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Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Robin Hahnel: Participatory Economics
Time: 12pm to 2pm
In the aftermath of the collapse of 20th century “really existing socialism” there has been a great deal of debate over what 21st century socialism should mean instead. Those who reject some version of market socialism argue instead for some version of democratic and participatory economic planning. One objection raised to these proposals for conducting democratic economic planning is that they would simply take up too much of people’s time, and therefore using markets to coordinate our interrelated economic activities is a practical necessity if we are to avoid authoritarian, top-down planning. In our proposal for a “participatory economy” worker and consumer councils submit and revise proposals until a feasible plan is reached. Critics suggested this would take so many rounds of submissions, revisions, and resubmissions as to render our proposal impractical. We have now simulated our planning procedure to see how many “rounds” might be required, to shed light on whether or not our proposal appears to be impractical. After briefly explaining how the “participatory” planning procedure works, we present results of our computer simulations, and what they suggest about the practicality of participatory planning as an alternative to both markets and authoritarian planning.
Robin Hahnel is Professor Emeritus from American University in Washington DC where he taught in the department of economics for thirty-three years. He has also taught as a visiting professor at the Catholic University in Lima Peru, the University of Manchester in Manchester England, and most recently at Lewis and Clark College, Portland State University, and Willamette University in Oregon where he now lives. He is best known as co-creator together with Michael Albert of the alternative to capitalism known as a “participatory economy.” His most recent books are Economic Justice and Democracy: From Competition to Cooperation (Routledge 2005), Green Economics: Confronting the Ecological Crisis (M.E. Sharpe 2011), Of the People, By the People: The Case for a Participatory Economy (AK Press 2012), The ABCs of Political Economy: A Modern Approach, (Pluto Books 2014), and Democratic Economic Planning (Routledge 2021).