Parecomic: The story of Michael Albert and Participatory Economics
Written by Sean Michael Wilson
Drawn by Carl Thompson
Not liking the current economy very much, a book about an alternate way for an economy to run seemed like an excellent opportunity for me. Especially since it’s a graphic novel and thus likely to be at least slightly livelier than other books about the economy.
However, while it wasn’t a terrible book, it wasn’t a particularly good one either and I was really not impressed with participatory economics as it was described.
The first two-thirds of the book were more a biography/personal history of the civil rights era. I found this portion extremely interesting, even if it wasn’t saying much about participatory economics. The people and the times were interesting enough that it was okay that I didn’t find the main character (or any of the other characters) very sympathetic.
The later third of the book did discuss participatory economics, but did so very poorly. This is the closest I’ve ever come to feeling like I might understand why Ayn Rand was so down on liberals and socialists. Given that this book was written in Albert’s words, defending his ideals, presumably to the best of his ability, I have to admit that maybe Rand wasn’t entirely making up her annoying “liberal” characters as I’d assumed.
Albert wants to save the working class and the poor, but he sure doesn’t respect them. He argues that white-collar workers aren’t any better than blue-collar workers but assumes that it’s obvious that white-collar work is better and more empowering than blue-collar work. He assumes that everyone will like the same things and dislike the same things and generally have the same opinions if only they really understood. Thus, in his view, business meetings can reach consensus quickly and easily, and if you don’t agree with him, then you just don’t understand the situation.
It started out interesting, but ended up mostly irritating. On the other hand, it was well-illustrated, the first part was interesting, and the book as a whole wasn’t that long. So, faint praise, but still praise.
That Lovely Horrible Stuff
By Eddie Campbell
This was in the nonfiction new-release section at my library and it seemed to be a graphic novel about currency, which I thought would be interesting. Instead it was mostly some biographical ramblings of the author about his money troubles. It did have a section about the stone money of the island Yap, which was really interesting. I wish the whole book had been like that. Instead I mostly got annoyed at Campbell for being whiny. Like Parecomic, it was interesting and well-illustrated (and really quite short), but the main character was even more off-putting.