11.S950
Economic Democracy

The US today is one of the wealthiest societies in human history. It’s wealth is derived from centuries of extraction and exploitation via genocide of First Nations, enslavement of Africans and colonial conquest in Latin America and elsewhere. The great wealth amassed through these means has generated tremendous racialized inequality. Though not as extreme, even whites are facing growing wealth and income gaps. Working people in the US are becoming more impoverished. Across key sectors of the economy – banking, manufacturing, housing, healthcare, energy – economic arrangements often deplete, rather than generate, shared wealth. Creating wealth for the top 10% by limiting consumption, also undermines the health of the economy overall. Growing inequality and economic instability threaten democracy. What is more, ecological crises spurred by an economic system that demands perpetually accelerating growth – and considers nature a commodity and inequality and ecological destruction as externalities – threaten the survival of the planet.

 

Economic democracy is a framework for rethinking how our economy is organized and coordinated. It posits a system of governance that prioritizes community agency and puts capital and resources under citizen control and ownership. Economic democracy reimagines the specific roles of civil society, the private sector and government in shifting economies towards human flourishing and ecological stewardship. This course will introduce students to major concepts in economic development, political economy, and concepts of economic democracy: labor, finance, ownership, and nature. It outlines a democratic approach to economic community development. We will explore how democracy can shape the economy and how societies might move towards democratic economic systems.