Familiar proposal

We should be calling for a democratically driven form of economic planning, with the availability of data and algorithmic calculations used to provide new tools for participatory, decentralized decision-making in order to redistribute wealth while bringing about a fair energy transition.

Giulia Dal Maso is a research fellow at Ca’ Foscari University and the author of Risky Expertise in Chinese Financialisation: Returned Labor and the State-Finance Nexus (2020).

Alessandro Maresca is a mechanical engineer and studied anthropology at Ca’ Foscari University. He is now completing his PhD in anthropology at the University of Bologna, researching sustainable finance.

Is this a sneaky, obscure way of publishing something on participatory planning in the Jacobin or have these guys likely never heard of it?!

Might be worth discussing it with them.

Really interesting. When it comes to an actual idea/system like Parecon, with a democratic planning institution, most within the Left Landscape balk. It’s like, if you truly try to come up with democratic planning and what it truly entails if and only if you intend to have other good shared values fostered (as opposed to the shit ines markets foster) and sustained rather than undermined, you will get a severe wrap across the knuckles for overstepping.

“Come on man, that’s too much. Suggest it, hint at it, make a gesture toward it, while we relentlessly and loudly, over and over again, ad infinitum, critique the abysmal and insidious nature of the market, for sure, but don’t actually try to come up with an actual system man, come on. I mean shit, ok, I get it, but come on man, we’re all serious socialists here. We’ve all read Marx and he, I mean Dad, never went near the utopian kitchen did he, like all good serious males don’t go near kitchens unless forced. Right.”

But I agree, Jacobin should, yes should, take something like Parecon seriously. But then, Gar Alperovitz will talk of participatory planning and rarely mention Parecon because he doesn’t think it feasible. He talks of planning around anchor institutions. He knows of it. Debated Michael Albert about it, or discussed it in some article some years back and, in my opinion, was incredibly patronising to Michael Albert and rather dismissive of Parecon…again, in my opinion.

Another person, Richard Smith, from System Change Not Climate Change, wrote about needing a planned system, so I wrote him about Parecon. He pleaded a kind of economic ignorance to the point he felt he couldn’t really advocate for any one particular system. Sorry, but that made absolutely no sense to me at all. But he’s probably smarter than I.

I’ve heard, more probably read, some Marxists who have heard of Parecon say stuff like, “something like Parecon is probably what we need” and then go on about stuff as if we need to find or devise ‘something like Parecon’ rather than reasonably and rationally and sensibly suggesting that starting from the currently existing and very real already thought up system of Parecon might be the way to go. Of course, they didn’t think it up so perhaps they don’t want to advocate for it out of fear of being laughed out of class ( pardon the pun) by their Marxist comrades. Just saying.

But yeah, Jacobin should be schooled in Parecon, for sure. But I think most within the Left Landscape, aside from some market socialists (an oxymoron according to Ellen Meiksins Wood at least…I second the thought), prefer to just continue to yell and scream and critique capitalism and it’s friend and associate, the market, and merely gesture toward certain kinds of vague notional fixes, rather than actually do the hard work and figure out what they are gesturing toward actually implies and devise a system that can do it while fostering other shared values and good stuff. And they certainly seem oblivious to the FACT that something like Parecon actually exists already and it’s called Parecon.

And the Left Landscape could learn a lot from it in many ways beyond just advocating for it.

But what would I know?