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Do we want to live in a world where taxpayers pay for innovation and research while private corporations receive the financial benefits? Do we want to live in a world where a few tech companies store our data and there is little existing regulation and control established? Questions which were raised during our session with Alexandra Strickner (WU Vienna) on the 12th day of our AEMS Summer School.
Alexandra’s research focus is diverse, but in the center of all her publications is the vision of a good life for all. According to her vision, a vivid exchange between academia and civil society is needed to put citizens and their needs in the center of interest. Although Alexandra emphasizes the need of a democratic economy, she holds a nuanced position when it comes to other non-mainstream economic theories: In her eyes, it is beneficial to have various lenses for the analysis of a challenge or a task. In the end, what matters is rather what happens out there but academics usually try to make sense and analyze afterwards.
The economy of people, by people and for people
“An economy that allows a good life for all” is Alexandra’s vision and during the scheduled one hour session that turned into a 1.5 hours intense and fruitful debate, we were invited to a journey to case studies in Vienna, Latin America and the United States of America. Fact-based and detail-oriented, Alexandra presents us the unique settings and circumstances activists are facing in the presented three examples. All examples connect the need and call for action. Alexandra motivates us and calls for actions, too- “We need to get organized!”
Are you on board? Then you might be interested in checking out the following formats Alexandra recommended:
No EITHER_OR but_AND
A democratic economy aims to meet essential needs of all of us. It balances human consumption with the regeneration capacity of mother earth and thus, there is a need for a redesign of basic institutions. In Alexandra’s eyes, there are different transition visions to make the seven principles for a democratic economy which she presented experienceable. What all visions have in common is the fact that the common good is much broader than public services. No state-ownership of companies is necessary to reach this goal. Instead, Alexandra points out in the case of Chile that the support of worker-owned companies is reachable. Democratic economy is more about the empowerment of individuals.
More research, including real life experiments, is needed to understand how more companies can be run by their workers. Besides this, we also have to understand that for a democratic economy there is a need of democratic government. Bottom-up initiatives are at the core to contribute to change. In that regard, one of our colleagues pointed out that in particular in Latin America the interconnectedness of different challenges is recognizable.
Local action is needed to create and to contribute on the global level. Creativity is key to solve existing and upcoming questions. Our extended session actually only ended due to Alexandra’s scheduled pizza dinner. Many inspired students kept on sitting in front of their devices while digesting all the (brain) food. The one or the other immediately started to think about the pizza principle and how we can keep things balanced...
Written by: Kamran Gul Hassan and Anna Mayer
Based on the lecture "Economic democracy" by Alexandra Strickner during the AEMS summer school 2021.