Definitions, Definitions; what the hell are we talkin' about?

The following definition of Socioeconomic Democracy appears in the Encyclopedia of International Political Economy published by Routledge.

DEFINITION OF SOCIOECONOMIC DEMOCRACY

It has been suggested, one way or another by literally billions, that humanity desperately needs a new, future-oriented political economy capable of rapidly reducing or resolving an increasing number of serious, interrelated societal problems plaguing the planet -- caused in large measure, many assert, by presently existing political economies. It has further been emphatically suggested, again by billions, that every society on the planet needs and must soon realize a significantly deepened and more meaningful democracy -- an inclusive democracy manifesting in the socioeconomic realm.

Politicosocioeconomic system design, practiced one way or another for thousands of years, can be made public, explicit, transparent and, perhaps most importantly, democratic. Considering the multitude of perplexing and painful present problems of the planet, including (but by no means limited to) automation, computerization and robotization; budget deficits and national debts; bureaucracy; maltreatment of children; crime and punishment; maldevelopment; ecology, environment and pollution; education; maltreatment of the elderly; male domination of the female majority; inflation; international conflict; intranational conflict; involuntary employment; involuntary unemployment; labor strife and strikes; maldistributions of necessary resources; sick medical and health care; military metamorphosis; natural disasters; planned obsolescence; poor political participation; poverty; racism; sexism; untamed technology; unnecessarily unsettling societal instabilities and an at best anemic general welfare, it can be and has been assumed that the democratic design project is of some urgency. Socioeconomic Democracy is one theoretical and practical attempt to meet this universal need by reducing all these kinds of problems simultaneously through systemic change.

Narrowly interpreted, and as originally conceived, Socioeconomic Democracy (SeD) is a theoretical model socioeconomic system wherein there exist both some form of Universal Guaranteed Personal Income (UGI) and some form of Maximum Allowable Personal Wealth (MAW), with both the lower bound on personal material poverty and the upper bound on personal material wealth set and adjusted democratically by all participants of society.

The two fundamental socioeconomic system parameters that are, with SeD, to be determined democratically, enjoy a long list of advocates, including Paine, Jefferson, extending back to the ancient Greek thinkers and up to the present global quest for improved, more just economic systems. Socioeconomic Democracy adopts this well established tradition and simply democratizes the possibilities faced by any society. This is accomplished by employing a central result of public choice theory, i.e., median value of participant preference distribution of an amount in question is the democratically desired amount, with single-peakedness and majority rule. Socioeconomic Democracy thereby inaugurated public introduction to and adoption of quantitative democracy.

Many theoretical aspects of SeD are suggested by its four possible democratically established variations, namely, some amount of UGI or zero UGI along with a finite MAW or an infinite MAW limit. The analysis of these four different, yet all fundamentally democratic, socioeconomic subsystems provides considerable insight into the unresolved problems of many past and present-day politicoeconomic persuasions, as well as theoretically resolves the dilemmas momentarily inhibiting the realization of these two important socioeconomic system operating limits.

A well developed body of knowledge already exists regarding Socioeconomic Democracy. Crucial matters such as economic incentive and self-interest, financial benefits and costs, theoretical justifications, politicosocioeconomic feasibility, practical political approximations to the ideal theoretical model, comparative relationships between SeD and various religions (both spiritual, e.g., Zakat in Islami economics, and secular extinct or extant politicosocioeconomic systems), implementation considerations and the desirable impact of SeD on numerous serious societal problems have all been explored. It can safely be anticipated, however, that far more insights into Socioeconomic Democracy await future realization.

More widely (and loosely) interpreted, Socioeconomic Democracy refers to or includes that larger class of socioeconomic subsystems wherein other significant societal system parameters are democratically set. For example, possibilities include the societally desired magnitude of a maximum wage/income; a minimum wage/income; max-to-min ratio of incomes; amount of personal wealth and/or income below which a participant of a democratic society is not subject to any wealth and/or income taxes, etc. The "corruption" of the original specific meaning of Socioeconomic Democracy to this more general application of quantitative democracy, while perhaps regretable, is no doubt inevitable.

The first book-length description of Socioeconomic Democracy was published in 1972. Both as a specific system and as a general perspective, Socioeconomic Democracy clearly refers to a postmodern and future-oriented political economy, as opposed to past, present and backward-looking political economies.

Further reading:

Robley E. George (2002) Socioeconomic Democracy: An Advanced Socioeconomic System, Westport: Praeger Publishers. [The definitive exposition of Socioeconomic Democracy].

 
robley button1.gif (1292 bytes) Socioeconomic Democracy: A Very Brief Introduction
robley button1.gif (1292 bytes) Socioeconomic Democracy: A Brief Introduction
robley button1.gif (1292 bytes) Abbreviated Bibliography of Socioeconomic Democracy
robley button1.gif (1292 bytes) CC & C
robley button1.gif (1292 bytes) Ideas in Embryo
robley button1.gif (1292 bytes) Biography of Robley E. George, Director, CSDS
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