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The Third Way: how to turn the trend of corporate mergers and acquisitions into a force for good!


Benjamin Sibelman
Living Worlds Productions

The Third Way: how to turn the trend of corporate mergers and acquisitions into a force for good!

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As defined by the Center for Economic and Social Justice, the Third Way is a proposal for a new economic system in which all corporations would be placed under employee control. On the face of it, this seems like communism with a thin veneer of capitalist mechanisms, until you realize that the corporations themselves will continue to compete in the marketplace, and that they will still require a governmental anti-trust apparatus to prevent that competition from breaking down.

The trouble is, anti-trust laws aren't really enforced these days, and corporations are growing and merging so quickly that their power is beginning to eclipse that of nation-states. That's a trend we should try to reverse if we can; if we want to solve the environmental crisis and other pressing issues that market forces tend to ignore, we really ought to maintain a powerful government presence that can encourage rapid transitions to new business models, such as those embodied in Natural Capitalism.

But let's assume for a moment that there's no feasible way to bring back the era of strong government, and that the state finally withers away as both Marxists and radical libertarians predict. Then we probably face a cyberpunk-style future of corporate feudalism, but with the Third Way, at least there would be democracy within the corporations (you can call it "communist feudalism" instead, if you prefer). And even if the merger trend continues to its logical conclusion, which libertarians seldom if ever discuss, the all-encompassing corporation masquerading as a world government will be democratic too.

Whatever the future may hold, one thing remains certain: the environmental crisis will continue to seem paralyzingly vast from the vantage point of ordinary people who don't have the right kinds of democratic institutions available to them. Critics of modern environmentalist rhetoric point out that the contrast between the scale of the problems and the scale of the actions we tell individuals to take is working against us. For most people, the mantra "think globally, act locally" is hard to accept when the whole world seems to be accelerating out of control. But if every employee could submit and vote on a proposal to change the way his/her entire company gets its resources and disposes of its wastes, it would go a long way toward curing the malaise of scale paralysis that still grips our world.

These are the main reasons why I support the Third Way. There is one more reason that I should mention: in many cases, the workers really do know best. They may need some managers to guide them in making large-scale economic decisions, but those managers shouldn't be making all the choices when it comes to working conditions, required hours, or which tools the company should provide for the workers to do their jobs.
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