Postcapitalism Publications

New Journal Article: ‘Postcapitalist Retail and Accounting’ by O’Brien & Sandström

Anders Sandström & I have written a new paper and submitted it to an academic journal. The version presented here is a preprint copy. This material will form the basis of a chapter in our upcoming book detailing a postcapitalist economy.

Postcapitalist Retail and Accounting: Personal Consumption Planning in the Participatory Economy – Ferdia O’Brien & Anders Sandström.

Submitted 14/01/2023


The participatory economy (parecon) is a well-known model of democratic socialism. The categorisation of goods and services is critical to a comprehensively coordinated socialist economy, and bears crucially on product pricing in parecon. This paper explores effective categorisation and pricing and its political economic ramifications, focusing particularly on the planning of personal consumption. We integrate shops and a public distribution system into annual planning for the first time, and reassess individual consumption plans from two opposing perspectives (one proposing to refine them and the other to replace them).


The focus of this paper is the planning of personal consumption in a Participatory Economy (or Parecon) and especially its role and design in the model’s planning process. Participatory planning is an alternative to both markets and central planning. In the first section we give a brief overview and summary of the model and its participatory planning process.

We then discuss the requirements and challenges that a decentralised planning model will introduce regarding the accounting and categorisation of the huge number of different goods and services handled by a modern economy.

In the third section we introduce shops and distribution plans as crucial parts of the planning model. We argue that shops will play an important role not only in the distribution of goods but also by facilitating planning of personal consumption. In presentations of parecon hitherto, neither shops nor the issue of distribution of goods have been considered.

In the fourth and last section we present two different models of personal consumption planning. The main difference between the two models is the role of the individual. The presentation is structured as a dialogue between the two models and does not favour either but tries to highlight arguments for and against each.