Economic Democracy - Alternative Models - The Market - Inclusive Democracy

Inclusive Democracy

Economic democracy is described as an integral component of an inclusive democracy, in Takis Fotopoulos' Towards An Inclusive Democracy as a stateless, moneyless and marketless economy that precludes private accumulation of wealth and the institutionalization of privileges for some sections of society, without relying on a mythical post-scarcity state of abundance, or sacrificing freedom of choice.Fotopoulos 1997

The proposed system aims to meet the basic needs of all citizens (macroeconomic decisions), and secure freedom of choice (microeconomic decisions). Therefore, the system consists of two basic elements: (1) democratic planning, which involves a feedback process between workplace assemblies, demotic assemblies and a confederal assembly, and (2) an artificial market using personal vouchers, which ensures freedom of choice but avoids the adverse effects of real markets. Although David Pepper called this system "a form of money based on the labour theory of value", it is not a money model since vouchers cannot be used as a general medium of exchange and store of wealth.

Another distinguishing feature of inclusive democracy is its distinction between basic and non-basic needs. Remuneration is determined separately according to the cost of basic needs, and according to degree of effort for non-basic needs. Inclusive democracy is based on the principle that meeting basic needs is a fundamental human right which is guaranteed to all who are in a physical condition to offer a minimal amount of work. By contrast, participatory economics guarantees that basic needs are satisfied only for public goods or are covered by compassion and by a guaranteed basic income for the unemployed and those who cannot work. Many advocates of participatory economics and Participism have contested this.

As part of inclusive democracy, economic democracy is the authority of demos (community) in the economic sphere—which requires equal distribution of economic power. Therefore, all macroeconomic decisions (overall level of production, consumption and investment, amounts of work and leisure implied, technologies to be used, etc.) are made by the collectively and without representation. However, microeconomic decisions are made by the individual production or consumption unit through a proposed system of vouchers.

As with the case of direct democracy, economic democracy is only feasible at the level of the confederated demoi. It involves the ownership and control of the means of production by the people. This is radically different from capitalism and socialism and from various types of collectivist capitalism, such as workers' control and milder versions suggested by post-Keynesian social democrats. The people collectively become the authentic unit of economic life.

Proponents of inclusive democracy list three preconditions: Demotic self-reliance, demotic ownership of the means of production, and confederal allocation of resources.

  • Demotic self-reliance involves radical decentralization and self-reliance, rather than of self-sufficiency.
  • Demotic ownership of productive resources leads to the politicization of the economy, the real synthesis of economy and polity. This happens because economic decision making is carried out by the entire community, through assemblies, where people make the fundamental macroeconomic decisions which affect the whole community, as citizens, rather than as vocationally oriented groups (e.g. workers, as e.g. in participatory economics). Workers would also participate (in vocationally oriented groups) in their respective workplace assemblies, in a process of modifying/implementing the Democratic Plan and in running their own workplace.
  • Confederal allocation of resources is required because much remains to be decided at the regional/national/supra-national level. However, delegates (rather than representatives) with specific mandates from the assemblies are involved in a confederal demotic planning process which, in combination with vouchers, effects the allocation of resources in a confederal inclusive democracy.

Read more about this topic:  Economic Democracy, Alternative Models, The Market

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