Michael Moore’s newest documentary, Capitalism: A Love Story, is scheduled for wide release in early October.  From the reviews that I’ve read, it is an excellent movie, and Moore goes straight to the point of our modern social ills: capitalism.  That being said, I urge everyone to see it, and to convince everyone they know to do so as well.  The fact that a good, thoughtful, and sound piece of media is getting such wide release and positive publicity, from someone in the popular consciousness, is something I never expected to see.  That said, after I see it I will have much to say.

To make this short, his conclusion is that we need to replace capitalism with a democratic economic system, and shows examples of worker-owned factories.

In the mean time, for those looking for proposals for what democratic economic system we should have, here’s a short bibliography for you.

Here is a list of some models of decentralized, participatory planned socialisms.

The three biggest models right now are:
(1)   The Parecon model, whose primary theoreticians are Michael Albert and Robin Hahnel (and which is associated with Z Communications, including Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn).  Z Communications has a space on their site specifically for it at http://www.zmag.org/znet/topics/parecon, where different theorists working to develop its implications in economics and in the wider society.  Their whole model is founded upon their argument that resources should be distributed according to effort, tempered by need.
As for books:
Michael Albert has a book called Parecon from 2004 which is a great summary of the position; it’s available at http://www.zcommunications.org/zparecon/pareconlac.htm.
Robin Hahnel has another book from 2005 called Economic Justice and Democracy: From Competition to Cooperation, and I personally like it better than the Albert book. . . it has some really important discussions of egalitarian intentional communities as well as a good presentation of their overall critiques of capitalism.
More of their books are available online here:  http://www.zcommunications.org/zmi/readparecon.htm
(2) The Cottrell/Cockshott model:
The original model is presented in Cottrell and Cockshott’s book Towards a New Socialism, published in 1993, and is fully available at their website: http://ricardo.ecn.wfu.edu/~cottrell/socialism_book/.  In addition, many of their subsequent essays expanding on the book are available there, too.  You might especially enjoy their advocacy of direct democracy, and rejection of representative government as a hidden extension of class rule masquerading as democracy.  They propose how direct democracy can be feasible given our current technology (even as of 16 years ago).

(3) The Adaman/Devine model:
Of the three primary models of participatory planned socialisms, I know least about the proposal of Adaman and Devine.  I only know that it’s grouped with the Parecon and Cottrell/Cockshott models as a fellow model of democratic, participatory planned socialism.  It’s initial book is Pat Devine’s Democracy and Economic Planning: The Political Economy of a Self Governing Society (1988), and expanded in the articles “Socialist Renewal: lessons from the calculation debate” in Studies in Political Economy 43 (spring): 63-77 (1994); “A response to Professor Foss” in Studies in Political Economy 49 (spring) 163-8 (1996); “The economic calculation debate: lessons for socialists” in the Cambridge Journal of Economics 20(5): 523-37 (1996); and “On the economic theory of socialism” in New Left Review 221 (Jan-Feb): 54-80.

Finally, (4) Science and Society Vol. 66:1 has a series of articles by all the major proponents of democratic, participatory planned socialisms, expanding their theories in certain ways and/or addressing critiques.  Additionally, each article is followed by comments from some of the other theorists, and then replies.  Albert, Hahnel, Cottrell, Cockshott, Adaman, and Devine are all here, as well as some other advocates of such an economic system.

This is a lot of reading, but as Moore’s movie was meant to critique the system and propose guidelines for solutions, not the solutions themselves, I wanted to fill that in a little, for all of us.  Again, go see the movie when it’s widely released, and comment on my blog with what you think.

In Solidarity,

The Practical Utopian