The Necessary New Economy

There are plenty of working examples that could lead to a new economy, and a just, ecological civilization.

But the we need to learn to recognize them. And recognize the pretenders.

The State

It's very hard to start something within the state, but it has been done. Unfortunately, a modern capitalist state like the US has been purposely stripped of many possible avenues for creative socio-political economies. I'm going to provide an example of one that was fought for, and why it's so difficult, why the institutions are so hostile to certain kinds of solutions, but very encouraging of more destructive ones.

I'll start with a US institution I know well: the University of Oregon.

There were some professors in the college of education that had some theories about improving student behavior through a better use of existing systems in most US schools. This would take the development of a computer service. But this is a research university, not an activist one. They could publish papers, but nobody would actually create such a service in the outside world, and so their ideas would go untested.

In an earlier age, they were aware, it was perfectly reasonable for a State university to offer an unusual service, charge for it, and use the revenue to improve the service and use it to continue field research on its effectiveness.

So, they used what independence and clout they could muster from their relatively privileged position, and found small, gradual ways to fund this approach to changing the world. Eventually, they dominated the market they created, partly because they were a university, and the school systems trusted them more than private companies. As they should.

But it was a hard won battle, which took decades of hiding from administrators and arbitrary rules, while they covertly proved their case.

When they were clearly successful, the university administrators took credit and touted this success. Other departments saw this, and thought they might try a similar tactic.

The art museum, in particular, which was successful and creative in its own right, was very publicly trying to get two such projects off the ground. They were able to secure funds for the projects, but the university administrators were against it.


Because this challenged the consolidated power, both on-campus and off-campus, of the administrators, the capitalists on their board of trustees, their fund-raising division, and their feeling that academics should stick to matters of "academic interest".