For growing numbers of people who already reject capitalist economics for themselves and for others, the question arises, okay, what next?
The essence of participatory economics, one proposed answer to that question, is five features we consider essential to attain a classless, self-managed, equitable, diverse, solidaritous, sustainable, and even aesthetic economy.
- a productive commons of natural, built, and work-force embodied productive assets to eliminate owners ruling workplaces and accruing profits.
- workers and consumers self-managing councils and federations of councils to provide space and means for self-managed decision-making by all economic actors.
- balanced job complexes constructed to empower all workers to fully participate in self-management, thereby eliminating an empowered coordinator class that dominates a disempowered working class.
- remuneration for how long, how hard, and the onerousness of conditions we endure while we do socially productive work, not only to eliminate poverty but to attain an equitable share of the social product for all.
- and participatory planning to have workers and consumers collectively self-manage what and how much is produced and consumed in accord with environmentally sustainable human well-being and development.
At the same time, to compose whole real-world instances of participatory economy many additional contingent and adaptable attributes based on future experiences, preferences, and insights will need to be appended on top of the five core features. These contingent and diverse additions will for example at least include:
- various context dependent methods that different workers councils will establish to arrive at balanced job complexes within and across workplaces, to decide their own production proposals, and to conduct their own self-managed decision-making, and that different consumers councils will use to arrive at their collective consumption proposals.
- various means that the planning process will use to apportion equitable income to different industries, and that different industry federations will use to apportion equitable income to their associated workers councils, and that different workers councils will use to apportion equitable income to their diverse members.
- various ways different countries, industries, and workers councils will choose to gather and use qualitative information in participatory planning and that the planning process will use to arrive at accurate costs of environmental impacts and determine socially self-managed investment plans.
- various means different federations of councils will implement to aid workers who seek new employment and consumers who seek new residency.
Put differently, like all implemented social systems, real-world participatory economies will include diverse contingent features that emerge from practical experiences in economy as well as in all other dimensions of social life wherein fundamental changes in political, kinship, community culture, international, and ecological institutions will impact economic choices.
All that said, considering what it will eliminate, participatory economics will produce, consume, and allocate:
- without owners of means of production and without private control of what is produced for whom.
- without bosses and hierarchies of workplace power, which is to say without class division.
- without poverty and without inequitable remuneration for property, power, or output.
- without competitive or centrally imposed alienation of what is produced and consumed from self-managed human well-being and development.
- and without racism, ethnocentrism, sexism, sexual repressiveness, authoritarianism, colonialism, imperialism, global warming, and other ecological devastation.
And considering what it will introduce, participatory economics will produce, consume, and allocate:
- with a productive commons that workers councils will borrow assets from to use socially responsibly.
- with decision-making by those affected in proportion as they are affected, conducted via workers and consumers councils and federations of councils.
- with workers empowered by a new division of labor built around what we call balanced job complexes.
- with equitable remuneration for the duration, intensity, and onerousness of one’s socially productive work, and with full income if one cannot work.
- with cooperatively self-managed allocation that takes full account of personal, social, and environmental implications of both production and consumption, via what we call participatory planning.
- and with requirements of also revolutionized kinship, community/culture, political, international, and ecological dimensions of life economically respected, abided, and facilitated.
The agenda of participatory economics is therefore to utilize tactics, program, and organization to win this new economy. And while how to win in any particular country depends on countless variables, participatory economics does provide some generally applicable insights.
To get where we want to arrive, at every stage our choices should arouse awareness of and desire for our goals and should try to establish human and organizational means to eventually implement them.
To those ends, when possible our struggles should embody the values and even the structures we seek for the economy as well as for kinship, community/culture, polity, and international and ecological relations.
Our struggles should win immediate gains and prepare us to win still more future gains in an on-going trajectory of changes that arrives at the new society we seek.
The above is very succinctly what participatory economics consists of, what it promises, and what it urges to attain a classless, self-managing, and equitable post-capitalist economy immersed in a feminist, intercommunalist, politically participatory, internationalist, and ecologically sustainable society.
To pursue these issues further some useful sources among a great many others are the RealUtopia.org and ParticipatoryEconomy.org websites, and the recent books No Bosses: A New Economy for A Bettor World by Michael Albert and Democratic Economic Planning by Robin Hahnel.
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