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Parecon: Life After Capitalism Paperback – May 17, 2004

3.8 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“... this participatory vision is what Albert successfully provides for activists and academics alike, with the hope that it will be used to inspire social projects aimed at defeating inequality and leading to people democratically managing their own lives.”—Rob Maguire, ZNet

Parecon is a pragmatic and visionary programme that would certainly boost human freedom; we ought at least to try it out.”—Red Pepper

“an imaginative, carefully reasoned description, persistently provocative, of how we might live free from economic injustice.”—Howard Zinn

“It merits close attention, debate, and action.”—Noam Chomsky

“Albert is ideally suited to synthesizing all the strands running through the anti-capitalist movement.”—The Ecologist

Parecon is a brave argument for ... a much needed ... more equitable, democratic, participatory ... alternative economic vision.”—Arrundhati Roy

“A historically informed and logical economic blueprint with the practicality of a hand-tool, and a vision guided by the desire to find nobility in work.”—Kirkus Reviews

“He is advocating a top to bottom economic revolution.”—Library Journal

“Capitalism not working for you? Michael Albert may be tilting at windmills, but readers are flocking to his book on a system to spread the wealth and work.”—Los Angeles Times

“an important contribution to the imaginative tools for everyone who wants to dismantle capitalism.”—International Socialism

About the Author

Michael Albert helped found and establish South End Press and Z Magazine, among other institutions. A long-time activist, he now maintains Z’s internationally acclaimed web site Znet (www.zmag.org). He has written numerous books and countless articles dealing with, among other topics, economics, vision, social change, strategy, globalization, and war and peace.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 311 pages
  • Publisher: Verso (May 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184467505X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844675050
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,447,184 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
To find out about participatory economics, I read two books, The ABCs of Political Economy by Robin Hahnel and Parecon by Michael Albert. I would recommend the former over the latter. Admittedly, they cover somewhat different ground. The former critiques basic concepts in neoclassical economics in light of political economy and is not meant as a detailed exposition of participatory economics (parecon). But in defending political economy, Hahnel explains the moral foundations behind parecon's system of remuneration and parecon's critique of markets much more clearly and concisely than Albert does. And Albert's book is so turgid and repetitive that you arguably get a clearer picture of the parecon system (and of the various criticisms of the model) from Hahnel's one chapter on the subject than you do from Albert's whole book. Hahnel's book is a model of how to popularize complex ideas without condescension or oversimplification. You finish the book feeling he has equipped you to think for yourself. In his care to craft comprehensible prose, Hahnel is consistent with his own belief in popular democracy and open debate. Hahnel also practices what he preaches by debating with alternative points of view, quoting from other authors, referring to other traditions, and providing ample footnotes.

By contrast, Albert's style contradicts his avowed commitment to democracy and non hierarchical discourse. He writes like a member of the "coordinator" class he condemns.
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Format: Hardcover
This is the clearest exposition yet of participatory economics,
an alternative to captitalism, market socialism, and
Soviet-style central planning. The participatory economics
model was developed by Michael Albert in collaboration
with Robin Hahnel. I would recommend reading this book
with Hahnel's recent book, The ABCs of Political Economy,
which provides a more in-depth critique of mainstream
pro-market economics.
Instead of allocation by how much
power or bargaining clout you have -- which is how markets
really work (forget about mainstream propaganda
about markets as "efficiency machines"!) --
participatory economics is based on the idea of
self-management -- each is to have a say over economic
decisions in proportion to how much they are impacted.
Governance by corporations and the state is replaced
by democratic worker and neighborhood organizations.
The market is replaced by participatory planning -- the
creation of a comprehensive agenda for production by
the direct input of requests
for work and consumption outcomes by individuals and
groups, and a back and forth process of negotiation.
Intead of elite planners, as in Soviet-style central
planning, we all would craft the economic plan.
In the process of individuals and groups evaluating
possible outcomes, the planning system takes account
of consumer and worker preferences, thus giving measures
of social benefits and costs. As each production group
approximates to the average social cost/benefit, waste
is avoided.
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By A Customer on January 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
When was the last time you had a voice regarding what's being produced in the economy? And how much of an influence did you have over the cost of your last doctor visit? Finally, does the market care about the homeless or the environment, or does it only care about profits, leaving the former two concerns for you, the taxpayer, to deal with (i.e., market discipline)? People should ask themselves questions such as these before reading Michael Albert's Parecon: Life After Capitalism.
In a nutshell, this book offers an alternative economic vision that could fulfill human potentials and needs in participatory ways. Parecon's guiding values are equity, diversity, solidarity, and participatory self-management.
Clearly then, this book requires critical thinking on the part of the reader. Prepare to be challenged at first, as Albert analyzes the inherent weaknesses of both capitalist and the so-called "socialist" economies (e.g., former USSR), and how they both subvert human values to a considerable extent. In fact, he demonstrates conclusively how capitalism destroys equity, limits choices, wrecks solidarity, and smashes worker self-management. And because capitalism remunerates for bargaining power and has corporate divisions of labor, these ill-effects will be inevitable under capitalism, according to Albert. Therefore, Albert dismisses capitalism when thinking about a desirable economic vision.
Albert picks apart the so-called "socialist" economies in the same way. He shows the reader that such economies are clearly totalitarian, as they typically have state ownership and central planning; despite some marginal democratic forms on the periphery.
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