What Then Must We Do?: Straight Talk About the Next American Revolution

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Overview


Never before have so many Americans been more frustrated with our economic system, more fearful that it is failing, or more open to fresh ideas about a new one. The seeds of a new movement demanding change are forming.

But just what is this thing called a new economy, and how might it take shape in America? In The Community Wealth Solution, Gar Alperovitz speaks directly to the reader about where we find ourselves in history, why the time is right for a new-economy movement to ...

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What Then Must We Do?: Straight Talk about the Next American Revolution

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Overview


Never before have so many Americans been more frustrated with our economic system, more fearful that it is failing, or more open to fresh ideas about a new one. The seeds of a new movement demanding change are forming.

But just what is this thing called a new economy, and how might it take shape in America? In The Community Wealth Solution, Gar Alperovitz speaks directly to the reader about where we find ourselves in history, why the time is right for a new-economy movement to coalesce, what it means to build a new system to replace the crumbling one, and how we might begin. He also suggests what the next system might look like--and where we can see its outlines, like an image slowly emerging in the developing trays of a photographer's darkroom, already taking shape.

He proposes a possible next system that is not corporate capitalism, not state socialism, but something else entirely--and something entirely American.

Alperovitz calls for an evolution, not a revolution, out of the old system and into the new. That new system would democratize the ownership of wealth, strengthen communities in diverse ways, and be governed by policies and institutions sophisticated enough to manage a large-scale, powerful economy.

For the growing group of Americans pacing at the edge of confidence in the old system, or already among its detractors, The Community Wealth Solution offers an elegant solution for moving from anger to strategy.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Alperovitz (America Beyond Capitalism), a University of Maryland political economist and cofounder of the Democracy Collaborative, transcends simple political disenchantment to examine the intertwining of political and economic power and the need to develop new institutions that help the 99% obtain more of both. The atypical conditions that made possible the postwar boom fostered the development of institutions that now are losing strength. With a nod to Tolstoy, Alperovitz encourages the reader to ponder how to redress the staggeringly unequal distribution of wealth. His survey of the American landscape highlights co-ops, employee stock ownership plans, publicly owned utilities and hospitals, and other already-successful alternatives to the for-profit corporate model. By so doing, he persuasively argues, new constituencies tied to these alternative models will emerge. His emphasis throughout is on the local level, as if to emphasize the movement toward a new American community that he espouses. The reader is certain to find his views challenging, even if the schism between conventional corporatism and “New Age” practices that Alperovitz envisions seems to evoke the gulf between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. (May)
Kirkus Reviews
Any cure for America's economic plight lies deeper than politics as usual, argues an author who believes that a fundamental, radical, systemic transformation offers the possibility of an economic corrective. Alperovitz (Political Economy/Univ. of Maryland; America Beyond Capitalism, 2004) argues that a faulty sense of history underlies what little faith remains in economic progress through conventional politics. For those who would categorize the New Deal as a political triumph, he counters that it had "a very, very unusual context…in large part made possible by a massive global Depression" and led to "postwar achievements [that] were in significant part made possible by the ongoing impact of a massive (and highly unusual, global-scale) war and its extraordinary aftermath." In short, great change spawned by great crises, not the working of the political process. The economic disparity between the rich and the masses has since gotten much wider, with no indication that politics can even address the situation, let alone improve it, as the decline of labor unions has left the power of corporate wealth unchecked and unchallenged. Yet the author believes he "offers a reasonably hopeful sense of the future, and a strategy aimed at possibly getting there." Such hope lies in "the democratization of wealth," through employee-owned companies, regional co-ops, the systemic transformation of the banking and health care industries into public utilities and an emphasis on "what has often been called the triple bottom line (emphasizing people and planet in addition to profit)." And if such radical restructuring causes some to scream about socialism, he counters that "socialism--real socialism, not the fuzzy kind conservatives try to pin on Barack Obama--is as common as grass…in the United States." Alperovitz's conversational style avoids academic jargon while making complex issues easy (some might say too easy) to digest, but he's not likely to convince those of the conservative persuasion that a more hopeful future involves more collective action and government consolidation.
From the Publisher

Library Journal-

"[Gar] Alperovitz (political economy, Univ. of Maryland; America Beyond Capitalism) alternately elicits hope and despair in his discussion of the state of America’s current economic system—despair because he believes it no longer works and hope in the spreading economic democratization and successful cooperatives and progressive local government ventures. Alperovitz states that corporate politics and policies that deliberately transfer wealth from the poor and middle class to the wealthy, not to mention the sustained attack on labor unions, demonstrate that the American social system is fundamentally broken. He asserts that early 20th-century progressivism, the New Deal, and the Great Society helped save America in times of crisis, and that a new paradigm in which social, environmental, and democratic policies reside at the forefront of our political and economic development is needed. VERDICT Alperovitz’s sophisticated tone both informs and engages. Recommended for all readers interested in an economic and political perspective of what’s gone wrong with America."

ForeWord Reviews-

"The cultural, social, and political movement begun by the American revolution is as alive as ever. Gar Alperovitz, Lionel R. Bauman Professor of Political economy at the University of Maryland, has penned a thoughtful guide for participating in that ongoing revolution. What Then Must We Do? should be required reading for every concerned citizen in the United States.

Alperovitz writes, 'it is possible, easiest and best to discuss the really important points about our crumbling American system, and what to do about it, in language that is understandable and accessible.' Clearly and conversationally, the author well documents his observation that the American system is crumbling. He notes that the United States, while one of the wealthiest of countries, ranks close to the lowest among advanced countries in categories such as equality, infant mortality, poverty, and life expectancy. The trends in many areas, he argues, indicate that politics, as practiced in this country, no longer responds to the major issues affecting Americans. 'What I am asking you to ponder with me is the simple fact that the system (the way that underlying institutional power is currently arranged) seems now to be producing outcomes, year in and year out, that do not much respond to the old theory of politics.'

The author goes beyond the finger pointing utilized by many polemicists, and he does not abandon a basic commitment to American democratic ideals. Rejecting traditional corporate capitalism as having failed the basic needs of the majority, Alperovitz argues enthusiastically for citizens to take ownership of the means of producing wealth. He points to many examples of where people working together have improved their local economy and quality of life. He explains B corporations, allowed under the laws of several states, charged with a mission to provide benefits to the community as well as return a profit to the shareholders. He reminds the reader that there are community-based banking institutions, credit unions, which benefit all their members.

Combining the best attributes of a realist with those of a dreamer, Alperovitz honestly describes the problems facing the American community while offering an attainable progressive alternative. He concludes with a Margaret Meade quote reminding us we should 'never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.'"

Library Journal
Alperovitz (political economy, Univ. of Maryland; America Beyond Capitalism) alternately elicits hope and despair in his discussion of the state of America's current economic system—despair because he believes it no longer works and hope in the spreading economic democratization and successful cooperatives and progressive local government ventures. Alperovitz states that corporate politics and policies that deliberately transfer wealth from the poor and middle class to the wealthy, not to mention the sustained attack on labor unions, demonstrate that the American social system is fundamentally broken. He asserts that early 20th-century progressivism, the New Deal, and the Great Society helped save America in times of crisis, and that a new paradigm in which social, environmental, and democratic policies reside at the forefront of our political and economic development is needed. VERDICT Alperovitz's sophisticated tone both informs and engages. Recommended for all readers interested in an economic and political perspective of what's gone wrong with America.—Duncan Stewart, Univ. of Iowa Libs., Iowa City
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781603584913
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing
  • Publication date: 4/16/2013
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author


Gar Alperovitz, Lionel R. Bauman Professor of Political Economy at the University of Maryland, is cofounder of The Democracy Collaborative. He is a former fellow of the Institute of Politics at Harvard and of King's College at Cambridge University, where he received his PhD in political economy. He has served as a legislative director in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, and as a special assistant in the Department of State. Earlier he was president of the Center for Community Economic Development, Codirector of The Cambridge Institute, and president of the Center for the Study of Public Policy. Dr. Alperovitz's numerous articles have appeared in publications ranging from The New York Times and The Washington Post to The Journal of Economic Issues, Foreign Policy, Diplomatic History, and other academic and popular journals. His most recent book is America Beyond Capitalism (a new edition of which appeared in 2011). Dr. Alperovitz is also author of The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb, published in 1995, the 2002 book, Making a Place for Community: Local Democracy in a Global Era (with Thad Williamson and David Imbroscio), and the 2008 book Unjust Deserts (with Lew Daly).
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 2.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 12, 2014

    Provides numerous examples of viable, proven alternatives to the

    Provides numerous examples of viable, proven alternatives to the entrenched and harmful corporate capitalism model now dominating economic and social systems. Fact-based, easy to read and inspiring.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2013

    Somewhat Delusional

    The book doesn't make much sense. The author identifies several problems that the US currently faces, and then he simply assumes that large corporations are the cause of those problems. He offers no, or largely unconvincing, rationale for his assumptions. He ignores the vital role that corporations have played in providing Americans the standard of living they currently enjoy. His proposals are confusing but he apparently thinks ownership of corporations should simply be turned over to their employees. It's hard to think that companies like Apple, Facebook, Microsoft etc. would ever have existed under such a scheme. This seems like a huge step backwards that would create far more problems than it would solve. The book totally ignores these new problems that his proposal would create.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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