"A brilliant, powerfully supported manifesto and an indispensable call to arms."
—Gar Alperovitz, author of America Beyond Capitalism: Reclaiming Our Wealth, Our Liberty and Our Democracy
About a decade ago, author and environmentalist Gus Speth began researching conditions and trends to see where America actually stands after several decades of effort within the progressive movement. And the harder and longer he looked, the more sobering the reality.
Speth found that, after years of claiming various environmental victories, we still find ourselves on the cusp of ruining the planet. More generally, he discovered that the United States in fact ranks at the bottom of the 20 leading advanced democracies on 30 key indicators of national well-being, from social mobility to the material well-being of children.
These alarming findings, and the worrisome consequences for his own grandchildren, motivated Speth to take steps that he wouldn’t have before—such as getting himself arrested protesting the Keystone XL pipeline and spending three days in a D.C. jail last August.
They also led him to write his latest book, America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy. The book is a powerful treatise on how transformative change can come to America, what life would be like in the attractive future that is still within our power to build, and what we need to do to realize that future—i.e., “America the Possible.”
Time magazine once called Speth, a founder of the World Resources Institute and the former head of the United Nations Development Programme, the “ultimate insider.” But he has come to the very un-insider conclusion that our only hope of bequeathing an attractive future to our grandchildren lies in deep, systemic change in our country—so deep and so transformative that it leads us beyond today’s rapacious and ruthless capitalism to a new system of political economy in America.
America the Possible identifies a dozen features of the American political economy—the country’s basic operating system—where transformative change is essential. It spells out the specific changes that are needed to move toward a new political economy—one in which the true priority is to sustain people and the planet. Supported by a compelling “theory of change” that explains how system change can come to America, the book also presents a vision of political, social, and economic life in a renewed America.
Speth envisions a future that will be worth fighting for and argues that we yet have it in ourselves to use our freedom and our democracy in powerful ways to create a reborn America for our children and grandchildren.
New Dream's America the Possible animation
Note: Gus Speth is a member of the Board of Directors of the Center for a New American Dream.