Labor discipline under socialism/communism?

46 posts / 0 new
Last post
yoda's walking stick
Offline
Joined: 6-04-11
Feb 16 2012 17:20
Labor discipline under socialism/communism?

What would labor discipline (not sure if I'm using the right phrase here) look like under socialism? Presumably people could and would be fired from their jobs even if there was full employment? What other sticks and carrots might a socialist society have at its disposal to encourage good work?

subprole's picture
subprole
Offline
Joined: 29-01-11
Feb 16 2012 17:36

Strict rationing of food and other forms of punishment that will have to be invented by the socialist state if the workers don't work fast enough. The rest will be done by socialist police and secret police. Labour camps are also a very effective to discipline labour power, not only in capitalism.

Sinzer
Offline
Joined: 12-05-11
Feb 16 2012 18:41

"Labour discipline" is definitely the wrong word. We're not looking to extracting profit, let alone trying to maximise its extraction. I'd also say "job" is the wrong word too.

Would not the encouragement for good work come from either enjoying the work or the realisation that it's necessary labour for you and your community? It's not like a communist society would have a manager shouting at you to go faster so that more profit's extracted in a shorter space of time.

The biggest concern would be to do with safety. Of course i'm sure anyone able to actually perform labour would accept the need to be trained to use equipment etc safely and people not doing so would be called out on it and if needs be told by their colleagues to work elsewhere.

It should be stressed though that being told you can't work somewhere would not be a disciplinary method like being fired is. The only reason the threat of being fired is disciplinary is to do with the possibility of being in worse poverty than you would if you kept your job.

Considering you'd be making decisions about your work and that most workers that work in a dangerous manner now do so due to the completely alienating and despotic circumstance of work under capitalism (not to mention incentives from management to work dangerously fast etc) and others due to not being adequately trained i doubt it'd be a problem.

tl;dr version: "labour discipline" as we know it wouldn't exist.

yoda's walking stick
Offline
Joined: 6-04-11
Feb 16 2012 18:57

OK, I'll give you a real world example. I work at a grocery store. Sometimes I stock shelves at night. One of my coworkers constantly comes in high. Besides being on drugs, which makes him slow and unresponsive, he's just a lazy person. He always is looking to dump what should be his work on his coworkers.

Now imagine this grocery store was publicly owned. It was distributing food to the people in a manner that had been democratically agreed upon by the people. This guy's still there. He's still lazy. He's still high. He's still not pulling his weight.

How do we deal with it? Can we eventually fire him, and say, "Go work somewhere else?" Can we provide some sort of incentives to those who work harder?

Sinzer
Offline
Joined: 12-05-11
Feb 16 2012 19:34

Or is his laziness directly related to the fact he's doing a shit job for shit pay? I'm also a very shit employee because of it. When i was working in a call centre i spent a week pretending to call people when i really didn't. Thankfully it was piss easy to fake the records. Got a few other people doing it too. I also regularly turned up high.

Would not a communist society use technology to track if an item leaves a storeroom so as to minimise the pointless task of counting potentially thousands of things? If so could it not be a matter of you just turn up and take something, it gets logged so as to keep the records in order without there being someone there all the time bored out of their skull? It may seem like going off on a tangent but it is relevant.

It seems what you're doing is assuming that everything will be identical to now after the revolution with just a change of management but the entire society would be different. It's not like people will be looking for any old job that pays the bills, you'd end up doing what you're interested in doing. The only times you wouldn't would be if there's something that's necessary that no one wants to do then i'd personally say it would be most equitable to rotate that task.

Or is it you're asking what should be done about people that shirk their responsibilities ATR? As a first step how about call a meeting to discuss that person's behaviour?

Sinzer
Offline
Joined: 12-05-11
Feb 16 2012 19:39

Should i just make jokes or something? Can someone gift me a sense of humour?

snipfool
Offline
Joined: 9-06-11
Feb 16 2012 19:48

you could probably just talk to him to see what the deal is. let him work at his own pace, or if it's dangerous there's probably other stoned-suitable work he might want to do. are you worried he might be upset not being allowed to stack shelves? lol. under communism, you're probably more likely to be sociable with the people you work with and perhaps you all agreed to collaborate together, making this situation less likely to occur or less awkward to deal with if it did.

yoda's walking stick
Offline
Joined: 6-04-11
Feb 16 2012 19:50
Quote:
whoa what a major issue, that needs urgent attention.

here;s an idea go get high with him and stop being such a whiner.

OMG someone is slacking at stacking out the Workers Mars Bars, form a committee!

OK, it's official, efficiency is a bourgeois conceit. roll eyes

Quote:
It's not like people will be looking for any old job that pays the bills, you'd end up doing what you're interested in doing. The only times you wouldn't would be if there's something that's necessary that no one wants to do then i'd personally say it would be most equitable to rotate that task.

This is a utopian joke. There are always going to be shit jobs that nobody wants to do, and those jobs probably will make up the majority of jobs offered. Who are going to be the miners, the plumbers, the truck drivers, the shelve stockers?

LefterThanThou
Offline
Joined: 13-05-10
Feb 16 2012 19:57

If the socialist is a collectivist, he'll say yes. If the socialist is a communist, you'll get one of three answers: 1) Kropotkin--who studied rocks, ants and bees--said humans aren't naturally selfish; 2) Marx, fully formed prior to Darwin, said there is no human nature at all, so to effect socialism is to effect socially responsible man; 3) yes, but only on a case-by-case basis and only via non-economic measures such as shunning, institutionalization and exile.

That said, in your present situation be wary of internalizing the interests of your employer and taking offense to your coworker's sloth. His sloth puts him first in line in case of downsizing and lowers the bar for the rest of you; you should treat him like a martyr.

Picket's picture
Picket
Offline
Joined: 20-12-10
Feb 16 2012 20:25
yoda's walking stick wrote:
This is a utopian joke. There are always going to be shit jobs that nobody wants to do, and those jobs probably will make up the majority of jobs offered. Who are going to be the miners, the plumbers, the truck drivers, the shelve stockers?

I haven't done any mining, truck driving or shelf stacking but I've done a bit of plumbing at home and it can be very satisfying. Anyway the paragraph you quoted says to rotate undesirable tasks. Or is that still a utopian joke?

Sinzer
Offline
Joined: 12-05-11
Feb 16 2012 20:31
yoda's walking stick wrote:
Quote:
It's not like people will be looking for any old job that pays the bills, you'd end up doing what you're interested in doing. The only times you wouldn't would be if there's something that's necessary that no one wants to do then i'd personally say it would be most equitable to rotate that task.

This is a utopian joke. There are always going to be shit jobs that nobody wants to do, and those jobs probably will make up the majority of jobs offered. Who are going to be the miners, the plumbers, the truck drivers, the shelve stockers?

If no one wants to do them and no one agrees to rotate the task what other option is there? Either it won't get done and people will have to make-do without or we start forming a system to coerce some to do it. The latter of which isn't in keeping with liberty nor equality and ought to be resisted, with violence if necessary.

redsdisease
Offline
Joined: 31-12-10
Feb 16 2012 20:32
yoda's walking stick wrote:
This is a utopian joke. There are always going to be shit jobs that nobody wants to do, and those jobs probably will make up the majority of jobs offered. Who are going to be the miners, the plumbers, the truck drivers, the shelve stockers?

You know, I used to agree with you, but I really don't anymore. Or at least, I don't think it's the major issue that people say it is. I find that I actually tend to like a lot of the jobs people tend to say "NOBODY WOULD EVER DO THAT WILLINGLY." Honestly, I like cleaning my bathroom and doing dishes. Back when I volunteered at an infoshop I enjoyed cleaning the floors and folding and hanging clothes. At the Occupy encampments there seemed to be more enthusiasm for doing basic infrastructure work than for various committee meetings. Hell lots of people do menial task everyday on their spare time and call them "hobbies".

I think the reason why I and tons of other people do these kinds things without discipline or reward is because we feel like they are important and we have a sense of ownership and control over the tasks that we are doing. If people didn't under a communist society, then i don't think it could meaningfully be called a communist society.

Quite honestly, I feel that the reason why "nobody wants to do" certain jobs has more to do with what jobs are more valued socially under capitalism than with the actual nature of the work itself. With clean, white collar jobs having more social prestige than dirty, hands on work.

All that said, things might change with dangerous work. I agree that there might have to be some kind of more coordinated system for getting this kind of work done. Although the social reward for doing "heroic" work might prove all that is needed. And perhaps drastically increased safety could make dangerous jobs much safer. After all, most of the dramatic industrial disasters that I can think of happening recently all had to do with companies going lax on safety to make larger profits.

A Wotsit's picture
A Wotsit
Offline
Joined: 14-11-11
Feb 16 2012 20:46

Yoda, I agree with the answers you're getting, but I think the main problem is that you need a better concept of what logical social behaviours would be dominant in true socialism.

In a mature anarchy we would just choose what 'jobs' or 'work' to do based on what we wanted to gain from that minute's/day's/ week's/ month's/ year's/ lifetime's graft and also based on who we wanted to help. The means of production, workplaces, would be held in common and there would be ways of accessing and organising those workplaces, and our relationship with them to get what we wanted democratically, or just by being socially aware with our behaviour and labour, talking to each other and sorting things out. If certain things were needed lots of us would get together and plan how to produce more of whatever. I ain't read all the books and that but I think that is anarchism.

There wouldn't be wages so if we don't do the work, we don't get a share of the rewards. Sort of thing. So the thing needed to correct anti-social behaviour at 'work' wouldn't be disciplinary procedures. It would be that you didn't produce anything of use for yourself or your community with your labour. Also, if you didn't help anyone else meet their needs it's less likely you'll have any friends/ comrades/ co-workers to meet your needs, so everyone is constantly incentivsied to be social and share their labour a bit. They would want to and it would make sense to. We'd pretty much all be chilled and happy and cooperative. Those not able to work with us/ support themselves would be supported by everyone else (or at least the majority) I'm pretty sure I'd pitch in my fair share- and think almost everyone I know would- because most people want to be helpful to others and want to be liked by others, as well as looking out for their own needs. That's socialism, innit?

In a social economy, rather than a monetary one, there would be no incentive to freeload or screw your co-workers over because if you are anti-social with your labour then it's less likely anyone is going to use theirs to help you...

Also, if there were no bosses if it was really necessary I'm pretty sure workers would just 'have words' or agree that so-and-so was not really welcome and that they would asked to be more helpful, or piss off. I can see that from time to time there would still be opportunities to 'free-load' but at least it wouldn't be exploitation on the scale you'd see in a capitalist economy. There would be some anti-social people, granted but you don't need to question the things you are questioning, we'd find ways to sort ourselves out. Let's just stop asking silly questions and get on with this revolution eh?

Slacking at shelf stacking in a capitalist shop is not anti-social and you can't draw parallels with slacking after the revolution.

In a capitalist economy slacking is to be encouraged and enjoyed as much as possible (unless you enjoy working). In a socialist one then it probably wouldn't even be a problem. People would relax, but they would also do what was necessary to enjoy a good life and be well liked and helpful. You don't need rules and punishment with regards to dividing labour. You might need organisation to plan and make collective decisions, making but social behaviour will do most of the organising work for you, rules will be flexible other than the fundamentals of social behaviour like preventing violence. As for dirty jobs we would do the more common ones for ourselves but we could all pitch in a little bit. 99% of the worst jobs under capitalism would be done very differently because we simply wouldn't have the scale of unnecessary production and consumption or the need to extract surplus value for the capitalists.

I think we're all brainwashed into thinking we need authority in some way to deal with people who are anti-social but I think social relations sort them selves out best when there aren't any rules about punishment and whatnot- just general shared values and rational collective behaviour. Mutual aid, decision making by consent and that.

LefterThanThou
Offline
Joined: 13-05-10
Feb 16 2012 21:07
Sinzer wrote:
If no one wants to do them and no one agrees to rotate the task what other option is there? Either it won't get done and people will have to make-do without or we start forming a system to coerce some to do it. The latter of which isn't in keeping with liberty nor equality and ought to be resisted, with violence if necessary.

It's egalitarian if the tasks are rotated, regardless of coercion. And how does capitalism coerce? By putting a gun to your head? No, by alienating you from the means of production such that your desire compels you to sell yourself. But desire compels regardless of the social system. If each takes according to his will, as libertarian communists propose, to not work is to, by the sum of one's actions, effect a situation in which desire compels the rest to do that much more work. So there is compulsion, coercion, already.

yoda's walking stick
Offline
Joined: 6-04-11
Feb 16 2012 21:40
LefterThanThou wrote:
Sinzer wrote:
If no one wants to do them and no one agrees to rotate the task what other option is there? Either it won't get done and people will have to make-do without or we start forming a system to coerce some to do it. The latter of which isn't in keeping with liberty nor equality and ought to be resisted, with violence if necessary.

It's egalitarian if the tasks are rotated, regardless of coercion. And how does capitalism coerce? By putting a gun to your head? No, by alienating you from the means of production such that your desire compels you to sell yourself. But desire compels regardless of the social system. If each takes according to his will, as libertarian communists propose, to not work is to, by the sum of one's actions, effect a situation in which desire compels the rest to do that much more work. So there is compulsion, coercion, already.

I think you could provide some sort of economic incentive to those who take on unpopular jobs. Raise that incentive until the jobs are filled. That's the most practical solution in my opinion. If the economy is owned by the people, and they agree on such an incentive plan, and those incentive options are available to everyone, I don't see why that wouldn't be considered a society based on a principle of equality.

LefterThanThou
Offline
Joined: 13-05-10
Feb 16 2012 21:56

What's the difference? Collectivists (let's not bring mutualism into this) propose economic incentives, you propose social incentives. Neither is any more or less a "blueprint", and nobody here is doing rocket science.

yoda's walking stick
Offline
Joined: 6-04-11
Feb 16 2012 22:10

Your idea of "having a few words" with someone who is not doing their fair share is just a silly solution when applied to what would have to be a very complicated socialist economy on a regional, national, or worldwide scale. That's the problem with you armchair anarchist dreamers, you always discuss a future society as if it's a commune made up 15 people, never bigger than the smallest small town.

Revol's argument method: anger, anger, anger, fuck, joke, anger, anger, fuck, anger, joke.

LefterThanThou
Offline
Joined: 13-05-10
Feb 16 2012 22:14

You misunderstand methodological individualism. It's not a description of human nature, much less a prescription. It's just that parsimony is a virtue, and the consequences of a Homo economicus model are preferable to those of a Formicidae model.

Birthday Pony's picture
Birthday Pony
Offline
Joined: 11-12-11
Feb 16 2012 22:20

Anarchism isn't supposed to be incentive based, and neither is communism. Both are society's based on consciousness, a realization that interactions between people and groups are in the interest of mutual aid rather than strictly self-gratification or group-gratification.

If you're interested in setting up a society where incentives are simply shuffled around as some sort of safety net just in case we decide not to concentrate on creating class consciousness and relationships of reciprocity and solidarity, then you're not interested in communism, or anarchism, or anything that revolutionary.

yoda's walking stick
Offline
Joined: 6-04-11
Feb 16 2012 22:23
Birthday Pony wrote:
Anarchism isn't supposed to be incentive based, and neither is communism. Both are society's based on consciousness, a realization that interactions between people and groups are in the interest of mutual aid rather than strictly self-gratification or group-gratification.

If you're interested in setting up a society where incentives are simply shuffled around as some sort of safety net just in case we decide not to concentrate on creating class consciousness and relationships of reciprocity and solidarity, then you're not interested in communism, or anarchism, or anything that revolutionary.

Wanting to socialize the means of production is revolutionary enough for me.

Railyon's picture
Railyon
Offline
Joined: 4-11-11
Feb 16 2012 22:34
yoda's walking stick wrote:
That's the problem with you armchair anarchist dreamers, you always discuss a future society as if it's a commune made up 15 people, never bigger than the smallest small town.

That's the problem with you trots in denial, still thinking in bourgeois categories (for fucks sake, "full employment" in socialism? "Sticks and carrots"? I thought you read Capital? Oh wait...).

If you see one man lazing about, so what? How do you think that will effect a commune NOT made up of 15 people?

What other sticks and carrots might a socialist society have at its disposal to encourage good work?

Maybe like, you don't make him do some shit job on someone else's behest and profit. That ring a bell?

The problem here is not, what do you do with the person who dislikes his, let's say occupation (because "jobs" as we know them wouldn't exist anymore). To that the answer is easy.

The question must arise on a social level then. Why do you think people would not want to work? Because they are lazy? Why, of course! But isn't exactly that the ultimate goal of communism? To abolish work?

But of course there's always the salt mines.

EGADS
Offline
Joined: 10-09-11
Feb 16 2012 22:59
yoda's walking stick wrote:
That's the problem with you armchair anarchist dreamers, you always discuss a future society as if it's a commune made up 15 people, never bigger than the smallest small town.

I take it that you're some sort of wishy-washy social democrat or leftist, right?

wojtek
Offline
Joined: 8-01-11
Feb 16 2012 23:07

I'm defo not sharing my weed with yoda. THE BUMS WILL HAVE THEIR REVOLUTION!

Sinzer
Offline
Joined: 12-05-11
Feb 16 2012 23:08
yoda's walking stick wrote:
I think you could provide some sort of economic incentive to those who take on unpopular jobs. Raise that incentive until the jobs are filled. That's the most practical solution in my opinion. If the economy is owned by the people, and they agree on such an incentive plan, and those incentive options are available to everyone, I don't see why that wouldn't be considered a society based on a principle of equality.

There will no doubt be some that can do the popular tasks but not the unpopular. Is it inline with equality for them to be denied these "economic incentives" which amount to what? More food? A computer? It seems what you're proposing is a wages system. Those that do tasks from category A can have X amount, those that do tasks from category B can have Y amount and so forth all determining the quality of your life.

RedEd's picture
RedEd
Offline
Joined: 27-11-10
Feb 16 2012 23:15

I often see people doing their jobs and am tempted to ask them 'can I have a go at that'. Collecting bins is a big one. I'm pretty sure this makes the the best anarchist in town. Doing almost anything is great if you're learning, you know what it's for, you're interacting positively with the other people involved and so on. Even painful and/or disgusting tasks can be fun if you do them with a sense of camaraderie and purpose. Everyone knows this. Ideologues have to work really hard to convince us that this isn't the case and succeed just enough to keep us at least saying that being treated like robots is that natural way society operates.

bootsy
Offline
Joined: 30-11-09
Feb 17 2012 00:48

Yoda rather than getting grumpy at your coworker maybe you should consider encouraging your boss to hire more staff? Maybe, by working so hard and therefore taking up jobs which could be done by several people, you're the one who is being anti-social in this instance.

At my job, when pushed, I can do several jobs at once and do them well. But I basically never do that because its tiring for me and it gives my boss a reason to cut other people's shifts.

snipfool
Offline
Joined: 9-06-11
Feb 17 2012 01:21

LefterThanThou
Offline
Joined: 13-05-10
Feb 17 2012 01:33
RedEd wrote:
I often see people doing their jobs and am tempted to ask them 'can I have a go at that'. Collecting bins is a big one. I'm pretty sure this makes the the best anarchist in town. Doing almost anything is great if you're learning, you know what it's for, you're interacting positively with the other people involved and so on. Even painful and/or disgusting tasks can be fun if you do them with a sense of camaraderie and purpose. Everyone knows this. Ideologues have to work really hard to convince us that this isn't the case and succeed just enough to keep us at least saying that being treated like robots is that natural way society operates.

The natural "society" to which you refer was a large collection of tribes that evidently didn't give a shit about eachother. So even if nature's way is a preferable substitute for the formalities of exchange on the small scale, the question of incentives is hardly answered. As for the robot remark, it gives hostage to fortune.

RedEd's picture
RedEd
Offline
Joined: 27-11-10
Feb 17 2012 02:18
LefterThanThou wrote:
RedEd wrote:
I often see people doing their jobs and am tempted to ask them 'can I have a go at that'. Collecting bins is a big one. I'm pretty sure this makes the the best anarchist in town. Doing almost anything is great if you're learning, you know what it's for, you're interacting positively with the other people involved and so on. Even painful and/or disgusting tasks can be fun if you do them with a sense of camaraderie and purpose. Everyone knows this. Ideologues have to work really hard to convince us that this isn't the case and succeed just enough to keep us at least saying that being treated like robots is that natural way society operates.

The natural "society" to which you refer was a large collection of tribes that evidently didn't give a shit about eachother. So even if nature's way is a preferable substitute for the formalities of exchange on the small scale, the question of incentives is hardly answered. As for the robot remark, it gives hostage to fortune.

I was only referring to an imagined 'natural' society. Natural is a loaded term it makes no sense to me to use except in critique. I don't know what 'it gives hostage to fortune' means. Can you explain?

Birthday Pony's picture
Birthday Pony
Offline
Joined: 11-12-11
Feb 17 2012 06:46
yoda's walking stick wrote:
Wanting to socialize the means of production is revolutionary enough for me.

I'm inclined to believe that's not enough.

I'm surprised no one has asked you, but it would probably lead to a more constructive discussion if you explained why you think there needs to be labor discipline.

yoda's walking stick
Offline
Joined: 6-04-11
Feb 17 2012 07:26
Birthday Pony wrote:
yoda's walking stick wrote:
Wanting to socialize the means of production is revolutionary enough for me.

I'm inclined to believe that's not enough.

I'm surprised no one has asked you, but it would probably lead to a more constructive discussion if you explained why you think there needs to be labor discipline.

Well, I guess we should be clear about what I mean, because I'm likely using a historically loaded term which doesn't necessarily mean what I mean. By labor discipline, I mean carrots and sticks democratically agreed upon by the people, rather than by a minority of capitalists, to induce better work.

I think it's necessary because I don't believe human nature is infinitely malleable, and I don't rest my belief in the superiority of a socialist system on such a shaky foundation as an idealized view of human nature. I think there will always be lazy people. I think people will more often than not look out for their own self-interest. The trick is to get their self-interest to line up with the public interest. And that's where incentives, both economic and social, come in under a system of public ownership of the means of production.