Participatory Economy – An Alternative to the Always-Crisis

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Participatory Economy – An Alternative to the Always-Crisis

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Interview with: Michael Albert: US writer, activist and economist, co-founder of South End Press, the magazine ZMag and the online platform ZNet. Albert is author of many books including "Realizing Hope. Life Beyond Capitalism" and "Parecon". He has developed an alternative economic system called "Participatory Economics".

A lot of people in Europe and in the US are dissatisfied with the economic system. According to polls 80 per cent of Germans want a different economic system. 40 per cent of the population in the United States has a negative attitude toward capitalism. In a Pew Research Center poll a majority of young Americans preferred socialism over market economy. In the wake of the financial and economic crisis in the US and Europe as well as the social protests around the world a basic critique of capitalism and a discussion about alternatives has gained again some form of attention.
US writer, activist and economist Michael Albert developed an alternative economic system already twenty years ago. It offers not only an alternative to capitalism but also to a centrally planned socialism and a so called bio-regionalism. He calls it Participatory Economy or Parecon. This model replaces ownership, unequal distribution of income, division of labor, markets/central planning by workers and consumers self-managing councils, equitable enumeration of socially valued labor, balanced job complexes and participatory planning. Such an alternative economy would overcome the always-crisis of capitalism, which produces permanent poverty also in rich industrial countries while it supports solidarity and justice, says Albert. But the take overs of firms in Argentina in the wake of the economic downturn in 2001 shows also that the implementation of elements of participatory economics create a set of problems that have to be addressed.

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