Parecon and Polity

This essay is excerpted from the Zed Press published book, Realizing Hope


Current times make an argument that contemporary political structures are decrepit and redundant. Every day hammers home the realization. My own country, the U.S., arguably has one of the most democratic political systems now operating. Yet even if there weren’t huge concentrations of corporate wealth and power dominating political outcomes, even if media didn’t constrain and manipulate information to distort political preferences, even if the two parties weren’t two wings of a single corporate party, even if there weren’t diverse idiotic and at best anachronistic structures like the electoral college, even if elections weren’t winner take all affairs in which upwards of half the voting population have their desires ignored, even if elections weren’t easily hijacked by outright fraud, clearly modern electoral and parliamentary democracy would still diverge greatly from a system that maximally provokes participation, elicits informed opinion, and justly resolves disputes. 


So, what do we want instead of current political systems and how will what we politically desire relate to a participatory economy?


To fully address the practical symbiosis between a desirable economy and a desirable polity one would ideally like to first compellingly describe a new political vision and then to examine its interactions with economics. Luckily for us, though positive political vision has not yet been spelled out as fully as participatory economics has, the U.S.-based activist and political scientist Stephen Shalom, among others, has at least begun the process in his preliminary presentation of Parpolity, available on the internet via the Participatory Society subsite of ZNet at http://www.zcomm.org/znet/topics/parsoc


Parpolity is a political vision that seeks to further the same values as parecon. Since parpolity describes many characteristics a good political system would have, we can usefully take it as a touchstone in this essay.




Anarchist Roots


The French anarchist Proudhon wrote, “To be governed is to be watched over, inspected, spied on, directed, legislated, regimented, closed in, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, assessed, evaluated, censored, commanded, all by creatures that have neither the right nor wisdom nor virtue… To be governed means that at every move, operation, or transaction, one is noted, registered, entered in a census, taxed, stamped, authorized, recommended, admonished, prevented, reformed, set righ

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