What then shall we do?

What then shall we do? Straight talk about the next American revolution by Gar Alperovitz (Chelsea Green, 2013)

This book’s goal is to offer practical guidance and hope to discouraged liberal activists who feel that our political and economic systems are broken.  His audience is the many Americans who don’t like the direction the U.S. is going and are looking for alternatives to corporate capitalism, but don’t want state socialism either. Dr. Alperovitz doesn’t propose a literal revolution, but some of his economic ideas are quite radical. He calls his approach a “checkerboard,” where democratization of local economies gradually accumulate and snowball into a systemic change. Many of his proposals center around democratizing wealth, by creating worker-owned businesses and cooperatives, and making utilities, hospitals and other service-oriented firms publicly held. In addition to the opportunities for individuals to benefit more equitably from their labor, local economies become more stable and sustainable when enterprises are owned by local residents rather than by companies that constantly pull up stakes. Dr. Alperovitz cites a surprising number of examples where the ideas he proposes have already been carried out here in the U.S, but urges us to think bigger – why not consider public ownership of banks, telecom firms, or even large manufacturing firms? Many countries outside the U.S. have national airlines, national banks, or national telephone companies. Of course some would call that socialism, but it’s not a completely socialist system unless everything is state-owned. This is a book that will have you questioning your assumptions.

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