Friday, June 22, 2007

Wetzl on ParEcon

Today, I'm just going to point any readers' attention to this article: "Participatory Economics and the Self-Emancipation of the Working Class" by Tom Wetzl, from Znet.

It's a pretty decent intro to the whole subject of particiaptory economics that doesn't take too long to read. It provides brief critiques of the two major forms of political-economy: capitalism and state-led central planning. It also discusses the major planks of the ParEcon alternative, and that's what I'll focus on here.

Part of the answer to the question: "What is Participatory Economics"?

Some people react to Participatory Economics by imagining it to be a kind of blueprint of exactly how people are to live, like Edward Bellamy, Charles Fourier and the other 19th century “utopian socialists” tried to do. But I think that is a misunderstanding. As I interpret ParticipatoryEconomics, it is an attempt to specify simply an economic structure, a framework that will enable people to
control their own lives, and pursue lives as determined by them, based on their emancipation from class oppression.

What is meant by "Self-Management"?

The answer that Participatory Economics proposes is that the basic building blocks for economic decision-making be directly democratic worker councils, and federations of these, as the means to
implement self-management in production, and directly democratic neighborhoodcouncils, and federations of these, to implement self-management in regard to consumption.


Participatory Economics defines self-management in terms of the following principle:

Each person is to have a say over decisions that affect them, and each person is to have a degree of say in proportion to the degree they are affected by them.

How will resources be allocated?

Through a process of social communication and interaction, which enables people to become aware of the social and environmental consequences of their consumption and production
proposals, a process of society-wide negotiation then ensues. There is a back and forth process and the plan itself ends up simply as the aggregation of the proposals from the base, from consumers and producers, once agreement is reached.

What will work be like?

And what we do is we re-design jobs so that they are balanced between skill and design work on the one hand, and the doing of the physical work, the less desirable or less empowered work.
We also systematically change the educational system to democratize access to expertise and information and training, we integrate this with the system of production itself. The idea is to facilitate everyone having the opportunity to have their skills and talents developed, and yet everyone also must do their share of the grunt work, the sheer physical labor of production.

Of course there's more. Check it out.

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