From the founder of the World Economic Forum to the protesters of the Occupy movement, everyone seems to agree that something’s wrong with capitalism as we know it. But what is it, exactly, and what can people do about it? Political economist and historian Gar Alperovitz discusses a potential solution in his new film The Next American Revolution, in which he advocates for community-based and cooperative businesses.
“You get a sense of what a systemic crisis is when the long, long trends simply do not change in response to politics or reform or action,” Alperovitz says in the film. “The top 400 people now own more wealth than the bottom 185 million taken together.”
“Just possibly, we can establish the foundations of the next system that takes us beyond traditional corporate capitalism and traditional state socialism.”
But the beginnings of a better future are already appearing, exemplified by numerous efforts across the country to create more sustainable and worker-owned businesses . People in Cleveland, for example, have responded to immense loss of jobs and population by founding a network of large-scale worker-owned cooperatives, including a laundry, greenhouse, and solar-power installation firm.
Alperovitz predicts that a community-based economy composed of these kinds of businesses is not only viable, but could provide the model for the economy of the future.
“Just possibly, we can establish the foundations of the next system that takes us beyond traditional corporate capitalism and traditional state socialism, and that builds a new vision that ain’t like any of the other ones but is really a democratic society.”
- An interview with epidemiologist Richard Wilkinson, whose research shows that what the healthiest and happiest societies have in common is not that they have more, but that what they have is more equitably shared.
- A new study suggests Americans’ happiness declines when there’s a wider gap between rich and poor.
- In their new film, Shift Change, filmmakers Melissa Young and Mark Dworkin take viewers on a worldwind tour of the cooperative economy.
Kristin Hugo is a freelance science journalist and the author of Strange Biology: Anomalous Animals, Mutants, and Mad Science.