• Why Ecosocialism: For a Red-Green Future

    “Green capitalism” is an illusion and twentieth century socialism is a perversion. We need a new model and movement for a democratic and ecological socialism that links with the wider movement for a better world.

    With a Roundtable—"Do Red and Green Mix?"—featuring Herman Daly, John Bellamy Foster, Kerryn Higgs, Giorgos Kallis, Alex Khasnabish, Ashish Kothari, Fred Magdoff, Simon Mair, Mary Mellor, and Vishwas Satgar, with a response from Michael Löwy.

  • The Struggle for Meaningful Work

    Capitalism has degraded both the environment and the conditions of human labor. To achieve meaningful work for all on our finite planet, we should heed the lessons of craft and care work and acknowledge their importance to sustenance and meaning.

  • Wiki Socialism?

    In Postcaplitalism, Paul Mason argues that new information technology will end capitalism as we know it and pave the way to a better future. But the technology Mason celebrates won’t do this without mass mobilization on a global scale.

  • The Caring Economy: Well-Being and the Invisible Heart

    Although fundamental to human well-being, the provision of care has been unrecognized and unremunerated by society. Increasing acknowledgement and respect for caring work will signal progress toward a Great Transition.

  • Sustainability and Well-Being: A Happy Synergy

    Conventional wisdom sees a conflict between human progress and ecological protection. But a new body of research on subjective well-being tells us to look again.

    With commentary from Anamaria Aristizabal, Deric Gruen, Anders Hayden, Emily Huddart Kennedy, Tim Kasser, Sylvia Lorek, Lucie Middlemiss, Tadhg O’Mahony, Sandra Waddock, and a response from the author.

  • How to Kick the Growth Addiction

    The author of Prosperity Without Growth discusses why we need to get past the obsession with economic growth—and the capitalist system that spawns it.

  • What's Luck Got to Do with It?

    In Success and Luck, Robert Frank underscores the role of "dumb luck" in determining winners and losers, debunking the cherished myth of meritocracy. But how can we get the fortunate to share the spoils?

  • Global Capitalism: Reflections on a Brave New World

    Capitalism is in the midst of an epochal shift: the emergence of a transnational economy and ruling class, and fledgling governance institutions. Taming the ruinous crises this shift carries will take a popular struggle that moves beyond reform to systemic transformation.

    With a Roundtable discussion featuring Tom Athanasiou, Gareth Dale, Herman Daly, Bill Fletcher Jr., Al Hammond, Jennifer Hinton, Dawn Paley, and Andrew Wright.

  • Money for the People

    Money creation today depends on the banks—but it doesn't have to. Imagine a system in which states, instead, created money free of debt and guaranteed sustainable livelihoods for all.

    With a Roundtable discussion featuring John Fullerton, Gwendolyn Hallsmith, Jonathan Harris, Alf Hornborg, Christopher Barrington-Leigh, Mary Sue Schmaltz, and David Schweickart.

  • Let a Thousand Currencies Bloom

    Monoculture can be risky, whether in agriculture or in money. Complementary currencies can help undergird an economy oriented toward people rather than profit.

  • Why We Consume: Neural Design and Sustainability

    Modern neuroscience suggests that the roots of consumerism lie in our neural circuits for reward learning. Contemporary capitalism truncates the diversity of satisfactions, feeding the hunger for the material rewards it offers. The enrichment of daily life and expansion of satisfactions, not their renunciation, is essential to a Great Transition.

  • Global Compact: Corporate Engagement at the UN

    Can corporations become socially responsible actors in a globalizing world? The recently retired Founding Executive Director of the UN Global Compact discusses the prospects for moving beyond incremental change. He finds reasons for hope in increased transparency and collaboration.

  • The Degrowth Alternative

    The "degrowth movement" has captured wide attention in recent years. Giorgos Kallis, an eminent scholar of this movement, explains its aims of opening up space for imagining and enacting alternative visions to modern growth-based development.

  • Economics for a Full World

    We live in a full world but still behave as if it were empty. The urgent task ahead of us is to create an economy that remains within the earth’s carrying capacity while rethinking the ultimate purpose of the economy itself.

  • Common Wealth Trusts: Structures of Transition

    Modern society is imperiling our collective natural and cultural inheritance. New institutions like common wealth trusts can enable us to protect these resources and share their benefits equally, countering the tendency of contemporary capitalism to destroy nature and widen inequality.

  • Marxism and Ecology: Common Fonts of a Great Transition

    This essay uncovers the deep ecological roots of Marxism, finding concepts that anticipate such contemporary notions as sustainable development and planetary boundaries. This common wellspring, it argues, supports a unified socialist and ecological project for a Great Transition.

  • Decolonizing the Empire of Cotton

    Sven Beckert’s Empire of Cotton offers a magisterial history of cotton’s role in the development of modern capitalism. However, it is a partial story: the bright light it shines on the “empire” and its masters occludes the array of social forces and actors working to tame or dismantle the emergent system.

  • The Church of Economism and Its Discontents

    Economism, the reigning ideology in economic policy, reduces social relations to market logic and functions as a secular religion for the global market economy. We need a new economics rooted in a belief system that embraces solidarity, sustainability, and well-being for all.

  • Growing, Growing, Gone: Reaching the Limits

    The Limits to Growth, released in 1972, has profoundly influenced environmental research and discourse over the past four decades. Allen White of the Tellus Institute talks with Dennis Meadows, one of its co-authors, about the genesis of the report and its lessons for understanding and managing our uncertain and perilous global future.

  • From Business Entrepreneur to Social Entrepreneur

    World Social Forum co-founder Oded Grajew discusses his career transformation, the history of the WSF, and what lies ahead.

  • Limits to Investment: Finance in the Anthropocene

    We are not only in ecological overshoot, but "financial overshoot" as well. The time has come to reimagine the system.

  • Monetizing Nature: Taking Precaution on a Slippery Slope

    As support grows for placing a monetary value on nature’s services, we must take caution lest we ignore the socio-cultural dimensions of nature and subject it to the volatile and calculative logic of markets.

  • Two Cheers for Piketty

    In Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Piketty provides a sweeping explanation of inequality, but his proposed remedies offer reform, rather than the fundamental change essential to guiding the global economy toward a just and sustainable future.

  • Dreaming of a Sustainable China

    Peggy Liu, the co-founder of the Joint US-China Collaboration on Clean Energy, discusses efforts to steer China's rapid development in a sustainable direction and to reimagine prosperity while doing so.

  • Debating the Sharing Economy

    What is the "sharing economy"? Can it contribute to a more sustainable and equitable future? Juliet Schor answers these questions, arguing that democratizing the ownership of these new platforms will be key to realizing their potential.

  • Premises for a New Economy

    In an ecologically constrained world, both the global North and the global South need to consider new obligations and limits. A basic commitment to social justice requires that the claims of the poor, chiefly residing in the South, take precedence over the claims of the rich, chiefly residing in the North. The scope for further growth to contribute to well-being in affluent regions is quite limited, so the costs to the North of reducing growth may be modest-especially if a new economy is organized to provide the economic basis of a good life based on precepts other than more, more, and still more. While recognizing a priority for the poor imposes obligations on the North, this recognition cannot be a license for the South to replicate the wasteful disregard for ecosystem boundaries or the claims of the disadvantaged that has characterized growth in the North.

  • Principles for a New Economy

    The purpose of an economic system is to organize human activities in ways that support healthy and resilient human communities and ecosystems for both present and future generations. To achieve this purpose, deep, system-wide change to existing economic institutions is urgently needed to reverse conditions typical of contemporary global, regional, national, and local economies. At the core of a New Economy is the need to decouple the achievement of well-being from limitless economic growth. The following Principles are designed to guide the actions of all economic actors and organizations whose decisions and actions affect, or would be affected by, the transition to a New Economy.

    A project of the Core Principles Working Group of the New Economy Network

  • Transforming Innovation for Sustainability

    As the world gears up for the Rio + 20 conference in June 2012, many are pinning hopes on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a concrete outcome. Yet there is little clarity on what SDGs should involve, who should set them, and how they can be realized in practice. This commentary article draws on recent research by the STEPS Centre, the Stockholm Resilience Centre, and Tellus Institute to argue that Sustainable Development Goals that keep human societies within a “safe operating space” are now urgently needed. However, delivering on these requires a radically new approach to innovation that gives far greater recognition and power to grassroots actors and processes, involving them within an inclusive, multiscale innovation politics.

  • World Trade: A New Direction

    Global trade negotiations are moribund, with the World Trade Organization’s agenda stalled and the neoliberal ideology it serves confronted by a rising chorus of criticism. The trading system, built on the premise that promoting commercial interests necessarily advances the general interest, instead has fed a multifaceted planetary crisis. At this juncture, trade policy must find a new way forward. The key to this change lies in reversing the priority that in the past made free trade an end in itself, thereby consigning the larger goal of sustainable development to an afterthought. From now on, economic, social, and environmental sustainability goals should set the criteria for designing and applying multilateral trade rules. We suggest concrete steps to help transform the WTO from an agent of privilege and profit into a force for an equitable, peaceful, and resilient world.

  • How Should the Economy Be Regulated?

    Regulation has long been defined in terms of maximizing damage control—namely, to limit the negative behaviors of business to ensure protection of the public interest. While, to some degree, this damage control mindset should be maintained, now is an appropriate moment in time to complement damage control with proactive, positive regulatory principles that are designed to achieve specific public purposes. With a broad spectrum of urgent social, economic, and environmental problems upon us, enhanced regulatory structures and processes stand as a key opportunity to mobilize all our social resources toward solving such problems, while at the same time enhancing democratic process and consciousness.

  • Work and Well-being

    In an economy focused on growth and individual gain, it is difficult to question the primacy of compensation among the indicators of welfare and create space for a broad discussion of the factors that contribute to well-being. Yet doing so is essential to corporate redesign. Earnings are but one contribution to a worker’s well-being. A long and satisfying work experience, rich in opportunity and fulfillment, depends on a host of tangible and intangible factors. The current economic crisis provides a rare opening for rethinking the linkage between well-being and work.

  • Visions of Regional Economies in a Great Transition World

    Rich Rosen and David Schweickart analyze the dominant models of capitalism and socialism from the twentieth century to identify key lessons learned that must be kept in mind in building a more just, equitable, and sustainable economic system. They then proceed to outline three model economic arrangements that would embody the values of a Great Transition future.

    Essay #4 in the GTI Paper Series: Frontiers of a Great Transition

  • Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren: Progress and Prospects After 75 Years

    In 1930, as the Great Depression was beginning, John Maynard Keynes wrote the essay Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren. In it, he looked 100 years ahead to a future in which learning to live well had replaced the struggle for subsistence as the basic problem facing humanity. The future discussed by Keynes is now only twenty-five years away. Beginning with current data on income, the paper shows that progress beyond the struggle for subsistence has been limited to the developed countries and will likely remain so through 2030. Among these countries, overwork, rather than living well, is increasing. This paper calls for a fundamental change in values—away from overwork and toward living well—among the developed countries that might have positive feedback effects on the prospects of developing countries as well.

  • Civic Entrepreneurship: A Civil Society Perspective on Sustainable Development. Vol. 1: Global Synthesis

    Civic Entrepreneurship: A Civil Society Perspective on Sustainable Development celebrates the impact civil society has had on actualizing sustainable development, with over one hundred successful examples worldwide. It is based on the premise that in today’s world, it is not only the past that determines what is and what shall be, but rather that the trends of the present can rewrite the history of what may be. In exploring this premise, the series attempts to understand what has worked for sustainable development, and thus what needs to be built upon to shape a future we want to see.

  • Environmental Tax Shifting in Massachusetts: Taxes That Work for our Environment and the Economy.

    This primer describes an innovative approach to tax policy called Environmental Tax Shifting (ETS). The basic idea is that rather than raising revenues by taxing activities that we want to encourage or support like income or savings or labor, we would tax things we want to discourage like pollution or waste or sprawl. This primer elaborates on different ways we could raise the revenues needed in Massachusetts while at the same time protecting the environment and enhancing the economy.

  • From Social Costing to Sustainable Development: Beyond the Economic Paradigm

    Recent years have been characterized by a major transition in public policy regarding economics, the environment, and human well-being—particularly, the application of economic principles to environmental policy and the insertion of ecological principles into economic affairs. This article explores the evolutionary character of this transition and the contention in which it is often embroiled, such as debates over externalities valuation, discounting, and monetization. It then describes the PoleStar project and how it addresses the complex social, economic, and ecological interactions that will underpin human development in the twenty-first century.

    Originally published in Olav Homeyer and Richard Ottinger, eds., Social Costs of Energy: Present Status and Future Trends (New York: Springer, 1994), 373-404.