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Forum Post: Workplace Democracy and Workers' self-management (with Richard Wolff, Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky & Gar Alperovitz)

Posted 1 year ago on May 7, 2012, 10:03 a.m. EST by struggleforfreedom80 (6195)
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48 Comments


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[-] 2 points by PeterKropotkin (1050) from Oakland, CA 1 year ago

This is a great video and a great post. It deserves much discussion and debate. It is my belief that co-ops and worker owned buisnesses are the way of the future. Anybody that is interested in this should check out Micheal Albert and Parecon as well.

http://www.zcommunications.org/zparecon/parecon.htm

[-] 1 points by struggleforfreedom80 (6195) 1 year ago

Thanks for those kind words. I share your view on how to organize a future society. Michael Albert has some good points. I don't agree with Parecon on everything, though; I lean more toward the Anarcho-Communist ideas (as I assume you do as well) :)

[-] 1 points by PeterKropotkin (1050) from Oakland, CA 1 year ago

I'm not sure I have a label for myself. I know that I lean towards those philosophies of anarcho syndicalisim and liberatarian socialism but I'm not well versed in the theory to put a label on myself. I am not sure I agree with Parecon either but I think its a good idea to get these kind of ideas to as many people as possible.. Anyway I thoroghly enjoy your posts keep up the good work.

[-] 1 points by struggleforfreedom80 (6195) 1 year ago

Sure. Thanks, again. I have posted a series of articles here (this being the first part): http://occupywallst.org/forum/our-democratic-deficit/

Some of it is the same material as what's on my blog, but I've added some things here and there, as well as some new articles, like "Capitalism, Exploitation and Involuntary Agreements" for example. Check'em out if you like. Yours s. Andy

[-] 1 points by PeterKropotkin (1050) from Oakland, CA 1 year ago

Look what I found on the coop news site. I had no idea that land o lakes was a cooperative.

http://www.thenews.coop/article/two-co-operatives-set-joint-egg-venture

[-] 1 points by PeterKropotkin (1050) from Oakland, CA 1 year ago

By the way here is a great site to keep up with whats going on in the co-op movement.

http://www.thenews.coop/

[-] 1 points by struggleforfreedom80 (6195) 1 year ago

Good site. Thanks for the link:)

[-] 0 points by friendlyopposition (574) 1 year ago

I have seen a lot of posts about this concept and some discussion. It seems what follows is talk about "occupying your workplace" or taking over the factories. Instead, why doesn't someone start a business and grow it one employee at a time. Each new employee is added at an equal level to each preceding employee. Schedule the Friday meetings where policy and production is discussed. Do it. Prove that it can be done, and prove that it is way business should be handled. Why do you have to take over someone else's business to make this happen?

[-] 2 points by struggleforfreedom80 (6195) 1 year ago

building co-ops from scratch is also important, but remember that the economy is all-encompassing; the existing corporations and workplaces - run like private tyrannies - and the enormous concentration of wealth must be addressed and dealt with as well.

"Why do you have to take over someone else's business to make this happen?"

Listen, I like democracy, so I think all people in the society should have the right to democratic say in the things they're a part of. I don't want tyranny in the workplace and economy, that's why. And remember that today's property rights are not graven in stone, they can be changed.

[-] 1 points by Odin (583) 1 year ago

As the risk of sounding stupid, where would they get the capital from to purchase the equipment? There are some industries out there that require an enormous amount of capital to get started. Then what would you do with a worker who didn't give a shit, and because of that, the company had a huge liability, maybe an enviromental one? What would happen too if the workers did not reinvest enough back into the company in maintenance, so that the equipment deteriorated or did not keep up with the best production methods? Wouldn't these workers be reluctant to part with the outlay of cash to upgrade the work-place knowing it might mean lower wages short term anyway? What if the company was not successful or over-valued the product it was making? I can see co-ops working on a smaller level, but it is difficult for me to see it working on a bigger one.

I worked in an industry that had enormous liabilities if you screwed up. I love the idea of worker managed companies, but I am simply not convinced that they are practical in all instances. I do believe though that we do need a whole new way of looking at things politically, and economically. I just can't share in this vision, now anyway.

[-] 2 points by struggleforfreedom80 (6195) 1 year ago

Yes, there are lots of challenges for co-ops operating in a state-capitalist framework. That's why I'm saying that the economy as a whole also must be addressed.

[-] 0 points by Odin (583) 1 year ago

Thanks, I will continue to learn about the possibilities of co-ops on a larger scale, and a different economic framework that they could work in. Have you ever heard of the Pirate Party? Only last week this young guy visiting from Germany who i met in NYC was telling me about this. I know that it started in Sweden, has some really good ideas, and that he was very enthusiastic about it. Is it in Norway yet? What do you think of it?

[-] 1 points by struggleforfreedom80 (6195) 1 year ago

What we need to work for is a free, democratic and solidaric society, where we build democracy from below thru democratic workplaces and communities etc. This type of society is often referred to as Libertarian Socialism. That would be a society with democracy on all levels in society, not just a co-op here and there. I put together a video on youtube with Chomksy excerpts explaining the Anarcho SYndicalist /Libertarian Socialist society; please check it out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxYth0ktPsY&feature=plcp

Now, I live in Norway so yes, I've heard about the Pirate Party (It's right "next door" in Sweden) To my understanding it's more of a niche party especially concerned with copyrights etc. I don't think organizing a party like that is a good idea. We might agree with lots of what they're saying, but there are other things in society - many of them much more imporant than copyright - that need to be addressed and dealt with. I think it would be better if they started or got involved in some kind of libertarian left organizations of some kind.

[-] 1 points by PeterKropotkin (1050) from Oakland, CA 1 year ago

Also people tend to give a shit when its something they own.

http://www.nceo.org/articles/research-employee-ownership-corporate-performance

[-] 1 points by PeterKropotkin (1050) from Oakland, CA 1 year ago

They have been doing it in Spain for 50yrs I think. Mondragon currently employs 80,000 people.

http://www.mondragon-corporation.com/ENG.aspx

Its starting to spread here as well.

http://evergreencoop.com/

http://www.garalperovitz.com/

[-] 0 points by Odin (583) 1 year ago

Thanks, I have a lot to learn about this. I will check these out tomorrow.

[-] 1 points by friendlyopposition (574) 1 year ago

Then once the worker managed companies get moving and become successful, the employees at the tyrannical companies will resign and join the co-ops. Isn't that democracy? People freely making decisions on where they want to work and who they want to work for?

As far as property rights go - owner managed or worker managed doesn't mean a thing when the government wants to come in and build a bypass through your factory. I'm not sure how your last point is relevant.

[-] 1 points by struggleforfreedom80 (6195) 1 year ago

"Then once the worker managed companies get moving and become successful, the employees at the tyrannical companies will resign and join the co-ops."

That would be wonderful, but it's alittle more complicated than that, my friend. Like I said before, the economy is all-encompassing, which means that co-ops, and people building or wanting to build co-ops must operate within a state capitalist framwork. Take present time: There are actually lots of co-ops in the US today, but still the enormous weath concentrated on the financial elite and owners of huge private tyrannies (Corporations) are still there and part of society and having enormous power.

So we need to do both. Building from scratch, but also addressing what to do with existing institutions and undemocratic power in society

[-] 1 points by friendlyopposition (574) 1 year ago

These things take time. You can't expect to suddenly turn this ship on a dime. Even if you look in Argentina, where there are a number of worker-managed factories, it isn't the most common model.

I think you will have much greater community buy-in, less animosity and counter-production and much greater sustainability if you begin building from the ground up and demonstrating just how powerful this concept can be for the workers. Just because there isn't gunfire and an overnight regime change, doesn't mean it isn't a revolution.

[-] 1 points by struggleforfreedom80 (6195) 1 year ago

Yes these things take time. I've have never said they won't. We must think long term. What we're in right now is just the beginning of something that eventually will lead to big changes.

I'm just saying we need to do both because the economy is all encompassing. The enormous concentration of wealth and power, and the private tyrannical institutions must be addressed and eventually dealt with as well.

[-] -2 points by hchc (3297) from Tampa, FL 1 year ago

I have to agree with friendly, stop talking about taking over people's businesses and start starting your own.

I'm not trying to be rude, but I have been working for myself for a decade. Most that I know would prefer that I stay in charge instead of giving the reins to other people. I just run it better.

[-] 2 points by struggleforfreedom80 (6195) 1 year ago

Again, today's property rights are not some holy objective truths. They can be changed so that the businesses really will become the people's businesses.

http://occupywallst.org/forum/property-rights/

And again, the economy is all-encompassing.

Buliding democracy from below including with workers' self management and workplace democracy is how we should organize society so that individuals have a democratic say in the things they're a part of. Not a very unreasonable suggestion, if you think about it.

[-] -1 points by hchc (3297) from Tampa, FL 1 year ago

No, it sounds nice. Its just not practical. If it was, everyone would just work for themselves. It takes a lot of self discipline and long term thinking to run a business, and those two things arent exactly in abundance in the general population.

[-] 2 points by struggleforfreedom80 (6195) 1 year ago

You're wrong. Watch the video. Workers are fully able to run their workplace democratically.

We Anarcho-Syndicalists / Libertarian Socialists have a lot of convincing to do, yes, but with the rise of solidaric movements such as the Occupy Movement, and the increasing popularity and interest in libertarian left values we might eventually see radical changes sooner than we thought a year ago.

[-] 0 points by hchc (3297) from Tampa, FL 1 year ago

How much time have you spent at Occupy? Its been a disaster, as far as getting things accomplished, because of the uber horizontal structure.

I will watch your video, but I have seen enough and done enough to know that giving the workers the keys to business would lead to even more unhappy workers.

[-] 1 points by struggleforfreedom80 (6195) 1 year ago

This is just the beginning, my friend. These Occupy Movements will grow more and more. It hasn't even been a year, dude; be patient. It's going to be tough fighting all this concentrated power, we must think long term.

No, when people have a say in the things they're a part of and control their own lives and work, they'll be more happy and active.

[-] -1 points by hchc (3297) from Tampa, FL 1 year ago

There's a reason numbers are down, its because people got tired of the nonsense and stopped going.

And if it did start to grow more, that is where the real problems with consensus comes in. Managing 100 people with like minds through consensus was a nightmare. Managing 1000 would be near impossible.

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 1 year ago

There's thousands of highly successful employee owned companies, cooperatives, nonprofits, etc. in this country, so the concept has already been thoroughly proven as (in cases where applied) a superior model. The problem is our system doesn't favor this model (and in general, is hostile to it).

[-] 0 points by friendlyopposition (574) 1 year ago

Can you elaborate, please? What do you mean when you say the system is hostile to a co-op?

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 1 year ago

Discrimination in financing .... if you want to learn about it, research it yourself. I'm not obligated to give every conservative troll who pollutes this site, a lesson in finance and how our system works. If you don't believe me, go fuck yourself (I really don't care what conservatives think, oops, hold on, conservative and thinking--oxymoron).

[-] 0 points by friendlyopposition (574) 1 year ago

Wow, I ask an honest question, and this is the response I get. Thanks for the laugh. For a few minutes there, I thought you actually had a point. Instead, it is just an excuse for why this isn't more predominant in the US. I'm sorry you aren't comfortable explaining yourself. My advice to you, in the future if you aren't prepared to support your statements, then keep them to yourself.

[-] 2 points by francismjenkins (3713) 1 year ago

I don't owe conservo-trolls an explanation for anything. You're too brainwashed, your IQ's are too low, and overall, just too disgustingly stupid to understand anything overly sophisticated.

[-] 1 points by struggleforfreedom80 (6195) 1 year ago

Francis, I understand that you're upset at the bigots and the right wing demagogues, but we shouldn't steep to their level. So, my friend, I would kindly suggest ending the ridicule and namecalling and present solid argumnets in a polite respectful manner. That's the way to have a civilized debate. Yours S

[-] 0 points by friendlyopposition (574) 1 year ago

Then why even respond to my post, Ms. Jenkins?

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 1 year ago

The study found that ESOP companies had sales growth rates 3.4% per year higher and employment growth rates 3.8% per year higher in the post-ESOP period than would have been expected based on pre-ESOP performance. When the companies were divided into three groups based on how participatively managed they were, however, only the most participative companies showed a gain. These companies grew 8% to 11% per year faster than they would have been expected to grow, while the middle group did about the same, and the bottom group showed a decline in performance.

Participation alone, however, is not enough to improve performance. A large number of studies show that the impact of participation absent ownership is short-lived or ambiguous. Ownership seems to provide the cultural glue to keep participation going.

http://www.nceo.org/articles/research-employee-ownership-corporate-performance

There you go, if you want more than that ... do the research yourself (it's very easy, we have this thing called Google).

[-] 1 points by friendlyopposition (574) 1 year ago

First off, you don't have to sell me on co-ops. I think they're great. Like most Americans, if I get a good product at a good price, I don't care if it comes from a corporation or a community. I have an issue with taking over someone else's business - but if you want to start up a worker managed company, I support you 100%.

Here is the problem when you tell someone to "google" it. I did google it - in fact I googled "co-op financing discrimination" and it came back with 91 million responses. You can't support your own point by saying 'google it' because there are 91 million different web pages for me to look at, and I can assure you that they don't all support your point - whatever it is. If you want to make a point, show where you got the information and then it can be discussed.

Of course, the site you link above wouldn't show up in my google search, because it isn't relevant to your point. So,after blasting me and telling me to do research, you come up with a site that doesn't even support your claim about discrimination in financing for co-ops.

I guess maybe you should just stick to throwing out insults instead of trying to have an intelligent conversation about a topic. I think it is a better match for your capabilities.

[-] 0 points by francismjenkins (3713) 1 year ago

Discrimination? The laws and entire system are designed around the conventional corporate model. Some congressmen have been trying (for years) to pass laws that ensure cooperatives and employee owned companies are treated equally under the law. But you don't seem like a very informed guy, so I suppose it was wrong of me to expect you to know about these things.

[-] 1 points by friendlyopposition (574) 1 year ago

Nice try. Expecting me to know this is like me expecting you to know that grass is purple.

I was able to find some bills that worked to give cooperatives a leg up - like tax credits, training/organizing resources - but nothing that mentioned discriminatory financing practices. So, the laws aren't working to get co-ops to be treated equally under the law- but instead to give them some advantage.

[-] 0 points by francismjenkins (3713) 1 year ago

That's because you and I operate from different paradigms of thinking. To you, if the discrimination isn't invidious, then it doesn't exist (and this is the fairy tale land most Americans seem to live in). So I won't expect someone like you to ever "get it" (but I also don't expect every single person to be able to think beyond lifelong cultural indoctrination).

[-] 1 points by friendlyopposition (574) 1 year ago

Poor little co-ops. The system isn't fair - and that is why there aren't more of them around. Excuses.

And enjoy your state of enlightenment, particularly the purple grass.

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 1 year ago

Nope, only with conservatives do I stereotype, but it's not stereotyping, there's empirical studies that show conservatives have a lower IQ. So conservatives (on average) are the stupid people. Liberals want a hand out? Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are liberals, indeed, virtually all of our great scientists, thinkers, artists, etc., are liberals, because conservatives are too stupid to do these things. Conservatives dig ditches, or if they're lucky, own the ditch digging company. The ones who are bankers aren't really conservatives in any real sense of the word (for instance, they know the earth isn't 6,000 years old), they're just narcissists and sociopaths (and one can be a genius sociopath).

[-] 0 points by francismjenkins (3713) 1 year ago

Well, it's conservatives with the low IQ, not me (I know my IQ is just fine), and there's empirical studies to back this up. It's conservatives who replace genuine critical thinking and intellectual understanding with self-inflating mythology. In other words, conservatives are the worse of all possible worlds. Stupid people who think they're smart, because they're favorite politicians keep lying to them (and telling them they're smart and wonderful people), because they don't want them to actually become smart (because, then they wouldn't vote for them).

[-] 1 points by friendlyopposition (574) 1 year ago

Nice job stereotyping. Do you also follow this model with race and sexual orientation? You like lumping people together based on your limited view of the world? Then you should love this...

Liberals are all just looking for a handout. They want the government to come in and do everything for them so that they can eek by a living...but at least they don't have to work for it. Just give them what everyone else has, and for some crazy reason - those other people will miraculously keep on producing at the same level. Free everything for me! The taxes can pay for it! Where do taxes come from? I don't know, that is something that someone else pays for - like someone with a job.
Government knows best - more for me, sir! IThey'd rather lounge around smoking weed and talking about living in a commune. How about if we get rid of money, and everyone carry around a chicken to barter with! There's a great idea. Because libs are so smart - we go to school and stuff (which should be free) and we have lots of academic knowledge and a theory for every ill but no real world support that any of it could actually work. Well, it could work - but we have to change the whole world first - and then our ideas will run free across the countryside and everyone can share in the abundant resources of the world. Imagine all the people, living for today! Wooohoooooooohoooo... you may say, I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.

I realize that putting a label on people helps your feeble mind, but when you grow up, you'll figure out that humans are fairly complex machines. People can actually have independent thoughts outside one political party. Intelligent can agree on some things, and disagree on others.

Get over yourself.

[-] 1 points by PeterKropotkin (1050) from Oakland, CA 1 year ago

As far as discrimination in financing I think that these co-op start ups should look to credit unions for funding or if possible grants from the government.

[-] 2 points by francismjenkins (3713) 1 year ago

I would always favor a credit union over a big bank, and I think we need to change the laws to accommodate this model, provide access to SBA loans, and even look at this model as a possible way to revitalize our manufacturing base (and provide fiscal stimulus).

I can't think of many better ways to convert stimulus funds into jobs, and potentially permanent jobs (with the added benefit of the manufacturing multiplier).

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 1 year ago

I've run across this law, and it's definitely an excellent start, assuming it gets passed (and with this congress, who knows).

[-] -1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 1 year ago