The Centre for Postcapitalist Civilisation presents Professor Michael Albert’s mέta Working Paper entitled Postcapitalist Decision Making (accessible here), part of the “Towards (a Better) Postcapitalism: A Handy How-To Guide” series under “Decision Making.”

mέta Working Papers’ series “Towards (a Better) Postcapitalism: A Handy How-To Guide” publishes solicited policy papers on aspects of how would a non-dystopian postcapitalism look like. The series focuses on three ‘pillars’:

Production | Allocation | Decision Making

i.e., how could/would postcapitalist production be like (and who would own the means of production), what shape would the allocation of goods take (and which alternatives to the market economy may be explored), and what would be the main tenets of postcapitalist decision making and democracy.

In this paper, Michael Albert addresses the third pillar: postcapitalist decision making.

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(Earlier additions to the “Towards (a Better) Postcapitalism: A Handy How-To Guide” series include Professor Robin Hahnel’s paper on Participatory Planning.)

Michael Albert is a founder and current member of the staff of Z Magazine as well as staff of Z Magazine’s web system: ZCom. He is a member of mέta’s Advisory Board. Albert’s radicalization occurred during the 1960s. His political involvements, starting then and continuing to the present, have ranged from local, regional, and national organizing projects and campaigns to co-founding South End Press, Z Magazine, the Z Media Institute, and ZNet, and to working on all these projects, writing for various publications and publishers, giving public talks, etc. Albert is the author of 21 books. Most recently these include: Fanfare for the Future (ZBooks), Remembering Tomorrow (Seven Stories Press), Realizing Hope (Zed Press) and Parecon: Life After Capitalism (Verso).

mέta presents the open-access volume Cultural heritage in the realm of the Commons: Conversations on the Case of Greece (Ubiquity Press, 2020), edited by Stelios Lekakis.

Cultural heritage was invented in the realm of nation-states, and from an early point it was considered a public asset, stewarded to narrate the historic deeds of the ancestors, on behalf of their descendants. Nowadays, as the neoliberal narrative would have it, it is for the benefit of these tax-paying citizens that privatisation logic on heritage sector have been increasing over recent decades, to cover their needs in the name of social responsibility and other truncated views of the welfare state.

This volume examines whether we can place cultural heritage at the other end of the spectrum, as a common good and potentially as a commons. It does so by looking at Greece as a case study, lately a battlefield of harsh and experimental austerity measures but also of inspiring grass-roots mobilisation and scholarship, currently blossoming to defend the right of communities to enjoy, collaboratively manage and co-create goods by the people, for the people.

Since cultural heritage -and culture in general- is hastily bundled up with other goods and services in various arguments for and against their public character, this volume invites several experts to discuss their views on their field of expertise and reflect on the overarching theme: Can cultural heritage be considered a commons? If so, what are the advantages and pitfalls concerning theory, practice and management of heritage? What can we learn from other public resources with a longer history in commons-based or market-oriented interpretation and governance? Can a commons approach allow us to imagine and start working towards a better, more inclusive and meaningful future for heritage?

Stelios Lekakis studied classical archaeology and heritage management at the University of Athens and the University College London. He is currently a researcher at Newcastle University (landscape archaeology, characterization, perception and management) and teaches cultural management at the Open University of Cyprus and political economy at the Hellenic Open University. He works with NGOs (a founding member of MONUMENTA) and university departments – in Greece and abroad – as a cultural heritage consultant, focusing on participatory management and cultural informatics projects. He has published extensively in various academic journals and edited volumes. He is also the creative director of the LTD company: Mazomos Landscape and Heritage Consultants BVBA.

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The Centre for Postcapitalist Civilisation presents Paul Tyson’s mέta Working Paper entitled Sovereignty and Biosecurity: Can we prevent ius from disappearing into dominium?. The paper is accessible here.

Abstract

Drawing on Milbank and Agamben, a politico-juridical anthropology matrix can be drawn describing the relations between ius and bios (justice and political life) on the one hand and dominium and zoe (private power and ‘bare life’) on the other hand. Mapping movements in the basic configurations of this matrix over the long sweep of Western cultural history enable us to see where we are currently situated in relation to the nexus between politico-juridical authority (sovereignty) and the emergency use of executive State powers in the context of biosecurity. The argument presented is that pre-19th century understandings of ius and bios presupposed transcendent categories of Justice and the Common Good that were not naturalistically defined. The very recent idea of a purely naturalistic naturalism has made distinctions between bios and zoe un-locatable and civic ius is now disappearing into a strangely ‘private’ total power (dominium) over the bodies of citizens, as exercised by the State. The very meaning of politico-juridical authority and the sovereignty of the State is undergoing radical change when viewed from a long perspective. This paper suggests that the ancient distinction between power and authority is becoming meaningless, and that this loss erodes the ideas of justice and political life in the Western tradition. Early modern capitalism still retained at least the theory of a Providential moral order, but since the late 19th century, morality has become fully naturalized and secularized, such that what moral categories Classical economics had have been radically instrumentalized since. In the postcapitalist neoliberal world order, no high horizon of just power –no spiritual conception of sovereignty– remains. The paper argues that the reduction of authority to power, which flows from the absence of any traditional conception of sovereignty, is happening with particular ease in Australia, and that in Australia it is only the Indigenous attempt to have their prior sovereignty –as a spiritual reality– recognized that is pushing back against the collapse of political authority into mere executive power.

Dr Paul Tyson is an interdisciplinary scholar working across sociology, theology and philosophy. He is an honorary senior fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Queensland, Australia, and a member of mέta’s Advisory Board.

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The Centre for Postcapitalist Civilisation presents Professor Robin Hahnel’s mέta Working Paper entitled Participatory Planning (accessible here), part of the “Towards (a Better) Postcapitalism: A Handy How-To Guide” series under “Allocation.”

mέta Working Papers’ series “Towards (a Better) Postcapitalism: A Handy How-To Guide” publishes solicited policy papers on aspects of how would a non-dystopian postcapitalism look like. The series focuses on three ‘pillars’:

Production | Allocation | Decision-making

i.e., how could/would postcapitalist production be like (and who would own the means of production), what shape would the allocation of goods take (and which alternatives to the market economy may be explored), and what would be the main tenets of postcapitalist democracy.

In this paper, Professor Robin Hahnel addresses the second pillar, ‘allocation’, as participatory planning.

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Robin Hahnel is a radical economist and political activist. He is Professor Emeritus at American University in Washington, D.C. where he taught in the Economics Department from 1976 – 2008. He is currently a visiting professor in economics at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon, where he resides with his family. During the past fourteen years he taught as a Visiting Professor at Portland State University, Lewis and Clark College, and Willamette University in Oregon. His work in economic theory is informed by the work of Thorstein Veblen, John Maynard Keynes, Karl Polanyi, Pierro Straffa, Joan Robinson, and Amartya Sen among others. He is best known as co-creator, along with Michael Albert, of a radical alternative to capitalism known as participatory economics (or parecon for short). His more recent work is focused on economic justice and democracy, and the global financial and ecological crisis. Politically he considers himself a proud product of the New Left and is sympathetic to libertarian socialism. He has been active in many social movements and organizations over forty years, beginning with the Harvard and MIT SDS chapters and the Boston area anti-Vietnam war movement in the 1960s.

(Other additions to the “Towards (a Better) Postcapitalism: A Handy How-To Guide” series include Michael Albert’s paper on Postcapitalist Decision Making.)

The Centre for Postcapitalist Civilisation presents Yannis Papadopoulos’ mέta Working Paper entitled Ethics Lost: The severance of the entrenched relationship between ethics and economics by contemporary neoclassical mainstream economics.

Abstract

In this paper we examine the evolution of the relation between ethics and economics. Mainly after the financial crisis of 2008, many economists, scholars, and students felt the need to find answers that were not given by the dominant school of thought in economics. Some of these answers have been provided, since the birth of economics as an independent field, from ethics and moral philosophy. Nevertheless, since the mathematisation of economics and the departure from the field of political economy, which once held together economics, philosophy, history and political science, ethics and moral philosophy have lost their role in the economics’ discussions. Three are the main theories of morality: utilitarianism, rule-based ethics and virtue ethics. The neoclassical economic model has indeed chosen one of the three to justify itself, yet it has forgotten —deliberately or not— to involve the other two. Utilitarianism has been translated to a cost benefit analysis that fits the “homo economicus” and selfish portrait of humankind and while contemporary capitalism recognizes Adam Smith as its father it does not seem to recognize or remember not only the rest of the Scottish Enlightenment’s great minds, but also Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments. In conclusion, if ethics is to play a role in the formation of a postcapitalist economic theory and help it escape the hopeless quest for a Wertfreiheit, then the one-dimensional selection and interpretation of ethics and morality by economists cannot lead to justified conclusions about the decision-making process.

Υannis Papadopoulos was born in Athens in 1993 and studied European and International Relations at Panteion University in Athens. He received his Master’s degree in Political Economy from King’s College London. He is currently in the final year of his doctoral thesis entitled “The Ethics of Efficiency and the Efficiency of Ethics” at Panteion University, for which he has received a scholarship from the Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation (H.F.R.I).

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