ParEcon Questions & Answers
The issue at hand is in our view quite simple: a participatory economy is built on workers and consumers councils, balanced job complexes, remuneration for effort and sacrifice, participatory planning, and self-managed decision-making. It therefore rejects private ownership of the means of production, corporate workplace organization and markets and/or central planning. In place of rule over workers by capitalists or by coordinators, parecon is an economy in which workers and consumers together cooperatively determine their economic options and benefit from them in ways fostering equity, solidarity, diversity, and self-management. Parecon is classless.
The choice that parecon poses can be summarized as follows:
Parecon explains why markets are incompatible with equity and systematically destructive of solidarity. It explains why market economies will continue to destroy the environment, and why a radical view of social life implies that external effects are the rule rather than the exception, which means that markets routinely misjudge social costs and benefits and misallocate scarce productive resources. And it explains that while markets may fulfill the liberal vision of individual economic freedom to dispose of one’s personal capabilities and property however one chooses, they are inconsistent with the radical goal of self-management for everyone.
In conclusion, therfore, parecon - even now, before a full implementation indicates that those who reconcile themselves to market “socialist” or other coordinatorist models do so illogically and unnecessarily. The choice is illogical because the negative experience of authoritarian planning in no way rebuts the potential of participatory planning. The choice is unnecessary because the vision of an equitable, democratic economy that promotes solidarity among its participants is as attractive and appealing as ever, and now has substance.
What is realistic, in this new context, is not accepting some flawed future as if we have no choice in the matter, but working hard to bring about a classless future, a solidarity future, a self managing future. It will be hard, yes, of course - but surely that is no reason to except abysmal relations instead.
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