Our co-founder Gar Alperovitz sketches out the major institutions of a systemic alternative based in plural forms of democratic ownership, oriented around community at various scales—what he has called “The Pluralist Commonwealth.” Visit thenextsystem.org for more resources and information.Read more about The Pluralist Commonwealth...
Vision and Strategy
Helping orient our work today as community wealth builders towards the world we want to see tomorrow.
It is increasingly obvious that the United States faces systemic economic and political challenges. Income and wealth disparities have become severe and corrosive of democratic possibilities. Ecological decay deepens day by day. A record number of Americans are in poverty and full employment is nowhere on the horizon. Corporate power now dominates decision-making through lobbying, uncontrolled political contributions, and political advertising. The planet itself is threatened by global warming. The lives of millions are compromised by economic and social pain. Many of our communities are in decay.
Is there any way forward? At the Collaborative, we believe that effectively rising to the challenges we face in our communities requires a long-term vision of where we're going – an understanding of the contours of "the next system" – and how the projects of today can form the foundation for the principles of tomorrow.
Based on Ted Howard's remarks to the recent Alternative Models of Ownership conference, we've distilled the eight basic principles behind community wealth building—a transformative approach to local economic development—into this handy one page guide. Read more about Community Wealth Building: Eight Basic Principles...
This new working paper from The Next System Project—prepared as an invited contribution to the "After Fossil Fuels: The New Economy" conference in Oberlin, Ohio from October 6-8, 2016—explores the intersections of systemic economic and ecological crisis, and propose that only a break with the mechanisms of corporate capitalism is capable of guaranteeing a sustainable future.
An overview of The Next System Project and the need for systemic solutions for systemic crisis.
Marjorie Kelly's Yes! Magazine article examines "how cooperatives are leading the way to empowered workers and healthy communities."
The Pluralist Commonwealth is a systemic model, developed and refined over the last forty years by political economist and historian Gar Alperovitz, which attempts to resolve theoretical and practical problems associated with both traditional corporate capitalism and traditional state socialism. A central emphasis is the reconstruction of communities—and the nation as a community—from the ground up. Hence, it might also be called a Community-Sustaining System. The term “Pluralist Commonwealth,” however, is offered to stress the inevitability—for functional as well as scale reasons—of different (plural) institutional forms of wealth democratization.
Democracy Collaborative Research Director Steve Dubb along with Executive Director Ted Howard and Research Associate Sarah McKinley contributed the chapter “Economic Democracy” to the two-volume encyclopedia, Achieving Sustainability, now available courtesy of Gale Publishing. They outline the history of the economic democracy movement, highlighting community wealth building strategies such as community development finance institutions and cooperatives.
This essay by Democracy Collaborative co-founder Gar Alperovitz and Research Director Steve Dubb opens the academic symposium journal issue on “Alternatives to Capitalism” which provides a collection of essays that explore the broader implications of community wealth building for creating a new economy.
How thousands of co-ops, worker-owned businesses, land trusts, and municipal enterprises are beginning to democratize the deep substructure of the American economy, with a new introduction by the author, Gar Alperovitz, and a new foreword by James Gustave Speth.
Curbing carbon emissions requires far more than technical know-how. We must change not only our energy use and transportation practices, but also where and how we work and live. It also requires ending the commonplace economic practice of treating built communities as disposable items that can be abandoned when market conditions change.
The challenge is daunting. Yet it also presents an opportunity. Putting forth a vision of green community wealth building, in which community-anchored enterprises, linked to sophisticated and decentralized planning, support stable and sustainable local economies, this study outlines how truly integrated approaches can help America meet the sustainability challenge.