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Realizing Hope : Life Beyond Capitalism download epub

by Michael Albert

Epub Book: 1264 kb. | Fb2 Book: 1291 kb.

In Realizing Hope, Albert goes further to offer insights about how whole areas of life might be desirably transformed in a new society.

In Realizing Hope, Albert goes further to offer insights about how whole areas of life might be desirably transformed in a new society. Whether exploring the way we work, our relationship to the earth, the transformation of global financial institutions, science, technology, the family, culture, sport, art, or education, people rather than profit always take centre stage.

Michael Albert would disagree. Michael Albert is an American activist, economist, speaker, and writer. He is a founder and current member of Z Magazine. Библиографические данные.

Michael Albert's "Realizing Hope" builds on his earlier envisionings of Parecon, or Participatory Economics, a. .Fortunately, the working class does not reject itself.

It is necessary to have read the above book before reading this one, since most of the argumentation and presentation concerning Parecon itself is missing here.

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Michael Albert has wrestled with this question for many years, and his answer has captured the imagination of many. Realizing Hope - Michael Albert.

In this classic text, Albert takes the insights and hopes of parecon and enlarges them to address all key aspects of social life and society.

Realizing Hope, and I am now referring to the book, not the endeavor, carefully navigates this minefield of possible dangers. It investigates a wide range of issues, including economy and polity, kinship and culture, international relations and ecology, and even journalism, science, and education, among other topics

London: Zed Books, 2014.

Comments: (3)

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Michael Albert's "Realizing Hope" builds on his earlier envisionings of Parecon, or Participatory Economics, a strongly egalitarian and democratic social structure (see: Parecon: Life After Capitalism). It is necessary to have read the above book before reading this one, since most of the argumentation and presentation concerning Parecon itself is missing here. Instead, Albert's book seems to be mainly aimed at refuting some critiques and dispelling some doubts about his vision, and in engaging other leftist currents, in particular Marxism and anarchism.

However, this book is rather disappointing on both fronts. Though I agree with a lot of the views of Parecon at least as a form of society to work towards, he gives absolutely no additional practical guidelines or information on how to achieve it, making the undertaking look rather more than less utopian after reading this work. The various chapters discuss how different aspects of our current society (sports, science, foreign policy) would look in a Parecon society, and these are aspects that are too often ignored by socialist theorists, so Albert does well to write about them specifically. But all he ever says is basically "under Parecon, we wouldn't have these problems, since Parecon would be egalitarian and democratic". That is not what we want to know - what we want to know is how to get there, and what specific measures in the short and even medium run would be a way to achieve such social relations.

Moreover, a lot of Parecon's weaknesses are not at all defended here, such as Albert's vision of having all production organized by workers' councils. While I agree with that basic idea, Albert in no way explains how this would work practically, in particular considering the absurd amount of information the different councils would have to work with and the huge amount of procedures necessary, because of Albert's stipulation that everyone in some way affected by something must have a say. What Albert does not seem to realize at all is that the combination of his totally bottom-up approach with the requirement of involving anyone in any way affected would lead either to a massive bureaucracy for every-day decisions and a lot of coordination failures, OR, and I think this is more likely, it would lead to a national or international level larger council making most of the economy-wide decisions top-down for coordination and efficiency's sake. In effect, this would end up precisely like the traditional Marxist view of social organization, which he refuses to admit.

Additionally, the chapter containing his critique of Marxism mostly consists of strawmen reasonings or refusing to take things in context, and is wholly unconvincing. His critique of class reasoning was refuted by Marx himself ages ago and adds nothing new to the discussion, whereas his pointing out of the negative effects of 'democratic centralism' in practice is fair, but much less significant than he makes it to be, in particular considering my above conclusions.

Overall, I do think Albert's view has a lot going for it, and his Parecon society is probably the kind of thing we as left radical people want to work towards. Also, his theory of the coordinator class, albeit not wholly as original as he seems to imply, is important to take into account and a quite useful tool for analysis. But Albert has not used the opportunity of this book to improve his defense of the practical issues with Pareconism as it stands, and I have issues with a lot of his theoretical analysis. It would be better if there could be a synthesis of views between Albert (and Hahnel)'s Pareconism and the traditional Marxist views (Leninist or otherwise), since a lot can be learned from both. But this book does not convince me to support Pareconism as it is now.
[Original review at [...]

Michael Albert wrote Realizing Hope: Life Beyond Capitalism to refute criticisms of his earlier book, PARECON: Life After Capitalism.

PARECON (Participatory Economics) is Albert's anarchist vision of

"an alternative to capitalism, built on familiar values including solidarity, equity, diversity and people democratically controlling their own lives, but utilizing original institutions."

The thrust of this new book is to ensure that no one confuse PARECON with the socialist vision of mass democracy.

Albert devotes an entire chapter to attacking marxism. The section, "Marxism indicts Marxism," cites seemingly anti-democratic, anti-worker statements by Lenin and Trotsky, but provides no references for the reader to check what they actually said and the context in which they said it. Such distortions are used to bolster the Albert's argument that marxists and their parties will "trample workers on the road to ruling them." His prime example is the Russian Revolution where, in his mind, the Bolsheviks "employed the working class as allies -- really as troops -- and then sold out the working class once victory over capitalism was attained."

Albert's analysis of the Russian Revolution, like all anarchist analysis, extracts events from their historical context. Providing that context is beyond the scope of this review, so I refer you to the eye-witness accounts of journalists like Arthur Ransome, Bertrand Russell, H.G. Wells, John Reed, Victor Serge and Alfred Rosmer.

These writers describe the unprecedented mass democracy of the revolution and the workers' councils (soviets) that were a hundred thousand times more democratic than any capitalist government.

They also describe the pervasive cold and hunger of the cities, and the seemingly insurmountable problems of transport and food supply, all caused by the capitalist blockade and the war. Even so, political and economic democracy prevailed. There were free meals for every school child and no one was allowed two rooms until everyone had one.

According to Albert, past attempts to build socialism have failed, not because the capitalist class has been utterly ruthless in holding onto power, but because socialists have the wrong methods and goals.

Albert warns that the goal of marxists is to put a "coordinator class" in power that will be just as exploitative as the capitalist class. Illogically, he argues that the working class is strong enough to defeat capitalism, but too feeble to prevent itself from being thrown out of power by a small class of bureaucrats.

Albert views the working class as oppressed, exploited and betrayed, but never powerful enough to liberate itself and humanity. If he is right, then genuine mass democracy is an impossible dream. Fortunately, he is wrong.

Some socialists pander to Albert on the basis that "anarchists and socialists want the same thing." This is mistaken.

PARECON is more bureaucratic than democratic. Like all anarchists, Albert opposes central planning as inherently authoritarian and undemocratic. However, in a genuine democracy, people would be free to choose the form of organizing that works best in each situation. Some things, like fresh produce, are better produced locally, while other things, like pharmaceuticals, are better produced centrally. Restricting people's choices in advance is bureaucratic.

Albert rejects the socialist principle, "from each according to ability, and to each according to need." Distrusting that people could actually put this principle into practice, he proposes a complex "system of remuneration for effort and sacrifice" where those who work harder get more.

How will effort and sacrifice be measured, and by whom?

Albert's belief in the "need for an external measure," opens the door to the same evil he opposes -- a professional class of bureaucrats who weigh and measure who does what. The only alternative would be a society where everyone is so involved in weighing and measuring that no work would ever get done!

PARECON is not egalitarian because it divides society into two groups: those who can work; and those who can't. While Albert assures us that the needs of the second group would be met, this is still a two-class system; some are rewarded on the basis of effort, and others are provided for on the basis of need or charity. The only way around this problem is a socialist society where everyone contributes what they can, and production is organized to ensure that everyone receives what they need.

While Albert rightly condemns capitalism as "a thug's economy, a heartless economy, a base and vile and largely boring economy," he rejects the only force that can defeat it -- the coordinated power of the working class -- and the only strategy that can put the working class in power -- revolutionary marxism. What he offers instead is idealism, insisting that, "we need to incorporate classless values and structures in our demands, our process, our projects, and our movements." This is bad advice. The more workers cooperate with employers, the more they are exploited.

In the battle between capital and labor, one must take sides. Albert abandons hope for life beyond capitalism when he rejects the potential power of the working class. Fortunately, the working class does not reject itself.

"Every time that workers have risen and momentarily toppled their oppressors, they have resorted to the same living democracy as they did in the Russian Revolution... in Spain in 1936, in Hungary in 1956, in France in 1968, in Portugal in 1975, in Poland in 1981 great revolutionary movements have thrown up workers' councils, soviets. To defeat these soviets, dead parliamentary democracies or Stalinist tyrannies have had to resort to the most deadly warfare or the most disgusting oppression. The Russian Revolution is not just the most important event of the 20th century. It is a beacon for the 21st." [...]
I ordered this book when I saw the first half of a two part program on PBS by the author, Michael Albert, but missed the second half. He spoke about how liberals (and liberal organizations) often research and describe problems of governance or poverty, etc., but the way we often try to fix these problems is by reiterating what they are, over and over again, accomplishing little. Thus we are at a disadvantage to the operators of the politics of greed, in which the ends justify the means, and self-interest rules. In the second half of his program he was to show how to get out of this circle of non-action. So I bought this book, hoping to find out what I'd missed on PBS.

While the book contained a few interesting ideas, such as getting rid of class structure and attitudes in liberal organizations as well as in everyday life, overall the book seems to me to describe the hyper-liberal fairy tale of a communist utopia (with emphasis on a small 'c'.) As such, Realizing Hope was of little interest to me, as it is both impractical and unrealistic. I'd be fascinated to hear if someone got anything of value from Realizing Hope, but I didn't.
Realizing Hope : Life Beyond Capitalism download epub
Politics & Government
Author: Michael Albert
ISBN: 1552661814
Category: Politics & Social Sciences
Subcategory: Politics & Government
Language: English
Publisher: Zed Books (January 1, 2006)
Pages: 198 pages