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Change Everything

Change Everything

Christian Felber


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Is it possible for businesses to have a bottom line that is not profit and endless growth, but human dignity, justice, sustainability and democracy? Or an alternative economic model that is untainted by the greed and crises of current financial systems? Christian Felber says it is. Moreover, in Change Everything he shows us how. The Economy for the Common Good is not just an idea, but has already become a broad international movement with thousands of people, hundreds of companies, and dozens of communities and organizations participating, developing and implementing it. Published in English for the first time, this is a remarkable blueprint for change that will profoundly influence debates on reshaping our economy for the future.

'Christian Felber has written that rare article: the genuine game-changer. Easy to read, irrefutable in its principles and comprehensive in its proposals, it's a how-to guide to a better world. At last, it's in English. Don't miss it.'
Susan George, author of Whose Crisis? Whose Future?

'Christian Felber is one of the most brilliant economists in Europe. His vision of the common good is fascinating.'
Jean Ziegler, former UN ambassador on the Right to Food

'We need an entirely new economic system if we are to avert collapse, and Christian Felber's Change Everything points the way. This path-breaking, optimistic book shows that it is possible to have an economy that serves us rather than enslaving us.'
Richard Heinberg, author of The End of Growth

'A timely and important new vision for the purpose of economic activity, moving away from the private accumulation of wealth and towards the common good. A must read for business leaders, economists, activists, civil servants and politicians if we are to have any chance of creating an economy that meets the needs of people and the planet.'
Duncan McCann, New Economics Foundation

'This is a joyful book of hope and possibility. Everything can be changed, including the depressive mindset that there are no alternatives.'
Ed Mayo, Co-operatives UK

'Economy for the Common Good has demonstrated an ability to draw together a partnership of companies, consumers and communities ... by offering a fresh alternative.'
Bruce Watson, Guardian

'Christian Felber’s Economy for the Common Good is a smart, useful answer to the economic chaos and the enormous social suffering that the oligarchs of globalized financial capital have caused on the planet. A great and important book!'
Jean Ziegler, former UN ambassador on the Right to Food

'Christian Felber’s Economy for the Common Good offers a clear analysis that combines pragmatic designs for some of the potential institutions of the next system with a strategy for building a movement that can bring these institutions into being. His accessible articulation of a genuine alternative is an important contribution to an essential global conversation.'
Gar Alperovitz, author, historian, political economist

'Christian Felber shows a pathway that leads to an economy based on love instead of profit, a society based on solidarity instead of greed, and a life based on joy instead of fear. We can all become involved.'
Kosha Joubert, president of the Global Ecovillage Network

'Through the example of a large number of pioneer companies of the Economy for the Common Good, everyone can see that doing business on the basis of a transparent, holistic, value and stakeholder oriented approach is possible. These ethical goals go beyond the dogma of unlimited profit and growth and are indispensable for a humane future on this planet.'
Lisa Muhr, Goddess of Fortune fashion label entrepreneur

'Get involved for concrete alternatives! Get involved in the Economy for the Common Good!'
Stéphane Hessel, former diplomat, essayist and political activist

Christian Felber is an Austrian alternative economist and university lecturer. He is an internationally renowned speaker, author of several award-winning bestsellers and a regular commentator on ethics, business and economics in various media. He co-founded the NGO Attac Austria and initiated the Economy for the Common Good as well as the planned Bank for the Common Good, which will be Austria's first ethical finance institute.

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Front Cover Front cover
More Praise for Christian Felber i
About the Author ii
Title Page iii
Copyright iv
Dedication v
Contents vii
Acknowledgements ix
Foreword by Eric Maskin xi
Preface xiii
1: A Broken System 1
Human Values – Values of the Economy 1
Values Are Guiding Lights 2
Turning Egoism into Common Good 2
Dignity Is the Highest Good 4
A Free Market? 5
Trust Is More Important Than Efficiency 6
The Consequences of the Pursuit of Profit and Competition: The Ten Crises of Capitalism 10
2: Defining the Economy for the Common Good 15
The Goal of Economic Activity 15
Putting the System on a New Course 17
Redefining Economic Success 17
Measure the Goal, Not the Means 19
Measuring the Common Good 21
Defining the Common Good 24
Demands Made on a Universal Balance Sheet 28
Create Market Transparency 30
Rewarding Contributions to the Common Good 32
Common Good Audits 34
Profit as Means 36
Permissible Uses of Profits 37
Non-Permissible Uses of Profits 40
The End of the Compulsion to Growth 47
Optimal Size 48
Structural Cooperation 49
Bankruptcy 52
Cooperative Market Regulation 53
The Common Good and Globalization 55
Social Security and Work Leaves 57
Solidarity Income 58
Secure Pensions 59
3: The Democratic Bank 61
Goals and Services 64
Transparency and Security 65
Financing, Refinancing, Bankruptcy 66
Interest and Inflation 67
Social and Ecological Credit Assessment 69
Eco-Social Venture Capital and Common Good Stock Markets 70
Subsidiarity, Democracy, Regulation, Transparency 71
Relationship to Private Banks 72
The Central Bank and Global Cooperation 73
Global Currency Union and Globo 75
Regional Money 76
Conclusion 76
What Are We Waiting for? 76
4: Property 78
Negative Feedback 79
Limitation of Income Inequity 80
Restriction of Private Assets 82
Democratization of Corporations 84
Employee Participation 86
Retaining Profits in Companies 87
Restriction of the Right to Inherit, Generations Fund and “Democratic Dowry” 89
Real Estate 92
Inheritance of Enterprises 93
Endowments 99
“Democratic Commons” 100
Ownership of Nature 103
Liberty and Equality 105
5: Motivation and Meaning 106
Motivation 106
Meaning 111
Childrearing and Education 116
6: Advancing Democracy 122
We Are the Sovereign! 127
Expansion of the Separation of Powers 128
A Three-Step Direct Democracy 130
Separation of Constituent and Constitutional Power 138
An Economic Convention 141
A Convention on Education 142
A Public Services Convention 144
A Media Convention 144
A Democracy Convention 145
A Three-Pillar Democracy 146
7: Real World Examples 148
1. Mondragón – The World’s Largest Cooperative (In the Basque Region of Spain) 149
2. Sekem – Organic Farming in the Desert (Egypt) 151
3. Göttin Des Glücks (“Goddess of Fortune”) and Craft Aid – Eco-Fair Textiles (Mauritius/Austria) 152
4. Fair Trade – Appreciating the People Behind the Products (58 Producing Countries) 153
5. SEMCO – “Industrial Democracy” (Brazil) 154
6. Community-Supported Agriculture (USA and Worldwide) 156
7. Regionalwert AG – Regional Equity Capital (Germany) 157
8. Ethical Banks in Germany, Switzerland, Italy, the Netherlands and Austria 158
9. John Lewis – A Role Model for Employee Ownership (UK) 160
10. Gea, Gugler, Sonnentor, Thoma, Zotter – Pioneers in Various Branches (Austria) 161
11. Cecosesola – A Multi-Cooperative (Venezuela) 163
12. A Solidarity-Based Economy (Brazil) 164
13. Open Source (Global) 165
14. “Non-Profit” – 170,000 Workplaces in Non-Profit Organizations (Austria) 165
15. Satisfaction of Needs and Volunteer Work at No Cost (Anywhere, Anytime) 166
8: Putting It into Practice 169
1. Pioneer Groups 171
2. Substantive Level: Expert Teams 176
3. Geographic Level: Local Chapters 183
4. Legal Level: International Associations 184
Positive Feedback (Reinforcement Mechanisms) 184
Strategic Networking 186
Paving the Way to the Conventions 187
How Can I Participate? 189
In Conclusion 190
Appendix 1: Frequently Asked Questions 193
Appendix 2: Facts, Figures and a Twenty-Point Summary 214
Notes 223
Bibliography 231
Index 239
Back Cover Back cover