By Robin Hahnel
- Of the People, By the People: The Case for a Participatory Economy (2012)
- Alternatives to Capitalism: Proposals for a Democratic Economy (2016)
Unless the economy is of the people and by the people it will never be for the people. This book is for people who want to know more about participatory economics and what a desirable alternative to capitalism might look like. It is for people who want more than rosy rhetoric and Pollyannaish descriptions of people working in harmony. It is for people who want to dig into what economic justice and economic democracy mean. It is a book for optimists-who believe the human species must be capable of something better than succumbing to competition and greed or authoritarianism, and would like to know how we can do it. Of the People, By the People is also a book for skeptics-who demand to be shown, explicitly and concretely, how a modern economy can dispense with markets and authoritarian planning, and how hundreds of millions of people can manage their own division of labor efficiently and equitably in a participatory economy.
Interview with Robin Hahnel
David Laibman on Science & Society wrote:
"Those disillusioned by ‘real socialisms’, whether market socialist or centrally planned, face the question of how we are to conceive of a feasible socialist alternative. At present there are two theoretical models for a genuinely democratically planned socialist economy, one developed by Pat Devine, and the other by Michael Albert and Robin Hahnel. Hahnel’s Of the People, By the People is the latest, clearest and most concise exposition available of the latter model, Participatory Economics – or ParEcon for short. Not only does to this book show, to my mind convincingly, that there is a viable model of genuinely democratic socialism from the bottom up, it also, in so doing, provides a powerful argumentative tool for countering (at least certain kinds of) political scepticism. The book is penned above all as a counter-argument to Thatcher’s famous saying TINA – ‘There Is No Alternative’. [...] Hahnel’s prose is crisp, clear and to the point. This book – as much a short book as a long pamphlet – is easily the best introduction to the ParEcon model currently available. As befits the format, there are almost no references and only a handful of footnotes. Generally this is a virtue. However, there are a few points where certain strong and critical empirical claims are made which really ought to be properly referenced. [...] Two things in particular stand out in this latest exposition of ParEcon. Firstly, it discusses the inevitable complications of long-term planning – an omission for which the model has rightly been criticised in the past. [...] Secondly, this new exposition features a fresh engagement with Marxist thought."
"Hahnel’s new book, Of the People, By the People, is written as an accessible and compact introduction, covering all of the major themes in the participatory-economy model, and a mature distillation and presentation of its central arguments. it thus provides a perfect opportunity to present an even-more-compact summary of the main points, and to outline a critique. [...] Despite its many insights and contributions, the Albert–Hahnel model suffers from two crucial problems: its commitment to an abstractly speculative approach to the design of social institutions, and a limiting fear of authority and hierarchy that has clear roots in classical anarchist thinking. This latter feature results in a model with an uncanny resemblance to Walrasian competitive market equilibrium — despite its progenitors’ programmatic denial of this connection."
About Robin Hahnel
According to Wikipedia "Robin Eric Hahnel (born March 25, 1946) is an American economist and professor of economics at Portland State University. He was a professor at American University for many years and traveled extensively advising on economic matters all over the world. He is best known for his work on participatory economics with Z Magazine editor Michael Albert. Hahnel is a radical economist and political activist. Politically he considers himself a product of the New Left and is sympathetic to libertarian socialism. He has been active in many social movements and organizations for forty years [...]. Hahnel's work in economic theory and analysis is informed by the work of Marx, Keynes, Piero Sraffa, Michał Kalecki, and Joan Robinson, among others. He has served as a visiting professor or economist in Cuba, Peru, and England."