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The promotion of Participatory Economics in Sweden

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The following is a short summary in English of a longer Swedish article posted as a blog on the IOPS Sweden page. The article aims to list previous and present activities with any connection or reference to the participatory economics model in Sweden since year 2000 at which time the first reference in Swedish to the Parecon model was made on a website. The original article lists links to relevant websites in Swedish.

The first reference in Swedish to the participatory economy model which I have been able to find is from year 2000. The model was summarized on a website that specifically focused on the Parecon model. The website was active only a short period of time and has not been maintained since 2000 as far as I can see. During the following years there were a handful of references to the model on different Swedish websites and discussion forums. In 2002 SUF, the Syndicalist Youth Organization translated and published the pamphlet “Socialism as it was always meant to be” by Albert/Hahnel and in 2004 the first and thus far the only book in Swedish about participatory economics was published by the Swedish progressive publishing house Ordfront; a translation of Michael Alberts “Parecon – Life after capitalism.” In the spring of 2007 Albert visited the event “Klassforum” in Malmö in southern Sweden, and then continued to Uppsala and Stockholm to present and discuss the model for and with a Swedish audience. The visit got some limited attention in Swedish progressive media.

In September 2010 the organization Parecon Sverige was launched with the explicit purpose to promote interest in and knowledge of participatory economics in Sweden. The organization runs the website http://www.parecon.se and a Parecon facebook group. The organization has ever since the founding interacted a lot with its sister organization in Finland, Parecon Finland. Representatives of Parecon Sverige have gotten articles with titles like “What is a fair salary” and “A utopia free from markets” published in progressive Swedish papers. In November 2011 Parecon Sverige arranged two very successful seminars at the Socialist Forum in Stockholm together with invited representatives from then PPS-UK, Jason Chrysostomou and Mark Evans, both present members of IOPS. One of these events “Thinking about Classlessness” with Mark Evans was filmed and can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJgXZTZdtcE. Furthermore, Parecon Sverige has this far arranged two study groups, one in the spring of 2012 based on the Swedish translation of Alberts “Parecon – Life after capitalism” and one in the spring of 2013 based on Robin Hahnels “Of the People, By the People.” A couple of other study groups in different parts of the country are planned by people with connections to Parecon Sverige and/or IOPS Sweden. The organization participated at the Stockholm Anarchist Book fair in June 2012, and yet again with a seminar at the 2012 Socialist Forum in November.  In the beginning of September 2012 Robin Hahnel visited Stockholm and Uppsala as part of a longer tour which was initiated by Parecon Finland, and included England and Finland. Hahnel participated in three very interesting events in Sweden, among them a debate on markets at Stockholm University with Stefan Fölster, chief economist at the neoliberal Confederation of Swedish Enterprise. Some of the events were documented and can be found at Parecon Sveriges webpage (http://www.deltagarekonomi.se/?page_id=993.) The Hahnel visit resulted in limited media coverage. Also, during the Scandinavian visit Hahnels excellent introduction to participatory economics, his 140 page book “Of the People, by the People” was released. Earlier in the year several especially interesting shorter texts by Hahnel had been translated to Swedish by Parecon Sverige and posted at the website, and in the summer of 2012 three of these texts were put together in a first issue of “Parecon Sverige Skriftserie”, a planned series of translated texts about participatory economics.

The international Organization for a Participatory Society was launched in the beginning of 2012 and IOPS Sweden has to date (June 2013) 46 members. In November 2012 Michael Albert visited Stockholm a second time and gave a fairly well-visited talk, as part of a long European tour to promote IOPS. Parecon Sverige arranged the Stockholm event together with representatives from IOPS Sweden.

In 2010 the independent theater group TeaterK initiated a three year project called FramtidNu (Future Now) in which a group of young people explored the present situation and the future, and its possibilities. The project was sponsored by Katrineholm municipality. Participatory Economics was one of several visions that were explored. As part of the FramtidNu project a live action role playing game was arranged in Katrineholm in October 2012 which was partly based on the participatory economics model. This event attracted quite a bit of media interest, even from local main stream media. The FramtidNu project ended in April 2013 but its intentions live on in two very exciting and potentially successful initiatives with roots in the project; two interactive workshop sessions - sort of roundtable role playing games, one organized by TeaterK, which can be booked through TeaterK:s website, and one organized by the group “2033 – livet efter kapitalismen” (2033 – life after capitalism). These initiatives are especially exciting because they offer a very concrete introduction to the model, by creating “real” decision making situations where the participants discuss, decide and act on different alternatives using participatory structures and procedures. One can easily imagine these workshops develop into something that could reach a wider audience.

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