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Researcher at the ACRPS








The ACRPS launched its first seminar for the 2015-2016 academic year with a project presented by Dr. Samir Saifan, researcher at the ACRPS, on Thursday, 3 September 2015, entitled "Economic Democracy".

Dr. Saifan argued has argued that debates over an alternative economic model following both the collapse of the Eastern Bloc countries and the recent tribulations of the capitalist world economy. This motivated his work on a research project that attempts to formulate an integrated theoretical structure for a socio-economic system that will achieve increased equity in the distribution of income using the known mechanisms of a free market economy. He said that his study was looking for the possibilities of overcoming capitalism, through a social economic system that grows within the mould of the old system.

Saifan described his model as fitting within the wider trend of "Economic Democracy". It was a concept, he said, based on the premise of "equal rights" which underpins democracy. Political democracy remains artificial if there is a large disparity in wealth, whereby the rich remain stronger. He added that democracy needs political and economic foundations to hold it up, and a social compass to guide it.

The speaker explained the main tenets of the "Economic Democracy" project, which he distinguished from the general definition of the market economy. He pointed out that this model is built on the existing market economy through which economic democracy operates. Competition remains an important factor, but Economic Democracy allows for state intervention to correct market distortions, creating a friendly environment for investment growth

 and productivity. Economic democracy in relation to this model does not contradict the fundamentals of a market economy.

Saifan also played special attention to the role of merit as a criterion for economic democracy. This can be reflected in the progressive approach in making the per capita income proportional to contribution to production, which would be achieved through expanding the income distribution and ownership bases.

Dr. Morad Diani pointed out some of the conceptual and methodological pitfalls inherent in Saifan's project, and particularly his attempt to incorporate the market economy into a purely left-wing perspective. He emphasized the need to scrutinize the concepts presented in the research project rigidly. The attendees debated many aspects of the economic model; what distinguishes the idea of "economic democracy" from the "social market economy" applied in many countries such as Germany. They also stressed the need to clarify the mechanisms of transition to the model of "economic democracy" and the way the market economy can shift internally to make this transition.

To read an (Arabic) summary of Saifan's economic proposals, click here