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On the left a caterpillar, connected by a dotted line to a chrysalis at the center, then connected again by a dotted line to a butterfly on the right.

New Political-Economic Possibilities for the Twenty-First Century

Gar Alperovitz

Gar Alperovitz

Co-Chair of The Next System Project more

Gus Speth

Gus Speth

Co-chair of The Next System Project more

Joe Guinan

Joe Guinan

Executive Director of the Next System Project more

Environment & Energy Movement Strategy & History Democracy & Governance

Confronted with mounting social, economic, and ecological crises, growing numbers of Americans have begun to realize that traditional strategies and reformist approaches no longer work. Simply put, many understand that 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 social pain arising from the economic crisis and the steady unfolding of the climate calamity have made it possible—for the first time in modern history—to pose these questions in a serious fashion in the United States. Yet, despite new space for a thoughtful debate about fundamental change, political challenges to the system have thus far been contained by the continuing lack of viable alternatives. For decades, the only choices to many have seemed to be state socialism, on the one hand, or corporate capitalism, on the other. But if corporate capitalism—to say nothing of the traditional state socialist model—appears unable to sustain equality, liberty, and democracy, or to avert planetary disaster, is there any alternative?

The following paper sets out the rationale for a concerted effort to break through the national media silence and to radically shift the national dialogue about the future away from narrow debates about policies that do not alter any significant decaying trends, and towards awareness that what must be changed is the nature of the political economic system itself. We believe that it is now imperative to stimulate a broad national debate about how best to conceive possible alternative models of a very different system capable of delivering genuine democracy and economic equality, individual liberty, ecological sustainability, a peaceful global foreign policy, and a thoroughgoing culture of cooperative community based on non-violence and respect for differences of race, gender, and sexual preference.

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Gar Alperovitz

Gar Alperovitz

Co-Chair of The Next System Project more

Gus Speth

Gus Speth

Co-chair of The Next System Project more

Joe Guinan

Joe Guinan

Executive Director of the Next System Project more

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