Michael Albert is an organizer, publisher, teacher, and author of over twenty books and hundreds of articles. He cofounded South End Press, Z Magazine, the Z Media Institute, ZNet, and various other projects, and works full time for Z Communications. He is the author, with Robin Hahnel, of the economic vision named participatory economics. He helped create the International Organization for a Participatory Society in 2012.
Radicalized in the mid 1960s, Albert has been uncompromisingly revolutionary and active ever since. He has taught in universities, prisons, and at the Z summer school, Z Media Institute. He has given lectures in dozens of countries and debated in almost as many. While his media work has mostly been for organizations he helped found, not long ago he also spent some time working for Telesur English.
Albert’s political and social perspective owes to his early involvement in the New Left and his attraction to various anarchist and libertarian marxist writers during that time. For those interested in learning a bit more about his involvements, a memoir titled Remembering Tomorrow: From SDS to Life after Capitalism, addresses the whole period, seeking to extract lessons from each endeavor.
Practical Utopia: Strategies for a Desirable Society
Author: Michael Albert • Preface: Noam Chomsky
Publisher: PM Press/Kairos
Page count: 288 pages
Subjects: Political Activism/Social Movements
Michael Albert’s latest work, Practical Utopia is a succinct and thoughtful discussion of ambitious goals and practical principles for creating a desirable society. It presents concepts and their connections to current society; visions of what can be in a preferred, participatory future; and an examination of the ends and means required for developing a just society. Neither shying away from the complexity of human issues, nor reeking of dogmatism, Practical Utopia presupposes only concern for humanity.
Part one offers conceptual tools for understanding society and history, for discerning the nature of the oppressions people suffer and the potentials they harbor. Part two promotes a vision for a better way of organizing economy, polity, kinship, culture, ecology, and international relations. It is not a blueprint, of course, but does address the key institutions needed if people are to be free to determine their own circumstances. Part three investigates the means of seeking change using a variety of tactics and programs.
“Practical Utopia immediately struck me because it is written by a leftist who is interested in the people winning and defeating oppression. The book is an excellent jumping off point for debates on the framework to look at actually existing capitalism, strategy for change, and what we need to do about moving forward. It speaks to many of the questions faced by grassroots activists who want to get beyond demanding change but who, instead, want to create a dynamic movement that can bring a just world into existence. As someone who comes out of a different part of the Left than does Michael Albert, I was nevertheless excited by the challenges he threw in front of the readers of this book. Many a discussion will be sparked by the arguments of this work.”
—Bill Fletcher Jr., author of “They’re Bankrupting Us!” And 20 Other Myths about Unions
“Albert mulls over the better society that we may create after capitalism, provoking much thought and offering a generous, hopeful vision of the future. Albert’s prescriptions for action in the present are modest and wise, his suggestions for building the future are ambitious and humane.”
“Michael Albert is an important thinker who takes us beyond radical denunciations and pretentious ‘analysis’ to a thoughtful, profound meditation on what a good society can be like.”
“With his combination of hard-edged logic and visionary hope, Michael Albert is one of the treasures of the Left.”
For a calendar of speaking events, please click here
Pracitcal Utopia: A Review
By Emily Carrigan
October, November 2018
In his preface to this book Noam Chomsky claims that the book ‘merits great respect and close attention’ and I cannot disagree. In fact, I strongly recommend it to anyone presently involved in activism or movement building aimed at meaningful social change.
In part two, Albert puts forward a persuasive argument for ‘participatory economics’ (an economic system based on participatory decision making) as an alternative to markets and central planning.
Thankfully however, he does not think that wider change will be achieved solely through economic change and in building a picture of the society that he desires he also (to a lesser extent) addresses gender, class and the environment (among other issues).