Business and Industry

The New "New Economy" Article


Gar Alperovitz has an article in The Nation that claims to have found the seeds of a sustainable and egalitarian "new economy" in grassroots projects scattered around the country. It isn't a particularly persuasive piece—I kept waiting for him to make a strong case that the efforts he's discussing are growing, as opposed to making the case that they're there. (I say this as someone who's been reading articles like this for at least two decades now.) The links between the trends aren't clear either. Anecdotes aside, are there substantial reasons to believe that employee-owned enterprises are more likely to adopt green business practices? Or are these basically separate issues that get lumped together here because worker ownership and ecological consciousness are both a part of Alperovitz's social vision?

All that said, the article is notable for at least one reason: Virtually every development it praises comes from the marketplace and civil society, not the state. The exceptions that occasionally appear don't involve big national plans; they're more along the lines of a public university or city government giving assistance to some co-ops. This isn't unusual for Alperovitz, who has always been a decentralist, but it's a marked contrast with some of the other material The Nation publishes.

Bonus link: "A Statistical Profile of Employee Ownership." Not exactly the same stuff that Alperovitz is writing about, but it overlaps, and the numbers are interesting.