I bought the parecon.org domain name in September 2018 for $1,110.84 plus a $19.95 negotiation fee, for a total of $1,130.79. At that time, whoever owned the domain was using it for … well, I have no idea what. But nothing on his site had anything to do with participatory economics, and as someone who has been a die-hard pareconist since 2000, I was thoroughly embarrassed.
Here’s what I think happened: Michael Albert, owner of the ZNet website and one of parecon’s co-creators, created parecon.org to be, naturally, a website where people could find information on participatory economics. That’s why he references the site in his 2003 book Parecon: Life After Capitalism.
I think Albert let his registration expire at some point (probably unintentionally), and someone bought it, thinking if they ran non-parecon crap on the site, Albert would pay extra to get the domain back.
I knew what the site had been prior to when I saw it in 2018, but I obviously hadn’t visited it in a while. When I saw it and was horrified, I emailed Albert and asked him if he knew who owned the site. (I didn’t ask him any other details, since at that point, what difference did it make?) He said he did not, but told me to let him know if I found out who did (which made he think he had forgotten to renew the registration at some point).
I tried to find the guy. I was initially planning on asking him why he was running ads for “sous-vide” machines on the site (I still have no idea what those are) instead of talking about parecon. But then I thought, Well, I’ll be more likely to get a response from him, assuming I ever find him, if I tell him I want to buy the site. Then I thought, Hell, why don’t I just try to buy the site?
So somehow, through a series of Google searches I found some outfit who does that sort of thing and paid them $20 to find the guy. I initially offered the then-owner $200, and when he countered with $2000, I knew I was going to get the site.
The moral of the story is … I am blessed to have a good job.
Anyway, participatory economics is something I care deeply about. It’s not easy to be the son of a truck driver and a factory worker, having grown up in BFE, and seeing a left in the United States that has consistently refused to even acknowledge the existence of parecon fully 30 years after Albert and Hahnel published its formal mathematical model. The left’s silence over those three decades tells you something very profound about the left, and it’s not pretty for children of the working class. (Though, oddly, the left has zero trouble discussing the father of socialism, Karl Marx.)
I make no money off of this site, nor do I intend to. It’s not money that I want — it’s seeing the defining institutions of Western civilization burned down and replaced with new ones. Participatory economics is the necessary and most important next step toward that goal.