Co-ops or workers' revolution?

Co-ops or workers' revolution?

An article by Tom Wetzel (under a pseudonym) which lays out the limitations of cooperatives as an alternative to capitalism.

Originally appeared in ideas & action #1 (Winter 1982)
Made available courtesy of the Workers Solidarity Alliance archives in NY
Scanned by Juan Conatz

AttachmentSize
coopsorrevolution.PDF14.56 MB

Comments

Chilli Sauce
Jan 7 2014 14:41

Isn't Wetzel big into Parecon now?

Uncontrollable
Jan 8 2014 05:10
Chilli Sauce wrote:
Isn't Wetzel big into Parecon now?

Yeah....and?

Chilli Sauce
Jan 8 2014 11:18

Just seems like a bit of a contradiction, that's all.

Spikymike
Jan 8 2014 13:11

Co-op critical but pro-Parecon - a case of one step forward two steps back I suppose!

Chilli Sauce
Jan 8 2014 14:09

FWIW, I find that quite a lot with Wetzel, I like a lot of the older stuff he's written, but I don't always see how it syncs up with parecon.

EDITED to be less dickish.

Uncontrollable
Jan 8 2014 15:40

What's the contradiction? The participatory economics model has nothing to do with worker cooperatives. In parecon the land, natural resources, the means of production are socially owned by the entire society or another way to look at it it isn't owned by anyone. It isn't owned by people In worker coops nor does it involve markets.

Chilli Sauce
Jan 8 2014 16:20

So who wants another round of this debate? Not me, but if you want to Uncontrollable, I'd start here:

http://libcom.org/library/participatory-society-or-libertarian-communism

Also, I don't think I agree with you that even post-revolution Parecon doesn't argue for co-ops, but even if that's true, perhaps you should take a look at this website. The folks who are attempting to put participatory economics into practice certainly seem to think it's compatible with co-ops:

http://parecon.ca/wpwc#.Us16udJdXgE

Spikymike
Jan 8 2014 17:00

As with Chilli but see also the lengthy discussion thread on this site under the title: 'International Organisation For a Participatory Society' and it's proponent 'noscman1' and some syndicalist supporters.

The proponents of the competitor model of 'Inclusive democracy' who have made their own critique of Parecon have also been discussed on this site and equally criticised by those of us Marxist influenced Libertarian Communists.

Uncontrollable
Jan 8 2014 22:16

There's nothing to debate. Participatory economics consists of people being organized in direct democratic workers councils and community councils practicing self management and federations of these throughout society. Instead of markets there is a back and forth negotiation of inputs and outputs between these direct democratic self managed workers councils and community councils. People in parecon are not organized in worker coops who own the means of production producing goods to be bought and sold in markets. The fact there are libertarian socialists who think building worker coops is a good strategy to get to a post capitalist libertarian socialist society is irrelevant. It's clear from this article that Tom doesn't think this is a good strategy and as far as I know he never has. There's only 4 things that make up the participatory economics model none of which involves worker coops or markets.

Juan Conatz
Jan 8 2014 23:24

Hey guys, if you want to discuss parecon and whether it involves cooperatives, please start another thread.

klas batalo
Jan 9 2014 04:45

@Chilli

briefly Wetzel still has this view against co-ops or a co-op capitalism being self-managed exploitation he's against it, view didn't change.

Spikymike
Jan 9 2014 10:19

Please don't start yet another thread on Parecon. Even if we can agree to some extent on the critique of 'co-ops', whatever Parecon is, it is NOT Libertarian Communism and fails to respond (even if it were a practical proposition) to the problem of human alienation at the heart of system of 'value production' which is capitalism. 'Uncontrollable' should pursue some of the other discussion threads already mentioned and easily searched.

syndicalist
Jan 30 2014 01:45

The article is consistant with anarcho-syndicalism and libertarian communism or, if one prefers, libertarian socialism.

I would suggest folks debate the content, not the writer.

syndicalist
Jan 30 2014 13:54

Not sure who the d-bag is who down my above comment. I'm not a pareconist. As anarcho-syndicalist I find nothing in the article that is inconsistant with a revolutionary point of view. debate it in the open, not the snarky dark of "downing" a pretty bland comment.

EDIT: What a wus. Won't even say what's wrong with the coop article.

syndicalistcat
Jan 30 2014 02:41

As uncontrollable points out, there is nothing particularly "pro-coop" about participatory economics. It's just a model of non-market libertarian socialism, or libertarian communism. It's about the model to be constructed through a revolutionary transition, by a working class mass movement, to replace capitalism & the market. The automatic knee jerk anti-participatory economics reaction is an example of a certain sort of narrow minded sectarianism I'm afraid. (I hate to say this but I tend to find the British anarchist movement hopelessly sectarian.)

I haven't changed my view about coops. I suppose if I were writing today I guess I would acknowledge the possibility of forming a workers coop as a tactic, such as to save jobs in a case of as shutdown, as with Republic doors & windows in Chicago. but it isn't possible to construct socialism by starting up coops in capitalism, for the reasons I laid out here, and also for some others as well.

bozemananarchy
Jan 30 2014 03:51

Spikeymike & Chilli,

Just an FYI, you both look like total dicks taking a few potshots at the author and then promptly shaking your fingers at folks for "starting a new parecon thread". What exactly in the fuck were you expecting with your opening salvo? You basically baited folks then pulled the sheets over your heads. Shit was about as lame as Albert himself.

syndicalist
Jan 30 2014 04:42

Is there a particular critique of the article (and remember, it was written in the early 1980s)?

Chilli Sauce wrote:
FWIW, I find that quite a lot with Wetzel, I like a lot of the older stuff he's written, but I don't always see how it syncs up with parecon.

There is a fair enough question here. And I think in Tom's long being worked on book, he should
provide a clear explanation of how his views differ from mainstream pareconists. While I may differ
with his views, I also think folks crudely and rudely tar and feather him with views which may not even be his own.

syndicalistcat
Jan 30 2014 05:47

well, the sectarianism & snarky-ness comes out from the apparent inability of some people to look at certain ideas & evaluate them on their own, such as participatory planning. this concept has a certain history in radical socialist thought, since it was the guild socialists who originally proposed a process of negotiation between the populace & workers as a way to work out plans for social production. I don't think the "one big meeting" model will work at all. There are many criticisms of it. But I've not seen a plausible (in my opinion) response to those criticisms. Nor have I seen other proposals that can show how a libertarian socialist economy can work out accurate assessments of social opportunity costs. And many anarchists, of whatever country, often fail to appreciate the importance of doing so (without some sort of similar mechanisms). To some extent the way that Albert & Hahnel present their model, not to mention their own separate (reformist) political views, are not helpful. but the proposals should be examined on their merits. But a lot of anarchists are unwilling to do this. Instead there is endless strawman fabrication & snarkiness (by Brits especially). It leads me to lose respect for the people who do this. If ICEA (the CNT's economics think tank) can contain advocates for participatory economics, and these ideas can be discussed in a reasonable manner in the Spanish movement, I don't see why not also in the Anglophone world.

backspace
Jan 30 2014 08:58

I take the view on parecon that it is a useful economic model to frustrate certain arguments about the impossibility of the abolition of profit, and to radicalise liberals and greens. I don't think it will be how organs of workers power will choose to organise production and distribution (beyond 'from each ... to ability', I think they will do it unmediated by economic theoretical concepts, due to force of circumstance). I've spent every political economy (undergrad) paper i've written arguing against analytical frameworks and for dialectical frameworks.... theoretically parecon un-does a lot of what the critique of political economy revolutionised. However, that is a problem related more to modern economic statistical modelling being flawed and parecon inheriting this flaw upon its choice to be a model (which is a catch-22), so I still think it is a useful polemic, especially considering lots of the marxists operating within the field are often less known and worse (see the various alt-keynes bad graph-isation of marx in International Socialism). Worse in the sense that at least Albert and Hahnel are explicit about rejecting Marx's framework, in the SWPs journal they try and do stuff like label an X axis with Rate of Profit.

Spikymike
Jan 30 2014 17:14

syndicalistcat,

Perhaps I should have restrained myself before starting with my 'one step forward two steps back' aside after Chilli first mentioned Parecon, but.......

You and 'Uncontrollable' have engaged in considerable debate in defence of Parecon on the 'noscman1' thread I referred to earlier (amongst others), and whilst the many other people who contested your views there have clearly not shifted your opinion it is far from the case that this has not been thoroughly aired in a consistent way and 'in my opinion' of course, a strong case made that Parecon is neither Libertarian Communism nor a transition to such, even if it could be shown to be a practical system in the first place which 'in my opinion' it is not.

At least we can agree on some of our critique of Co-ops if not of Parecon ( I don't recall what, if any, your views on the opposing model of 'Inclusive Democracy' are).

bozemananarchy
Jan 30 2014 17:52

^ Aren't you in the wrong thread? Pretty sure this one is for sniping and heel biting. Really confused here.

sabot
Jan 30 2014 18:13
syndicalist wrote:
And I think in Tom's long being worked on book

When is the book due out btw?

syndicalist
Jan 30 2014 18:42
sabot wrote:
syndicalist wrote:
And I think in Tom's long being worked on book

When is the book due out btw?

Let's see, I met Tom in the 1970s and he was working on it then ....

Juan Conatz
Jan 30 2014 20:08
syndicalist wrote:
sabot wrote:
syndicalist wrote:
And I think in Tom's long being worked on book

When is the book due out btw?

Let's see, I met Tom in the 1970s and he was working on it then ....

Bwahahaha, I guess it happens like that sometimes

syndicalistcat
Feb 6 2014 01:19

I started on this book in 2006. I should have started earlier as my health has at times interfered. I've outlived my father but I'm getting on. People here will probably like most of it, if I can complete it.

The main purpose is to make a case for libertarian syndicalism, AKA anarcho-syndicalism. The very fact that Chili uses "parecon" shows that he prefers snarkiness over rational discussion. I have NEVER used that term. That is Michael Albert's term. Not even Robin Hahnel uses it. Chili claims participatory economics is inconsistent with libertarian communism but provides no argument. As I've said on various occasions, the phrase "libertarian communism" goes back to early 1900s, and back then the term was understood more loosely (that is, in a less doctrinaire manner) than some people (especially in UK) understand it nowadays. I've argued this before but people in UK prefer to simply not respond to my arguments or misinterpret them. A good example is the anarchist FAQ. The author needs to drop his rank sectarianism and recognize that participatory economics is an anarchist economic model.

Spikymike
Feb 6 2014 13:00

'So-called 'participatory economics' maybe an anarchist economic model of some sort (even if not favoured by many anarchists) but it certainly isn't 'communism' of any sort!

Chilli Sauce
Feb 6 2014 13:13

So, I was actually quite happy to drop this and, indeed, haven't posted on this thread for nearly a month now.

That said, there's a shit-ton of critiques of parecon from a libcom perspective, not the least of which includes this: http://libcom.org/library/participatory-society-or-libertarian-communism

All that said, if you do actually want to engage in a discussion of Parecon, ehhem, I mean participatory economics, I'd suggest started from a point of substance and not semantics. Or, oh yeah, having a go at the supposed sectarianism of an entire country's anarchist movement.

bozemananarchy
Feb 7 2014 02:48

Fuck this is odd. The person pretty much solely responsibly for starting another parecon thread (gawd knows I don't wanna see another!) is frustrated that the pile of shit they left has started to stink.

I love your snide little jab at s-cat about starting with semantics when it appeared that you were game (you know, before you suddenly weren't) to start with lame-ass one-liners. (?) wall

Chilli Sauce
Feb 7 2014 11:48

Well, fuck, this is odd. The same people that claim they don't want another round of parecon seem insistent on not letting the thread just taper off and, instead, insist on snarky, snipey comments to keep things nice and heated. Well done.

And, yes, "suddenly" after a month of not posting on this thread. And let's please ignore my third post. It definitely wasn't conciliatory enough, we must continue with the snark. After all, there's political points to be scored here.

As for me, I was quite happy to heed Juan's (he's an admin, you know) request to drop the parecon discussion until s-cat came back with personal stuff.

bozemananarchy
Feb 9 2014 13:39
Quote:
Well, fuck, this is odd. The same people that claim they don't want another round of parecon seem insistent on not letting the thread just taper off and, instead, insist on snarky, snipey comments to keep things nice and heated.

Agreed, yours and Spikeymikes posts on the 6th were indeed strange.

Quote:
Well done.

Seems out of place. (?)

Quote:
And, yes, "suddenly" after a month of not posting on this thread. And let's please ignore my third post. It definitely wasn't conciliatory enough, we must continue with the snark. After all, there's political points to be scored here.

Um, actually I was referring to your flip in the space of a 24 hour period early January. I've made it clear that my issue has been with your insistence to quickly score your own political points, then ring the buzzer on everyone else. Now, after all your bullshit, you've taken to pulling me up on, admittedly well deserved, snark charges. Why I continue to be perturbed by this, is that you, with your history on this thread, keep insisting on policing it. You continue to make an ass out of yourself.