RevolutionZ

Ep 258 Parecon and the Rest of Society, Agreements and Disagreements

December 03, 2023 Michael Albert Season 1 Episode 258
RevolutionZ
Ep 258 Parecon and the Rest of Society, Agreements and Disagreements
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Episode 258 of RevolutionZ continues the multi-episode discussions of economic vision this time considering relations between participatory economics and vision for other key areas of life including polity, kinship, culture, ecology, and artistic endeavors and including disagreements about wages for housework, issues of ecological necessity, art as work or work as art, and more. 

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Speaker 1:

Hello, my name is Michael Albert and I am the host of the podcast that's titled Revolution Z. This is to be our 258th consecutive episode and it follows in the sequence we have recently intermittently presented, based on chapters in the book no Bosses and the post-capitalist economy called Participatory Economics. Participatory Economics, described in recent episodes all still available, of course, as the book no Bosses proposes a productive commons in place of current private ownership of productive assets, workers and consumers. Self-managing councils in place of current authoritarian decision-making. Balanced job complexes in place of the current corporate division of labor. Remuneration federation, intensity and onerousness of socially valued labor instead of current remuneration for property, power and or output. And participatory planning in place of current markets and or central planning. I interject the above has been talked about many times in these episodes. It's basically a minimalist set of institutions that can achieve classlessness and self-management and other values that we aspire to. The chapter continues.

Speaker 1:

The topic this time is relations between the proposed post-capitalist economy and other sides of life, and, as with other episodes in this sequence, this one too presents the text of the chosen chapter, but it also injects comments that occur to me now as I revisit the contents. As with other chapters from the book. This one too starts with two quotations. First from William Blake we have to see a world in a green of sand and heaven in a wildflower. Hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour. I interject. Why did I choose that? I think what I was thinking was each part of society, sort of like a grain of sand, can reveal a great deal about the whole of society, precisely because the various parts have to sort of accommodate each other. They have to fit together, and the chapter continues. And then from Macbacoonan we have as a second quote I am only free when all human beings around me, men and women alike, are equally free.

Speaker 1:

Then begins the chapter A new world needs a new economy. A new world equally needs new relations for other sides of life. Proposing a new economy, we need it to compatibly support new relations elsewhere, and vice versa. Here are just a few suggestions for what desired change might mean in some other parts of society. Here are also some intersections of participatory economics with other parts of society. To start, consider how society accomplishes the key political functions of legislation, adjudication and the implementation of collective agendas. If participatory economics proves valid, then similar values will likely have simultaneously informed new polity. I interject Through this chapter. One key but quite obvious insight guides the thinking Parts of life like economy, polity and others we will also take up impact people's consciousness, their habits, capacities, inclinations and expectations.

Speaker 1:

If one side of life, say the economy, produces people with certain attributes that conflict with the successful operation of other parts of life, or needs people to have certain attributes that other parts of society don't provide or even prevent, the mismatch can be a severe problem. Considering different parts of society in context of one another includes mainly paying attention to how the implications and needs of each compatibly interface with or incompatibly conflict with one another. Each core part of society not only operates to accomplish its own defining functions, but also produces certain attributes in people and thereby emanates influences that percolate into other parts of society. Whether these are liberatory or oppressive attributes, the idea here isn't really that complicated. If kinship generates people who are ill-fitted to work in capitalist workplaces, there's a problem. If capitalist workplaces produce people who are ill-suited to living together, there's a problem. Same goes for the relations between polity and culture or community relations and for all the other pairs we might take. What happens in one has to at least be compatible with, and may even foster, what happens in another. Okay, the chapter continues.

Speaker 1:

New polity will therefore likely seek to implement self-management and justice, as well as to promote solidarity and diversity. In reverse, new political relations would likely require an economy that abides political, participatory democracy, an economy that produces workers and consumers who are able to participate politically and that does not produce conflicting classes that would subvert desired political aims to advance their own class interests. To succeed, in other words, a new polity will presumably need a population prepared and inclined to participate fully. It will also need its operations, its own operations, to function without class rule or even class division. One could imagine, as does the well-developed participatory political vision that has been offered, for example, by Stephen Shalom, A participatory polity built on neighborhood assemblies plus encompassing levels of federated assemblies, plus a dramatically renovated, restorative judicial system, plus a new executive for implementing shared programs such as a new center for disease control. Such political innovations would, in each case, presumably honor self-management and equity and incorporate balanced job complexes.

Speaker 1:

I interject, actually, a long time ago, when Robin Hanell and I were working out these ideas, we came up with a technical term for this. We said that if one part of society was producing people inconsistent with what another part needs or was receiving people from other parts that were inconsistent with its needs, they were out of whack. That's what we called it, and out of whack elements of a society, contradictory, yield problems and conflict and can yield change. So the idea is the new polity would call forth from economy what the new polity needs, but would the new economy provide what is sought and vice versa? That's the question.

Speaker 1:

The chapter continues To its political credit. Participatory economics would quote supply to political life, people who are well-prepared by their economic activities for participatory political roles. Vice versa, participatory politics would need to similarly support new economic values and structures. Indeed, if political relations were to produce people expecting to dominate or to be subordinate, or to produce people expecting to be enriched or impoverished, such people would find their expectations not only unmet but challenged by an accompanying participatory economy. Put differently, participants of economic life, people without class division, people empowered, people accustomed to self-managing, would presumably be well-fitted to equitable judicial interactions, to shared political agendas and to political assemblies, which might even be consumer councils with a second focus. So far, then, so good. We need political vision well beyond the brief comments here, and it should address the various defining aspects of political activity, for example, again, legislation, adjudication and collective implementation. Whatever our political vision turns out to be and I favor Shalom's proposals for participatory polity we can be quite confident that a just, participatory political vision will support and be supported by a participatory economy.

Speaker 1:

Next, consider the ways societies accomplish key gender, sexual, familial functions, including procreation, nurturance, education of the next generation, household maintenance and diverse choices for daily life and living units. We can sensibly predict that, however, all this is precisely and diversely accomplished. The new, revolutionized kinship perhaps it will be called participatory kinship, for example, as it has been envisioned by Lydia Sargent, cynthia Peters and Savina Choudhury Would of course, seek to prepare children for the most multifaceted, creative and caring lives they might choose to pursue. It would presumably treat men, women, trans and people of different, familiar and of new, so sexual preferences and practices alike. What changes might eliminate the hierarchies among men and women and the toxic masculinity and subordinated femininity that these hierarchies enforce and depend on? One change, for example, might be that participatory kinship relations would overturn the familiar familial arrangement wherein men, father, women, mother and young girls and boys, seeing and experiencing the division of responsibilities between men fathering and women mothering, would become imbued with patriarchal habits, inclinations and desires To avoid that. Perhaps participatory kinship would include that neither men nor women mother or father. Instead, people of all genders would parent.

Speaker 1:

Another possibility perhaps a feminist revolution will determine that the activity involving directly, personally and attending to the needs of others has such profoundly positive implications for personality and empathy that everyone ought to do a share of it. Rather than taking care of the young, the ill or the elderly being something that women overwhelmingly do, each such activity would be considered so valuable and socially constructive of humane sentiments and empathetic capacities that it would be shared equally among men and women. I interject Notice here again there is this idea of an institution and the roles that it establishes impacting people's being, people's capacities, people's consciousness, people's inclinations and personalities. And so here what's being said is that perhaps caretaking, that kind of activity, has such positive implications for people doing it that it should be done not by one sector of the population, just women, but by all of the population, men and women. The chapter continues.

Speaker 1:

Participatory economics sees empowering activity as so important and so essential due to its effects on those doing it, that it must be universally equilibrated. Analogously, participatory kinship might see caring activity as so important and so essential, also by its effect on those doing it, that it must be universally shared. If so, participatory economy would have to accommodate that message in its allocation of tasks. Likewise, participatory kinship would have to accommodate the message from the accompanying participatory economy that empowering activity must be equilibrated, not only in council-based and collectively planned work, but also in daily life activity. This would be an instance of intersectionality in a participatory society. And I interject.

Speaker 1:

The idea is the same throughout. If the participatory economy involves everyone doing a fair share of empowering activity, then people become accustomed to that, people expect that, people desire that. If such people go from the economy into the kinship sphere, and in the kinship sphere they're denied that, or some get that and others don't. That's a contradiction. Those people would not put up with that. Okay, the chapter continues.

Speaker 1:

In any case, a new economy that functions in a society with participatory kinship would have to accept and promote full and equal participation from both men and women. Women and men would have to be equally empowered and remunerated for their economic labors. Education would have to uncover and aid the development of the most multifaceted, creative and caring young people entering new jobs, and would have to provide jobs which would further, rather than stifle all such young people. A new economy would also have to facilitate or kinship to call for it a fair and equal distribution of caring work. In fact, in that case it would ideally have to alter work so that caring for those beyond self was an intrinsic part of every economic calculation. Looking at the above menu of requirements, it turns out that conditions for a good economy to fit with transformed kinship sound like a description for participatory economics. In this case, as with politics earlier, so far, so good we need to win new kinship, because changes in other domains would not alone liberate sexuality and gender as fully as desired. We can then be confident, however, that such new kinship can support and be supported by participatory economics.

Speaker 1:

But wait a minute, not so fast. An additional and more specific question arises. What about household labor? What about the oft-raised demand quote wages for housework? How might this clear intersection of economics and kinship be handled in a good society? I interject In the same way that I have emphasized that there is no one complete, unalterable participatory economy, but rather a core scaffold and then many contingent features that can be different in different countries, regions and even neighborhoods, and then also in different industries or even different workplaces inside an industry. Similarly, there is no one kinship system with no variations, that is, participatory kinship. A detailed blueprint that all instances much match is not a good idea, impossible to implement in any event. More as a vision for any aspect of society unfolds, even core features may prove to be not so core or seemingly contingent features may prove to be essential, and along the way, advocates might of course have different opinions about which they disagree. Okay, the chapter continues.

Speaker 1:

The wages for housework demand and its associated ideas were first offered decades ago. The aim was to address problems in the then current society, problems which are now somewhat reduced but regrettably still very much with us. But would the question of how to organize a new society benefit from a different answer than the question of how should we combat various ills in a current society? One way to respond is to say that in a good society, raising children, furnishing and caring for a dwelling, cooking for one's housemates and overall tending to one another's living group needs should be addressed like all work. We should not only offer wages for housework as a demand now, but we should also propose wages for housework for a new society. This may well be the view of many, and perhaps most people hearing this episode of Revolution Z, but is there any other answer? We certainly want a new society to fix the injustices associated with past approaches to what we can call for convenience household activity.

Speaker 1:

But is the path that wages for housework proposes though it is of course possible the best or even a really good option when we're thinking about a future established society, doesn't it present a pretty daunting problem when we think not about today's society and economy, but about one we would like to have in our future? What would it mean, for example, not as a demand for now, which is one thing, but if it was adopted as a feature of a new society and new economy? An analogy may clarify this question To today demand a $15 minimum hourly wage in the US is quite progressive. To today demand a $30 an hour minimum wage would be quite radical. But to say a good society with a participatory economy should have a $15 or even a $30 minimum wage would make no sense. In fact, a minimum wage would be meaningless in a participatory economy because there is no difference for anyone in the rate of pay for an hour of average intensity and onerousness of socially valued work. There is no unwarranted difference in people's incomes and what differences exist due to different duration, intensity or onerousness are not only warranted, they also cannot get too large. So this is the sense in which one might ask do wages for housework perhaps make sense now and perhaps doing transition to a better economy, but not make sense in an established, better economy, in an established, better society?

Speaker 1:

In participatory economics, as we have emphasized repeatedly, work occurs in balanced job complexes. Work is remunerated for duration, intensity and onerousness, for work that contributes to the overall social product. Work is collectively self-managed by workers' councils. Work inputs are requested by workers' councils in production proposals that are cooperatively assessed and refined via participatory planning. Work outputs are made available to consumers by participatory planning. All this is considered essential to have self-management, solidarity, equity and classlessness.

Speaker 1:

Would incorporating wages for housework, understood in this participatory equity sense, be a positive addition? Well, in a future participatory economy, what would be the workers' council for household work? Would a household want to have its activity assessed in any way by the planning process? Also, aren't the main beneficiaries of household work the members of the household? Does that make sense? Should those who do household activity receive wages, not as an immediate corrective to present-day injustices that might make good sense, but as a long-term goal for a new society? Should they even want to receive income for cooking a meal for themselves, their partners, their parents or their children, or for others in their living units, or even for guests, for that matter?

Speaker 1:

To see the meaning of the last question, notice that we wouldn't want participatory economics to provide income for violin workers who produce violins that they then take home at no cost for their families and friends. If we allowed that, then they would receive income and also receive product. Nor would we want participatory economics to provide income for farmers to produce food for themselves and their family and not for social consumption by others. And if we did opt for such a possibility in the special case of bringing up children or maintaining a living unit, who would get to say that my spending a whole lot of time constantly redesigning my living room isn't worthy of income? Who would determine how much I can play with my kids and receive income for that?

Speaker 1:

These issues could perhaps be handled by special provisions and features to enact a reform in the present if we adopted providing income for housework as a corrective to current injustices. But would they be needed or even make sense or even be positive in an established new society. Might they even be counterproductive in such a new society? If we look into such matters, will it turn out that wages for housework is like balanced jobs? We would like to have it now and beyond that, we must have it for a good economy and for a good society. Or will it turn out that wages for housework is more like a $30 minimum wage? We would like to have it now as a corrective to current injustices, but it would make no sense for a participatory economy and participatory society To think about this.

Speaker 1:

It seems most germane to ask what is the problem, after all, that wages for housework hopes to reduce if we were to enact it in the present? Isn't it that the unpaid time given to household labor is given overwhelmingly by women and that those same women have less income from other work as well? More specifically, one study suggests women around the world currently spend roughly four and a half hours per day on unpaid activity in the home, while men spend an average of a little under an hour and a half per day on the same kind of activity. As a result, over 600 million women report that unpaid activity has meant that they could not seek paid employment outside the home, whereas about 40 million men said the same thing. And then, on top of that, women wind up in more onerous jobs at lower pay when they can work outside the home. The problem is obvious women hold up more than half the sky and are made vulnerable and dependent while doing it.

Speaker 1:

There is another consideration as well. Working in the home as compared to outside the home has different implications for the person doing the work. While the caring aspect is quite positive, the isolating aspect is quite disempowering. A different approach to addressing the concerns that wages for housework addresses might note that a participatory economy will empower and remunerate men and women equally, albeit that would occur outside the living unit. More supposing household work isn't remunerated in a participatory economy, there would nonetheless be average income for all who can't work, so there would be full income for all children and for the elderly or ill who don't work. There would also presumably be free universal daycare. Medical care would presumably be free. Education would presumably be free, presumably meaning we can reasonably predict that future people would decide in favor of these policies.

Speaker 1:

In that context, wouldn't it be possible to recognize that activity in households cleaning, caring, cooking, maintaining, teaching is actually unlike activity in workplaces. Indeed, wouldn't it be so different from activity in workplaces that paying people to bring up their own children, to cook for their own living units, or to clean or make more welcoming and comfortable their own rooms would in some sense denigrate and not elevate the activity, as well as contradicting the logic of equitable remuneration and participatory allocation? Would it make sense, for example, that people both get an income for household activity, called wages for housework, and that they also get the product of that activity for which they get the income? I clean my house, I furnish it, I decorate it, I cook for my housemates, and yet I and they not only get the product. I and they also get income from producing that product for ourselves. That is ruled out for every other kind of work.

Speaker 1:

Why should this kind, if we decide to call it work, be different? And would it make sense that all this household activity, deemed work and treated like other work, would have to be part of society's production planning instead of its consumption planning, and that it would have to be conducted under the auspices of a workers' council and a federation of such councils? An advocate of treating household activity as work, and therefore an advocate of wages for housework, might reply quote yes, these observations do imply that we need some special considerations for household work as compared to other work, but the fact remains we can't allow women to be overburdened by household labors. End quote. Exactly so. But consider a person who agrees that we can't permit the problem to persist, but who feels that to label caring for one's own children, spouse, living unit and living partners work and to treat it like all other work in a new participatory economy as compared to in capitalism, to win a valuable change in the present, would be trying to solve a problem in ways that unnecessarily subvert other values. Would such a person be wrong to urge that, unlike other work, household activity, though admittedly critically important, admittedly time-consuming, admittedly productive and admittedly horribly handled in current society, would not be properly handled in a new society by a workers' council determining who gets what and who doesn't, who does what and who doesn't, or by folks having to seek input as members of the production part of the planning process rather than the consumption part, for cleaning their own dishes?

Speaker 1:

Is this person, say me here in this episode, who is questioning ways for housework for an established, good society, just trying to avoid solving the problem of women holding up too much of the sky just trying to preserve male advantage? What if a person agrees that the sexist distribution of household activity needs priority solving, but the same person doubts the desirability of having household activity remunerated, planned, etc. What if that person asks an advocate of wages for housework? Why do you think that in a transformed future we will need economics to solve the currently horrible kinship problem? Economics isn't all there is. Why can't a revolution in kinship relations themselves, a revolution that transforms families, living units and all sides of life, plus that changes the economy together, achieve the result of ending gender inequities in all sides of life? Consider one example In a participatory economy, in a participatory society, imagine a young child or an elderly family member needs round the clock help.

Speaker 1:

Of course such help from care workers would be free to the recipient because it is socially supported, and of course those doing it would have balanced jobs, receive pay like everyone else, have a workers' council, be part of planning, etc. So far there is no issue. But suppose the mother of the child or the husband of the old partner wants to provide the care. To do it, the mother or husband or it could be the reverse, of course must take off from her or his job. The advocate of paying the person wages for household activity might then reasonably say that since society was willing to pay for a care worker to do the care work in the home, why can't society pay instead for the mother or father or partner to do it? It could, but is that the best or even a desirable approach? Does the mother-father partner want to have to enter the planning process as a member of the Council of Daycare or private care workers? Should the mother-father partner want remuneration for the care they wish to give? Isn't an easier and better approach which would accomplish the outcome sought at no loss of income for anyone, be that the mother-father partner simply retains their income from the job they have to take leave of to do the home care More or less like occurs now from maternity-paternity leave, though in a participatory economy the funds are provided by the whole society.

Speaker 1:

Depending on what emerges from kinship transformations, both approaches are possible. A participatory economy could treat household activity as work like any other, or treat it as work somewhat like work, but with caveats and dispensations. Or a participatory economy could treat it as household activity revolutionized by participatory kinship. Whichever way this debate may go, surely we can see that participatory economics can fit well with participatory kinship, and we can also see that, in the nearer term, any effective campaign to reduce the incredible injustices associated with household and caring activity and every other form of patriarchal hierarchy is both justified and able to help lead toward a transformed future.

Speaker 1:

I interject In this section. I have presented my current understanding of and current reasons for not liking adopting paying wages for housework as a defining feature of participatory kinship and even as a potentially positive but contingent policy. Another advocate of participatory society and thus participatory kinship might have made the opposite case that wages for housework would be essential or, at any rate, at least a desirable policy that some would sensibly opt for. In that case, therefore, we would have a case of advocates of the participatory vision disagreeing and perhaps even agreeing to disagree. Is that a problem? Well, it could be if the disagreeing folks not only don't come to an agreement but dismiss each other or, worse, denigrate each other, but not if they hear each other and understand each other and agree that time, experience and practice should decide the issue. I should acknowledge that this can get tricky. Suppose an advocate of participatory society says we shouldn't bother worrying about women being subject to control by men, getting less income, having more disempowering tasks, etc. This is how splints and movements occur. What we have so far and will settle for in general, is the advisory that a disagreement about a contingent feature should not be a problem to divide over, but instead a difference to explore, debate and, if necessary, let choices in the future resolve. In contrast, a difference of a core commitment over what I call scaffold features should try for resolution. But if an impasse is reached may require going in two directions, but with each side hoping and agreeing that down the road either the debated feature will prove contingent or, if essential, will all finally agree.

Speaker 1:

The chapter continues. Next, consider culture, community, or the ways society accomplishes the elaboration of holidays, rituals, use of language and other ethnic, racial, national and religious relations and interrelations among communities of people. Here too, society needs new, transformed social relations. The aim would not be, I think we can guess, to homogenize different communities into one big one that stands alone. Rather, the diversity that has always characterized ethnic, racial, religious, geographic and other cultural communities would be seen as something to preserve and even enlarge. But at the same time, such new relations would presumably want to remove hierarchies among communities, such that some communities dominate while others suffer deprivation.

Speaker 1:

However, this goal may be accomplished, for example, perhaps by an approach outlined by Justin Podor called polyculturalism, or by an intercommunalism that guarantees all communities conditions of self-preservation. Presumably, members of different communities would not enjoy privileges denied to others or suffer indignities and denials compared to others as a result, new community relations will likely require of an inclined economy that does not empower or remunerate members of any one community in any lesser or greater way than members of any other community. And, of course, participatory economics will easily comply with that, since it has no mechanism to even allow, much less to cause, even two individual actors to be treated economically unjustly or overly acquisitively, much less any two communities. A more nuanced and perhaps somewhat difficult possibility exists when we consider impact in the opposite direction, given the implications of renovated participatory economic life and prior education for the talent, skills, knowledge and confidence of workers and consumers. Diverse communities will have a hard time retaining their members if they cause some to predominantly dominate and others to predominantly obey in their cultural or other relations. I interject, this is just an example of the interface between different parts of society having to accommodate one another If the economy is generating people who expect and thrive in and seek and look for equitable relations, then if you have a community which, by some of its customs and practices and asserted beliefs, denies that kind of equity, well, that community is not going to have many members.

Speaker 1:

The chapter continues, even as we perceive and protect communities and celebrate their diversity. Would such internal community hierarchies operationally disappear due to this characteristic of transformed cultural community economic interrelations? I guess time will tell this, like so much else For myself, I like to think it would. But if not, I think we can predict that the participatory economy would in any event pose a problem for communities which have customs, holidays, practices and the like that, for example, expect some members to be anointed and empowered and others to be followers. Likewise, communities imbuing such inclinations and expectations in their members would pose a problem for a participatory economy that expects and wants all workers and consumers to be socially caring, self-managing and freely initiating participants. I interject, hmm, I seem to have been asleep at the keyboard when I wrote the above.

Speaker 1:

A vision for racial, ethnic, religious and other community relations will have to address more than what the above indicates. For example, there are matters of entry to and exit from a community. Exits should be free and easy, of course, entry could be similar or could require a considerable degree of agreement with customs practices, etc. Whether it would require things like skin color or parents' background etc. Will, I suspect, have to be resolved though I would lean toward no and there would be issues of caucuses in, for example, workplaces, which ought to be fine but might raise concerns to deal with. And even more, there are matters of how communities engage with one another. Suppose two communities have a conflict, suppose there is no easy resolution, then what? Perhaps it ought to be that the community that is stronger in the sense of being less minority, less materially weak, less in danger of any kind of denial, should simply have to give way. As with other spheres of life, there are likely some core issues that still need thought as things proceed and many contingent issues that will certainly need thought and yield diverse choices, as experience teaches.

Speaker 1:

Next, consider ecology or the ways society interacts with its natural surroundings, including using ecology's offerings and impacting ecology's evolution To a considerable degree. This is an intrinsically economic matter. A sane, healthy, humane ecology is presumably one that continually sustains and even enhances both its human partners and its own diverse conditions. A transformed ecology would therefore require of economy, polity, culture and kinship. One, you must account for the implications of your choices on me, the surrounding ecology, and on how their impact in turn reflects back on you my human guess. And two, you should be eager and able to abide ecological constraints and aims that arise from ecological wisdom but require broader attention and wisdom in other domains.

Speaker 1:

And so how does participatory economy, for example, reply to ecology? By design and necessity, it says yes, the participatory economy accepts your requirements and welcomes your wise impositions. This is so because, my says the economy, participatory planning, seeks to reveal and act in light of not only full personal and social costs and benefits of economic possibilities, but also in light of their full ecological costs and benefits. More participatory economy can and will eagerly abide any requirements born of ecological wisdom and brought to the economy from without. The point is, participatory economy is designed to itself reverse excessive resource depletion, climate destruction, pollution and more, and will happily accept ecological instructions regarding habitats and relations it might otherwise treat wrongfully, thereby being an ecological or green and not just a sustainable economy.

Speaker 1:

I interject, and this time it's probably going to be at some length. It seems I was still comatose at the keyboard writing the above. It isn't false. Indeed, I think it is correct, but it might have usefully gone on a bit longer. Well, wait a minute, let me refine that. That is, of course, true of all the sections of this chapter episode from no Bosses and thus of this episode of Revolution Z. They were all super succinct, but I want to at least extend this ecology section a little now, because different people can take participatory ecological advisory differently, and for us to consider that possibility may shed some light on some of the kinds of differences that can exist in a participatory society.

Speaker 1:

We already know, among other examples, that folks in a workplace, or from one workplace to another or from one country to another, could, for example, have and even implement different views about precisely how to arrive at balanced jobs or an equitable apportionment of income or at how to deal with qualitative information during planning, even while they all agree on the participatory economic scaffolds defining features. What about differences over how to implement ecological norms? What does the participatory ecological advisory say to me, for example? What does it say to others, for example, in deciding on economic activities? To me, it says the economy should provide workers and consumers with accurate assessments of the personal, social and ecological consequences of contending choices and convey to those involved and potentially affected self-managing decision-making influence.

Speaker 1:

Okay, but ecological wisdom also says we should consider what is called the precautionary principle, which arises from ecological thought and, for that matter, from just plain good sense. This principle is more or less that when things are not certain, then there are possible major costs to a proposal that otherwise looks good to consider. One should avoid taking excessive risk. The precautionary principle could reasonably be summarized as when uncertain, better safe than sorry.

Speaker 1:

Now consider two people living in a participatory society. Suppose they agree with the precautionary principle and they agree with the participatory ecological advisory regarding taking into account ecological implications. Now what? Suppose they also agree that to utilize some natural resource in a manner that some proposed project would entail, other things unchanged, would lead to the total depletion of the resource in decades. Say which, if having that resource then became critically important, would leave us empty-handed and cause us to suffer great loss due to its absence. Or suppose they agree that the proposed pattern of use would flood the atmosphere with pollutants, that, other things unchanged, would cause great human suffering. Now, however, suppose one of them says wait a minute, things will change. Innovators can and will come up with a substitute for the resource if and when we need it. Innovators can and will come up with a way to diminish or remove the pollutants. He adds that since the project has major benefits and since he says we can offset its dangers by innovating when needed, let's do the project to get the benefits and innovate to avoid the dangers.

Speaker 1:

The other conversant replies hold on the danger of major losses is too great. Your faith in timely innovations offsetting the dangers is too uncertain. We ought not do the project. Reasonable, participatory citizens could disagree in just that way. To a priori say that we can always come up with a technological breakthrough to mitigate nasty consequences, so we should always pursue foreseeable good consequences, would mean we should do anything. We should do everything. On the other side, to a priori say that to use anything non-replaceable or to spew anything harmful never makes sense would mean we should do nothing. So the point is that a sensible actor will assess and will have in mind the precautionary principle and that, while reasonable people may sometimes disagree about specific options, no one would rule everything out or welcome everything in.

Speaker 1:

I'm not sure that will be clear on hearing it as compared to reading it, so let me just try it again. If you assume that you can come up with an innovation that's going to mitigate the nasty consequences of some project, then you're thinking the only thing left about that project is its desirable consequences. So you're going to do it. And it would be true for anything that has desirable consequences, no matter the nasty consequences. On the other side, suppose you say, well, everything uses up replaceable things, everything spews something. If you're never going to agree to use something or to spew something, well then that leaves you doing nothing, because everything uses and everything spews. So there has to be decisions made about what is a good idea to pursue and what isn't. Okay. So, but sometimes such disagreements could become polarized toward extremes, and that could happen in a participatory society too.

Speaker 1:

For example, as I hear the degrowth movement, it says do what is called sensible, above that is, determine consequences, assess prospects of fixes to mitigate negative consequences, abide the precautionary principle and decide whether to undertake the activity. It emphasizes that the belief that growth per se is in itself good, so that any project that involves growth, any investment with benefits, ought to be undertaken just because it would advance growth, is utter nonsense. Participatory economics also says determine consequences, assess prospects of fixes to mitigate negative consequences, abide the precautionary principle and decide. It emphasizes that the belief that growth per se is in itself so bad that any project that involves growth, any investment, no matter its benefits, ought to be rejected just because it would involve growth, is also utter nonsense. So at least as I hear both these views, it turns out there is so far no conflict. They emphasize mostly a different obstacle to being sensible On the one hand the belief that growth solves all, on the other hand the belief that growth hurts all. But they each seek to be sensible in the same way, assess, product in product, assess growth, see what its implications are, see what mitigating factors there are and decide, I think degrowth looks around at the state of ecology and at its recent trajectories and emphases and emphasizes caution when we don't have comprehensive evidence, argument for offsetting negative consequences and innovating hoped-for mitigations.

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I think most advocates of participatory economics, participatory socialism etc. Including myself, agree with such caution and provide means to act on it. But we also sometimes point out that one can underestimate prospects for correctives and we sometimes even feel or fear that it is a prevalent error, and so we instead emphasize more on the side of seeking to benefit from projects rather than seeking to avoid their negative consequences by rejecting them. Disagreements couldn't sue. There's a real sense in which the degrowth emphasis is to combat mainstream obstacles. The participatory economic emphasis is to combat leftist progressive obstacles. To carefully weighing in each case expected consequences and their positive and negative attributes and the possibilities of offsetting the latter, Disagreements couldn't sue Even while accepting the need for the economy to as accurately as possible account for ecological implications of choices and to foster sensible precaution as well. This is no problem unless either side starts to overbias their leaning to the point of not seriously assessing contrary possibilities and thus losing track of their common aims. This would occur if degrowthers started to think participatory economy advocates were advocating growth per se, or if participatory economy advocates started to think degrowthers were rejecting growth per se.

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The chapter continues. Of course, we could talk much more about each of the above discussed parts of life, polity, kinship, etc. Or we could address more specific facets of a new society, such as health and caring, efforts in composing science and exploring, or technology and investing, and we have in fact done so elsewhere and in some references that conclude no bosses too. But keeping this chapter episode short and only indicative precludes such exploration. However, there is one additional area I would like to briefly assess here, precisely because its practitioners often raise an instructive concern about participatory economics that has not widely been addressed elsewhere Art. So what might we expect for painting, filming, writing, singing, designing, dancing and musicianship in a better world, and what implications might diverse artistic innovations have or demand from a future economy? What is better art?

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Painter and participatory economy advocate Jerry Frazier suggests that in the eyes of current artists, better art would in most cases be art that is undertaken non-instrumentally and personally, expressively. It would be art that is inner, directed, art that is done as an end in itself, without pressures, without external constraints. Art accomplished for its own intrinsic virtues, art accomplished to express itself, find self, understand self and enlarge self. In these particular desires and I don't think they're the only ones possible for transformed art there arise some artistic concerns about participatory economics. I have encountered, for example, many artists who say wait a minute. You want artistic work to be done in accord with a workers' council. You want other workers and consumers who are not artists to have an impact on what artists do you want me to earn an income from my art, to be able to be an artist and survive only if my art is deemed socially valuable. Come on, I don't want that. I want to be my own individual. I want to do as I wish. I want to enjoy and experience the wonder of creativity however I choose. So a question arises is there a contradiction between what participatory economics would likely deliver for artists and what artists themselves say they want?

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Participatory economics claims to be a self-managing, classless, solidarity, feminist, caring, intercommunalist and green economy. Can it also claim to be an artistic economy? The concern that artists often raise suggests that artists are special and, as a result, should not be subject to any external social dynamic. I empathetically see where this view comes from. In our world, virtually everything, including singing, dancing, painting, filming and writing, is commodified. Art is bought and sold. Its production is alienated by its commodification, with markets for allocation. Arts aim shifts from personal expression and development to pleasing payers. Artists say and I think rightfully so in a better world, art should escape all that alienation. But the advocate of participatory economics should reply yes, of course, but so should all other work, and indeed so should all other activity. Escape all that alienation. Is the solution for a good economy to treat arts? Escape from what has been called capitalism's cash nexus as fundamentally unlike other works escape from capitalism's cash nexus? Should art not abide the norms that other participatory work respects? Or is the solution for a good economy to give all work an artistic aspect and to then treat all work, including art, the same regarding norms that work should respect?

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Participatory economics chooses the latter course. First, it entirely removes from society class hierarchy. It entirely removes power, mediated buying and selling. In fact, it entirely removes all buying and selling as we have known such activity. Second, participatory economics strives to make all work involve experiencing the wonder of engagement and the freedom and enjoyment of collective self-management. It strives to make all work involve the insight and learning that comes from expressive activity. But it also strives to make all work involve the pleasure and sociality of aiding others' well-being.

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It isn't that cleaning a research lab, an assembly area, a dance floor, a film studio or a painting room is made entirely non-boring, much less entirely expressive. It is that self-managed work, freely chosen to fulfill oneself and others and not to fulfill just oneself or just others, is not work as we have known it. And with that change the performing arts become another activity, like research, doctoring, designing, building, assembling and mining. That is, art becomes work undertaken freely to benefit oneself and also society. It becomes work organized in balanced job complexes, it becomes work that receives equitable remuneration and it becomes work that is subject to oneself but also to others who it affects. In this view, the new economy recognizes that, like all work, art should include a non-instrumental moment of self-fulfillment and an expressive moment of self-discovery. But the new economy also incorporates that, like all work that is undertaken as part of one's social contribution to economic output, art must also incorporate the desirability of benefiting and respecting the will of others beyond oneself. Well, that is my expectation, at any rate.

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Participatory economics differs hugely not only from capitalism, but from coordinator market economies economics and coordinator centrally planned economics, each misleadingly often called socialists. This is not least because various prior conceptual frameworks have obscured rather than highlighted how monopolized, empowered work establishes a class between labor and capitalism and elevates that same class above labor and co-ordinarism. To incorporate a non-instrumental and an expressive moment into all work and to incorporate a social moment into all remunerated art makes all work into art and all art into work. And it may be that that is the ultimate capstone of paying attention to all dimensions of class and work relations in proposing a new economy. At any rate, the upshot of this chapter episode is that an economy can only exist affecting and being affected by society's other aspects. Vision for a transformed economy, polity, kinship, culture or ecology requires that each be compatible with the rest. What we can say at this point regarding this requirement is that our proposal for participatory economics looks like, feels like and reads like it will have just such compatibility. And that said, this is Michael Albron.

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Well, wait, hold on for just a minute please. I am recording this on Giving Tuesday, even if you are only hearing it later. Pardon my oneriness, but I find the concept itself quite weird. To be gentle about it, giving Tuesday, one day a year to show up for social good, one day when the normal flood of emails seeking donations goes absolutely over the top. Quote we will die without your help right now. End quote with apocalyptic pleas. To be clear about it, I am not against pleading. Even begging Operations, especially those that give the products of their labor away, do need support to do their thing.

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I mean, really that is obvious, isn't it? Let's say you read some progressive periodicals website pretty regularly. They likely work hard for little to make that available to you, in many cases for nothing. So why not donate? What? How much? The price of a pizza, maybe even a large pizza, whoever you regularly relate to, it is a pretty safe bet. They deserve at least that. And why only on a day when the tone is that if you don't give today, you really are a deadbeat. So give them it. Why not give instead every month, because you want to A pizza, even a big one, every month? That would, if done by all who access it, make alternative media all alternative media thrive like never before.

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What irks me is to see every progressive operation compete with every other for your aid. Sometimes there are exceptions In the political realm. For example, aoc and Bernie often send pleas for help for which, however, they share the revenues they get with some other recipients less able to reach as widely as they can. In fact, sometimes they give it all to those other recipients. Going further left, however, I don't see too much of that, and that is pretty sad, don't you think? But at least ZNet, which now hosts Revolution Z, does give some of what it actually has, which is not yet cash, since cash it has only a severe shortage of, but is visibility, top page promotion and like to others.

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At any rate, please visit wwwpatreoncomrevolutionz when you can. There, you can access all 257 prior episodes, almost all of which are as timely now as when they were first recorded, and, should you be moved to do so, you can support the project there as well. Links are also available on ZNet. Truth be told, there aren't all that many of you. Revolution Z needs a larger audience. So maybe, better than visiting our Patreon page, you could promote Revolution Z by sending around notices of it. But hey, I won't lie, money is good too, and so now all that said this is Michael Albert signing off until next time for Revolution Z.

Participatory Economics and Other Aspects
Wages for Housework in Participatory Economics
Community Relations and Ecological Responsibility
Views on Decision-Making and Ecological Considerations
Art in Participatory Economics
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