Re: [OPE-L] David Schweickart presenting 'Economic Democracy' theory in Venezuela

From: David Laibman (dlaibman@SCIENCEANDSOCIETY.COM)
Date: Thu Oct 26 2006 - 09:49:40 EDT

thanks to Carl for sharing this item.  I would just like to add that David
Schweickart's talk in Caracas is part of a book launch for a new book,
published simultaneously in Bilbao, Spain, and Caracas, entitled *Derecho
a Decidir: Propuestas para el socialismo del siglo XXI* (Right to Choose:
Proposals for 21st Century Socialism).  This collection, edited by Joaquin
Arriola, is based on two special issues of *Science & Society* (Spring
1992, and Spring 2002), with some added material.  Presentations in the
book launch series of events in Caracas have also been made (or soon will
be made) by Allin Cottrell, Al Campbell, Robin Hahnel, and myself, all of
us having diverse standpoints on an envisioned socialism (mostly of a
character quite different from the market-socialist orientation advocated
by David S.).  The Venezuela publisher is the Centro Internacional
Miranda, and a key organizer of the launch events is OPE-L's Mike
    In solidarity,

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David Laibman
Editor, Science & Society
451 West Street
New York, NY 10014 / USA

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Carl Davidson []
> Sent: Wednesday, October 25, 2006 12:27 PM
> [Chicago's David Schweickart, Philosophy, Loyola, is in Venezuela, invited
> to present his theory of 'Economic Democracy' as a market socialist
> alternative for the 21st Century that is in tune with global justice,
> paticipatory democracy and Karl Marx's orginal ideas as well. What follows
> is just the introdction to his presentation, which is much longer, and can
> be found at --CarlD]
> Economic Democracy:
> A Worthy Socialism that Would Really Work
> by David Schweickart,
> 'Economic Democracy: A Worthy Socialism that Would Really Work' laid out a
> model that was to form the basis of my book Against Capitalism, published
> by
> Cambridge University Press in 1993. The article, like the book itself, was
> a
> theoretical response to the triumphalism of the TINA crowd (There Is No
> Alternative) that followed the collapse of Soviet Union and the rejection
> of
> socialism by its satellite states in Eastern Europe. 'A Worthy Socialism'
> was intended to demonstrate rigorously that there is an alternative, at
> least in theory: an economically viable form of socialism that would be
> more
> democratic than capitalism and at least as efficient. Against Capitalism
> made the same point, but extended the argument further. Economic Democracy
> would be not only as efficient as capitalism and more democratic, but also
> more rational in its growth, more stable, more egalitarian, less prone to
> high unemployment, more ecologically friendly. I was sick of hearing even
> progressives say that 'we are going to have to stop using the term
> 'capitalist economy' as if we knew what a functioning non-capitalist
> economy
> would look like.' (these words from the well-known philosopher and public
> intellectual Richard Rorty, writing in the widely read liberal magazine.)
> In 1998 I was approached by a publisher to do a more popular version of
> Against Capitalism, less oriented to professional philosophers and
> economists, more accessible to students, labor organizers and other
> sympathetic non-academics. I agreed, and began what I thought would be
> quick
> and easy project.
> The project was not so 'quick and easy.' The result, After Capitalism, did
> not appear until 2002. It was longer in coming than I had anticipated. I
> had
> to do more than update statistics and alter the style. For the world had
> changed significantly since the early 1990s, and, as a result (I came to
> realize) my own focus had changed. My thinking had become (and remains)
> more
> praxis-oriented than it had been earlier. Moreover, this change of focus
> suggested certain supplements to my original model, which I set out in the
> Postscript to my article, which is also included in this volume. What I
> will
> say to you today draws heavily on that supplement to the original article.
> The World Has Changed
> History has not moved along the path foretold a decade and a half ago by
> so
> many confident prognosticators. In particular:
> -- The socialist experiments have not all collapsed, as was so widely
> expected.
> -- The neoliberal experiments have failed almost everywhere.
> -- A new resistance movement has come into being.
> In the early 1990s it seemed to most people that socialism was over, at
> least for the foreseeable future. The socialist experiment in the Soviet
> Union had failed. The various attempts that had been undertaken in Eastern
> Europe to modify, humanize, and make more efficient the basic Soviet model
> had been brought to a halt. It seemed only a matter of time, the interval
> presumed to be short, before Cuba, China, Vietnam and North Korea would
> abandon their socialist pretenses and join the capitalist club. But they
> didn't.
> Cuba, despite a further tightening of the embargo, went through a very
> difficult 'special period,' but has seen its economy rebound
> significantly.
> Vietnam and especially China have done more than survive. Vietnam has seen
> its economy grow rapidly, despite the million or so citizens killed by the
> Americans and their (our) puppet-regimes and the millions of gallons of
> poison sprayed on their countryside. China has succeeded over the last
> quarter century in lifting more people out of poverty than any country has
> ever done in human history, and, at the same time, has established itself
> as
> one of the world's major economic powers.
> It should be noted that all three of these countries, which still identify
> themselves as socialist, have introduced market mechanisms into their
> economies, which, as we shall see shortly, the theory underlying Economic
> Democracy recommends. By way of contrast, the North Korean economy remains
> relentlessly non-market, and continues to deteriorate-as the theory
> underlying Economic Democracy predicts.
> It is not the economies of the countries that continue to profess
> socialism
> that have collapsed but the economies that most fervently embraced the new
> capitalist orthodoxy. More precisely, the greatest economic disasters of
> recent years have been those on the extremes-on the one hand, North Korea,
> which refuses all concessions to the market, and on the other hand, those
> ex-socialist countries that embraced capitalism most avidly. Among the
> latter, the Soviet Union stands out, having experienced the worst economic
> decline in time of peace of any country in modern history. Clearly, the
> euphoria that once informed the neoliberal project has evaporated, as
> those
> countries that followed the U.S. Treasury/IMF/World Bank prescriptions
> have
> all experienced either sharp decline or, at best, minimal growth: not only
> the countries that once comprised the Soviet Union, but also Mexico,
> Haiti,
> most of Eastern Europe, most of Central and South America, most of
> Southeast
> Asia, almost all of sub-Sahara Africa-the list goes on and on....
> Related

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