Chelsea Green Publishing

What Then Must We Do?

Pages:224 pages
Size: 6 x 9 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Hardcover: 9781603584913
Pub. Date May 01, 2013
Paperback: 9781603585040
Pub. Date May 01, 2013
eBook: 9781603584920
Pub. Date May 01, 2013

What Then Must We Do?

Straight Talk about the Next American Revolution

Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
May 01, 2013


Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
May 01, 2013


Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
May 01, 2013

$17.95 $14.36

Never before have so many Americans been more frustrated with our economic system, more fearful that it is failing, or more open to fresh ideas about a new one. The seeds of a new movement demanding change are forming.

But just what is this thing called a new economy, and how might it take shape in America? In What Then Must We Do? Gar Alperovitz speaks directly to the reader about where we find ourselves in history, why the time is right for a new-economy movement to coalesce, what it means to build a new system to replace the crumbling one, and how we might begin. He also suggests what the next system might look like—and where we can see its outlines, like an image slowly emerging in the developing trays of a photographer's darkroom, already taking shape.

He proposes a possible next system that is not corporate capitalism, not state socialism, but something else entirely—and something entirely American.

Alperovitz calls for an evolution, not a revolution, out of the old system and into the new. That new system would democratize the ownership of wealth, strengthen communities in diverse ways, and be governed by policies and institutions sophisticated enough to manage a large-scale, powerful economy.

For the growing group of Americans pacing at the edge of confidence in the old system, or already among its detractors, What Then Must We Do? offers an elegant solution for moving from anger to strategy.


Library Journal-

"[Gar] Alperovitz (political economy, Univ. of Maryland; America Beyond Capitalism) alternately elicits hope and despair in his discussion of the state of America’s current economic system—despair because he believes it no longer works and hope in the spreading economic democratization and successful cooperatives and progressive local government ventures. Alperovitz states that corporate politics and policies that deliberately transfer wealth from the poor and middle class to the wealthy, not to mention the sustained attack on labor unions, demonstrate that the American social system is fundamentally broken. He asserts that early 20th-century progressivism, the New Deal, and the Great Society helped save America in times of crisis, and that a new paradigm in which social, environmental, and democratic policies reside at the forefront of our political and economic development is needed. VERDICT Alperovitz’s sophisticated tone both informs and engages. Recommended for all readers interested in an economic and political perspective of what’s gone wrong with America."

Kirkus Reviews-

"Any cure for America’s economic plight lies deeper than politics as usual, argues an author who believes that a fundamental, radical, systemic transformation offers the possibility of an economic corrective. Alperovitz (Political Economy/Univ. of Maryland; America Beyond Capitalism, 2004) argues that a faulty sense of history underlies what little faith remains in economic progress through conventional politics. … the author believes he 'offers a reasonably hopeful sense of the future, and a strategy aimed at possibly getting there.' Such hope lies in 'the democratization of wealth,' through employee-owned companies, regional co-ops, the systemic transformation of the banking and health care industries into public utilities and an emphasis on 'what has often been called the triple bottom line (emphasizing people and planet in addition to profit).' And if such radical restructuring causes some to scream about socialism, he counters that 'socialism—real socialism, not the fuzzy kind conservatives try to pin on Barack Obama—is as common as grass…in the United States.' Alperovitz’s conversational style avoids academic jargon while making complex issues easy (some might say too easy) to digest, but he’s not likely to convince those of the conservative persuasion that a more hopeful future involves more collective action and government consolidation."

ForeWord Reviews-

"The cultural, social, and political movement begun by the American revolution is as alive as ever. Gar Alperovitz, Lionel R. Bauman Professor of Political economy at the University of Maryland, has penned a thoughtful guide for participating in that ongoing revolution. What Then Must We Do? should be required reading for every concerned citizen in the United States.

Alperovitz writes, 'it is possible, easiest and best to discuss the really important points about our crumbling American system, and what to do about it, in language that is understandable and accessible.' Clearly and conversationally, the author well documents his observation that the American system is crumbling. He notes that the United States, while one of the wealthiest of countries, ranks close to the lowest among advanced countries in categories such as equality, infant mortality, poverty, and life expectancy. The trends in many areas, he argues, indicate that politics, as practiced in this country, no longer responds to the major issues affecting Americans. 'What I am asking you to ponder with me is the simple fact that the system (the way that underlying institutional power is currently arranged) seems now to be producing outcomes, year in and year out, that do not much respond to the old theory of politics.'

The author goes beyond the finger pointing utilized by many polemicists, and he does not abandon a basic commitment to American democratic ideals. Rejecting traditional corporate capitalism as having failed the basic needs of the majority, Alperovitz argues enthusiastically for citizens to take ownership of the means of producing wealth. He points to many examples of where people working together have improved their local economy and quality of life. He explains B corporations, allowed under the laws of several states, charged with a mission to provide benefits to the community as well as return a profit to the shareholders. He reminds the reader that there are community-based banking institutions, credit unions, which benefit all their members.

Combining the best attributes of a realist with those of a dreamer, Alperovitz honestly describes the problems facing the American community while offering an attainable progressive alternative. He concludes with a Margaret Meade quote reminding us we should 'never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.'"

Publishers Weekly-

Alperovitz (America Beyond Capitalism), a University of Maryland political economist and cofounder of the Democracy Collaborative, transcends simple political disenchantment to examine the intertwining of political and economic power and the need to develop new institutions that help the 99% obtain more of both. The atypical conditions that made possible the postwar boom fostered the development of institutions that now are losing strength. With a nod to Tolstoy, Alperovitz encourages the reader to ponder how to redress the staggeringly unequal distribution of wealth. His survey of the American landscape highlights co-ops, employee stock ownership plans, publicly owned utilities and hospitals, and other already-successful alternatives to the for-profit corporate model. By so doing, he persuasively argues, new constituencies tied to these alternative models will emerge. His emphasis throughout is on the local level, as if to emphasize the movement toward a new American community that he espouses. The reader is certain to find his views challenging, even if the schism between conventional corporatism and "New Economy" practices that Alperovitz envisions seems to evoke the gulf between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.


"With the gulf between the wealthy haves and unwealthy have-nots growing year by year in America, more and more people are becoming disenchanted with so-called free-market capitalism. Political economist [Gar] Alperovitz takes the pulse of this collective fiscal dissatisfaction here and offers some tantalizing but well- grounded ideas about closing the income gap without sliding into socialism. The author begins by deconstructing politics as usual and deflating the notion that progressive policies can provide much real guidance. Because banks are more stable these days, major crises like the recent recession are also unlikely to provoke much transformation. According to Alperovitz, something different beyond token protests and special-interest groups is necessary for true systemic change, and this difference comes in the form of more worker-owned and -operated companies, neighborhood corporations, and locally run public enterprises. Alperovitz’s deliberately informal, conversational style makes normally rarefied economic concepts accessible to a wide audience, enhancing his inspiring message that, with the right strategies, a wholesale economic revolution is not only possible but achievable by well-organized, average citizens."

"With his latest book, Gar Alperovitz's only adds to his status as one of the most creative and important thinkers of our time. Grappling with his arguments (even when we disagree) has been one of the chief
intellectual plesures of my reading life. For you, the immediate answer to 'What Then Must We Do?' is clear: Read this book."--Bertell Ollman, Dance of the Dialectic: Steps in Marx's Method

"A fresh take on how to reinvigorate democracy and civic life. An analysis that transcends labels and has a real blueprint for action."--Naomi Wolf, author of End of America

"Gar Alperovitz, the intellectual leader of the economic democracy movement, has produced the most compelling account yet of how we can move beyond the piecemeal, project-by-project transformation of our political economy to truly  systemic change. A must-read for anyone who cares about the future of the United States and the world."--Juliet Schor, author of True Wealth: How and Why Millions of Americans are Creating a Time-Rich, Ecologically Light, Small-scale, High-Satisfaction Economy

"In this slender book, Gar Alperovitz does more than pack a tremendous amount of passion and wisdom about the structural ills of our society. He proposes a common-sense strategy for fixing them as well—grounded in local institutions that can construct a truly democratic economy. Every progressive should read this book and then start practicing what its author preaches."--Michael Kazin, author of American Dreamers: How the Left Changed a Nation and editor of Dissent

"If you're ready for hard-headed hope, here you go! Alperovitz's power is that he’s no “mere” theorist of democratic change. He is also a creator—practically engaged in demonstrating democratic economic solutions that work. What Then Must We Do? is packed with mind-boggling facts, thoughtful insights, and practical steps. Thank you, Gar Alperovitz, for condensing so much into this provocative gem."--Frances Moore Lappé, author of EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think, to Create the World We Want

"Alperovitz revives the tradition of political economy and spells out the institutional requirements and historical likelihood of moving the United States in the direction of a democratic community. An insightful and accessible book."--Herman Daly, author of Ecological Economics

"In this cooperative and democratic manifesto, Gar Alperovitz delivers his designs for a more harmonious society—a goal long dreamed of on these shores. May his ideas and ideals flourish."--James Galbraith, author of The Predator State

“Rigged by generations of bankers and politicians to enrich Wall Street at the expense of Main Street, the current economic system makes American workers and communities expendable by providing few alternatives to layoffs, bankruptcies, and plant closures during hard times. Gar Alperovitz knows that we must look for new ways to create and sustain good jobs. In What Then Must We Do?, he has outlined a practical, common sense strategy to improve our economy by making it more democratic. As the United Steelworkers has shown in its innovative partnership with Mondragon, combining employee equity with a progressive collective bargaining process results in higher accountability, productivity, and efficiency because all workers have an equal stake in the company. Instead of measuring the value of a corporation only in profits, losses, and shareholder dividends, we must take into account how the enterprise serves its community."--Leo Gerard, international president, United Steelworkers Union

"The move to broadly participatory, locally rooted, cooperative ownership is essential to America’s future. Gar Alperovitz presents a brilliant, accessible, and practical plan of action to make it happen."--David Korten, board chair of YES! Magazine and author of Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth

"If ever there was a time to consider new directions for our faltering economy, it is now! Gar Alperovitz’ new book provides a comprehensive survey of the explosion of new cooperatives, worker-owned firms, city and state investment efforts and dozens of other “new economy” development strategies—and fashions them into a coherent strategy. Absolutely essential reading for anyone concerned with building the next Progressive Era."--Van Jones, author of Rebuild the Dream

"Alperovitz’s latest is distinguished by clear, accessible, straightforward writing that dares to raise the systemic nature of today’s problems in the United States and to show why system change is therefore the necessary solution. This call for the long-overdue 'next American revolution' will move system change forward on the agendas of many."--Richard D. Wolff, author of Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism

"There can be neither peace, nor democracy, nor social justice until we change the system that underpins the American empire and policy-crippling maldistribution of wealth. For decades, Gar Alperovitz has been at the forefront of attempts to understand what could lie beyond our increasingly-broken system of corporate capitalism. This book offers by far the most serious, intellectually grounded  strategy for system-changing yet to appear. It could be the most important movement-building book of the new century--and, thereby, one of the most important political books as well."--Daniel Ellsberg, author of Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers and cofounder of the Freedom of the Press Foundation

“Gar Alperovitz is the rare economist who begins with the idea that economic activity should reflect the social aspirations of the community rather than merely the utilitarian interest of global enterprises.  He has devoted his professional career to asking the critical question of how best to ensure a more democratic and participatory economy for everyone. What Then Must We Do? provides a much needed, hopeful vision of how each community can take hold of its economic future and build a sustainable society.”--Jeremy Rifkin, author of The Third Industrial Revolution

"Gar Alperovitz continues to challenge us to recognize and assume responsibility for creating an America beyond capitalism."--Grace Lee Boggs, author of The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century

"As Gar Alperovitz reaches an ever-larger audience, the cooperative and community based economy he is encouraging will attract increasing numbers of consumers away from big business and its corporate state. What Then Must We Do?  offers a powerful argument, written in a conversational style to prod you into the kind of meaningful discussions that lead to more equality and accountability in our political economy.”--Ralph Nader, author of The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future

"In this important new book, Gar Alperovitz is telling us there's something happening here in corporate-driven America, be it social enterprise, community land trusts, worker-owned businesses, or employee stock ownership plans.  We all know that the free-market economic system no longer works for the vast majority of citizens and Alperovitz is showing us that there is a better, equally American way, to spread the wealth and put more people to work, while making the nation a safer and healthier place to live. This is not an utopian fantasy or a call for social engineering, but a plain-spoken and easy-to-absorb analysis by one of our leading economists of what's gone wrong and how to make it better."--Seymour M. Hersh, The New Yorker

"Gar Alperovitz's new book is so plain-spoken and accessible that it takes a moment to appreciate the magnitude of his accomplishment. After examining new patterns of positive change emerging in America today—including many undernoticed changes that involve democratizing the ownership of wealth—he develops a brilliant strategy for the type of transformative change that can lead America from decline to rebirth. In giving a sense of strategic direction and honest possibility to the call for a new economy, Alperovitz has made an enormous contribution exactly where it is most needed."--James Gustave Speth, author of America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy


Gar Alperovitz

Gar Alperovitz, Lionel R. Bauman Professor of Political Economy at the University of Maryland, is cofounder of The Democracy Collaborative. He is a former fellow of the Institute of Politics at Harvard and of King's College at Cambridge University, where he received his PhD in political economy. He has served as a legislative director in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, and as a special assistant in the Department of State. Earlier he was president of the Center for Community Economic Development, Codirector of The Cambridge Institute, and president of the Center for the Study of Public Policy. Dr. Alperovitz's numerous articles have appeared in publications ranging from The New York Times and The Washington Post to The Journal of Economic Issues, Foreign Policy, Diplomatic History, and other academic and popular journals. His previous books are America Beyond Capitalism (a new edition of which appeared in 2011), The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb, published in 1995, the 2002 book, Making a Place for Community: Local Democracy in a Global Era (with Thad Williamson and David Imbroscio), and the 2008 book Unjust Deserts (with Lew Daly).


October 06, 2015

Gar Alperorvitz at Social Capital Markets 2015

2 Marina Boulevard (at Buchanan Street), Building A, San Francisco, CA, 94123 | Gar Alperovitz
Gar Alperovitz will keynote at the SOCAP15 conference, which is taking place at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco, CA. This conference will run from October 6-9.

See all Events by this Author


America Beyond Capitalism (Part 1 of 3)

Russia TV Interview

Interview with Laura Flanders

Interview with Peter Montague

Green Party Keynote

RealNews Interview

Truthout Interview

Gar Alperovitz- Ourtime In History: The Possibility of Fundamental System Change


Thinking in Systems

Thinking in Systems

By Donella Meadows

In the years following her role as the lead author of the international bestseller, Limits to Growth—the first book to show the consequences of unchecked growth on a finite planet— Donella Meadows remained a pioneer of environmental and social analysis until her untimely death in 2001.

Thinking in Systems, is a concise and crucial book offering insight for problem solving on scales ranging from the personal to the global. Edited by the Sustainability Institute’s Diana Wright, this essential primer brings systems thinking out of the realm of computers and equations and into the tangible world, showing readers how to develop the systems-thinking skills that thought leaders across the globe consider critical for 21st-century life.

Some of the biggest problems facing the world—war, hunger, poverty, and environmental degradation—are essentially system failures. They cannot be solved by fixing one piece in isolation from the others, because even seemingly minor details have enormous power to undermine the best efforts of too-narrow thinking.

While readers will learn the conceptual tools and methods of systems thinking, the heart of the book is grander than methodology. Donella Meadows was known as much for nurturing positive outcomes as she was for delving into the science behind global dilemmas. She reminds readers to pay attention to what is important, not just what is quantifiable, to stay humble, and to stay a learner.

In a world growing ever more complicated, crowded, and interdependent, Thinking in Systems helps readers avoid confusion and helplessness, the first step toward finding proactive and effective solutions.

Available in: Paperback, eBook

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Thinking in Systems

Donella Meadows, Diana Wright

Paperback $19.95

Occupy World Street

Occupy World Street

By Ross Jackson

Ordinary citizens the world over have long paid the price for the swashbuckling behavior of the corporate and political elite. We've seen the reigning establishment widen the gap between rich and poor, champion endless growth on a finite planet, wreak havoc on developing nations, and ravage ecosystems in a mad race for natural resources.

Now, as demonstrators worldwide demand change, Occupy World Street offers a sweeping vision of how to reform our global economic and political structures, break away from empire, and build a world of self-determining sovereign states that respect the need for ecological sustainability and uphold human rights.

In this refreshingly detailed plan, Ross Jackson shows how a handful of small nations could take on a leadership role; create new alliances, new governance, and new global institutions; and, in cooperation with grassroots activists, pave the way for other nations to follow suit.

Available in: Paperback, eBook

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Occupy World Street

Hazel Henderson, Ross Jackson

Paperback $19.95



By Ugo Bardi

As we dig, drill, and excavate to unearth the planet’s mineral bounty, the resources we exploit from ores, veins, seams, and wells are gradually becoming exhausted. Mineral treasures that took millions, or even billions, of years to form are now being squandered in just centuries–or sometimes just decades.

Will there come a time when we actually run out of minerals? Debates already soar over how we are going to obtain energy without oil, coal, and gas. But what about the other mineral losses we face? Without metals, and semiconductors, how are we going to keep our industrial system running? Without mineral fertilizers and fuels, how are we going to produce the food we need?

Ugo Bardi delivers a sweeping history of the mining industry, starting with its humble beginning when our early ancestors started digging underground to find the stones they needed for their tools. He traces the links between mineral riches and empires, wars, and civilizations, and shows how mining in its various forms came to be one of the largest global industries. He also illustrates how the gigantic mining machine is now starting to show signs of difficulties. The easy mineral resources, the least expensive to extract and process, have been mostly exploited and depleted. There are plenty of minerals left to extract, but at higher costs and with increasing difficulties.

The effects of depletion take different forms and one may be the economic crisis that is gripping the world system. And depletion is not the only problem. Mining has a dark side–pollution–that takes many forms and delivers many consequences, including climate change. 

The world we have been accustomed to, so far, was based on cheap mineral resources and on the ability of the ecosystem to absorb pollution without generating damage to human beings. Both conditions are rapidly disappearing. Having thoroughly plundered planet Earth, we are entering a new world.

Bardi draws upon the world’s leading minerals experts to offer a compelling glimpse into that new world ahead.

Available in: Paperback, eBook

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Jorgen Randers, Ugo Bardi

Paperback $24.95

Runaway Inequality

Runaway Inequality

By Les Leopold

Runaway inequality is now America’s most critical economic fact of life. In 1970, the ratio of pay between the top 100 CEOs and the average worker was 45 to 1. Today it is a shocking 829 to one! During that time a new economic philosophy set in that cut taxes, deregulated finance, and trimmed social spending. Those policies set in motion a process that greatly expanded the power of financial interests to accelerate inequality. But how exactly does that happen?

Using easy-to-understand charts and graphs, Runaway Inequality explains the process by which corporation after corporation falls victim to systematic wealth extraction by banks, private equity firms, and hedge funds. It reveals how financial strip-mining puts enormous downward pressure on jobs, wages, benefits, and working conditions, while boosting the incomes of financial elites.

But Runaway Inequality does more than make sense of our economic plight. It also shows why virtually all the key issues that we face—from climate change to the exploding prison population—are intimately connected to rising economic inequality.

Most importantly, Runaway Inequality calls upon us to build a common movement to tackle the sources of increasing income and wealth inequality. As the author makes clear, the problem will not cure itself. It will take enormous energy and dedication to bring economic justice and fairness back to American society.

The book is divided into four parts:

  • Part I: What is the fundamental cause of runaway economic inequality? What has made our economy less fair and left most of us less secure?
  • Part II: How does the United States really compare with other major developed countries?  How do we stack up on quality of life, health, and well-being?
  • Part III:  What does economic inequality have to do with so many of the critical issues we face, including taxes, debt, education, criminal justice, racism, climate change, foreign trade, and war?
  • Part IV: What concrete steps can we take to begin building a fair and just society?   

From the book: “There is nothing in the economic universe that will automatically rescue us from runaway inequality. There is no pendulum, no invisible political force that ‘naturally’ will swing back towards economic fairness. Either we wage a large-scale battle for economic, social, and environmental justice, or we will witness the continued deterioration of the world we inhabit. The arc of capitalism does not bend towards justice. We must bend it.”

Available in: Paperback

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Runaway Inequality

Les Leopold

Paperback $19.95