By Michael Albert
No Bosses, A New Economy for a Better World, publication date, November 1, is now available. Two British friends, Mark Evans and Eugene Nulman, created a wonderful book site at nobossesbook.com that includes advance testimonials, early reviews, the table of contents, and links to purchase. I hope you will visit it.
I wrote No Bosses because I believe we need shared vision to sustain hope, orient strategy, and escalate commitment. I recently wondered, what if I were invited to review No Bosses? What would I say?
Imagine, it isn’t hard if you try. It is a sunny day sometime in the future. In many countries, a massive transformation has redefined society’s basic institutions. In other countries, similar transitions are in mid to late stages.
Supporters have named their aims “participatory socialism” or perhaps “participatory society.” Whatever its name, their project has transformed political, kinship, gender, cultural, community, economic, ecological, and international relations. All humanity and all humanity’s habitats.
No Bosses says to reach such new relations, we need to know their defining features. To have hope, orientation, and commitment, we need economic, political, kinship, and culture/community vision.
But No Bosses doesn’t propose what future workers and consumers will eat or wear. Nor does it picture what they will drive. Nor enumerate their jobs. Nor indicate how long they will work each day. No Bosses doesn’t list future holidays or describe future products. It celebrates no new gizmos.
Instead, No Bosses envisions the personal and social characteristics of future workplaces. It envisions how future jobs affect us and how we affect them. It envisions norms that determine our future incomes. It envisions how we freely decide what to produce and consume.
No Bosses proposes how we collectively and cooperatively decide our economic responsibilities and benefits. It proposes how we have no individuals dominate others. It explains what classlessness means and it proposes how to attain it in a self managing, equitable, solidaritous, and sustainable economy.
No Bosses does not discuss contingent future policy decisions. It does not discuss as yet unknowable details of future economic life. Instead, No Bosses proposes only what it finds necessary to ensure that our children and their children and their children’s children will equitably and freely implement the content and practices of their future economic lives.
No Bosses proposes ways for future workers and consumers to implement their own free choices. It proposes ways for future workers and consumers to collectively organize their work and consumption. It proposes ways for them to collectively self manage their economic circumstances and simultaneously propel, reflect, and respect comparably liberating outcomes in also revolutionized families, sex/gender relations, cultural and community relations, and politics.
In short, No Bosses proposes a new economy for a better world. No Bosses proposes a post capitalist commons of productive assets; a non-hierarchical and self managing mode of economic decision making; a non corporate conception of work; a classless division of labor; workplace and society-wide methods to allot equitable incomes; and finally a new, non market, non centrally planned, decentralized and participatory self managing approach to allocation. No Bosses is about dignified freedom. Goodbye, capitalism. Hello, participatory economics.
No Bosses proposes five core institutional innovations it deems necessary to attain a classless, self managing, equitable, caring, innovative, sustainable, and even artistic economy. It offers these economic proposals as a flexible scaffold for movements to creatively enrich with diverse details based on practical experiences.
A book that addresses how we might better conduct economics in a better future is not a tweet or even a set of tweets. It is not a selfie. It is not binging a new TV series with snacks in hand. It doesn’t say only what one already agrees with. For these reasons it requires more hours, more intensity, and more commitment than many other uses of one’s time.
But No Bosses rejects academic pretense. It does not obfuscate. It prioritizes activism, organizing, hope, desire. As author and self-interested reviewer, I would say, yes, No Bosses delivers viable and worthy economic vision. Big deal—of course I think that. If I didn’t think that, I wouldn’t have written the book.
Beyond me, however, consider that Noam Chomsky says, “No Bosses describes and advocates workers’ and consumers’ self-managing councils, a division of labor that balances empowering tasks among all workers, a norm that apportions income for duration, intensity, and onerousness of socially valued labor, and finally not markets or central planning, but instead participatory planning of what is produced, by what means, to what ends. It makes a compelling case that these features can be brought together in a spirit of solidarity to establish a self-managing, equitable, sustainable, participatory, new economy, with a rich artistic and intellectual culture as well.”
Or that Yanis Varoufakis says: “No Bosses helps us retrieve from within ourselves the suppressed conviction, shared by every human being, that it is not alright to live under the tyranny of market forces weaponised by cunning bosses.”
And Kathy Kelly adds: “Seriously and carefully, No Bosses aims to create a framework, a ‘scaffold,’ for a worthy economic plan. No Bosses describes participatory economics with enjoyable candor, raising as many questions as it answers and inviting readers to set cynicism aside.”
Or Ron Daniels says: “No Bosses, proposes an answer for economics from self managed decision making to balanced work and from equitable incomes to ending class division. No Bosses should be widely read as we assess the way forward in this unprecedented moment in the history of this nation.”
And Bill Fletcher adds: No Bosses does not argue whether the future that it proposes is probable, but rather insists that it is necessary. Albert’s latest book No Bosses accomplishes just that and is a delight to read.”
Or Medea Benjamin says: “Read No Bosses with delight at the creative ways we can organize—asap—to sweep Mr. Moneybags into the dustbin of history and create the new equitable, participatory, empowering, and sustainable world that we want to live in. “
And Ezequiel Adamovsky adds: No Bosses, A New Economy for a Better World offers a refined, compelling argument in favor of a non-capitalist, participatory economics. Its vision is of utmost importance for people and social movements struggling for a better world.”
And Jeremy Brecher concludes: “You’ll have a hard time finding a better guide to moving from capitalism to a genuinely free, equal, and participatory economy.”
But even such testimonials only suggest that No Bosses fulfills a necessary but a far from sufficient condition for effectivity. Words unheard, even good books unread, sounds of silence have little practical impact.
Writing is a hit or miss endeavor. As its author, I can answer interview queries and do anything else in my reach to help No Bosses get read. I can even audaciously self-review it. But what will determine No Bosses success or failure will be the book’s readers. Will its readers review, critique, correct, extend, or otherwise actively engage with No Bosses? Will outlets carry readers’ reviews and debates? Will outlets address readers’ concerns, extend their extrapolations, evaluate their detractions, and elaborate their extensions? Will individuals, organizations, and media who doubt or who even already reject capitalism initiate inquiring, critical, creative steps toward together arriving at shared advocacy of a new economy for a better world? Only time and you will tell if that occurs at least in part by way of assessing No Bosses’ participatory socialist proposals.