic principles and humane values. It has
been all but obliterated in recent times due to the dreadful
nature of the Soviet communist experience, and, far more
important, the hatred of our ruling elite for any notion
that there can be an alternative to the status quo. It is
to Michael Albert's everlasting credit that he has worked
tirelessly to grapple with the very difficult questions of
what a truly democratic economy might look like, and how it
might work. I strongly recommend Parecon: Life After Capitalism
as a mandatory entry point for such a discussion, the importance
of which becomes more apparent every day. It is a discussion
that cannot be postponed any longer. Albert's thoughtful
contribution deserves everyone's attention."
Stephen Shalom, political scientist, writer, ZNet commentator, and
editor of Socialist Visions says...
"Left proposals for change have so often been either minor
tinkerings with current horrors or the vaguest of imaginings
that dissolve on close examination. Participatory economics
-- Parecon -- has avoided both these dangers: it is a hard-headed,
carefully thought-out proposal for far-reaching and fundamental
change. In this volume, Michael Albert elaborates the model
and provides compelling responses to criticisms. Anyone who knows
we need a new world ought to give this book serious attention."
Carl Boggs, political scientist, writer, and author of Social Movements
and Political Power says...
"In Parecon, Michael Albert has built extensively and creatively
upon his earlier work on participatory economics and democratic
politics understood in the most radical, transformative sense.
What he provides is nothing less than an urgent agenda for the
twenty-first century, one that would move us toward the kind of
empowerment, citizenship, and engagement needed
to reverse the present slide toward barbarism. The model Albert
proposes and so convincingly articulates goes well beyond failed
systems of the past - market capitalism, the command economy,
social democracy - while also pointing toward a much needed
alternative to the present-day ravages of capitalist globalization.
More than a discourse on economics, the book offers a broad
vision of radical transformation grounded in the very best
elements of previous emancipatory theories and movements.
It will be essential reading for anyone interested in
fundamental social change."
Paul Street, Director of Research and Vice President for Research and
Planning at the Chicago Urban League says...
"Those who dissent from the status quo are continually faced
with a significant question that is often asked with hostile
intent: 'So what's your solution?' Contrary to some left opinion,
the question is not inherently a method of suppressing or
ridiculing dissent and the struggle to answer it is not an
inherently dogmatic or reformist. The failure to provide or
even attempt solid answers is arguably a great moral and
intellectual failure of the left, especially in a time when
existing political-economic arrangements so clearly threaten
human survival. I know of no one who has worked more effectively
to answer the question in at once flexible, democratic, and
radical fashion than Mike Albert in his Parecon: Life After
Capitalism. It is must reading for those who sense
the left's urgent need to supplement criticism with an
inspiring and practical vision of how the world might be put
on solid, democratic, and sustainable ground."
Can all these commentators be wrong? Maybe, but surely their comments at
least provide good reason to judge the book for yourself.
I hope that you will do so.
I am relying on you to do so.
Here are the relevant links to access further information or to purchase
the paperback edition...
The Parecon book page which includes comments, reviews,
excerpts, and some interviews and debates, is at:
The Amazon Link for purchasing is at:
I know, of course the above mega-link is absurd.
But you can also just go to Amazon.com and
search parecon, and then click for the paperback edition.
The AK Press Link for purchasing is at:
Then you search parecon.
The Verso link for purchasing is at:
A guide to local independent bookstores is at:
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