Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
The William R. Rhodes Center

Paul Adler - The 99 Percent Economy: How Democratic Socialism Can Overcome the Crises of Capitalism

Rhodes Paul Adler 99 percent Oct 21 2019 image

Monday, October 21, 2019

12:00pm – 1:30pm

Joukowsky Forum, Watson Institute, 111 Thayer Street

This talk will present the main themes from Paul Adler's forthcoming book The 99 Percent Economy (Oxford University Press, available Oct 1, 2019).

 We live in a time of crises — economic turmoil, workplace disempowerment, unresponsive government, environmental degradation, social disintegration, and international rivalry. My book argues that these crises are destined to deepen unless we radically transform our economy.

 I argue for a democratic-socialist alternative. To overcome these crises, we need to assert democratic control over the management of both individual enterprises and the entire national economy. To show how that would work, I draw on a surprising source of inspiration: the strategic management processes of some of our largest corporations. In these companies, the strategy process promises to involve and empower workers and to ensure efficiency and innovation. In practice, this promise is rarely realized, but in principle, that process could be consolidated within enterprises and it could be scaled-up to manage the entire national economy.

Standing in the way? Private ownership of society's productive resources, which is the foundation of capitalism's ruthless competition and focus on private gain at the cost of society, the environment, and future generations. I show how socialized, public ownership of our resources will enable democratic councils at the local and national levels to decide on our economic, social, and environmental goals and on how to reach them. The growing concentration of industry makes this socialization step ever easier.

Democratic socialism is not a leap into the unknown. Capitalist industry has built the foundations for a world beyond capitalism and its crises.