workers' co-operatives and revolution

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Lazy Riser's picture
Lazy Riser
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Aug 10 2007 21:17

Well, given that logic, capitalism works. As for life in Norway being degrading and shitty, it's all in your mind. We may as well be discussing what electoral marketeers call "values", and note how they vary between nations.

Catch 22
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Aug 10 2007 21:20

Sometimes I wonder Lazy what exactly are you doing on this board? Methinks you drank the postmodern koolaid.

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sam sanchez
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Aug 11 2007 00:13

I see no reason to suppose why Economic Democracy would fail to function, despite its deficiencies. Indeed, it is based on observations of already existing phenomena.

Markets obviously function, which cannot be guaranteed of as yet untested systems of participatory planning etc.

Workers co-operatives have been shown to be feasible and are reasonably widespread.

Planned investment, albeit of a less democratic and open kind, has been used sucessfully in Japan, among other places - there via close collaboration between the banking cartels and the government.

So I see no reason why it should not function and sustain itself as described. There may be objections as to how it would function, but this is another matter.

Catch 22
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Aug 11 2007 01:13
sam sanchez wrote:
I see no reason to suppose why Economic Democracy would fail to function, despite its deficiencies. Indeed, it is based on observations of already existing phenomena.

Markets obviously function, which cannot be guaranteed of as yet untested systems of participatory planning etc.

Workers co-operatives have been shown to be feasible and are reasonably widespread.

Planned investment, albeit of a less democratic and open kind, has been used sucessfully in Japan, among other places - there via close collaboration between the banking cartels and the government.

So I see no reason why it should not function and sustain itself as described. There may be objections as to how it would function, but this is another matter.

Well lets see.

1. David calls for "socialist protectionism" which aside from being daft, means that he think ED is feasible within one country. In other words he ignores the pinochet scenario that would likely to occur if you ever implemented ED.

2. David believes in a small scale capitalist class that would be entrepreneurial and would "innovate." An economy dedicated to solidarity, cooperation etc. clearly can't sanction wage labor.

3. David has no analysis of a coordinator/bureaucrat/managerial class. He thinks that the corporate division of labor isn't bad. He thinks specialists and skilled managers will command premium wages.

4. David keeps government and taxation for "social investment." Whatever that is.

5. David likes markets, which clearly don't properly internalize costs and don't account for the needs and demands of the populace.

6. David thinks competition between various worker owned firms won't lead to capitalism re establishing itself. Which is rather foolish. Competition between firms run by "skilled managers" clearly will redevelop into capitalism as we know it.

To borrow Schweickart's own words, Market socialism really is "Nonsense on stilts."

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sam sanchez
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Aug 11 2007 01:33

We don't have to agree with the proposals mentioned in 1, 2 or 3 to agree with the basic model.

Markets could account for the needs of the populace if income was more evenly distributed.

Some way of generating the funds for investment has to be thought of. You can say that the workers "rent" the MoP from society if you want. But whilst there is money, someone has to pay the workers who make the MoP, and if the community is going to own the MoP, then the community should pay for them collectively. In any case, if this "taxation" was administered by a federation of voluntary communes, then it would no more be "taxation" than union dues or a membership of a club are taxation.

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Lazy Riser
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Aug 11 2007 11:51
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An economy dedicated to solidarity, cooperation etc. clearly can't sanction wage labor.

The degree of dedication to solidarity and cooperation is due to various individual, possibly genetically inherited, psychological predilections. It doesn’t express a repressed global human character trait.

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then it would no more be "taxation" than union dues or a membership of a club are taxation.

In which case a TV License, rent or Council Tax aren't really "taxation" either.

CornetJoyce
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Aug 17 2007 03:47

How did this discussion go on so long without a mention of Mondragon?

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sam sanchez
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Sep 2 2007 22:33

A TV licens is not voluntary, and neither is council tax! Thats tantamount to saying that the local council, or the government (which maks the rules with regard to TV licenses) is a voluntary association!

In any case, any society based upon common ownership of the means of production is going to have to allocate resources to compensate those who produce these means. If everyone is to own them, then everyone should contribute to this common fund. Look at it a different way - call the tax on capital assets a rent that groups of workers pay to society in for the use of the MoP. It comes to the same thing.

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Sep 3 2007 00:24
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A TV licens is not voluntary, and neither is council tax!

Neither are Union dues. You want to watch TV, get a license. You want statutory immunity, pay your union dues. You want cheaper council tax, move to a smaller house. What’s voluntary and what’s not is really just question of rights and justice, which means we’re in the sphere of values not facts.

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In any case, any society based upon common ownership of the means of production is going to have to allocate resources to compensate those who produce these means.

Maybe so, but that’s just exchange relations all over again. “Those who produce these means” are bound to push the envelope of compensation up to the point the rest of society finds someone else to do the job, either that or they’re going to be suckers for every con in the book. If wages are decided democratically and all assets are socially owned what happens when the fire fighters go on strike for more pay? Send the militia in to sequester “our” fire engines?

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Look at it a different way - call the tax on capital assets a rent that groups of workers pay to society in for the use of the MoP. It comes to the same thing.

Quite right, but why bother taxing the MoP in the first place. Couldn’t you just let the workers keep the rent and print whatever extra money you need? Besides, what is this rent to be used for? Schools? Hospitals? Presumably Teachers and Doctors will be paying rent on them as well. Ownership is a just a matter of law anyway, it’s changed by the stroke of a pen. I’m not trying to make a point about anything in particular here, and it looks like I’m arguing for the sake of it I know, but by the time the economic model is patched up it’s just modern “capitalism” with restricted stock exchange activity. What’s more important than the structural organisation of business is the type of enterprises commandeered by the working class. All the cooperatives in marginal and small scale industries don’t mean a thing, it only gets worthwhile once we start talking about agriculture, energy generation and large scale manufacturing.

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sam sanchez
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Sep 4 2007 18:53
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If wages are decided democratically and all assets are socially owned what happens when the fire fighters go on strike for more pay? Send the militia in to sequester “our” fire engines?

Well, the idea of market socialism is that wages are not democratically decided as a whole. The workers democratically run their firms, and divide the profit between themselves as they wish. So competition still exists, but between socially owned, self-managed firms.

The difference is that new investment is paid for through the rent that workers pay for use of existing MoP. Self-managd enterprises must maintain the value of the capital assets allocated to them, by keeping a depreciation fund.

I mean, a fire strike is just as possible, but in most workplaces there would be no bosses to strike against!

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sam sanchez
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Sep 4 2007 19:04
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You want to watch TV, get a license. You want statutory immunity, pay your union dues. You want cheaper council tax, move to a smaller house. What’s voluntary and what’s not is really just question of rights and justice, which means we’re in the sphere of values not facts.

Voluntarism is not always a clear concept, I agree. But, say with a union, you don't have to join an existing one. You cold start another one. You don't hav to put yourself under the auhority of any union just because you live in a certain area. But you do ith a state, or a council, or with a landlord. A union is an association of people. The others are based upon monopolistic rights over certain areas or resources.

Tak an example from the Spanish Civil war. Communes were formed, but those in an area who did not wish to associate were left to themselves, and occupied as much land as they could use. The only restriction on them was that they did not claim a monopoly and forc people off land not being used by them.

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Sep 4 2007 20:02
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I mean, a fire strike is just as possible, but in most workplaces there would be no bosses to strike against!

Oh I don't know. There’s always those pesky “rent” collectors.

Mike Harman
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Sep 4 2007 20:19
sam sanchez wrote:

Planned investment, albeit of a less democratic and open kind, has been used sucessfully in Japan, among other places - there via close collaboration between the banking cartels and the government.

So I see no reason why it should not function and sustain itself as described. There may be objections as to how it would function, but this is another matter.

hahahaha!

Japan's system is based on departments granting funds to quangos, run by ex-officials in the departments, which then grant contracts to (mainly construction) firms, owned by those same ex-officials, or officials, or their mates, which then gets spent on worthless projects like roads to nowhere, or cutting down native forest and replanting it with cedar that never gets harvested because there's no logging industry to speak of, or concreting over mountains and rivers where no-one lives for flood and landslide protection.

There's a pachinko parlour in nearly every Japanese town and even small villages - why? Because ex-police officers are on the pachinko boards and the police department itself is funded by them as part of this planned investment.

Let's not forget how closely the Yakuza are entwined with Japanese politics and bureaucracy either.

Not to mention all of Japan's major banks were (and probably still are) officially bankrupt between 1989 and 2000 but have been propped up with post office savings, pensions and other workers' earnings.

It's successful for a few bureaucrats, that's it.

Mike Harman
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Sep 4 2007 20:21
sam sanchez wrote:
I mean, a fire strike is just as possible, but in most workplaces there would be no bosses to strike against!

Yeah, like in Russia in 1918. Oh shit wait...

Lazy Riser's picture
Lazy Riser
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Sep 4 2007 20:41

Ha ha. I laid off that retort on humanitarian grounds.

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sam sanchez
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Sep 4 2007 23:33

Whose proposing anything like Russia? As far as I know, Soviet Russia was not that hot on workers' self-management. I'm not proposing banning strikes like Lenin, on the pretext that 'only a counter-revolutionary would strike in the workers republic'.. But if the workers in a firm make their management decisions collectively, and sell their produce on the market, how can they strike? There is no central authority with whome to bargain!

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Sep 5 2007 07:52
sam sanchez wrote:
But if the workers in a firm make their management decisions collectively, and sell their produce on the market, how can they strike? There is no central authority with whome to bargain!

are you trying to design an unassailable commodity fetishism? confused

Lazy Riser's picture
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Sep 5 2007 08:16
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But if the workers in a firm make their management decisions collectively, and sell their produce on the market, how can they strike?

The very question that spurred on the designers of Toyota-style business processes. Strikes are sooooo 20th Century.