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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 28, 2013
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
"What Then Must We Do?" by Gar Alperovitz anticipates fundamental changes to the capitalist system as it is currently practiced. Dr. Alperovitz is a renowned academic, economist and activist who has played a significant role in democratizing wealth creation and distribution for the past forty years. This highly informative and inspirational book envisions a more humane, sustainable and prosperous future if we want it.

Dr. Alperovitz contends that traditional politics are insufficient to the task of resolving the challenges that face us today. The unique set of circumstances that contributed to postwar prosperity will not be repeated. Most of today's major social movements (with the exception of OWS) merely seek to widen access to the system but do not challenge its underlying logic, Dr. Alperovitz contends.

Fortunately, alternatives to bare-knuckled capitalism appear to be gaining strength. Dr. Alperovitz shares how co-ops and employee-owned companies benefit workers by democratizing ownership. Case studies are presented about the enlightened state and local governments that have found it useful to invest in socially-desirable enterprises in solidarity with their host communities and providing more stable employment, tax and revenue bases.

Dr. Alperovitz does more than critique the abysmal performances of the corporate banking, health care, energy and air travel industries. Dr. Alperovitz discusses how credible alternatives to privately-held businesses exist. In fact, the author shows how publicly-owned enterprises often succeed in delivering critical services cost effectively and efficiently by way of comparison with the private sector.

Dr. Alperovitz assesses our moment in history. As the 99 percent scrape through a period of extended economic stagnation, it is not at all evident that growth remains a desirable organizing strategy for the political economy of the 21st century. The author theorizes how the future might unfold in a better way that puts the needs of people and community first.

I highly recommend this hopeful and visionary book to everyone.
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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon May 7, 2013
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Review of Gar

Gar Alperovitz is a historian and political economist whom I know from his brilliant work The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb. He is one of that small band of economists like Robert Heilbroner (The Nature and Logic of Capitalism) and Herman Daly (Beyond Growth: The Economics of Sustainable Development) who is able to think outside of neo-liberal orthodoxy. What Then Must We Do? is a valuable contribution to the task of creating the next economic system.

The title, borrowed from Tolstoy, implies that we all know that things are wrong. If you weren't already convinced, this book states the case succinctly. The subtitle, Straight Talk About The Next American Revolution, declares that Alperovitz will be sharing truths with us that you don't normally hear from the media. It also indicates that nothing less than revolutionary change will serve to fix what's wrong, but it also reveals that Alperovitz intends to focus on the U.S. alone, a significant shortcoming in my opinion. The sub-subtitle, Democratizing wealth and building a community-sustaining economy from the ground up, points to the kind of revolution he believes we need:

o Decisions about resources and their allocation must be made by all of the stake-holders in the enterprise. These may include workers, consumers, and the community.

o A new economy can be built from the ground up.

To those who say, "haven't we already learned that socialism doesn't work?", Alperovitz replies that a truly democratic economy would look nothing like the state-socialism of the Soviet Union or the mere nationalization of industries attempted by Britain before Thatcher. By the way, it is Thatcher's pronouncement that There Is No Alternative (TINA) to neoliberal capitalism that Alperovitz most wants to refute. The economic visions pioneered by Adam Smith and Karl Marx were born of the 18th century enlightenment. Surely, in the 21st century, we can come up with a new vision.

Vision is, in fact, a recurring theme of the book. Bottom-up change will work best if people discuss, share, and continually modify their vision for the world. Otherwise, we risk making only isolated changes that do not cohere into a new economy.

Alperovitz intends his book to address both readers who are just beginning to realize how bad things are and readers who feel that any significant change is impossible. He intends to scare you enough to take action but not so much that you'll get discouraged. It's a fine line to try to walk.

I have a few complaints about the book:

o The opening chapters are written in a conversational, folksy style, that may appeal to some but may also set ones teeth on edge. Cliches like "part and parcel" and "`nuff said" abound.

o Alperovitz still seems to confuse Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with well-being. Herman Daly (For The Common Good: Redirecting the Economy toward Community, the Environment, and a Sustainable Future) and others have shown how misleading this statistic is, except when used as an index of environmental damage.

o The author mentions a number of times that the population of the United States might reach one billion by the year 2100. It is not at all clear that the planet will be able to support one billion Americans at our current level of per capita resource consumption. Most environmental scientists would agree that this is either impossible or extremely undesirable. Any serious student of the future needs to consider what the carrying capacity of the planet will be in 2100, given climate change and the exhaustion of fossil fuels.

o We have a global economy and a global environmental crisis. Any solution considered has to address the planet as a whole. It is unlikely that an economic revolution confined only to one country could succeed.

o We don't have much time to fix the global system before we destroy most other species, destroy the ocean as a source of protein, and set in motion irreversible climate change that will have catastrophic consequences for our species. Alperovitz seems, at times, unable to grasp the urgency of the situation.

On the whole, I would recommend What Then Must We Do? to readers contemplating possible futures. With its next inevitable crisis, the current global system may lose legitimacy with the speed of the Berlin Wall crumbling in 1989. We need to be ready with fresh ideas, and Alperovitz has given us several in this book.
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136 of 158 people found the following review helpful
on April 20, 2013
I was looking forward to this book and had high hopes for it. I read it as soon as I received it. There is a little intelligent analysis in it but it is ultimately disappointing. The two most important reasons:

1. the author does not answer the question posed by the title -- What Then Must We Do? -- the last six chapters are extremely vague and weak. He never presents the strategy he promises throughout the book. Some of the other reviewers here seem to think he did but no one has said what it is. Most progressive books are weak in this regard but this author makes promises he fails miserably to keep.

2. he seems to have no understanding of or interest in European social democracies, e.g., on page 26 he lists disparagingly one of "Corporate capitalism's three broad flavors" as: "Managed corporate capitalism" balanced by labor of the kind common in many European nations (with union strength, as in Sweden, sometimes more than double our own) and, to a much lesser degree, the system mainly operating in the United States circa 1945-80.

(Actually Sweden's union strength is 5.6 times that of the U.S. - 79% vs. 14%)

This is the only reference in the book to European social democracy. European social democracies, especially, Nordic social democracies are considerably more worth considering than any system the author is attempting very poorly and incompletely to describe. There is no excuse for promoting ignorance of social democracy, something far too prevalent in the U.S. for far too long. Once you give up on full scale socialism, you are left with a mixed economy and social democracy is your best bet. The author should know that.

Jonas Pontusson's book, Inequality and Prosperity: Social Europe Vs. Liberal America presents a very good analysis of the different social democracies in comparison with liberal democracies.

Also see by Steven Hill:

Europe's Promise: Why the European Way Is the Best Hope in an Insecure Age

10 Steps to Repair American Democracy: A More Perfect Union-2012 Election Edition.

The author may, in fact, have some good ideas, none very original however, but he fails to develop them into a "vision" for "systemic change" which he repeatedly promises. And he leaves out a great deal in his analysis, e.g., he has no ideas about what to do about the particular U.S. problems related to race, crime, drugs, massive incarceration, illegal immigrants, or the power of the defense industry or Southern conservatives. (For African American men without a high school diploma, being in prison or jail is more common than being employed...Nearly 70 percent of young black men will be imprisoned at some point in their lives. source:Becky Pettit Invisible Men)

If I had been the editor, I would have sent the manuscript back to the author with a note to "keep trying".

Note: The first five 5 star reviews are by 4 people with zero previous Amazon reviews and 1 person with 1 review written 5 years ago. When this occurs, it is fair to suspect these people are friends or associates of the author. This is called priming the pump for good reviews. People with associations with the author should be honest and reveal those associations. Amazon should police phony reviews. Many of the professional reviews cited are by friends of the author also.

The man making comments on my review as Irish Rebel is Joe Guinan, an associate of Gar Alperovitz at Community Wealth/Democracy Collaborative. He did not identify himself as such.

added May 3: I took another look at this book and was even less impressed with the first 18 chapters. They seem to have been written with very little effort. There are a few pages each on a small number of very sketchy topics like coops and ESOPs and a proposal for a "checkerboard strategy" which is not at all explained.

I don't doubt that the author and his organization are doing good things or that coops are good things but he fails completely to make the case that coops etc. are going to change the world significantly. Many of us would be very happy to see him succeed at this but he has not.

Better sources on worker ownership and cooperatives:

Adams, Frank and Gary Hansen, Putting Democracy to Work: Practical Guide, Berrett Koehler, 1993
Albert, Michael & Robin Hahnel, Looking Forward: A Participatory Economy for the 21st Century, South End Press, 1991; The Political Economy of Participatory Economics, Princeton Univ. Press, 1991
Benello, George, Building Sustainable Communities: Tools and Concepts for Self-Reliant Economic Change, Bootstrap Press, 1989
Benello, George, Krimerman, Len, From the Ground Up: Essays of George Benello, South End Press, 1991
Krimerman, Len & Frank Lindenfeld, When Workers Decide, New Society Publishers, 1992
Lindenfeld, Frank & Joyce Rothschild-Whitt eds., Workplace Democracy and Social Change, Porter Sargent, 1982
Montgomery, David, Worker's Control in America, Cambridge University Press, 1981
Morrison, Roy, We Build the Road as We Travel, Mondragon: A Cooperative Solution, New Society, 1991
Quarter, Jack & Paul Wilkinson, Building a Community Controlled Economy: The Evangeline Co-operative Experience, Univ. Toronto Press, 1996
Restakis, John, Humanizing the Economy: Co-operatives in the Age of Capital, New Society Publishers, 2010
Rosen, Corey, Understanding Employee Ownership, ILR Press, 1991
Rothschild, Joyce & J. Allen Whitt, The Cooperative Workplace: Potentials and Dilemmas of Organizational Democracy and Participation, Cambridge Univ Press, 1986
W Baddon, Lesley, People's Capitalism: A Critical Analysis of Profit Sharing and Employee Share Ownership, 1989
Whyte, William Foote and Kathleen Whyte, Making Mondragon: The Growth and Dynamics of the Worker Cooperative Complex, ILR Press, 1988
Whyte, William Foote, Worker Participation and Ownership: Cooperative Strategy for Strengthening the Local Economy, 1983
Wisman, Jon D. (ed.), Worker Empowerment: The Struggle for Workplace Democracy, Bootstrap Press, 1991

Related Books

Dahl, Robert, A Preface to Economic Democracy, Univ California, 1985
McCoy, Thomas J., Creating an Open Book Organization, Amacom, 1996
Pinchot, Gifford & Elizabeth, The Intelligent Organization, Berrett-Koehler, 1996
Schweickart, David, Against Capitalism, Cambridge Univ Press, 1993
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on April 21, 2013
I had heard much about this book before launching in, and have read much of the recent literature on the need for economic and political change in the United States. What I found in these pages was not just inspirational, but also the first practical guidance on how to shift America into a direction that could end the long road of economic pain that many in the nation have been traveling. This book stands out for its plain-spoken tone, its focus on deep but gradual (and it would seem quite achievable) change to our political-economic system, its analysis of why what has worked before to pull us out of economic turmoil is unlikely to work again (something I hadn't read elsewhere), and its presentation of a strategy for change that is carefully constructed around what can work for and in America (again, something that I hadn't read elsewhere). Alperovitz presents what seems like a viable plan to move the nation beyond corporate capitalism in a strategic manner and rebuild wealth from the ground up, based on experiments already happening around the country. He also addresses how to begin to implement important systemic changes, and considers how to nationalize enterprises that are too big to fail to prevent future economic disasters. The author's long career as both a historian and economist seems to give him some interesting insights, and it's clear that he's also had practical experience in the political arena, and in launching on-the-ground efforts to shift companies to worker ownership, create co-ops, and in other ways lift struggling communities. This is a remarkably clear vision of the initial steps we can take to arrive at a future in which wealth is not overwhelmingly concentrated at the top, communities and regions gain strength, and the overriding national system works for average people rather than against them. The author doesn't promise all this will be easy to achieve, but anyone who wants to crawl out of the mess we're currently in would do well to read this book.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
If 1992 sounded the death knell for global communism, 2008 and the worldwide stagnation thereafter have left many disillusioned with market capitalism. Yet for generations, media, business and education have trumpeted the socialist/capitalist coin-toss so persistently, many citizens cannot imagine a third option exists. But what if a respected economist said forward thinkers have spent years building new options, right under our noses?

Maryland political economist Gar Alperovitz wants citizens to use their imaginations. We've become so trapped by the past, yearning for mid-20th century prosperity, that we try to recreate long-gone conditions. But neither triumphant American postwar prosperity nor aggressive liberal reforms are likely to recur, because the conditions that existed, roughly from 1930 to 1966, will never reappear. We may praise the past, but we must look to the future.

According to Alperovitz, the spectre of failed state socialism keeps economic discussion, left and right, beholden to corporate capitalism. Whether conservatives would use money as a barometer of virtue and entrust governance to the wealthy, or liberals want government and organized labor to provide counterweight to corporate power, we nevertheless assume corporate might is somehow normal. We have let a minority narrow our thinking.

Instead, Alperovitz calls attention to maverick innovators on the edges of our economy. As early as the 1970's, trailblazers pioneered new approaches to ownership, industry, and democratic wealth. When workers engineered an unprecedented buyout of a floundering Ohio steel mill, Alperovitz was there, helping them forge a new kind of corporate charter. Alperovitz witnessed the rise of agricultural co-ops, pathbreaking land trusts, and philanthropic investing.

Alperovitz calls this a "checkerboard strategy." Instead of waiting for national intervention, economic innovators focus on one town, area, or economic sector. Their innovations may reach as small as one business, or as large as an interstate compact. But they share common goals of transforming the way business, government, and people respond to the ever-changing needs of a volatile globalized economy.

At first blush, such pathbreakers have a long fight ahead. Looking around, we see stagnant global economies where long-term unemployment and bleak prospects have become normal. We can say, without exaggeration, that inequality has hit medieval levels. It's easy to wallow in our own gloom. Alperovitz admits, "All of us have a vested interest in pessimism. We don't have to do anything if nothing can be done!"

Realistic, ambitious attempts at economic reform have repeatedly failed because activists have put their trust in politicians and policy. That succeeded during the New Deal and Great Society due to unique historical circumstances. Today, kowtowing to politicians will help little, because government policy is part of the broken, lopsided system. Politics can do little about a society hobbled by more workers than work, and massively undemocratic concentrations of wealth.

But faced with such circumstances, some individuals and communities refuse to cave. They prove the long-term viability of collaborative business models and public-private hybrids. They invest money into new industries, even during recession, and draft new business categories driven by what Alperovitz calls a "triple-bottom-line" model: people, planet, and profits. They stare in the eye of economic despair and answer, "No."

Alperovitz doesn't waste readers' time with pie-in-the-sky notions of how economies ought to run. He focuses instead on how dauntless innovators have successfully built new economic models that should serve to inspire millions to seize their own futures. Looking forward, Alperovitz challenges us to imagine ways we can build upon these successes, forging a society of democratic wealth and renewed community.

These suggestions don't come easy. Alperovitz doesn't promise quick fixes. Quite the contrary, he emphasizes the generational nature of his suggestions. We intend to build new social institutions that serve the greater good, Alperovitz repeatedly avers. The biennial focus on elections permits others to control our lives. Such essential surrender has successfully stripped democracy from our treasured democratic institutions.

Instead, Alperovitz extols visionary new ways we can assert power autonomously. While nobody can predict the future, we have the choice whether we let the future roll over us, or take a steering hand ourselves. We can continue along our current path, circumscribed by the options others offer. Or we can, in small and growing ways, blaze our own trail.

America is Earth's richest, largest, most capable nation, which Alperovitz stresses repeatedly. The experiments we undertake don't stop at our own borders. We have the choice: a new, democratic economy, or more of the same, with the disastrous consequences we see around us. Our past does not control our future.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon June 8, 2013
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Gar Alperovitz is a scholar with an impressive CV, the author of a dozen critically acclaimed books. But after reading this brief analysis -- rereading huge chunks to make sure I wasn't missing something -- I am not particularly motivated to plumb more deeply into his work.

The title reflects my issues with the book. It's clunky, borrowed, he says, from a nonfiction book by Tolstoy, though the contents of the book seem more closely related to the classic Что делать? ("what is to be done?") Maybe he was concerned about being accused of nascent Communism, but the book, like the title, is muddled and lacking direction. He marvels at the fact that it took him three months to write "What Then..." from start to finish, whereas he normally spends years doing research and formulating his theories. But his haste may be the primary reason that the book reads like an extended conversation with a brilliant but scattered neighbor,one who can expound knowledgeably about all sorts of fascinating aspects of the economy, then shift without preamble to a totally different topic. The reader awaits the chapter that will tie all these disparate motes together, but none is forthcoming.

Chapters are short, each conveying at most one point, and sometimes not even that. He expounds on various recent crises (who can overlook the banks?) and praises the pockets of innovation that he has spotted here and there. But he barely begins to address the key challenge of scalability. An employee-owned enterprise with 10 people cannot expand a thousandfold without transforming into a very different kind of organization.

The book concludes with the oft-quoted Margaret Mead (not Meade) reminder about small groups of committed citizens changing the world. And that's the book's main takeaway, which, I realized after closer scrutiny, is pasted right on the cover. "Democratizing wealth and building a community-sustaining economy from the ground up." But how are those little people laboring away in the trenches going to overcome today's corruption, concentration of wealth, and crony capitalism? How will that small group of citizens manage to maintain its enthusiastic commitment when it comes running into obstacles? Those essential concerns are not within the scope of the discussion.

I read a book like this in hopes of gaining new insights into possible solutions. Что делать? In every generation, we want to know. Understanding the past is a start, but rehashing it, swishing it around and hoping to discover a few flecks of gold at the bottom of the pan, is ultimately unsatisfying. This book doesn't provide any real answers, and it doesn't even properly frame the question.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on April 25, 2013
This is a very rewarding book. Despite its highly accessible and conversational written style, What Then Must We Do? is in fact a deep and substantive analysis of America's current political-economy -- one that is marked on the one hand by the continuing decay of traditional institutions and methods of managing problems, and on the other hand by the tantalizing emergence and development of innovative strategies and new ways of thinking.

Rather than offering up the nuts and bolts of a new systemic vision (which Alperovitz did with his "Pluralist Commonwealth" model in a previous book, America Beyond Capitalism), What Then Must We Do? takes on the challenge of suggesting realistic and practical possibilities for the politics of a transition from the contemporary (and deteriorating) corporate capitalist system to a future system that is centered around the principles democracy, participation, equality, and sustainability.

Alperovitz suggests that one of the first steps is to reevaluate the commonly held perception amongst many progressives that traditional politics -- in the form of parties, politicians, legislation, and elections -- backed by movement-building can effect far-ranging and trend-reversing change as it had in the past. He presents a compelling argument that most of the great progressive successes of the twentieth century occurred within a highly exceptional historical context -- one that cannot be applied to normal times. "On the basis of the evidence (so far)," Alperovitz concludes, "it appears unlikely that strategies hoping simply to revive politics in the traditional ways ... are going to get us very far in addressing some of the profoundly depressing system-producing trends we are facing." (p. 16)

In Parts II, III, IV, and V of the book, Alperovitz lays out an alternative method of change based on real-world developments and possibilities occurring on a wide range of scales in local communities, states, regions, and sectors throughout the United States. The scope of the analysis is considerable and impressive and the implications nothing short of revolutionary (living up to the book's subtitle as well as the verdict of Noam Chomsky on Alperovitz's proposals). On the local level, Alperovitz discusses worker cooperatives, union participation in worker-owned firms, linked and integrated community building initiatives, social enterprises, community development corporations, community land trusts, B-corporations, and much more. However, he also explicitly links these efforts to larger-scale developments occurring in cities and states around the country related to municipal ownership, sustainability planning, transit-oriented development, public pension fund investing, public banking, and more.

Moreover, Alperovitz clearly explains--using the metaphor of a checkerboard--how local developments such as these can spread from one community to another as traditional policies and methods falter. He asserts that "there is every reason to build up and steadily, step by step, expand the squares on the checkerboard that are currently open to expansion--first, to do what needs doing, but also to demonstrate to the other squares what makes sense as they flounder and fail on their current path over time." (p. 67)

In addition to the "evolutionary reconstruction" and "checkerboard" methods of change, Alperovitz describes a third linked method based around the possibility of future crises at certain strategic places in the current system (he calls them "hot spots") -- specifically banking and health care. With regards to the former, Alperovitz presents a convincing case that the too-big-to-fail banks cannot be regulated and cannot be broken up without re-grouping. Thus, in the wake of future financial crises, there may be a possibility, he suggests, to turn them into public utilities -- a fundamental change that could create an opening for the massive expansion of a democratized economy. Likewise, with health care, as costs continue to rise and standards of care slip, more and more states (and perhaps even the federal government) may experiment with single-payer, public option, and cooperative systems that would--if fully enacted--democratize a substantial portion of the economy.

While there have been a number of recent proposals from various other scholars based around the local developments this book analyzes (particularly worker cooperatives), very few have taken on the complex and thorny issue of industrial scale in the way Alperovitz does. Key to this is a very interesting discussion concerning expanded definitions of efficiency when debating what to do about large-scale private corporations within the context of striving to achieve a more decentralized, democratized, and sustainable political economic system.

Parts VI and VII analyze the current "historical context" and suggest that we may be entering into a very unique period characterized by economic stagnation and political stalemate, whereby the current system neither substantially reforms nor collapses. Crucially, Alperovitz concludes that such circumstances offer a possibility for comprehensive change not available under conditions experienced throughout much of American history. While acknowledging that such change could take various forms (some of them unsavory -- such as a turn towards fascism, or extreme political violence), he remains optimistic that the transition to a more democratic and egalitarian system is possible. "The deepening difficulties," Alperovitz maintains, "also suggest the possibility that we may now be well into the prehistory of the next American revolution." (p. 140) It is not a message you hear often in this era of difficulty and diminished expectations, and one that makes this book particularly energizing and thought-provoking. Anyone interested in alternative paths out of the current crisis would do well to read it.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon May 2, 2013
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a book about how to improve our society, and by extension the world. The author is right on that our society desperately needs more participation by citizens at the local level. In fact, I think it's one of the biggest challenges of our time--if we want to really turn things in the right direction for the United States and the free world.

I also like the proposal to more consistently and effectively include issues of culture and business in important political policy formulation. This is a much-need, even necessary, change.

I didn't agree with a number of things in the book, but I did agree with some, and this is a book for thinking people. In other words, it really made me think about things--on pretty much every page. Like I said, I didn't agree with many things, but I enjoyed reading what Alperovitz had to say--because he is thinking carefully about really important ideas. I learned a lot as I read, pondered, researched on my own, and at times even came up with counter-solutions to those in the book.

We need a lot more people to think at this level, consider these kinds of ideas, and make their thoughts known. Alperovitz has done us all a favor by putting these proposals in writing so we can to think about and analyze them.

I don't think this a book for beginning readers on public policy, but those who enjoy political commentary on current events, Steven Pinker or Malcolm Gladwell or Nassim Nicholas Taleb, and policy proposals, simply must read it. I'd read it right along with Human Action by Ludwig von Mises, and compare the concepts.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on April 22, 2013
I've been a fan of Gar Alperovitz since I read "America Beyond Capitalism." Alperovitz understands the landscape of emerging efforts to transform the economy/society from the ground up. So when I heard he was writing a new book focusing on movement-level strategies, I made sure to get my hands on it ASAP...and it did not disappoint.

Unlike Alperovitz's other books, "What Then Must We Do" mostly reads as a conversation between Alperovitz and the reader. I enjoyed the change of tone and I think you will too. It's very accessible that way.

That being said, the book challenges readers to think differently about how changes happens in America. Alperovitz spends a good deal of time busting common progressive myths, like the idea that all we need is a New Deal for 2013. Alperovitz's central premise is that the historical context that ushered in the progressive era is extremely unlikely to repeat itself, so we must look toward new strategies. The second half of the book is all about those strategies. There's a lot of compelling and unique insight that you don't want to miss. If you want a preview, make sure you check out one of Alperovitz's recent YouTube videos.

In short, "What Then Must We Do" is an essential read for anyone concerned with how we can possibly transform society in the face of a dysfunctional democracy and a corporate oligarchy.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on April 22, 2013
As a longtime workplace-democracy activist and as someone who's fortunate enough to be a member-owner in two thriving worker cooperatives, it's been gratifying to see the surge in mainstream interest in the concept of worker-ownership over the past five years. That's due in no small part to the work of Alperovitz, who has long advocated for worker cooperatives and other community-wealth-building strategies as a first line of defense against our current (broken) system of corporate-controlled democracy. Alperovitz is one of those rare thinkers who looks beyond the immediate shock of the economic crisis, and highlights the larger and longer-term problems we must address, if we are ever to truly move beyond capitalism.

Alperovitz's analysis of the now-unavoidable collapse of our existing structures, and his overview of the alternatives that are already being experimented with are spot on, and his vision of where we need to go is compelling. While readers looking for fully developed set of steps and guidelines for transforming contemporary capitalist America into a haven for democratic workplaces and self-managed communities might find the details a but fuzzy, there is no denying that this book could - and should - be the one to make economic alternatives a subject of dinner-table (or Facebook) conversation all across America. Pragmatic and eloquent, What Then Must We Do? is a book that will appeal to those of us already well-versed in these topics, as well as folks just becoming interested in what a different system might look like.
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