Draft Pt. 2: An Institutional Analysis

Below are parts two, three and four of my draft essay “Paths Toward an Anti-Capitalist Liberation”. I posted part one here last week.

An Institutional Analysis

Regarding Alternatives to capitalism, I’m not an economist, nor an expert. I’m an activist and organizer who has an interest in replacing capitalism for something better. In fact, one reason for my interest in alternatives to capitalism is also that I’m always on the watch for something better, so I’m always seeking the best possible alternative. The way to do this, I think, is through a combination of values as evaluative criteria, as outlined above, and an institutional analysis to see if the institutions within any economic system promote our, or other, values. If they don’t promote our values, then what values do they propose? Are there any institutional features we want to incorporate into our own vision? If not, how does an institutional analysis help us better understand the economy (or any other sphere of society) that we’re looking at? What does it tell us about the economy that we advocate? And, how does it inform our organizing and activism? These are all questions motivated and guided by an institutional analysis.

So, as an institution, an economy is a conglomeration of interrelated roles and relationships. In those relationships are embodied expectations for certain outcomes and activities. An example would be of a factory which has the roles and relationships of assembly line workers, maintenance workers, janitors, union Stewarts, share holders, stock holders, etc. An economy on a grand scale, as an institution, has property relations, remuneration and pricing schemes, allocation mechanisms, and divisions of labor.

All the systems covered below have all the characteristics of an institution; however, some are actual economic systems and others are mere instances. And, many of the models presented here are models, instances or visions that I don’t necessarily agree with. They are covered here to get them out there as ideas and alternatives to choose from, compare and evaluate when thinking about alternatives to capitalism and where we want to go.

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