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Book Review: Parecon – Life after Capitalism by Michael Albert January 29, 2007

Posted by Andreas in anarchism, Book Reviews.
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My rating: 8 out of 10 – radical, visionary and essential.

If you believe that capitalism doesn’t work because it destroys the planet, is inherently unsustainable and creates wealth for the few at the expense of the majority, and if you also believe that centrally-planned USSR style communism doesn’t work because it destroys the planet, is inherently unsustainable and concentrates power in the hands of a bureaucratic elite at the expense of the majority, then you must read Michael Albert’ book Parecon – Life after Capitalism

Parecon - Life after Capitalism

Albert is an activist and co-founder of ZNet, Z Magazine and South End Press, who has spend many years of his busy life disproving that Margaret Thatcher’s contention that “there is no alternative” [to capitalism/business as usual/etc.] is rubbish.

Together with Robin Hahnel, Albert has developed an innovative economic model called Participatory Economics, or Parecon for short. Simultaneously avoiding the pitfalls of capitalism and centrally-planned state communism, Parecon provides a detailed, challenging and thoughtful vision of the economic institutions and human interactions in a just, egalitarian, anti-authoritarian and co-operative society.

Albert is a prolific writer and has published many articles and several books on participatory economics. Parecon – Life after Capitalism summarises all of the various aspects of the model in detail, describes how it would function in the real world and discusses a number of criticisms at length.

Although his writing style can come across as somewhat patronising at times, Albert aims to describe participatory economics as clearly as possible to readers who have not come into contact with it before. For those who are familiar with the concepts, this book is a valuable summary and work of reference.

You may not agree with Albert all the time, but there is no doubt that the economic framework described in this book provides an inspiring vision of a better world that no “progressive” individual can afford to be ignorant of. Thanks to Albert’s tireless enthusiasm, participatory economics is becoming increasingly popular and talked about in North America, Europe and the developing world, where a growing number of people and collectives are experimenting with his ideas to change their lives for the better.

An absolute must read! Many more reviews here.

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