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Realizing Hope

Realizing Hope

Michael Albert | Noam Chomsky


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Someone once said that it is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism. Michael Albert would disagree. Realizing Hope offers a speculative vision of a future beyond capitalism - an alternative to the exploitation of human labour, the unchecked destruction of the earth, and the oppression of all for the benefit of the few. Participatory economics - parecon for short - is Albert’s concrete proposal for a classless economy, developed from anarchist principles first introduced by Kropotkin, Bakunin, Pannekoek and others. In this classic text, Albert takes the insights and hopes of parecon and enlarges them to address all key aspects of social life and society - gender, culture, politics, science, technology, journalism, ecology, and others. Realizing Hope provides vision to help us all together conceive a world that might be just over the horizon, a world we can begin building today.
'In many earlier studies, Michael Albert has carried out careful in-depth inquiries into systems of participatory economics (parecon), analyzing in detail how they can function justly, equitably, and efficiently, and how they can overcome many of the criminal features of current social and economic arrangements. This new and very ambitious study casts the net far more widely, extending to just about every major domain of human concern and mode of human interaction, and investigating with care and insight how, in these domains, parecon-like principles could lead to a far more desirable society than anything that exists, and also how these goals can be constructively approached. It is another very valuable and provocative contribution to the quest for a world of much greater freedom and justice.' Noam Chomsky 'Michael Albert is a very serious thinker. In Realizing Hope he not only presents an alternative to capitalism, he provides profound insights into how economics affects personalities and social relations and vice versa. The book opens many doors for social vision and strategy. At a moment when Africa needs an alternative to nationalist politics. Realizing Hope is amazingly timely. Pan-Africanists and Black Marxists alike will find much to enrich and expand our politics in this book.' Mandisi Majavu, author and journalist 'During the grim decades of "there is no alternative" few did more than Michael Albert and his collaborators to promote discussion of alternatives to domination by either state or market. Now, when millions assert "another world is possible", Michael Albert's proposals for participatory economics provide an essential starting point for thinking about what that world might be and how we might get there. In Realizing Hope, he goes beyond the primarily economic framework of participatory economics to open the crucial but too-rarely posed questions of how to coordinate economic change with the changes we need in other spheres of life.' Jeremy Brecher, author of Save the Humans? 'Michael Albert has posed a breathtakingly simple question - what do left-libertarians want, exactly, "beyond capitalism"? - and, in answering it, has produced a work of exhilarating scope. Albert captures the best of the spirit of the new global social movement. He consciously rejects all vanguardism, and demands a direct action in the realm of thought: he asks us to look at those who are creating viable alternatives, to try to figure out what might be the larger implications of what they are doing, and then to offer those ideas back, not as prescriptions, but as contributions, possibilities, as gifts. Albert combines close empirical insights with a magisterial conceptual grasp. We will be arguing about this work for years.' Andrej Grubacic, historian and anti-capitalist activist 'In Realizing Hope, Michael Albert mulls over the better society that we may create after capitalism, provoking much thought and offering a generous, hopeful vision of the future. His prescriptions for action in the present are modest and wise; his suggestions for building the future are ambitious and humane. There is a hunger for this kind of practical, visionary alternative. Realizing Hope is an important part of the internal development of the global movements for peace and justice, helping us to recover lost insights.' Milan Rai, author and peace activist 'Millions across the world are coming together in hitherto unprecedented networks of solidarity to struggle against poverty, inequality, discrimination, and war. These fighters proclaim that a better world is possible. Realizing Hope challenges us to imagine how.' Sudhanva Deshpande, LeftWord Books 'Those of us who have been grappling with the question of the good society in limited domains of inquiry are indebted to Michael Albert for bringing together so much of this work into a coherent and exciting whole and expanding on it. Anyone disgusted with existing society - which is to say, just about everyone - who wants to know if there are any alternatives, will find Realizing Hope informative, provocative, creative, engaging, and, yes, full of hope.' Stephen R. Shalom, editor of Socialist Visions and professor of political science, William Paterson University
Michael Albert is an American activist, economist, speaker, and writer. He is a founder and current member of Z Magazine.

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Front cover Front cover
critique influence change i
About the author iv
Title v
Copyright vi
Contents vii
Acknowledgements viii
Foreword by Noam Chomsky ix
Preface to the critique influence change edition xi
Introduction xv
1 Parecon 1
Capitalism 1
Parecon’s values 3
Parecon’s institutions 9
2 Polity 20
Anarchist roots 20
The need for political vision 21
Failed political visions 22
Parpolity 23
Parpolity and economy 29
Addendum: Parpolity and political strategy today 31
3 Kinship 34
Kinship vision 34
Economics and women and men 38
Parecon’s impact 40
Economics and sexuality 42
Economics and intergenerational conflict 43
4 Community 44
Cultural vision 44
Race and capitalism 48
Race and parecon 49
Addendum: Religion and the left 52
5 Internationalism 55
Rejecting capitalist globalization 55
Supporting global justice 56
Participatory economics not capitalist greed 60
The implications of parecon for international relations 64
6 Ecology 67
Economies and the environment 67
Parecon’s alternative approach 71
Other species 73
7 Science/Technology 77
Defining science 77
Science motives 79
Science and economics 80
Parecon and science 81
Technology 83
Economics and technology 84
Parecon’s technology 87
Health as a further indicator 88
8 Education 93
Education now 93
Future education 96
9 Art 99
Artistic attitudes 99
Parecon art 100
Artists’ questions 103
Artists’ needs 106
10 Journalism 108
Capitalist media 108
Parecon and journalism 111
11 Athletics 115
Pareconish athletics 115
Athletics? 117
Competition 119
12 Crime 122
Crime and punishment in capitalism 122
Parecon and crime 126
Economic crime in parecon? 128
13 Questions 131
Capitalism questions 131
Parecon questions 132
Questioning today’s society 133
Questioning future society 135
14 Strategy 138
Non-reformist reform struggles 138
Class maps: class struggle 139
Fighting to win 142
15 Marxism 145
Marxism’s features 145
Marxist economism 147
Marxism and class 149
Marxism and vision and strategy 154
Marxism indicts Marxism 156
Not people at fault, but institutions 159
Concepts and collective behavior 160
A better Marxism? 161
Getting personal about it 166
16 Anarchism 171
The two faces of anarchism 171
Anarchist vision? 175
21st-century anarchism 177
Addendum: Primitivism 178
17 Aspirations 185
18 Dissent 188
References 193
Index 195
Back cover Back cover