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Dublin - Event Notice
Wednesday October 25 2006
01:00 AM

Michael Albert -founder of Z Magazine- speaks: “Challenging Neo-Liberalism: A Vision for the Future”

category dublin | anti-capitalism | event notice author Wednesday October 04, 2006 23:51author by Barry Finnegan - CAUEC - Alternatives To Neoliberalismauthor email CAEUCemail at gmail dot com Report this post to the editors

Michael Albert on “Challenging Neo-Liberalism: A Vision for the Future”, at the Mansion House, Dawson St., on Wednesday 25th October, 7.00 to 9.00pm hosted by CAEUC - Alternatives To Neoliberalism.

Michael Albert, prolific American economist, founder of Z Magazine, co-founder of South End Press, and co-creator Parecon will be speaking in Dublin for one night only in Dublin during his European tour.

Also Speaking:

Also speaking, Andy Storey (Centre for Development Studies, UCD; Afri), drawing on his recently published paper “The Struggle for Europe: Resistance to Neoliberalism” [ http://www.bisa.ac.uk/groups/ipeg/papers/22%20Storey.pdf ] will address opposition to the neoliberal character of the EU with specific reference to the French and Dutch rejections of the proposed EU constitution, and the possibilities for, and constraints to, the emergence of an anti-neoliberal European project.

Who Is Michael Albert?:

Along with Robin Hahnel, Professor of Economics at American University, Washington D.C, Albert has created a model of an economic system called Parecon, which, according to Noam Chomsky “is the most serious effort I know to provide a very detailed possible answer to ... the grave flaws of contemporary society”. While Mikhail Gorbachev claims it “constitutes an alternative both to capitalism and to what used to be the Soviet-style model of Real Socialism”; Howard Zinn says “Albert is an important thinker who takes us beyond radical denunciations and pretentious ‘analysis’ to a thoughtful, profound meditation on what a good society can be like”.

On the night, Michael Albert, will be addressing his own experiences of creatively confronting and resisting neoliberalism while also expanding on Parecon (or, ‘Participatory Economics’) which is a type of economy proposed as an alternative to contemporary capitalism.

Who Are CAUEC - Alternatives To Neoliberalism?:

Formed in early 2005 the CAUEC - Alternatives To Neoliberalism, who are hosting the event, are a campaign coalition of “various activists, left political organisations, trade unionists, grassroots groups, academics, environmentalists & politicians” which was formed to provide a coherent broad progressive coalition to help defeat the draft EU Constitution and its attack on democracy, workers rights and the environment. Later that year French and Dutch citizens voted ‘No’ to the Constitution and stopped the neoliberalist advance in its tracks.

Last February the Campaign hosted a successful conference which included the author and activist Susan George. The Campaign continues to remain active and contribute to the debate on what kind of Europe we wish to create.

More:

For a short article on Michael Albert, more weblinks and some quotes from him see:
http://www.indymedia.ie/article/78817

For more on Michael Albert and Parecon see: http://www.zmag.org/parecon/indexnew.htm

Check out ZNet at: http://www.zmag.org/

For Andy Story's paper on the Struggle for Europe see: http://www.bisa.ac.uk/groups/ipeg/papers/22%20Storey.pdf

For more on CAEUC - Alternatives To Neoliberalism see: http://www.freewebs.com/alternativestoneoliberalism/ind...x.htm

Contact CAEUC - Alternatives To Neoliberalism at:
Email: CAEUCemail@gmail.com; or phones: 085-7131903; 087-2179866; 01-8309649 [for interviews with Albert, press info, getting involved with the campaign, etc]

Related Link: http://www.zmag.org/parecon/indexnew.htm
author by Barry Finnegan - CAEUCpublication date Thu Oct 05, 2006 11:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

For those unfamiliar with ZNet, briefly, it was founded in 1995, gets over a quarter of a million users a week, it’s where Noam Chomsky keeps his blog < http://blog.zmag.org/ttt > and its byline is “ZNET: a Community of People Committed to Social Change”.

Albert is co-creator (with Robin Hahnel, Professor of Economics at American University, Washington D.C) of ‘Participatory Economics’, (Parecon for short) which is “a type of economy proposed as an alternative to contemporary capitalism. The underlying values [of Parecon] are equity, solidarity, diversity, and participatory self management. The main institutions are workers’ and consumers’ councils utilising self managed decision making, balanced job complexes, remuneration according to effort and sacrifice, and participatory planning” < http://www.zmag.org/parecon/indexnew.htm >.

According to Noam Chomsky “A great many activists and concerned people ask, quite rightly, what alternative form of social organization can be imagined that might overcome the grave flaws - often real crimes - of contemporary society in more far-reaching ways than short-term reform. Parecon is the most serious effort I know to provide a very detailed possible answer to some of these questions, crucial ones, based on serious thought and careful analysis.”

Diverse Fan Base:

Albert’s fan base is indeed diverse. According to Mikhail Gorbachev (yes, that one), Parecon “constitutes an alternative both to capitalism and to what used to be the Soviet-style model of Real Socialism. In Participatory Economics, solidarity takes the place of competition and remuneration for duration, intensity, and onerousness of work replaces remuneration for property, power, or output. Likewise, methods of self management replace authoritarian decision making and a new method of allocation called participatory planning replaces markets.”

It is quite likely that all of Dublin’s ‘Left’ - Reds, Blacks, Greens (all shades!) and even some mild social democrats and Parecon detractors - will be interested in hearing what this visionary speaker, Trojan worker, lucid thinker and editor of arguably one if the internet’s most useful and intellectually stimulating portals, has to say.

During his visit to Dublin (details below), Albert will be on a 22 talk tour of Europe speaking in Germany, Switzerland, Scotland and Ireland < http://blog.zmag.org/node/2764 >.The themes of his talks roughly include ‘Economic and Social Vision and Strategy for Creating a New World’, ‘Against Neo-Liberalism’ and ‘Parecon: Life After Capitalism’. His talks around Europe are being facilitated by, among others, the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation (RLS) < http://www.rosalux.de/cms/index.php?id=rls-engl >, ATTAC Berlin and various left and anarchist groups. In Scotland he is a keynote speaker at the 10th Edinburgh Independent Radical Book Fair - The Alternative Book Festival < http://www.word-power.co.uk/book_fair >. Vandana Shiva - one of the world’s most dynamic and provocative thinkers on the environment, women’s rights and international affairs - opens the Book Fair. His talk in Dublin is being facilitated by the snappily entitled coalition group, ‘Campaign Against the EU Constitution - Alternatives To Neoliberalism’ < http://www.freewebs.com/alternativestoneoliberalism/ind...x.htm >.

Why Replace Capitalism?:

At a talk in 2004 in Italy, Michael Albert asked “Why have Robin Hahnel and I devoted great time and energy to developing, describing, and now advocating an economic model to replace capitalism?” Addressing this he said “We address economic vision because in the words of the great economist John Maynard Keynes: ‘[Capitalism] is not a success. It is not intelligent, it is not beautiful, it is not just, it is not virtuous -- and it doesn’t deliver the goods. In short, we dislike it, and we are beginning to despise it. But when we wonder what to put in its place, we are extremely perplexed.’ We address economic vision to undo that perplexity.”

The citation for the ‘Award of the President of the Italian Republic’ which Albert received in 2004 declared that parecon is “the most powerful and fully articulated challenge to the current models of socio-economic thought” providing “a new major highway in economic organisation as a feasible proposition”. If Margaret Thatcher claimed that “There is no alternative” to capitalism and the free market, and Tánaiste Michael McDowell asks us to believe that “the poor will always be with us”, then surely we must ask “Well is there and will they?” While Parecon may or may not be the route to Utopia, Michael Albert’s vision of a better world is a challenging, difficult and essential landscape of possibility which all Leftists and social justice activists must inform themselves about.

The CAEUC - Alternatives To Neoliberalism:

The Irish CAUEC (Campaign Against the EU Constitution) was set up after a few weeks of talks and meetings (themselves based on previous working relationships) between various groups and individuals on the Left back in early 2005. The objective was to prepare for the EU Constitution Referendum that was to be held the same year. Many of those involved felt the need to learn from the mistakes of the second Treaty of Nice referendum campaign and to this time have a coherent broad progressive coalition of the Left to help defeat the Draft Constitution and it’s attack on democracy, workers rights and the environment. After the French and Dutch voted NO and put an end to this particular neoliberalist advance, the Campaign hosted a conference last February which included the French-based author and anti-Constitution activist Susan George. “The Campaign is made of various activists, left political organisations, trade unionists, grassroots groups, academics, environmentalists & politicians.” [Note: the author of this piece is a member of the CAEUC]. The - dash - ‘Alternatives To Neoliberalism’ was added to the CAUEC in order to maintain the focus the group.

- by Barry Finnegan
[note: is a member of CAEUC - Alternatives To Neoliberalism]

Dublin Date Details:

In Dublin, his talk at the Mansion House, Dawson St., Dublin 2, on Wednesday 25th October (7.00 to 9.00pm) is being facilitated by ‘CAEUC - Alternatives To Neoliberalism’
http://www.freewebs.com/alternativestoneoliberalism/ind...x.htm;
Contact: CAEUCemail@gmail.com; or phones: 085-7131903; 087-2179866; 01-8309649

Further Reading:

Michael Albert interviewed by Till Mossakowski of ATTAC Germany:
http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=2...=8902
Life After Capitalism - And Now Too, by Michael Albert:
http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=6417
The Parecon site:
http://www.zmag.org/parecon/indexnew.htm
The full 311 page book of “Parecon: Life After Capitalism” [plus Reviews/Discussions and interviews]:
http://www.parecon.org/pelac.htm
Comparing Capitalism & ParEcon: Introduction (with sections on Ownership, Decisions, Payment, Jobs, Allocation and Class:
http://www.zmag.org/parecon/capvsparecon/html/introduct....html

=========================

Some Additional Quotes:

Michael Albert on Capitalism:

“In capitalism, owners together with about a fifth of the population who have highly empowered work decide what is produced, by what means, and with what distribution. Nearly four fifths of the population does largely rote labour, suffers inferior incomes, obeys orders, and endures boredom, all imposed from above. As John Lennon put it, ‘As soon as you're born they make you feel small, by giving you no time instead of it all.’ Capitalism destroys solidarity, homogenizes variety, obliterates equity, and imposes harsh hierarchy. It is top heavy in power and opportunity. It is bottom heavy in pain and constraint. Indeed, Capitalism imposes on workers a degree of discipline beyond what any dictator ever dreamed of imposing politically. Who ever heard of citizens asking permission to go to the bathroom, a commonplace occurrence for workers in many corporations. Capitalism’s ills are not due to antisocial people. Instead, capitalism's institutions impose horrible behaviour even on its most social citizens. In capitalism as a famous American baseball manager quipped ‘nice guys finish last.’ More aggressively: ‘garbage rises.’ Witness Washington's White House.” http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=2...=8385

Michael Albert on Parecon:

“In parecon each and every job, which means each and every person's work, involves a mix calibrated so that each participant has essentially equally empowering conditions. A parecon has no owning class. It has no technocratic, managerial, or coordinator class. A parecon has only workers and consumers cooperatively creatively fulfilling their capacities consistently with each participant having a fair share of influence. Parecon has remuneration for effort and sacrifice, which translates to remuneration for the duration, intensity, and harshness of the work people do. Parecon rejects remuneration for power, property, or even output. Instead of gargantuan disparities of income and wealth, parecon has a just distribution of social product. Parecon also does away with markets which pit each actor against all others, destroy solidarity, impose class division, mis-price all public goods, ignore collective effects beyond direct buyers and sellers, violate ecological balance and sustainability, and have many other faults as well. In place of markets parecon utilizes a system of workers and consumers, through their self managing councils, cooperatively negotiating inputs and outputs for all firms and actors in accord with true and full social costs and benefits of economic activities.” http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=2...=8385

Michael Albert On Work In A Parecon:

“By virtue of their deed to property, owners in capitalism preside over means of production. They hire and fire wage slaves. But eliminating this relation is not the same as attaining classlessness. Another group in place of owners and also defined by its position in the economy, can wield virtually complete power and aggrandise itself above workers. To avoid rule by this coordinator class over workers requires that we replace corporate divisions of labour with a new approach to defining work roles. … [In a parecon] we don’t have managers and assemblers, editors and secretaries, surgeons and nurses. The functions these actors now fulfil persist in a parecon, but the labour is divided up differently. Of course some people do surgery while most don’t, but those who take scalpel to brains also clean bed pans, or sweep floors, or assist with other hospital functions. The total empowerment and pleasure that the surgeon’s new job affords is made average by remixing tasks. She now has a balanced job complex that conveys the same total empowerment and pleasure as the new job of the person who previously only cleaned up. The domination of what I call the coordinator class over all other workers is removed not by eliminating empowering tasks or by everyone doing the same things. Both these options are not only irrational but impossible. …

… Parecon doesn’t waste the human talents of people now doing surgery, composing music, or otherwise engaging in skilled labour by requiring that they do offsetting less empowering labour as well, but by this requirement surfaces a gargantuan reservoir of previously untapped talents throughout the populace while apportioning empowering and rote labour not only justly, but in accord with self management and classlessness.”
http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=6417

Michael Albert On ‘The Market’:

“[The Market] produces dissatisfaction as an aim, because only the dissatisfied will buy, and then buy again, and again. As the general director of General Motors’ Research Labs, Charles Kettering put it, business needs to create a ‘dissatisfied consumer’; its mission is ‘the organised creation of dissatisfaction.’ Following his own advice, Kettering introduced annual model changes for GM cars -- planned obsolescence designed to make the consumer discontented with what he or she already had. [M]arkets also mis-price transactions, taking into account only their impact on immediate buyers and sellers but not on those affected by pollution or, for that matter, by positive side effects. This means markets routinely violate ecological balance and sustainability. [M]arkets create a competitive context in which workplaces have to cut costs and seek market share regardless of implications for others. To do what markets force them to, even new workplaces with self managing councils [in a parecon] that favour equitable remuneration and balanced job complexes would have no choice but to maximise revenues to keep up with or to outstrip competitors. We would have to dump our costs on others, gain revenues by inducing excessive consumption, and cut production costs at workers expense.”
http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=6417

author by Jennapublication date Sat Oct 07, 2006 03:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

...who are you trying to fool?

Are you seriously trying to advocate an alternative to Capitalism in Ireland? As any coherent person must accept, most people are relatively happy with their lot here on this island. Sure they have a few gripes here and there, but on the whole nobody would want to depart from the wholeheartedly Capitalist direction that we have been going in since the late 1980's.

why bother...

author by Birdcagepublication date Sat Oct 07, 2006 11:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

How do you get tickets etc?

Also Curious as to female advocates, writers and thinkers on the issue, given the over-preponderance
of male ideologies on this site- I refer to the Dawkins/Benedict/Gill threads- wherin it appears that
all activisms and philosphies are led by and driven by men. We know that this is an illusion and
that women are contributing their voices to the anti-capitalist models that are emergent
globally, however because they do not occupy positions wherin their voices are actually
recognised it gives an unfortunate imbalance in both reportage and editorial selection.

author by dunkpublication date Sat Oct 07, 2006 15:31author email fuspey at yahoo dot co dot ukauthor address genovaauthor phone Report this post to the editors

great to hear he is coming, i saw him speak in oxford some years back and he hits the nail on the head on why our "movement" has not suceeded in changing the world - making the movement is his solution. redjade kindly did some short audio cuts to get to the point of all this- from http://www.indymedia.ie/article/71892#comment166734
im presently in a social centre in italy, where unfortunately the situation could do with being a whole lot more sticky
anyway, thats for here, enjoy the talk

How do we win?
Micheal Albert, founder of Zmag ( http://www.zmag.org/ ) talks about the "The Stickiness Problem" (http://www.zmag.org//ZMag/articles/jan98albert.htm )
in which he points out that many people have come and gone from the movement, why is this, how can it be remedied and what that might lead to. I feel we have a lot to learn from this and over the past year have made massive strides in creating spaces, acts, events, systems to allow us to get "stickier"

heres 2 audio files which sum it up (much thanks to Redjade for assistance)
Whats wrong with the left - its not sticky
http://radio.indymedia.org/uploads/lifeaftercapitalism_...1.mp3 2.16 mins
making the movement Sticky - how to do it
http://radio.indymedia.org/uploads/lifeaftercapitalism_...2.mp3
these are audio cuts from the "Life After Capitalism" that was referred to earlier (http://radio.indymedia.org/news/2004/08/2286.php )

Related Link: http://www.indymedia.ie/article/71892#comment166734
author by Terencepublication date Tue Oct 24, 2006 15:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Somebody up above mentioned tickets. I have phoned the organisers and you do not need to get a ticket. Just simply show up.

But remember the talk is at 7 pm in the Mansion House and overall it should prove to be very interesting.

And the title of the talks seems to be according to his blog (URL below) to be:

What Would Another World Look Like and How Do We Get There?

Related Link: http://blog.zmag.org/node/2764
author by redjadepublication date Tue Oct 24, 2006 15:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

so, who is gonna record this and upload it here?

author by Barry Finnegan - CAEUC - ATNpublication date Tue Oct 24, 2006 18:48author email finnegan.barry at gmail dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

On Recording:
I have just found out the original plan to record has fallen through. So help needed, please on that one. My email is above.

On The Talks Topic:
Yes that topic is on Albert blog on the Z website. It was a working title from last May / June. He's going with the one from the article posted at the top of this thread.

On "Come off it Barry... who are you trying to fool? by Jenna":
Well obviously not you, you canny commentator you!

On "Curious as to female advocates" by Birdcage:
Yes more female critical international political economists badly needed. I've often thought that maybe they are all off actually DOING politics rather than THINKING about politics. Anyway, the CAEUC’s effort on gender balance for the evening is that Independent Dublin City Councillor Joan Collins will chair the meeting.

-B.

author by Terencepublication date Wed Oct 25, 2006 16:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Obviously any plan or discussion around replacing capitalism or moving beyond it, requires a good understanding of the origins of it.

Up to very recently and I think this is quite widespread, the general notion or idea is that capitalism arose in the late Middle Ages with the help of the merchant classes and as far as I know that is the basic outline given by Marxist writings. Although we should remember of course that Marx's main achievement was in understanding the mechanism of how it worked which is still pretty much valid. Neverthless there seems to be this impression it arose only then and during a relatively quick period.

However in discussions with someone far more knowledge on history than I and it is something I assumed, is that in fact different forms of capitalism arose many earlier times and that it's growth has been more organic and long term. This ties in with what I knew about ancient trading routes and civilisations based around them in earlier times. In all these cases these people were taking advantage of the surplus produced by various lands and regions to make a living for themselves.

Getting back to the recent European history it seems that there were in the deep Middle Ages, there were trading routes which opened in the Eastern Mediterrean and in the Northern Baltic stages. Cutting a long story short, towns and cities and groups of merchants were supported by this trade and grew because of it. Within these many of the mechanisms of state and capitalism grew and developed further from accounting to banking and apparently even social housing, laws, rights and so forth. It was the later linking up of these between Northern and Southern Europe that effectively led to the spreading and widening of European capitalism. It appears this may be where the Marxist view of the evolution of capitalism picked up and I am not exactly sure why.

Overall though what is important is that it was actually much longer in the making than people generally recognise or admit and appears to have grown more organically and 'naturally' but I use that word carefully because I am fully aware of the coercion both then and now. Another point to consider is that it seems certain that nobody planned capitalism. It just sort of happened as a consequence of the presence of these trading routes and other surpluses.

That is just European capitalism, but as said above apparently it arose eleswhere and at other times, and the form that it took seemed quite dependent on the culture it arose from. In the context of today, it is possible to see different flavours of it to some degree in terms of its priorities or features that it adopts whether that be American, European, Arabic, Chinese, Indian, Japanese and other parts of Asia.

If we want to encourage people to think objectively and critically of capitalism as it is today and the consequences of it and its continuation on the sustainability of human life on the planet then we need to use this longer and wider history of it to understand it more to be able to see the more subtle mechanisms at work that result in people pretty much accepting it.

Again I would stress that there is plenty of domination and coercion and in particular manipulation of public opinion and information in order for them to continue with capitalism. I am certain if more people were aware of the problems facing us, such as ecological castrophe and runaway global warming or heating, then they would be more willing to change and more likely to look for alternative solutions for running society.

It seems then that any new system should have less coercion in it and that implies it would be more voluntary and also would require much deeper and longer term thinking about things than presently the case. And while it is clear there is a realization forming around this, it is nowhere near enough or widespread enough but crucially capitalists through control of the media are actively trying and succeeding to limit severely the spread of these ideas and thoughts.

author by R. Isiblepublication date Wed Oct 25, 2006 17:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors

different forms of capitalism arose many earlier times and that it's growth has been more organic and long term. This ties in with what I knew about ancient trading routes and civilisations based around them in earlier times. In all these cases these people were taking advantage of the surplus produced by various lands and regions to make a living for themselves.

Is that the same thing as capitalism though? Is there evidence that the means of production in ancient societies were owned by non-producers and there was wage labour? Interesting topic that I know little about and I'm not trying to correct you, just asking on what you base the above.

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