in conversation with JON WIENER

Paul S. Adler reveals democratic socialism is not a leap into the unknown. Capitalist industry has built the foundations for a world beyond capitalism and its crises. 

We live in a time of crises - economic turmoil, workplace disempowerment, unresponsive government, environmental degradation, social disintegration, and international rivalry. In The 99 Percent Economy, Paul S. Adler, a leading expert on business management, argues that these crises are destined to deepen unless we radically transform our economy. 

But despair is not an option, and Adler provides a compelling alternative: democratic socialism. He argues that to overcome these crises we need to assert democratic control over the management of both individual enterprises and the entire national economy. To show how that would work, he draws on a surprising source of inspiration: the strategic management processes of many of our largest corporations. In these companies, the strategy process promises to involve and empower workers and to ensure efficiency and innovation. In practice, this promise is rarely realized, but in principle, that process could be consolidated within enterprises and it could be scaled-up to the national level. 

Standing in the way? Private ownership of society's productive resources, which is the foundation of capitalism's ruthless competition and focus on private gain at the cost of society, the environment, and future generations. Adler shows how socialized, public ownership of our resources will enable democratic councils at the local and national levels to decide on our economic, social, and environmental goals and on how to reach them. The growing concentration of industry makes this socialization step ever easier. 

“Lucidly written and powerfully argued. Rarely do we get insight into the opportunities a truly democratic socialist economy might offer from an expert who knows how decisions are really made in leading corporations and large institutions. A must read for anyone interested in the creation of a progressive future.”

— Gar Alperovitz,
Author of America Beyond Capitalism and CoFounder of The Democracy Collaborative

Paul S. Adler is the Harold Quinton Chair of Business Policy, and Professor of Management and Organization, Environmental Studies, and Sociology at the University of Southern California. In 2014-15, he served as President of the Academy of Management, the leading organization of management scholars.

Jon Wiener is a longtime contributing editor at The Nation and host of the magazine’s weekly podcast “Start Making Sense.”  He’s also professor emeritus of history at UC Irvine.  His writing has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, the New Republic, and the L.A. Times.  His books include “Come Together: John Lennon In His Time,” and, most recently, “How We Forgot the Cold War.”

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