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New Systems: Possibilities and Proposals

A geometric construction overlaid over a gradient

New Systems: Possibilities and Proposals

Truly addressing the problems of the twenty-first century requires going beyond business as usual – it requires “changing the system.” But what does this mean? And what would it entail?

The inability of traditional politics and policies to address fundamental U.S. challenges has generated an increasing number of thoughtful proposals that suggest new possibilities. Individual thinkers have begun to set out – sometimes in considerable detail – alternatives that emphasize fundamental change in our system of politics and economics.

We at the Next System Project want to help dispel the wrongheaded idea that “there is no alternative.” To that end, we have been gathering some of the most interesting and important proposals for political-economic alternatives – in effect, descriptions of new systems. Some are more detailed than others, but each seeks to envision something very different from today’s political economy.

Individually and collectively, these papers challenge the deadly notion that nothing can be done – disputing that capitalism as we know it is the best and, in any case, the only possible option.

We have been working with their authors on the basis of a comparative framework aimed at encouraging them to elaborate their visions to include not only core economic institutions but also – as far as is possible – political structure, cultural dimensions, transition pathways, and so forth. The result is two-dozen papers, to be released in small groups over the coming months.

Individually and collectively, these papers challenge the deadly notion that nothing can be done – disputing that capitalism as we know it is the best and, in any case, the only possible option. They offer a basis upon which we might greatly expand the boundaries of political debate in the United States and beyond. We hope this work will help catalyze a substantive dialogue about the need for a radically different system and how we might go about building it.

Navigating System Transition in a Volatile Century

Navigating System Transition in a Volatile Century

A shift in paradigm from profit-driven economic growth to a steady-state economy will not be accomplished if we can only identify partners within our own “system silo.” read more
Cooperative Commonwealth & the Partner State

Cooperative Commonwealth & the Partner State

Economic democracy is the foundation of any viable alternative to capitalism as we know it. It is the absence of democracy in our economies that is destroying democracy in our politics and allowing the expansion of the toxic forms of capitalism we are witnessing today. read more
Diversifying Public Ownership

Diversifying Public Ownership

Different forms of public ownership are advocated for different parts of the economy, but with an emphasis upon the implementation of democratic and decentered institutional frameworks. read more
The Joyful Economy

The Joyful Economy

Next System Project Co-chair Gus Speth explores a vision for the future in which the goal of economic life is to sustain, nourish, and restore human and natural communities, so that the material and non-material blessings of life are available to all. read more
The Economy for the Common Good

The Economy for the Common Good

The fundamental failure of the present system is that economic success is measured strictly according to monetary indicators, such as the Gross Domestic Product for countries, or financial profit for businesses. read more
Earthland: Scenes from a Civilized Future

Earthland: Scenes from a Civilized Future

This essay is written as a dispatch from the future. We visit Earthland in 2084, the flourishing planetary civilization that has emerged out of the great crises and struggles that today still lie before us. read more
The Promise of a Million Utopias

The Promise of a Million Utopias

Michael Shuman outlines systematic change that would transfer power from above to below, including a decentralized United States that has a sense of solidarity with the rest of humanity across the planet. read more
Cultivating Community Economies

Cultivating Community Economies

In this paper, J.K. Gibson-Graham and Community Economies Collective (CEC) members use Marx’s analysis of “class as a process” (of producing, appropriating, and distributing surplus) to unpack the diversity of economies that exist in any historical or geographic context. read more

What’s Next? Parecon, or Participatory Economics

The benefits and costs any economic actor faces should be the same as those faced by everyone else because we are all people and all entitled to comparable conditions of life. read more
Six Theses on Saving the Planet

Six Theses on Saving the Planet

We can’t reorganize, reprioritize, restructure the world industrial economy in a rational and sustainable manner, unless we do so directly and deliberately. read more
Towards a New, Green Economy

Towards a New, Green Economy

The objective of the green economy is to achieve a shared (socially just) and a lasting (environmentally sustainable) prosperity. read more
Well-being Economy: A Scenario for a Post-growth Horizontal Governance System

Well-being Economy: A Scenario for a Post-growth Horizontal Governance System

In a well-being economy, the money system will need to follow the same distributed model of governance as the economy itself, in order to provide appropriate levels of economic stimulus and control at local, national, and international levels. read more
The New Economy: A Living Earth System Model

The New Economy: A Living Earth System Model

Once we recognize that it is our life energy at play, we can begin to identify the opportunities available to us to redirect that energy from serving money, and the suicide economy, to serving life and the living Earth economy. read more
The Good Society

The Good Society

The Good Society is based on a community approach because it recognizes our mutual interdependencies and joint interests. The Good Society project aims to revitalize the internationalist tradition of social democracy and seeks to build alliances across the globe. read more
Start With Worker Self-Directed Enterprises

Start With Worker Self-Directed Enterprises

For the economic system to serve the people, the people need to be in charge. read more
Democratizing Wealth: A Next System Model for the U.S. South and Beyond

Democratizing Wealth: A Next System Model for the U.S. South and Beyond

The problem with the existing system is not that it does not produce absolute equality but rather that it denies the overwhelming majority the opportunity to utilize their skills, energy, and interest in being productive members of the community. read more
Commoning as a Transformative Social Paradigm

Commoning as a Transformative Social Paradigm

In facing up to the many profound crises of our time, we face a conundrum that has no easy resolution: how are we to imagine and build a radically different system while living within the constraints of an incumbent system that aggressively resists transformational change? read more
Building a Cooperative Solidarity Commonwealth

Building a Cooperative Solidarity Commonwealth

Nembhard describes a solidarity system as a non-hierarchical, non-exploitative, equitable set of economic relationships and activities geared toward the grassroots. read more
Toward Democratic Eco-socialism as the Next World System

Toward Democratic Eco-socialism as the Next World System

Eco-socialism seeks to come to grips with the growth paradigm inherent in capitalism and to which post-revolutionary societies in the past subscribed and still do today. read more
A Civic Economy of Provisions

A Civic Economy of Provisions

The framework of a civic economy of provision integrates the three basic practices of any human community: providing for one another, protecting one another, and creating meaning together. read more
Participatory Economics and the Next System

Participatory Economics and the Next System

The institutions and decision-making procedures of a participatory economy are designed to promote economic democracy, economic justice, environmental sustainability, and human solidarity—all while achieving economic efficiency. read more
Economic Democracy

Economic Democracy

The more experiments there are with other economic structures that contribute to democratizing the economy, the more we will learn as to the strengths and weaknesses of alternative structures. read more
Whole Systems Change

Whole Systems Change

What kind of social configuration supports the expression of our human capacities for consciousness, caring, and creativity—or, alternately, our capacities for insensitivity, cruelty, and destructiveness? read more
Social Democracy

Social Democracy

When basic needs are met, we tend to prefer more security, broader opportunity, and confidence that living standards will improve over time. read more