Erik Olin Wright: Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Madison-Wisconsin.
The idea that there is a pathway from a capitalist economy to a cooperative market economy is grounded in two core theoretical ideas: First, while markets may be an essential feature of any viable complex economy, markets need not be dominated by capitalist firms and capitalist rules. A “cooperative market economy” is one alternative way of organizing market-oriented production. A variety of non-capitalist types of firms populate such an economy: worker cooperatives; employee stock owned firms; community owned firms; hybrids; individual proprietorships; consumer cooperatives; credit unions; and others. And they interact under rules which dampen competition and foster cooperation among cooperatives. Second, a cooperative market economy can emerge within a capitalist economy and potentially expand in scale and scope over time. All economic systems are hybrids combining different kinds of economic structures and practices, sometimes complementary, sometimes contradictory. The real utopian strategic vision is that we can foster emancipatory alternatives within the existing complex economic ecosystems dominated by capitalism, and that doing so has the potential to erode the dominance of capitalism. The task is to think strategically about the kinds of struggles and state policies needed to facilitate this process.
For those of you who are interested in reading about Erik Olin Wright's general approach to the issue of transforming capitalist economic systems download the pdf-file Transforming Capitalism through Real Utopias.
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