Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Crisis - Economic Alternatives and Alternative Economics

The current financial crisis and developing economic recession create a need for and a space for alternative economic analyses and programmes. In Britain, as well as the excellent Corner House people that I have previously linked there is good work coming out of the Left Economics Advisory Panel LEAP - who have a blog here. LEAP have recently published work by Jerry Jones, the Economics writer on the Morning Star newspaper. Despite his association with a newspaper long linked to the remnants of the old "Moscow Line" CP in Britain, Jones has a refreshingly open and eclectic approach and promotes strategies involving much cooperativism and mutualism and other forms of collective ownership rather than blanket old-fashioned centralised nationalisation.
His recent paper on common ownership is worth a read and is available here.

Good stuff is also to be found through the Green Economics Institute. Blogger Molly Scott Cato of Gaian Economics has been a contributor to this and has been an economics spokesperson for the Green Party of England and Wales. Molly has recently worked with Richard Bickle on editing a book of essays on the relevance of Robert Owen and Owenism today - New Views Of Society:Robert Owen For the 21st Century which is being published by Scottish Left Review Press.

Robert Owen was one of the most significant thinkers and social innovators of the nineteenth century. Widely recognised as the 'father of co-operation' and an exemplary industrialist and educational reformer for his pioneering work while managing the New Lanark Mill in Scotland. He is less well known for his work on the development of time-based currencies, trades unionism and experiments in community living.

One hundred and fifty years after Owen's death, his ideas have a remarkable contemporary resonance, whether it be in the development of LETS schemes, eco-villages and 'fairtrade', or the emergence of new social movements challenging and offering alternatives to a politial and economic system built on global capitalism. This book explores these connections through a series of chapters written by leading current practitioners in each of the fields of endeavour that Owen was concerned with and tries to draw lessons from his experience for social innovators of the future.

In an era when the social and environmental consequences of our capitalist economic system are looking increasingly perilous, and when the financial system no longer inspires confidence, Robert Owen's creative contribution can help us to inspire an alternative economic paradigm.

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