The first decade of the 21st century witnessed the global financial crisis, the Occupy and Arab Spring movements, skyrocketing income inequality, geopolitical shakeups, and irrefutable evidence that the planet can no longer sustain the destructive capacities of unfettered markets. In this book-length proposal for a new, local approach to economic organization—one steeped in transparency and democratic processes—John Boik asks us to envision a future beyond crisis. Rather than replacing dominant systems, his proposal seeks to harnesses them, in part by rethinking money itself. His aims are to sustain and enrich the public good by building the infrastructures necessary for cooperation and, ultimately, for human and planetary survival. This provocative book is a signpost for where we as a species enter the new millennium. Its viewpoint challenges us to imagine what we might become.
Economic Direct Democracy offers an important and pragmatic roadmap for advancing a new economic paradigm based on well-being and happiness. Going further than Thomas Piketty (Capital in the Twenty-First Century), who proposed tax-based solutions to capitalism's fatal flaws, Boik aims at foundations of capitalism by questioning the meaning of money and the purpose of an economy. The result is a rational and compelling proposal for building a supra-capitalism economy atop the structure of the old one. It is the most complete and well-reasoned plan for addressing society's crises that I have read to date. We can do better than capitalism as usual. We can meet material needs, enjoy meaningful jobs, pay good wages, provide quality health care, and protect the environment. But we can't get there from here without asking who we are, what an economy is, and what makes us happy. I recommend Economic Direct Democracy to anyone interested in community well-being.
Facing climate chaos, weakening democracy, and expanding inequities, John Boik delivers an important, innovative, and necessary exposition. His effort is a challenge to this deeply troubled nation. With much new insight, Economic Direct Democracy details how innovative institutions at the community level can better reflect ideals of economic and political democracy, and in so doing bring about a more egalitarian and healthier society.
Economic Direct Democracy builds a compelling case for how we might re-orient our economic lives to address society's greatest challenges—from climate change to infrastructure decay to income inequality. In adopting an interdisciplinary, systems approach, Boik takes us on a journey through interconnected problems and interconnected solutions. His focus is local, and his strategy pragmatic. As growing numbers of cities and counties have begun to realize, national and global problems can be tackled at the local level. Given the paralysis of federal political gridlock, community-based solutions of the type described in this book might represent our best hope for achieving a thriving sustainable society, in our lifetime.
Economic Direct Democracy is an important and powerful contribution to the evolving and urgently needed discussion about how to stop our slide—both political and economic—toward oligarchy, and the means to implement democratic policies that benefit all.
In Economic Direct Democracy, John Boik accomplishes what few critics of existing economic systems have dared attempt. He offers a specific, systematic, reasoned plan for an improved structure. His proposal aims to transform business as usual into business as sustainable, maximization of profit into maximization of well-being, too-big-to-fail into locally owned diversity, and financial crisis into financial flourishing. The specificity of his proposal invites critique—and critical, open-minded consideration is exactly what it deserves.
The possibility of utopia—that is, of a radically improved world—has been thrashed by the press in the neoliberal period, especially after Margaret Thatcher's famous quip about capitalism, “There is no alternative.” Yet steering the course over recent decades has only made the failings of capitalism more transparent. Sweeping change is needed, and it starts with imagination. Moving from TINA to TAPAS (“there are plenty of alternatives”) is essential if we want to pass on a livable world to our children. In this context, Economic Direct Democracy is essential. Boik's work makes clear that hopes for a greener, happier, healthier, and more secure world are not ephemeral wisps of wishful thinking, never to see fulfillment. Rather, they are sane, necessary, and, with publication of this book, increasingly grounded and ready to ignite action. Through concrete designs and thoughtful analysis, Boik offers practical solutions to the myriad problems that arise when political democracies are weak and control over economic decisions resembles a feudal hierarchy.
John Boik's Economic Direct Democracy is a blueprint for achieving Occupy Wall Street's goals of social equality and sustainability, and the Tea Party's goals of more effective, more responsive, and more local self-governance. By proposing new tools to organize and turbocharge local economies, Boik offers a viable path to greater economic security, greater equality, and enhanced well-being. His bold, imaginative, and thought-provoking book offers a fundamentally new, exciting way to think about community and economic development.
Thought-provoking and revealing, Economic Direct Democracy fills the gap between the ideals of economic democracy and its concrete, feasible implementations. The book addresses concerns held by local-currency skeptics who question the potential of community currencies to act as tools for local economic development and social regeneration. And it provides concerned citizens, who might have minimal previous knowledge of economics, a framework for understanding. Boik delivers a novel synthesis that promises to empower community leaders in achieving meaningful social progress.
The number of local currencies and alternative economies is growing worldwide, led by an ever-larger group of innovative community leaders. Yet to date, these projects lack scale, scientific rigor, and connection with similar systems. John Boik is among the few intellectuals addressing core economic design issues, and Economic Direct Democracy offers a wealth of ideas for engagement. If more intellectuals shared bold ideas for an alternative economic paradigm with these innovative leaders, the alchemy of experience and insight could result in new waves of significant action.
Economic Direct Democracy offers original and intriguing ideas for addressing a number of deep-seated and seemingly intractable social and economic problems. As threats mount, we must be willing to consider new approaches. Would his ideas work? One of the intriguing aspects of John's proposal is its focus on trial and implementation at the local scale, building on existing economies. This practical approach might allow us to find out. If he's right, it could help point a way forward.