- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Worker's democracy -- a cause worth devoting one's life to supporting

Posted by: Samuel Day Fassbinder ( Citizens for Mustard Greens, USA ) on December 01, 1999 at 10:28:20:

In Reply to: realistic limitations posted by Gee on November 30, 1999 at 14:32:45:

: : SDF: If everyone has a stake in every business, the experience of working can be changed by VOTE. Sure, there are realistic limitations to how this can be done, but socialist business can be surprisingly flexible and still keep the trains running on time.

: I appreciate what you are saying SDF and I even accept that it may represent some improvement in terms with how a worker might relate to his work - but I think its marginal at best. Those realistic limitations you mention have never been defined.

SDF: Should be fairly easy to do -- start asking the question "what is strictly necessary for the reproduction of society?" about each and every function of society. If it's not strictly necessary, nobody should be required or obligated by our worker's democracy to work at it. That would be the main stipulation of the bill of rights.

: I think they would lead a worker to feel pretty much as he did under a capitalist boss, except maybe he can vote on sundays about some issues with a million other voters.

SDF: One of the main benefits of a democratic economy will be that the BENEFITS OF AUTOMATION will be PASSED ON TO THE WORKER rather than their contributing to the crisis of overproduction, as they do today. This should reduce the work-week significantly (what, 10 hours per week per person?), and allow each individual (summed up, that means SOCIETY IN GENERAL) to devote a FAR GREATER amount of his, her, and their time to leisure activities. And that's just for starters! Once society is no longer organized around the principle of corporate profit, we can eliminate global hunger, and concentrate upon the development of the full potential of every human being.

: I don't think that inspires people to change (perceived effort of changing is greater than perceioved benefit) hence my comment that you would be right about ICs showing by example to encourage others.

SDF: The problem with intentional communities under the current New World Order setup are things that I've conceded to Stoller (though of course nothing short of complete capitulation would satisfy Stoller) -- it's expensive to buy the land for them, they often can end up being socially dysfunctional entities, and they need to be sufficiently big in order to avoid dependency upon the larger world of corporate domination. This isn't to say, however, that these problems can't be resolved -- this is to say, however, that, for the outside world, intentional communities can AT BEST be a positive social contribution to upcoming social conflicts which will probably resolve around resource shortage and environmental damage under the current New World Order. The danger is that they will be another form of gated community.

: : When the holders of democratic power are the consumers and producers, and not merely a small owning class, then what controls you is the EMPATHETIC relation you have to the millions of other democratic controllers of business, such relation and such control as you have over them as well, since you're all workers as well as owners.

: Again its a sound model and a reasonable assumption (that people empathise with eachother when voting because they see themselves in others) but such is the anonymity of voting that one may see the 'prisoners dilemma' played out on a vast scale.

SDF: It can't be any worse than prisoner's dilemma under capitalism. And voting does not have to be anonymous. It could be handled in committee meetings in intentional communities...

: : shall people "give up on" the possibility of further agreement about the means of their mutual substistence, and trust in MONEY and ONLY MONEY money) to mediate between them, or can the matter of the RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PEOPLE be decided democratically. Is dependence to be replaced by interdependence, that is the question at hand.

: I think the answer at present is that people are already pursuing agreements to an extent among their specific associations,

SDF: Such agreements unfortunately mean nothing when they fly in the face of the agreement that constitutes capitalist business. When I open a store, no amount of agreement with my buddies will get me to give away my produce to any of them, it's for SALE, if it WEREN'T for sale I wouldn't RECOUP my CAPITAL INVESTMENT. Now if the whole social arrangement between me and my buddies were to change...

: but to ask them to do so in every field with every person is going beyond the range at which they, demonstrably, are willing to do so (when viewing western culture at least, and probably any large population).

: : "Getting rid of the State" is a fine goal, but it is only a fantasy unless the real relations of people, to each other, can be changed to end the domination of money over people. For it is in money that the present-day global dictatorship consists of.

: I accepted the fantasy status of both stateless capitalism and stateless socialism some time as either depends upon an overwhelming majority agreeing to the unenforcable rules.

SDF: Once we agree to the mechanism of enforcement, the problem of "unenforceable" disappears. Once we agree to the regime of REAL freedom, we will find a democratic economy INDISPENSABLE to the survival of the world's people.

: For instance 'honor' and benevolence in the first and a willingness to work harder without extra reward, aswell as the 'honor' not to shirk in the latter are but a few examples of what would be required to bring either situation to successful reality.

SDF: Working harder without extra reward is what the working class ALREADY DOES under capitalism. At least the working class could do this work FOR ITSELF rather than for the privileges of a relatively small owning class. And keep in mind the unearned benefits of automation the world's workers currently do not appreciate, and which would be freed, as I stated above...

What you appear to be thinking about with "honor", on the other hand, is the fact that FORCE is a COMMODITY under capitalist society. Look, if the whole world agreed to "honor" a gentleman's agreement NOT to COMMODIFY FORCE, we'd be part of the way there to stateless socialism already... If OTOH force were to remain a commodity under capitalism, then merely freeing the business community from government rules (as the WTO proclaims) would simply universalize Russian capitalism.

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