Chronicling the Bottom Up
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Gar Alperovitz; America Beyond Capitalism

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Broadcast 12/21/2011 at 22:20:04 (2 Listens, 0 Downloads, 0 Itunes)
The Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show Podcast

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Gar Alperovitz is the Lionel R. Bauman Professor of Political Economy at the University of Maryland and co-founder of the Democracy Collaborative. He is the author of numerous books, including Unjust Deserts (with Lew Daly), Making a Place For Community (with Thad Williamson and David Imbroscio), Rebuilding America (with Jeff Faux) and, in connection with foreign policy, Atomic Diplomacy and The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb.

Noam Chomsky on the book, America Beyond Capitalism:
" This challenging work succeeds in a task that may seem almost utopian in dark times suffused by anger, hopelessness, and despair: to provide concrete and feasible ways to reverse the ominous course of the past several decades and to open the way to a vibrant democracy with a sustainable economy that can satisfy human needs, not least the need to control one's work and life. It is an impressive achievement, that should inspire thought and constructive action."

Very rough notes from the interview:
Wealth is so concentrated in the United states that is really Midieval.
that statement is not rhetorical.

400 people alone more than the bottom half.

The question the article asks and the heart of America Beyond Capitalism-- the heart of it is, if you don't like real capitalist form, and you don't like socialism, what

There are 130 million americans who are members of coops.
there are 13 million worker owners.
there are thousands of neighborhood corporations and social enterprises--

That's the vision-- in a s ociety of highly concentrated wealth-- would be abottom up democritization.
Rob: How do we get there?

none of the traditional training are working-- job training programs don't work when there are no jobs.

The failure of the traditional alternatives is leading to new approaches.

Bank loans, tech assistance for them, policies that help them.

There there are thousands of these things being surveyed around the country.

A co-op is a business and it can take advantage of anything available to an ordinary business.

There are special programs established in the 1970s by a maverick banker Louis Kelso and the son of Huey Long-- that gives very large tax benefits to businessmen who sold their company to the workers. If he sells it to the workers, he gets a big tax benefit.

There are proposals for a new bank to finance some of this.

North Dakota has a public bannk and 14 states

Book America Beyond Capitalis-- a toolkit on how to do these things.

The obstacle

Tie-in with re-localization, l ocal food?

There's an intersection.

We give corporations big tax benefits to come into a city for a while, then leave.
Throw aways cities--- very wasteful.

Worker owned companies don't get up and move.
We're going to need national policies that encourage this.

America Beyond Capitalism:

Over time, building up, thinking of women's right to vote, for example, it happened state by state by state.
or the new deal-- all of that happened piecemeal, in fragments.

What does America beyond capitalism.
Question is, how do we make for health, democratic communities, at the grass roots level.
You can't have Democracy with a big D unless you have democracy with a little d in communities.

You can't have democracy with radical concentrations, medieval levels.

Corporate capitalism does it in the hands of the elite in the hands of the big corporations.

Experiments that decentralize
Let's decentralize as radically as makes sense We may have to go to other forms of ownership. Social Security is basically a public insurance system.

Medicare is a public health care system.

Need really clear principles that build of how to do this at a larger scale.
There's a lot of experience on the ground to draw on, and the press doesn't cover this.

Roughly 25% of electricity in the US is now produced by coops and local public utilities,BTW many in the conservative south.

only about 9% is in manufacturing. We're entering the post industrial era.
Most people think of capitalism as concentrating wealth. There can be something very new and American that can work.

Post industrial era-- today the US economy produces just under $200,000 of goods and services per every single family of four. That's a very rich society already, leaving aside how we mismanage the economy.
A society that can produce $200,000 already, that's a post-industrial society with only 9% of the workforce in manufacturing. We're that rich if we distributed and organized differently.

Over the 20th century, income increased sevenfold,  mainly due to technology.
By the end of this century.

The question should not be about production and jobs-- we could be having people living on a 20 hour week, and great, caring, ecologically intelligent communities-- that's already available in the technology. What we ought to be thinking about radically reducing the work week and increasing leisure, reducing stress, building community.
The distribution of wealth is so concentrated that people at the top have so much of it.

It's time for a revolution first of expectations, then building from the bottom up new theories. Democratizing ownership is necessary. We could build a society now

Rob: How does a revolution of expectations evolve, look, where does it come from?
the occupy movement has taught us that the wall street abuses are undemocratic, outrageous...
In Egypt, the women are marching against soldiers and thugs who are beating and kicking them and the women are coming in larger numbers.
We've seen it in our won civil rights movement. You could easily be killed in the early days, but people said enough is enough.

This is not uncommon in history-- people reaching a point where they say enough is neough and demanding their rights as human beings. The Occupy movment is just a beginning.

My worry is that we won't have thought through how we want to build the new society, so we have to develop the ideas and the on the ground experience... the moral and visionary content has to be there, but we also have to know where we are going. How does the system get organized.

You can call it a revolution.
Here we're talking about a third way, different institutions are being built. Bu tit is changing the institutions-- in a peaceful way.

Evolutionary reconstruction is closer.

We need more in our heads and minds that we've actually thought through. We need to be saying what the new system looks like. We need to think it through in.

was a student of William Eppleman Williams
Argued that you really need to look at the content of the ideas that drove the system. Do they really make sense?

We need to think through the ideas. How do you organize a system. You can't just do projects. We need projects, but to build a new h istory and a new vision-- you need to know what you want. What are the theory and principles of the new society?

Chairman Mao said that "Power grows from the barrell of a gun.
If you look at the women's movement, power comes from half a dozen women getting together over coffee, talking about what needs to be done, then supporting each other locally. That's where democratic power comes from.

If you look at the people you are studying in history, they have projects, but they also have ideas in their heads.

The progressive era people were really trying to advance women's rights, to end corruption, " and also pushing power of US corporations... that mix had terrible consequences... Their main premise was expand corporate capitalism while expanding democracy at home

Catholic concept: subsidiarity--- everything shoudl be done at the local level and only move to the next level when necessary.

We can't get away with knee jerk reactions. We have to think it through intelligently.

OTher leading thinkers on what the new economy would look like:

Juliet Shore- looking at the shape of the new society.
David Korten
David Schweiker, from a worker owned socialist perspective
Marxists, Political theorists
Next president of American political assoc Jane Mansbridge
Noam Chomsky-- anarchist perspective

People are trying to get beyond projects and elections-- to really think through... if you don't like capitalism and don't like corporate capitalism and don't like state socialism, what do you want.

The teaparty, for all its difficulties and outrageous act, holds onto liberty and democracy. Well if we don't have an answer to how to produce liberty and democracy. we don't have a moral position.

have spoken at NY, Boston and Wash locales.

told them about worker owned, and also advised to get involved in their own community... getting group together to talk about the theory and principle of the new society.

How do you democratize the economy? How do you organize so it works?
The book stimulates that kind of conversation.

Rob: Lakoff points out that progressive foundations fund based on projects.
I call it Projectism.

Often people doing projects see them as the end in themselves-- Need to be able to chew gum and walk at the same time.
We have to fund the funding sources and individual funders--
I've been doing this work for a long time and there are some funders who will help out.
Part of the problem is really honestly coming to the funders and saying we need to do... and explain it and challenge them to get their priorities changed.

The challenge before us seems daunting, historically, and it is daunting. You can't think about this only about how hard it is. You have to stand back and look at the middle east and people rising to people. History often has a secretive way of covering up what is just below the surface.

I'm from Wisconsin, Joe McCarthy, was from there. they shot anything that moved, politically, on the progressive side. People said that you couldn't change things. But the sixties were just around the corner and just beneath the surface the womens, civil rights, movements, the anti-war movement were there, exploding.

I don't want to hear people say you can't do this because times are so difficult.. We don't know that until we act. And to deny that reality, to deny possibility that you know because of your pessimism-- pessimism is self fulfilling. it's also an easy way out. The message is personal. To argue against history, that there may or may not be a possibility, is ignorance.

In the US, many many times in history people have, inspite of many saying something was not possible, broken through to make change happen.

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Rob Kall is the host of the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show, WNJC 1360, where he discusses how the bottom up mind and bottom up revolution are reaching different areas of the world, of life, of politics, business, society and anywhere else.

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