The New Systems Reader: Alternatives to a Failed Economy

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The recognition is growing: truly addressing the problems of the 21st century requires going beyond small tweaks and modest reforms to business as usual—it requires “changing the system.” But what does this mean? And what would it entail? The New Systems Reader highlights some of the most thoughtful, substantive, and promising answers to these questions, drawing on the work and ideas of some of the world’s key thinkers and activists on systemic change. Amid the failure of traditional politics and policies to address our fundamental challenges, an increasing number of thoughtful proposals and real-world models suggest new possibilities, this book convenes an essential conversation about the future we want.

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Table of Contents

Preface – James Gustave Speth

1 | Social Democracy and Radical Localism

Chapter 1: Social Democratic Capitalism: The Nordic Experience and Beyond – Lane Kenworthy

Chapter 2: The Good Society 2.0 – Henning Meyer

Chapter 3: The Promise of a Million Utopias – Michael H. Shuman

2 | New System Values

Chapter 4: The Economy for the Common Good: A Workable, Transformative, Ethics-Based Alternative – Christian Felber and Gus Hagelberg

Chapter 5: A Civic Economy of Provisions – Marvin T. Brown

Chapter 6: Whole Systems Change: A Framework and First Steps for Social/Economic Transformation – Riane Eisler

Chapter 7: A Living Economy for a Living Earth – David C. Korten

Chapter 8: Earthland: Scenes from a Civilized Future – Paul Raskin

3 | A Planetary Economy

Chapter 9: Towards a New, Green Economy—Sustainable and Just—at Community Scale – Tim Jackson and Peter A. Victor

Chapter 10: Well-Being Economy: A Scenario for a Post-Growth Horizontal Governance System – Lorenzo Fioramonti

Chapter 11: Toward Democratic Eco-socialism as the Next World System: A Vision for the Future – Hans A. Baer

Chapter 12: Six Theses on Saving the Planet – Richard Smith

4 | Ownership and Economic Democracy

Chapter 13: Economic Democracy: Ethical, Economically Viable Socialism – David Schweickart

Chapter 14: The Next System: Workers Direct Themselves – Richard D. Wolff

Chapter 15: Diversifying Public Ownership: Constructing Institutions for Participation, Social Empowerment, and Democratic Control – Andrew Cumbers

5 | Community-Based Pluralist Systems

Chapter 16: A Pluralist Commonwealth and a Community Sustaining System – Gar Alperovitz

Chapter 17: The Joyful Economy: A Next System Possibility – James Gustave Speth

Chapter 18: Building a Cooperative Solidarity Commonwealth – Jessica Gordon Nembhard

Chapter 19: Solidarity Economy: Building an Economy for People and Planet – Emily Kawano

Chapter 20: Democratizing Wealth in the US South and Beyond – Ed Whitfield

Chapter 21: Navigating System Transition in a Volatile Century – Michael T. Lewis

6 | Commoning, Cooperation, and Participatory Planning

Chapter 22: Commoning as a Transformative Social Paradigm – David Bollier

Chapter 23: Cooperative Commonwealth and the Partner State – John Restakis

Chapter 24: An Introduction to Participatory Economics – Michael Albert

Chapter 25: Participatory Economics and the Next System – Robin Hahnel

7 | The Emerging New Economy

Chapter 26: Cultivating Community Economies: Tools for Building a Livable World – J.K. Gibson-Graham, Jenny Cameron, Kelly Dombroski, Stephen Healy, Ethan Miller, and the Community Economies Collective

Chapter 27: Building Economic Democracy to Construct Eco-socialism from Below – Kali Akuno and Sacajawea Hall

Chapter 28: How We Are Building the Movement for Reparative Economic Democracy – Aaron Tanaka, Nia K. Evans, and Libbie Cohn

Chapter 29: The Arusha Declaration: The Case for Democratic Socialism 50 Years On – Zitto Kabwe

Appendix | Questions for Authors of Works on New Models and Systems

Additional information

Weight 33.28 oz
Dimensions 6 × 1.15 × 9 in


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James Gustave Speth is senior fellow and co-chair of the The Next System Project at The Democracy Collaborative. Formerly dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, and chair of the UN Development Group, he served as a senior adviser on environmental issues to Presidents Carter and Clinton. He is the author, co-author, or editor of seven books including America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy (2012); and most recently, the 2014 memoir Angels by the River, which traces his path from mainstream environmental insider to a champion of fundamental systemic change in our political and economic institutions.

Kathleen Courrier retired in 2016 from her position as vice president of communications at the American Institutes for Research. Before that, she was vice president of communications at the Urban Institute in Washington for 14 years, publications director at World Resources Institute from its inception, communications head and then acting director of the Center for Renewable Resources, a writer/editor for the Academy for Educational Development, and a freelance writer/editor. She is past president of Washington Book Publishers and a former book columnist for SIERRA magazine. Her articles and reviews have appeared in The Washington Post, Columbia Journalism Review, Issues in Science and Technology, Los Angeles Times, and MIT’s Technology Review.