Civilizing the Economy A New Economics of Provision

Reflections on Property Relations

Posted Nov 18, 2012 by Marvin Brown in Uncategorized, No Comments

In Smithian economics, human freedom means the capacity to sell one’s labor.  In fact, the difference between slave labor and free labor was precisely that slaves did not own their labor, but were owned as labor. As Adam Smith famously said, echoing John Locke:

The property which every man has in his own labour, as it is the foundation of all other property, so it is the most sacred and inviolable.

Civic Membership

Posted Feb 2, 2012 by Marvin Brown in Uncategorized, No Comments

What is the meaning of civic membership?  Most of us have some experience with membership.  We are members of families, associations, teams, religious communities, and so on.  We became members of some of these groups by birth or tradition, and some by choice.  In either case, active membership entails at least three things:  having a connection with the story or narrative that gives members an identity, consenting to the member’s key values, and participating in the activities of the members.  These characteristics of membership, of course, do not eliminate disagreement and controversy.  Just the opposite; they provide a shared platform for dealing with disagreement.  So what is the civic story? 

Glasgow: A Merchant’s City, The Labor of Slaves

Posted Jun 21, 2011 by Marvin Brown in Uncategorized, 1 Comment

The last city on my recent trip to Ireland and Scotland was Glasgow; a city whose early wealth depended on the labor of African slaves in the British colonies. If there were one city in Europe that should be obligated to pay reparations for African slavery, it would be Glasgow.

Restoring The American Dream: Give me a break.

Posted Jun 12, 2011 by Marvin Brown in Uncategorized, No Comments has begun a campaign to restore the American Dream as a way of moving citizens to become engaged in progressive politics.  In spite of their good intentions, I think this campaign creates more problems than it solves.

Libertarianism and slavery

Posted Feb 28, 2011 by Marvin Brown in Uncategorized, No Comments

We need to keep exploring the box we are in if we want to change it.  Much of the box’s construction occurred during the 18th century emergence of capitalism, or at least the ideology of capitalism, and the reality of slavery.  The box belongs to the Atlantic bordered by Europe, Africa, and the Americas.  It is a box supported by the labor of slaves and mystified by stories of liberty based on the ownership of property.

Marvin T. Brown, Ph.D teaches business and organizational ethics at the University of San Francisco and Saybrook University in San Francisco.

This book is the culmination of 30 years of teaching and writing on business and society from a communicative perspective. Visit for more information.

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