Economy For and Against Democracy

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* Book: ECONOMY FOR AND AGAINST DEMOCRACY. Edited by Keith Hart. Berghahn, 2015


Published in the context of a 'human economy' movement


"Political constitutions alone do not guarantee democracy; a degree of economic equality is also essential. Yet contemporary economies, dominated as they are by global finance and political rent-seekers, often block the realization of democracy. The comparative essays and case studies of this volume examine the contradictory relationship between the economy and democracy and highlight the struggles and visions needed to make things more equitable. They explore how our collective aspirations for greater democracy might be informed by serious empirical research on the human economy today. If we want a better world, we must act on existing social realities."


  • Introduction, Keith Hart [1]


  • Chapter 1. Habits of austerity: financialization and new ways of dealing with money

Jürgen Schraten

  • Chapter 2. What financial crisis? The global politics of finance: distributional consequences and legitimizing narratives

Horacio Ortiz

  • Chapter 3. Party funding for and against democracy in Zimbabwe and South Africa

Booker Magure


  • Chapter 4. Women as mediators in post-war Mozambique: pushing lobolo from price to propriety

Albert Farré

  • Chapter 5. Negotiating state and market: the South African HIV/AIDS movement and social change

Theodore Powers

  • Chapter 6. Beyond the market: the case of white workers in Pretoria

John Sharp & Stephan Van Wyk

  • Chapter 7. Waves of unrest: wildcat strikes and possible democratic change in Swaziland

Vito Laterza


  • Chapter 8. Solidarity economy in contemporary Greece: ‘movementality’, economic democracy and social reproduction

Theodoros Rakopoulos

  • Chapter 9. Money for a human economy: a reflection from Argentina

Hadrien Saiag

  • Chapter 10. Human economy: the revolutionary struggle for happiness

Keith Hart

  • Chapter 11. Building a human economy movement: the precedent of transnational feminism

Camille Sutton-Brown


From the introduction, by Keith Hart:

"The real task is to work out how states, cities, big money and the rest might be selectively combined with citizens’ initiatives to promote a more democratic world society. A first step would be to cease viewing the economy in predominantly national terms.

This idea is not new. It is just that many activists in the SSE field (‘social and solidarity economy’ – see Rakopoulos in this volume), not to mention more radical groups, will not consider working with bureaucracies which they think of as the enemy. Yet the French Revolution only succeeded because it was backed by the shippers of Nantes and Bordeaux, the Italian Revolution by the industrialists of Milan and Turin. Kenya’s world-leading experiment in mobile money, M-pesa (M for mobile, pesa is Swahili for money), was launched by a subsidiary of the communications group, Vodacom. Hewlett-Packard has been developing research stations in outlying areas for some years now as part of an attempt to make computers accessible to the world’s ‘poorest four billion’.

The notion of a ‘popular economy’ has been emerging in Latin America since the 1990s, bringing new coalitions (peasants, urban informal workers, unions) into an alliance with progressive governments. Brazil under Lula introduced a community banking system combining microfinance and complementary currencies with strong local democratic input.

The government of Uruguay has sponsored a ‘3C’ alternative circuit of exchange and credit for SMEs in which national utilities and local tax offices anchor the circulation of unpaid invoices as currency. South Africa is speeding up SMEs’ access to liquidity through an Invoice Clearing Bureau that brings together, in a fast and efficient service, banks, corporations and potentially two hundred thousand small businesses, many of them black. It does not make sense to go it alone on a small scale, but equally one has to be selective in picking capitalist firms and state regimes to work with." (