The Rise of the New Economy Movement

notes on Alperovitz, Gar. “The Rise of the New Economy Movement.” AlterNet. 20 May 2012.

The New Economy movement:

The broad goal is democratized ownership of the economy for the 99% in an ecologically sustainable and and participatory community-building fashion.

A range of new economic models are being tried out in small scales–

  • Evergreen Cooperative in Cleveland and other co-ops
  • “Generative economy” efforts that nurture community, respect environment

Some stats:

  • over 130 million Americans belong to some form of cooperative, especially credit unions
  • 2000 municipally owned utilities
  • 25% of American electricity provided by co-ops and public utilities
  • over 10 million Americans work at some 11,000 employee-owned firms
  • over 200 communities operate community land trusts

“Move your money” and “bank transfer day” campaigns — efforts to shift money from corporate banks to some more democratic institution

“New banking” strategies — states wanting to set up public banks along the lines of the Bank of North Dakota

Active protest efforts — Occupy movement

Large-scale enterprise in a new economy? One important thing will be to “put worker, consumer, environmental or community representatives of “stakeholder” groups on corporate boards.”

Lots of intellectual muscle behind New Economy theories:

  • Richard Heinberg– end economic growth
  • James Gustave Speth– restructure entire system to deal with ecological problems, growth
  • David Korten– agenda for a new economy which stresses smal Main Street business and building from the bottom up
  • Juliet Schor– “Plentitude” oriented around medium-scale high-tech industry
  • Gar Alperovitz– Pluralist Commonwealth, community-building system characterized by democratized forms of ownership
  • Herman Daly– challenges to endless economic growth
  • David Bollier– need to transcend privatized economics in favor of a “commons” understanding
  • Elinor Ostrom– 2009 Nobel Prize for work on commons-based development

Huge challenges, mostly having to do with the huge scale of the task: “changing and democratizing the very essence of the American economic system’s institutional structure.”

  • The political-economic structure is dominated by corporate interests, supported by the financial elite (who overlap heavily with said corporate interests)
  • Increasing widespread judgment that economic growth must be reduced, even ended.
  • Labor unions are committed to growth as as essential for maintaining jobs
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