There are lots of good ideas about what the next society could and perhaps should look like. There's Parecon (Participatory Economics), which I wrote about way back in a post on Participatory Economics and Economic Theory, (7/8/08). I just read quite a bit from a book entitled The Next Revolution by Murray Bookchin, where he talks about his theory of Libertarian Municipalism. There are a lot of interesting theories of how society could be organized. These are all lovely, detailed plans for the next society and, because of that, I don't think they're going to happen, at least not in any way that will be like their proponents specify.
I think Starhawk's writings on future economies in her book Webs of Power (which I also talked about in my post on Participatory Economics and Economic Theory) are more resonant with what I'm talking about. She looks at Participatory Economics, Natural Capitalism, the Gift Economy, and the views of bioregionalists, anarchists, and socialists, and concludes that "...in a diverse world we may need a spectrum of systems to fully fit each unique set of circumstances." She points out that "Our visionary political efforts might best be directed not toward putting in place some preconceived system but toward creating the conditions in which that experimentation can begin."
Faithful readers of this blog are probably aware that I consider intentional communities as a prime place to do that experimentation. My vision of an emerging political/economic/social situation starts with having lots of successful experiments up and running and including not only communes and cohousing, but all sorts of cooperative businesses, a lot of the pieces of what is sometimes called the Solidarity Economy, and even bits of small scale capitalism--small businesses, family run stores, things that I will call true free enterprise. (When I actually studied what free enterprise is, I realized it wasn't as bad as I thought. The problems we are having are with corporate capitalism, also known as monopoly capitalism, where the big corporations use small companies as testing grounds for what's profitable and anything that works is either bought out by them or out competed by corporate imitation. The only other alternative in our present system seems for an innovating business to become a major corporation themselves. This is the grow or die strategy. Another name for what we have now is 'growth capitalism'.)
Once we have enough of these small systems up and running, I believe that the next step is in the process could be to network the successful experiments, perhaps using what Bookchin calls a democratic confederation. (But probably not as precisely structured as he details.) So rather than having one overarching system, there are lots of small, local, diverse economic and political systems, connected in a highly decentralized structure. This is based on the idea that what works in one place probably won't be what works in a very different place. While there are no guarantees on any of this, I think this might be a workable scenario.
How do we do this? That's the subject of my next piece: The Process.
Quote of the Day: "What is our vision, our picture of an ideal society and economy? When we say 'Another world is possible,' what kind of world are we talking about?
"The global justice movement is diverse. It ranges from union leaders who want to secure a fair share of this economy for their members to old line Marxists, to anarchists, to indigenous communities struggling to preserve their traditional lands and cultures. No one picture of the world can describe all the different viewpoints. No one vision may actually serve this tremendous diversity. And how could it? How could the aspirations of an urban office worker be the same as that of a Mayan farmer in Chiapas? Why should we think that one form of economy or social organization should serve all?" - Starhawk