The New Systems Reader : Alternatives to a Failed Economy book cover
1st Edition

The New Systems Reader
Alternatives to a Failed Economy

ISBN 9780367313395
Published October 20, 2020 by Routledge
510 Pages

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Book Description

The recognition is growing: truly addressing the problems of the 21st century requires going beyond small tweaks and modest reforms to business as usual—it requires "changing the system." But what does this mean? And what would it entail? The New Systems Reader highlights some of the most thoughtful, substantive, and promising answers to these questions, drawing on the work and ideas of some of the world’s key thinkers and activists on systemic change. Amid the failure of traditional politics and policies to address our fundamental challenges, an increasing number of thoughtful proposals and real-world models suggest new possibilities, this book convenes an essential conversation about the future we want.

Table of Contents

Preface – James Gustave Speth

1 | Social Democracy and Radical Localism

Chapter 1: Social Democratic Capitalism: The Nordic Experience and Beyond – Lane Kenworthy

Chapter 2: The Good Society 2.0 – Henning Meyer

Chapter 3: The Promise of a Million Utopias – Michael H. Shuman

2 | New System Values

Chapter 4: The Economy for the Common Good: A Workable, Transformative, Ethics-Based Alternative – Christian Felber and Gus Hagelberg

Chapter 5: A Civic Economy of Provisions – Marvin T. Brown

Chapter 6: Whole Systems Change: A Framework and First Steps for Social/Economic Transformation – Riane Eisler

Chapter 7: A Living Economy for a Living Earth – David C. Korten

Chapter 8: Earthland: Scenes from a Civilized Future – Paul Raskin

3 | A Planetary Economy

Chapter 9: Towards a New, Green Economy—Sustainable and Just—at Community Scale – Tim Jackson and Peter A. Victor

Chapter 10: Well-Being Economy: A Scenario for a Post-Growth Horizontal Governance System – Lorenzo Fioramonti

Chapter 11: Toward Democratic Eco-socialism as the Next World System: A Vision for the Future – Hans A. Baer

Chapter 12: Six Theses on Saving the Planet – Richard Smith

4 | Ownership and Economic Democracy

Chapter 13: Economic Democracy: Ethical, Economically Viable Socialism – David Schweickart

Chapter 14: The Next System: Workers Direct Themselves – Richard D. Wolff

Chapter 15: Diversifying Public Ownership: Constructing Institutions for Participation, Social Empowerment, and Democratic Control – Andrew Cumbers

5 | Community-Based Pluralist Systems

Chapter 16: A Pluralist Commonwealth and a Community Sustaining System – Gar Alperovitz

Chapter 17: The Joyful Economy: A Next System Possibility – James Gustave Speth

Chapter 18: Building a Cooperative Solidarity Commonwealth – Jessica Gordon Nembhard

Chapter 19: Solidarity Economy: Building an Economy for People and Planet – Emily Kawano

Chapter 20: Democratizing Wealth in the US South and Beyond – Ed Whitfield

Chapter 21: Navigating System Transition in a Volatile Century – Michael T. Lewis

6 | Commoning, Cooperation, and Participatory Planning

Chapter 22: Commoning as a Transformative Social Paradigm – David Bollier

Chapter 23: Cooperative Commonwealth and the Partner State – John Restakis

Chapter 24: An Introduction to Participatory Economics – Michael Albert

Chapter 25: Participatory Economics and the Next System – Robin Hahnel

7 | The Emerging New Economy

Chapter 26: Cultivating Community Economies: Tools for Building a Livable World – J.K. Gibson-Graham, Jenny Cameron, Kelly Dombroski, Stephen Healy, Ethan Miller, and the Community Economies Collective  

Chapter 27: Building Economic Democracy to Construct Eco-socialism from Below – Kali Akuno and Sacajawea Hall

Chapter 28: How We Are Building the Movement for Reparative Economic Democracy – Aaron Tanaka, Nia K. Evans, and Libbie Cohn

Chapter 29: The Arusha Declaration: The Case for Democratic Socialism 50 Years On – Zitto Kabwe

Appendix | Questions for Authors of Works on New Models and Systems

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James Gustave Speth is senior fellow and co-chair of the The Next System Project at The Democracy Collaborative. Formerly dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, and chair of the UN Development Group, he served as a senior adviser on environmental issues to Presidents Carter and Clinton. He is the author, co-author, or editor of seven books including America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy (2012); and most recently, the 2014 memoir Angels by the River, which traces his path from mainstream environmental insider to a champion of fundamental systemic change in our political and economic institutions.

Kathleen Courrier retired in 2016 from her position as vice president of communications at the American Institutes for Research. Before that, she was vice president of communications at the Urban Institute in Washington for 14 years, publications director at World Resources Institute from its inception, communications head and then acting director of the Center for Renewable Resources, a writer/editor for the Academy for Educational Development, and a freelance writer/editor. She is past president of Washington Book Publishers and a former book columnist for SIERRA magazine. Her articles and reviews have appeared in The Washington Post, Columbia Journalism Review, Issues in Science and Technology, Los Angeles Times, and MIT's Technology Review.


"The pandemic of 2020 has made the question of economic and social transformation ever more urgent. As the failures of neoliberalism multiply, what should take its place? The Next System Project has been one of the most fruitful efforts to articulate possible paths forward. This collection—a veritable who's who of visionaries—is a must-read for anyone interested in creating an egalitarian, sustainable, and humane successor to capitalism."

—Juliet Schor, author, After The Gig: How the Sharing Economy Got Hijacked and How to Win It Back

"Aged to perfection, Gus Speth is a global treasure. He and Kathleen Courrier have assembled 38 of the top systems thinkers to offer a multitude of provocative paths toward a radically better future for people and the planet."

—John Cavanagh, Director, Institute for Policy Studies and co-editor of Alternatives to Economic Globalization: A Better World is Possible

"This impressive collection of essays was completed a little before the Coronavirus pandemic shook up all our ways of living in the present and viewing the future. The book offers numerous suggestions on how to build truly new and resilient systemic changes in the economic, social and environmental spheres. Each of the 28 essays addresses issues that are urgently needed to reach the sustainable future we have been dreaming about for the past decades. It is now crystal clear that small adjustments to the existing system will no longer suffice. The systemic transformation needed must be global, courageous, inclusive and provide for previously disconnected issues to be considered together. The New Systems Reader is well positioned to play an important role in helping us move rapidly to create a new way forward for our planet and all of its inhabitants."

—Julia Marton-Lefèvre, Former Director General, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

"The New Systems Reader puts to rest, once and for all and not a moment too soon, the most nefarious of lies: There is no alternative. Its pages present compelling alternatives that promise a more fair, more healthy, more thriving economy, along with road maps to get there. The only thing missing is a people-powered movement strong enough to bring these visions to fruition. That's up to us, so read this book and let's go!"

—Annie Leonard, Executive Director, Greenpeace US

"This book could not be emerging at a better moment: many more of us now realize that we need new models for our collective life, and it will come as a relief to many readers to know those models are out there, with people hard at work figuring out how we can build them to scale in time. A landmark book!"

—Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy