In the basement of a century-old gothic building, a group of college students were discussing what money can’t buy. This was “Radical Markets,” the Princeton economics class based around the book, Radical Markets: Uprooting Capitalism and Democracy for a Just Society, by Eric Posner and Glen Weyl. In reflecting on the book and other political economy readings of the past few centuries, the students studied the history of market design and explored various ideas on how to organize markets to foster freedom, equality and prosperity. Each week, students read one chapter of Radical Markets, then came together with Dr. Weyl to discuss the limits and opportunities for applying these to society. It was in this setting that we hatched the idea for RadicalxChange Students.
Throughout history, student activism has been a catalyst for social change the world over: the Woolworth lunch counter sit-ins began with four college students in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1960 but quickly spread across the country, actively facilitating desegregation as they expanded and later contributing to the Freedom Rides and voter registration efforts across the South — and eventually to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed segregation in public spaces. Student activism spurred the anti-war movement of 1960s America, mobilized international demonstrations that helped topple the apartheid system of institutionalized racial segregation in South Africa, and, with the nonviolent Velvet Revolution, transformed communist Czechoslovakia into the democratic Czech Republic in 1989. Even recently, students have helped lead landmark social and political action: Dreamers fighting for immigration reform, young activists on the front lines of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the American Indian youth who helped spark the 2016 Standing Rock protests in South Dakota, which grew into a national environmental movement. Survivors of the Parkland school shooting launched the Never Again campaign advocating for gun control, and since September 2018, a 16 year-old girl has single-handedly inspired tens of thousands of students from around the world to strike from school over political inaction on climate change. Whether fighting for equality, an end to war, economic opportunity, religious freedom or political liberties, students have recognized that you are never too small to make a big difference; small-scale efforts can snowball into extensive activism and meaningful change. We hope to harness that same energy by bringing the RadicalxChange movement to campuses far and wide.
Having explored some of the root causes of today’s economic inequality, stagnation, and political instability, Dr. Weyl’s students began to brainstorm how they could contribute to the rapidly growing RadicalxChange movement. Along with their peers at other schools, these students envisioned a university-focused organization committed to realizing the ideas espoused in Radical Markets. Through these discussions, we — the newly-formed RadicalxChange Students (RxC Students) — became more certain than ever that because the future is ours to inherit and shape, we as students have a unique ability and responsibility to advocate for change. Though we spend much of our time learning from others, we can also be leaders, educating our communities and mobilizing support for innovative ideas. RadicalxChange Students aims to harness the power of youth to create the future we want to live in: one of greater equality, prosperity, and cooperation.
A branch of the larger RadicalxChange social movement, RxC Students is a community of students from a diverse range of backgrounds and academic fields committed to creating egalitarian economic, political, and social change through better market mechanism experimentation and application. Independent university chapters of the RadicalxChange movement are emerging around the world to develop education, experimentation, expertise and community for change; we have established connections between about a dozen chapters on campuses across North America and Europe and are actively growing our community — we welcome all students! Members of these student chapters are comprised of activists, artists, entrepreneurs and scholars.
While free and open discussion is essential, RxC student chapters are not satisfied with being great discussion groups — rather, we are biased towards thoughtful action. Each RxC student chapter is independent and will run its community as it sees fit, but we also collaborate and share advice on coalition-building on our campuses and experimenting with RadicalxChange concepts.
On campus, students are coordinating in a variety of ways:
- Recruiting students to the RadicalxChange movement: We need voices from across disciplines and diverse backgrounds to provide different points of view on how we can use RxC concepts to promote change.
- Educating peers on key RxC issues: Expand understanding of RxC concepts for chapter and broader community education.
- Experimenting with and applying RxC concepts in local communities: Create RxC experiments to prove out concepts, e.g. quadratic voting, harberger taxes, data as labor, etc. Design and document experiments; report on and share results; and contribute to Best Practices Repository based on experimental results.
- Taking action: As we build a suite of RxC Best Practices, we hope to see local chapters work within their regions to implement RxC policy design for non-profit, civic and corporate governance, as well as other milieux. Check out the Four Tracks for Participation on our website for more info on directions students can take to get involved!
That first Radical Markets class at Princeton yielded a host of fascinating research projects inspired by the values and ideas of the movement, including:
- the creative essay, Modern Gods and Central Machinery;
- the investor pitch of Integrated Education Systems, a hypothetical company to democratize education;
- infographic designs explaining RxC concepts;
- research papers on Treating Labor Market Power Symmetrically in UK Competition Law, What Are Campaign Contributions Worth?, Radical Markets Through the Lens of Contemporary China, and Using the Liberal Radicalism Mechanism to Fund Replication Studies.
Because we believe that student engagement is critical to broader success, we are offering scholarship opportunities to help reduce barriers to your attendance at the first ever RadicalxChange conference in March. Information on the different scholarship tracks is available here. We support a strong youth voice at the conference, with local chapters representing the different philosophies for the proliferation of RadicalxChange. However, RxC Students is growing independent of the conference, and your participation and leadership in the movement does not require attendance at the conference.
As the movement continues to grow and as actions, projects, and experiments begin to yield results, more resources showcasing the work of various RxC Students chapter initiatives will be added to our website. We hope this inspires others to experiment with Radical Markets concepts and engage more fully with the broader movement.
RxC Students aims to empower young people to envision, experiment, and enact the future we want. We seek to use dramatically expanded competitive, free and open market mechanisms to reduce inequality, build widely-shared prosperity, heal global political divides and build a richer and more cooperative social life. And we hope you will join us. If you are interested in joining or starting a student chapter, more information can be found at rxcstudents.org/join, along with some starting points for creating action and experiments in your local community! To tune into the RadicalxChange conversation online, you are welcome to join us at forum.radicalxchange.org.
Happy new year, best of luck in the new semester, and we hope to see you in Detroit and beyond!
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