Reimagining American Community

There’s a story that in his later life Leo Tolstoy once walked through the slums of Moscow and was so appalled at the lives of the poor he simply opened up his pockets and gave way all the money he was carrying. The experience stirred him to write the essay “What Then Must We Do?”, which won a wide readership at the time and argued for a kind of Christian anarchism.

Sharing Tolstoy’s title–and some of his indignation–Gar Alperovitz’s new book, What Then Must We Do?, offers an equally radical but more systemic solution to creating the next economy. As our recent interview with Gar revealed, he and his colleagues at the University of Maryland’s Democracy Collaborative see the next economy as more broadly participatory, locally rooted, and aimed at generating cooperative ownership. The book has an accompanying video (trailer here).

If, as some argue, capitalism is currently beginning to morph into some new kind of system, what do we call it? Mutualism? Cooperativism? The sharing economy?

About the Author
A native Texan, Elias spent several good years studying classics and medieval Italian at UC Berkeley before wasting several more years in financial journalism around Chicago. He has written for Strong Towns, the American Scholar, the New Urbs blog, and the Gary Catholic Worker and is the co-author of a textbook on character education. He briefly published something called The Armchair Historian. None of his three teenage daughters display an interest in the Greek and Latin classics thus far. He and his family reside in leafy Valparaiso IN.