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Toward Democratic Eco-socialism
as the Next World System

11. Workers' Democracy

Book cover: Democratic Eco-Socialism as a Real Utopia: Transitioning to an Alternative World System by Hans A. Baer

Workers' economic or participatory democracy would constitute an integral component in a shift toward democratic eco-socialism. Democratic planning needs to be part and parcel of the production process, such as in deciding what goods are needed and whether they are environmentally sustainable. Michael Albert and Robin Hahnel [1991] in The Political Economy of Participatory Economics delineate a model of participatory economics, which they call Parecon (a shorthand for 'participatory economics') that would entail a network of workplace and consumer-based councils. Parecon, compatible with the notion of democratic socialism, seeks to fulfill four key values:

  • solidarity: a solidarity economy should be based upon creating solidarity among workers and consumers;
  • diversity: a good economy would take into account the wide variety of preferences and choices that people display both in terms of work and consumption;
  • equity: an equity economy would orient production, consumption, and distribution towards achieving equity; and
  • self-management: a participatory economy will be highly democratic in that workers have a strong input in decision making.

While Parecon has been criticized from various quarters for not being sufficiently sensitive to environmental factors, in recent years Albert and Hahnel have emphasized that, to be successful, Parecon needs to incorporate environmental protection and restoration.

Copyright © 2016

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