Principles for Constructing Alternative Socio-economic Organizations: Lessons Learned from Working Outside Institutional Structures
Review of Radical Political Economics. Volume (Year): 41 (2009)
Ecological economics offers ethical and methodological principles for building alternative socio-economic organizations that can contribute to the design of strategies for local project implementation. The participatory design process incorporates normative criteria, including an emphasis on self-sufficiency while also guaranteeing a gradual process of diversification to generate surpluses than can be used for further investment and enrichment of productive, social, political, and environmental infrastructures. The projects in which these principles are being applied involve community networks for producing basic staples as well as new products or modifications of traditional goods that can readily find markets at “fair trade” prices or can contribute to building solidarity economies. The individual projects incorporate traditional and state of the art technologies, minimizing the use of non-renewable resources and contributing to improving the quality of the environment. Organizational concerns assure rotating systems for positions of political and social control and power, without encroaching upon traditional systems of authority that often temper modern paradigms with inherited mechanisms for making decisions and regulating change. This analysis suggests an important set of principles for guiding the future evolution of ecological economics; the sustainable management of regional resources requires: autonomy, self-sufficiency, productive diversification, and sustainable resource management.