the parecon idea

Interview by Attac Germany: Can you say something about the process, the discussion that lead to Parecon (participatory economics) and the book that is now also appearing in German translation this fall?

Michael Albert – ZNet

Michael Albert: Sure. It was a long process. It started out by responding to people who would constantly ask “what do you want?”, not just to me, but to movements of all kinds.

We became attuned to the fact that that desire was a realistic desire, that people want to have realistic answers, serious institutional answers. The discussion involved critiquing existing options: what is called market socialism and centrally planned socialism, what was in Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union, critiquing that, looking at the past history, trying to see elements that were positive, whether there, or in other historic occurrences: Spain, Spanish anarchists, uprisings in various other places.

It involved critiquing markets in a thorough going fashion; trying to understand the real problems. And eventually, it carried on to the problem of trying to formulate the values that we actually aspire to, that we really hold dear.

And finally, it meant trying to define institutions that would accomplish those values – accomplish the economic functions: production, consumption, allocation – but that would also further the values that we had settled on as the ones we thought worthy. And that sort of logical progression lead to the thing that is called “participatory economics”, defining institutions for a different way of doing economics.

For the rest of this very long interview, please go to ZNet (Michael Albert interviewed by Till Mossakowski, Attac Germany, October 10, 2005).

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