This section is adapted from the book Parecon: Life After Capitalism.
Is participatory economics exciting enough to attract abiding support? Are conditions bequeathed to us by past history conducive to allowing us to win against existing obstacles and thereby attain participatory economics?
Lacking “excitement” may seem like an odd criticism, but from an activist standpoint, it is not. It is not enough that goals posited for our future be desirable or even wonderful. They must also attract support. If not, they will exist on paper, but not in deeds. Words that lack excitement might inform or brighten the lives of a few who study them, but they are unlikely to transform the lives of all those who work and consume (or of all those who nurture the next generation, who teach or learn, who celebrate and identify, or who create laws, who adjudicate disputes).
Yes, parecon is a good model if it is a wonderful economy: viable and desirable. It is a good social vision, however, only if it is a good model and also attractive to widespread and growing constituencies. This is the “excitement” factor. But if parecon is viable and desirable, then the excitement factor is overwhelmingly a matter of how parecon is communicated. Its contents are certainly consistent with the possibility of exciting expression. More justice is more inspiring than less justice. More democracy is more inspiring than less democracy. More equity, diversity, and self-management are more inspiring than less equity, diversity, and self-management. The particular words one person uses to talk about parecon may not be overly inspiring—something of which I may be guilty. But the solution to that is for others to do better both in further refining and improving the model, and especially in conveying that it is a worthy practical vision and making it so.