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In 2008, as Lehman's fall confirmed a systemic crisis arguably unparalleled since the 1930s, many expected the demise of neoliberalism as the reigning economic philosophy. Yet four years on, critics are still struggling to present the alternatives. New citizen movements, such as the indignados in Spain and Occupy, have articulated a sense that there has to be an alternative. They are, in part, protests at a poverty of political imagination.

What about a republican economy? The past two decades has seen a major revival of interest in something (or some things) called republicanism. Political theorists have begun to use republican theory to address questions about the economic order. For the economy is not an end in itself. It must serve the civic purposes of a democratic society. In this series, we will explore how republicanism – and republicans – might help achieve this.

We will ask what it means, and what is needed, for the economy:

  •  - to respect and protect the freedom of the citizen;
  •  - to uphold our standing as civic equals;
  •  - to make effective our status as active participants in a popular sovereignty; 
  •  - to serve a genuinely common good.

Can the rich and varied resources of republican thought help us to think beyond the dominant neoliberal model? In the coming year we will be asking this question, and inviting you to join us in our attempt to find the answers.

This series is edited by Stuart White of Oxford University and co-hosted by openDemocracy's British section 'OurKingdom' and 'Politics in Spires', a blog sponsored by the universities of Oxford and Cambridge.

Photo used in logo: Marcello Vicidomini / Flickr

Democratic Wealth: free e-book on building a citizens' economy

openDemocracy and Politics in Spires (hosted by the universities of Oxford and Cambridge) publishes an e-book on building an economy that serves the common good. The collection of essays from around the globe explores a renewed interest in the republican tradition.

Republicans, virtue and the values of the market

Republicans are often accused of being inconsistent, or even incoherent, in embracing free market policies that are incompatible with their own ideas about civic virtue. But is this accusation fair?

States of imagination

People at once both despise and desire the state, and unpicking the paradoxes within attitudes to the state is essential to understanding how to move the state forward.

'Democratic Wealth': clearing a path to the future

The left must move from sharing spoils to shared control of the economy if they are to clear a path towards the future. We publish the afterword to the free e-book Democratic Wealth: Building a Citizens' Economy, published today by openDemocracy and Politics in Spires (universities of Oxford and Cambridge).

Which republicanism are we talking about?

Too narrow an interpretation of republicanism can rob us off many of the tools and insights we should now be employing. This is no time for elite paternalism.

Republicanism and revolutions: a tradition of theory and practice

Based on her keynote lecture at the 2013 ASEN conference at the LSE, Karma Nabulsi argues that republicanism needs to be understood as the tradition of revolutionary practice rooted in a fundamental commitment to the value of popular sovereignty.

Can democrats learn from Machiavelli?

Robert Jubb and Stuart White interview John McCormick about his 2011 book, Machiavellian Democracy, and ask what lessons can be drawn today about democratising power and embedding constitutional authority for the common citizen.

The road from web 1.984

We are realising that the 'free' services we use online carry huge hidden costs. A totally administered society is being built from billions of moments of self-disclosure. Here Jonny LeRoy, the Head of Technology at ThoughtWorks North America, describes what's at stake, and how we can put an end to the harvesting of what it means to be human.

Citizen ownership: the lost radicalism of the centre?

As wages stall or decline new methods must be found of creating a fair and democratic economy. Key to this must be a shift from redistributing income to redistributing assets - this is the big question the left should be addressing, and there's plenty of ideas out there.

Sovereign Wealth Funds: can they be community funds?

The idea that governments should invest some of their wealth for public benefit has moved from utopian dream to part-reality with the advent of Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs). But are these SWFs really democratic entities?

Democratising capital at scale: cooperative enterprise and beyond

Faced with spiralling social, economic and environmental problems, many people are turning to economic democracy for solutions. But what shape should this democracy take? And how can it establish an effective process for the distribution of wealth?

Northern Italy and the republican tradition

The Emilia Romagna region in northern Italy gives an insight into how a republican economy might look in practice. The whole infrastructure is significantly geared towards cooperative production without any sign of lost efficiency. There is plenty the UK should learn.

Liberty, Liberalism and Surveillance: a historic overview

One of Britain's most distinguished political theorists on republicanism, freedom, Machiavelli, Hobbes, the Reformation, Shakespeare, Milton and much more. Has modern society lost touch with Roman conceptions of freedom, and at what cost?

Radical Virtues

Is there a radical politics of virtue? One that can say anything useful to our own society? Yes, and it comes from an unexpected source.

Post-growth: a green republican economy

We live in societies with economies nested within them, nested in turn in the non-human world. A green republican conception of political economy recognises this reality, and challenges the priority given to growth.

The time is now for wealth taxes in Britain

Taxing wealth is an underexplored option in the UK, given the scale of wealth inequality. A new project confronts this head on, with proposals for radical reform.

Toward a generative economy

What kind of economy is consistent with living inside a living being? This question is being answered in experiments across the globe, from community forests in Mexico to "industrial symbiosis" in Denmark.

A republican call for a basic income

Republicanism offers a persuasive guide to the political shaping of markets. A basic income could be the foundation of a democratic republican economy that frees all citizens from the commodification of labour.

Economic justice requires more independence, not less

A republican economy should aim at maximising the genuine independence of economic actors. Only then can corruption be tackled at the root.

Kickstarting taxation

The Starbucks and Googles of this world will always find tax loopholes. We need to link taxation once again to civic virtue and demonstratable social impact. We'll get them on the spirit of the law, not the letter.

Republicanism and tax justice

Republicans can offer the principles needed to work towards a tax system built for the global common good.

A new dawn for the Unions? Frances O’Grady and economic democracy

The TUC’s new General Secretary seems to represent real change in the 'pale, male, stale' world of British unions. But can she shake them up in policy terms, and draw in the energy of a disparate anti-austerity movement?

Plans for regional banks are a radical leap for Britain

A Labour MP sets out why his party's plan to establish a network of regional banks is a step towards a fundamental reshaping of the UK economy.

The Alaska Model: a citizen's income in practice

The idea of a basic income for all citizens is often seen as a utopian dream. But 'the Alaska Dividend' has existed for more than thirty years, and is immensely popular to this day.

Anarchists and republicans: bedfellows?

Are republicans simply underdeveloped anarchists? An exploration of the relationship between two political theories and their conceptions of freedom and domination.

Freedom and meaningful work: an exploration

Many of us have resigned ourselves to domination in the workplace. This is an outrage. 'Meaningful work' is not only an achievable goal for all, a socialised mutual economy is beginning to emerge that may be one step towards this ideal.

Outsourcing and employee ownership - growth versus equity?

Previous contributions to this debate have identified worker coops and mutuals as one route to a citizens' economy. But does the strike by cleaning staff at John Lewis point to some problems and limitations of co-operative models?'

The optimistic agonist: an interview with Bonnie Honig

The political theorist Bonnie Honig talks to IPPR's Juncture about the roots of her thinking, the radical and positive potential of political contestation and the importance of ‘public things’ in a vibrant democracy.

Defending the 99%: still a 'slogan' for our times

Many have accused Occupy's 1 / 99 narrative of brushing aside the realities of actual wealth distribution in Britain. Most recently, Craig Berry of the TUC has presented a case that it is time to drop the 'slogan'. Activist Kerry-Anne Mendoza hits back, arguing that it is vital as a global group identity.

Unpacking ‘the 99 per cent’

Occupy has spotlighted the super-elite, but the ‘average Brit’ that is pitted against this class does not exist. For the struggle to empower all citizens to succeed in Britain, mapping actual wealth distribution is critical. 

Policy commission on UK wealth distribution: get involved

Birmingham University began a policy commission on the distribution of wealth in Britain late last year. One of the lead academics sets out its findings thus far and appeals for input into its second stage and public meetings to be held this Spring.

Social democracy must radicalise to survive

Social democracy is at an impasse, bereft of an economic programme, but history is on the march. Democratic wealth-holding can give social democrats a new set of economic institutions and political power bases.

Taking back the economy: the market as a Res Publica

Republicans seek to protect and promote individual freedom. So do libertarians of the right. The difference? Republicans recognise that the market is constructed through political, public action.

What do today's republicans have to say about work?

Historically, republicanism has failed to reconcile the principle of non-domination with the realities of economic life. What do contemporary republican thinkers have to say about work and domination?

Revolutionary France and the social republic that never was

After the 1830 revolution, French workers waited for the introduction of the republic into the heart of production. It never came. The struggle that ensued was to shape French politics during the Second Republic and after as republicans sought to reconcile work with the principle of non-domination.

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